October 14, 2014


IL: Chicago’s charter-schools experiment flops: report. Chicago’s massive experiment in adding charter schools pretty much is a flop, one in which the charters do little better than conventional schools and in some ways lag behind. That’s the eye-catching conclusion of a new report issued by the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota Law School . . . Pound for pound, charters should do better than typical neighborhood schools because parents, who have to go to special trouble to enroll their children, presumably are more invested in their kids’ performance, Mr. Orfield suggests. However, “after controlling for the mix of students and challenges faced by individual schools, Chicago’s charter schools actually underperform their traditional counterparts in most measurable ways,” he says. Crain’s Chicago Business (blog)

OH: Charter school leases draw criticism from liberal group. Three Cleveland and two Akron charter schools are among those being criticized for renting expensive space from the schools’ management company. Liberal group ProgressOhio on Monday released information about lease and management fees obtained through public records requests and state audits. The records show schools paying 20 percent of their operating budgets on rent and thousands of dollars more in “indirect costs” to run the schools. . . . “Over half of the money that goes to these schools is not going to the classroom — it’s going to the lease and additional management fee for these for-profit companies,” ProgressOhio Executive Director Brian Rothenberg said during a news conference. The Plain Dealer

LA: Number of state workers down 30K over 6 years. . . The shrinking of the state government workforce by one-third stems largely from Jindal’s privatization of many government functions and facilities, most notably in the health care arena. The biggest hit to state employment ranks — about 7,000 jobs — came as LSU turned over the management of nine of its 10 charity hospitals to private managers, a process that wrapped up during the last budget year. The privatization push — part of Jindal’s political agenda — started early on, and the pace picked up in his second term in office. Reorganization of department operations has eliminated many jobs during the Jindal years. . .For instance, the Office of Motor Vehicles has fewer staffers to help with driver’s licenses, renewals and the like. The Department of Children and Family Services has lost many of its employees in local communities. Shreveport Times

FL: Florida Public Universities’ Corporations Raise Immunity, Disclosure Questions. The business of Florida’s 12 public universities is supposed to be public like any other state agency. Salaries, contracts, policies and other university business records are supposed to be subject to Florida’s expansive Sunshine Law, which mandates that most government actions be open to scrutiny. But that’s not always happening. The universities are getting around Florida’s public records law through dozens of private corporations that have been created over the years to oversee everything from athletic programs to dorm construction to salaries. Under state law, these university corporations don’t have to make public the same records their parent universities must provide, though the corporations perform tasks once done by school employees and act on the universities’ behalf.  Insurance Journal

TX: Private Tollway Will Be a Moneymaker, Say Firms Hired by Private Tollway Company. . . Controversy over NCTCOG’s numbers began at a meeting on September 22. A woman from the public named Christine Hubley announced that she had dug up some data from the Texas Department of Transportation showing much lower future traffic projections than NCTCOG’s estimates. The News followed up with a story on the discrepancy, writing that while NCTCOG predicts anywhere from a 70 to 503 percent increase in drivers along different sections of the so-called Blacklands Corridor, the state’s figures stay in the more conservative range of 23.3 percent to 65.1 percent. Dallas Observer (blog)

PA: Allentown School District likely to outsource substitute teachers. . . Administrators introduced plans at Thursday’s school board Finance Committee meeting to outsource substitutes who work between 15 and 89 cumulative days for an average of at least 30 hours a week. . . . Outsourcing would allow the district to more effectively meet its demand for substitute teachers and also avoid the Affordable Care Act mandate to offer health care to substitutes who work an average of 30 hours a week or more, according to the district. Allentown Morning Call

CA: Mission Playground is not for sale! Rally against park privatization. There are many things for sale in the beautiful city of San Francisco – often times with the goods going to the highest bidder. But what is certain in the community is that there are goods that are not for sale: Mission Playground being one of them. But this is all much bigger and much more nuanced than just Mission Playground. San Francisco Bay Guardian