July 17, 2014


Sweden’s School Choice Disaster
Advocates for school choice might be shocked to see how badly the country’s experiment with vouchers failed. . . . Advocates for choice-based solutions should take a look at what’s happened to schools in Sweden, where parents and educators would be thrilled to trade their country’s steep drop in PISA scores over the past 10 years for America’s middling but consistent results. What’s caused the recent crisis in Swedish education? Researchers and policy analysts are increasingly pointing the finger at many of the choice-oriented reforms that are being championed as the way forward for American schools. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that adding more accountability and discipline to American schools would be a bad thing, it does hint at the many headaches that can come from trying to do so by aggressively introducing marketlike competition to education.  Slate

A New Gameplan for Taking Down Privatizers
. . . The new Cumbers report for the London-based Centre for Labour and Social Studies describes and compares a variety of these imaginative new forms. Some are just getting underway. Others — like Denmark’s new approach to energy policy — are already delivering rather amazing results. Denmark is nurturing innovative “public-public” partnerships. In 2001, one of these partnerships constructed off the coast of Copenhagen what then rated as the world’s largest wind farm. The partners: Copenhagen Energy, the municipally owned local utility of Denmark’s largest city, and a cooperative run by the over 10,000 local residents who had purchased shares in it. A similar cooperative-local government utility model, observes the University of Glasgow’s Cumbers, has helped the Danish island of Samsoe “become one of the first places in the world to become 100 percent efficient in renewable energy.”  Truth-Out

UK: The tide is turning against the scam that is privatization
Privatisation isn’t working. We were promised a shareholding democracy, competition, falling costs and better services. A generation on, most people’s experience has been the opposite. From energy to water, rail to public services, the reality has been private monopolies, perverse subsidies, exorbitant prices, woeful under-investment, profiteering and corporate capture. The Guardian

MI: Opinion: Hasn’t outsourcing cost Michiganians enough?
. . . With ongoing efforts to outsource public services including nursing homes and schools, the impact of unaccountable services and nebulous oversight could be devastating. The report also details the impact of outsourcing on a state-run veterans’ home. The contractor slashed wages and eliminated benefits and the results are as you might expect—higher turnover with reduced reliability and quality of care. . . . Our state’s elected leaders should work for good jobs here, not reward the CEOs shipping our tax dollars out of Michigan. Snyder has left a deplorable legacy of outsourced jobs while rewarding powerful CEOs. The Detroit News

FL: FCAT’s political aim: Privatize schools: My Word
The Sentinel Editorial Board is appalled that after 16 years of using the FCAT standardized test, the academicperformance of Florida’s kids remains basically flat. The board shouldn’t be surprised. . . .The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test has been designed to flunk a pre-set number of kids — from 40 percent to 50 percent. . . .Why would they do that? A big reason is that if public schools can be made to look bad enough, the public will be willing to hand them over to privatization. It’s always wise to follow the money.  Orlando Sentinel

OH: Teachers Deliver Alarming Allegations Against Charter School
The state board of education is launching an investigation into at least one charter school after hearing disturbing testimony from a group of former teachers. Sexual misconduct, racism, teacher intimidation, questionable testing policies, and mishandling of complaints about those claims were among the allegations the teachers brought to a meeting of the state board of education meeting Tuesday. The teachers were all former employees of the Horizon Science Academy Dayton High School, a charter school managed by the Chicago-based Concept Schools. Timothy Neary taught at the high school for two years. He says he witnessed a culture racism and sexism. He also said the schools attendance reports didn’t seem right.  StateImpact Ohio

NC: Public-Private Partnerships Intertwined with Charlotte’s I-77
The deal to design and build high occupancy toll lanes or HOT Lanes on the I-77 corridor running north out of Charlotte for 26 miles has put a spotlight on several concerns including: “The price tag on this project is expected to reach $655 million. NCDOT will contribute $88 million and Cintra will invest $234 million of its own money. Cintra will borrow another $315 million in government-backed loans.” (see Civitas Institute, June 25) Cintra is a Spanish-owned company with a poor track record in toll road building and is facing bankruptcy and Moody’s downgrading in some states. (see Watchdog Wire, April 30, 2014) Watchdog Wire