November 21, 2014


NC: Charter School Chain Finally Discloses Salaries – With One Missing. It’s the latest round in a fight between North Carolina regulators and a charter-school power broker who has tried to keep the financial details of his companies secret. Last week, it appeared that a North Carolina charter school chain had finally put an end to more than a month of wrangling with state regulators when it turned over salary data for administrators working at the schools.But the salary list has a curious omission. The son of the schools’ founder, despite working as “Information Systems Admin” at one of his father’s schools, is missing from the disclosures. As ProPublica detailed last month, both the chain of charter schools and the company that manages them were founded by a politically connected local businessman, Baker Mitchell. Millions of public dollars have flowed through the nonprofit schools to Mitchell’s for-profit charter-management firm and another company he owns. ProPublica

MA: Charter schools suspend more than traditional schools. Boston charter schools are far more likely than traditional school systems to suspend students, usually for minor infractions such as violating dress codes or being disrespectful, a high-risk disciplinary action that could cause students to disengage from their classes, according to a report released Tuesday. . . .The report was released by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, a nonpartisan legal organization in Boston. . . . But a growing body of research suggests that students who are suspended repeatedly are more likely to fall behind academically and drop out, prompting a backlash among students, parents, and civil rights advocates. Boston Globe           

PA: York City School District fends off privatization plan for now. Governor-elect Wolf has said he’s against privatizing the city of York’s struggling public school district, and critics of the effort say there’s pressure to do that before he takes office. If it happens, York City School District would be the first public school system in Pennsylvania, and one of just a few in the nation, to be converted entirely to charter schools. Students, parents and teachers spent more than two hours last night protesting [the turnover of the city’s floundering public school district to a private for-profit charter school operator.

IN: lkhart County Commissioners say they won’t participate in toll road consortium. . . The plan calls for several counties to form a not-for-profit corporation that would bid on the toll road lease in bankruptcy court. If successful, those counties would hire a domestic company to run the toll road, and split the profits. WNDU-TV‎

NJ: Cautionary Tale for N.J., N.Y. Water Systems. The release of the report, titled “Troubled Waters: Misleading industry PR and the case for public water,” comes amidst uncertainty about the state of public water systems nationwide. As federal funding for public water infrastructure dries up, corporations are rushing to fill the void with false promises that gloss over track records of rate hikes, water quality concerns, labor abuses and political interference. The report reveals the true risks associated with New York City and its suburbs’ current contracts with private water corporations Veolia and Suez’s United Water. Drawing on case studies from cities like Atlanta and Indianapolis, the report lays bare the serious potential consequences of private water contracts including increasing rates, worker layoffs and political interference.

CA: Occupy the Farm’: The Movie. The documentary from Todd Darling covers the struggle for the Gill Tract, an urban agricultural research station that the University of California, Berkeley would like to sell to developers. To stop the sale 200 students, community members and a few UCB faculty invade the Gill Tract, plant 15,000 seedlings and set up a small tent village with cafeteria, child care, library and legal clinic. . . . n the long run, the sale of the Gill Tract won’t make a dent in the University’s projected revenue shortfalls, yet the Regents insist on getting rid of it. Occupy the Farm gives us an insight into the mindset of the consultants and vice-chancellors at UC’s Capital Projects office where careers are made by the size and number of deals struck; of the UC chancellor’s office; and of faculty–for, against and squirming over the direct action tactics of Occupy the Farm. Against a backdrop of occupation, SWAT teams, tense negotiation, community debate and more direct action, the idea of public versus private goods and even of the notion of what “public” means is in dispute. The Gill Tract is just the tip of the iceberg of the transfer of one of the state of California’s most valuable assets: the University of California. The driving contradiction, of course, is the wholesale privatization of everything. Huffington Post

FL: West Palm Beach Mayor: Not sure if I like neighborhood parks taxing districts. Mayor Jeri Muoio said she likes a lot of a consultant’s recommendations about improving West Palm Beach’s parks and recreation department. But she was lukewarm Wednesday about creating special taxing districts. The report, presented at Monday’s city commission workshop, said the department has too much work and too few people, and should consider privatizing some of its work, a consultant’s report says. Palm Beach Post (blog)

TN: Diane Ravitch in Nashville: Civil Rights Area of our Time is Protecting Schools from Privatization. . . “Innovative charters these days look like 19th century schools, especially for children of color. The children have very strict rules, they obey, they conform, they walk in a straight line, they do something called slant where you have to watch the teacher every minute, keep your eyes on the teacher and walk in a straight line… All these rules, it’s not about creativity, it’s about being a factory worker and we don’t have factories any more,” she said. “I’ve become very skeptical about charters and vouchers. And I know there are some good charters. There some charters that are really doing great work, they’re doing what charters were supposed to do which is help the neediest and weakest kids, but there are an awful lot of charters that are keeping exactly those kids out and cherry picking the kids they think will have the highest test scores.” Nashville Scene

No Child Left Behind, Pre-K Programs Could Be On New Congress’ Agenda. . . . TED SHAW: Privatize, privatize, privatize. That’s an old agenda.SANCHEZ: Ted Shaw is former head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. He’s now at the University of North Carolina. He says the research is clear, quality preschool can close the achievement gap and yet… SHAW: That gap continues to grow. We’ve left and we continue to leave millions and millions of children behind and I don’t think privatizing is the answer. WYPR