October 8, 2014


Why Are Teach for America and a California Billionaire Investing in a Minnesota School Board Race?. . . This kind of involvement in local elections is nothing new for either Cioth or Rock. In 2013, for example, Cioth’s group, SFER, was listed in a Progressive magazine article as one of the main funders of the pro-charter school group “A Better Connecticut,” which endorsed a slate of candidates for the Bridgeport Board of Education. Cioth is also on the board of the NewSchools Venture Fund, based in California and a leader in what has been termed the “venture philanthropist” approach to education: one that emphasizes on technology, data and charter school growth. In the video below, investigative journalist David Sirota zeroes in on the profit motive behind such technology-oriented groups, which, in Sirota’s words, often “try … to buy a big-city school board election” in order to more easily tap into what is estimated to be a $790 billion K-12 market. In These Times

IL: Progressives Try to Break Council Rules Committee Logjam. Two pieces of legislation in City Council are due to get a hearing this week, both of them sponsored by members of the Progressive Reform Caucus and both buried in the Rules Committee for more than a year. The first, an ordinance sponsored by Ald. Rod Sawyer (6) is known as the Privatization Transparency and Accountability ordinance, and is due to be heard in a Rules Committee hearing today. Originally introduced into Council in 2012, the ordinance is designed to create “greater oversight, disclosure and public discussion” before any efforts to privatize city services or assets is finalized. NBC Chicago

TX: Landowners Seeking Answers Over Proposed Toll Road. The study into building a toll road through Hunt, Collin, Dallas and Rockwall counties continues to draw controversy. On Monday, the Wylie city council unanimously voted to oppose the construction of a private toll road in a special session. The proposed project is a product of a study by the North Central Texas Council of Governments called The Blacklands Corridor Study, which is examining future population growth, travel patterns, existing roads and future needs in the area. NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

GA: Pilot program to privatize foster care in Athens put on hold. A pilot program to place foster care in the hands of an organization other than the state’s Division of Family and Children Services in Athens-Clarke County and surrounding areas has been placed on indefinite hold. The bidding process for the project, which has been labeled privatization but would likely use government-chartered nonprofits similar to charities that already provide mental health services under the state’s umbrella, will reopen after the agency consults with the Child Welfare Reform Council and other stakeholders, Graham said. Online Athens

PA: Postal clerks protest extending services to Staples stores. Post office clerks rallied outside a Staples office supply store in Center City Tuesday. They were complaining that the U.S. Postal Service’s plans to install in-store postal counters where lower-wage Staples employees sell stamps and accept packages hurts postal jobs and jeopardizes the safety of the mail. The post office “is not for sale,” protesters chanted at the rally organized by their union, the American Postal Workers Union. Calling for a boycott of school supplies at Staples, the workers say the Staples initiative is part of a postal management plan to privatize the Post Office. Philly.com

PA: Philadelphia’s school reform debacle. The Philadelphia school district has become the prime example of the problems with a corporate-style school “reform” agenda. Parents, teachers and students have resisted full privatization, New Orleans-style, and have found themselves punished for resistance as Gov. Tom Corbett, who controls the schools after a 2001 takeover by the state, slashes school budgets, wipes out thousands of jobs, and shutters dozens of schools. The latest move by Corbett and the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC), which replaced an elected school board after the 2001 takeover, is to unilaterally cancel the city’s contract with the 15,000 members of the Philadelphia Federation of teachers. Salon