November 25, 2014


The Dismantling of Medicaid. . . Medicaid, once considered one of the crowning achievements of The Great Society, is now being dismantled by those entrusted with its care. Plagued by a poorly designed medical reimbursement process that rewards health care professionals for providing medically unnecessary care and yet doesn’t pay enough for many specialists or small providers to deal with burdensome administration, the popular program has been a target of reform for decades. With state budgets hollowed out by the perfidy of the mortgage industry and a budget regime that cuts investments in health to fund tax breaks for corporations, legislators across the nation are now looking to find ways to cut costs—and if there’s time, improve the quality of care. . . .Kentucky’s inauspicious start to privatizing managed care was quickly followed by a perilous end. Kentucky Spirit, one of the three companies hired by Kentucky to administer Medicaid managed care, refused to meet its contract’s year-long term and abruptly cancelled its services. In These Times

Obama’s USDOE: Appointed to Privatize. Period. President Barack Obama pretends to be a friend of public education, but it just is not so. Sure, the White House offers a decorative promotional on K12 education; however, if one reads it closely, one sees that the Obama administration believes education (and, by extension, those educated) should serve the economy; that “higher standards and better assessments” and “turning around our lowest achieving schools” is No Child Left Behind (NCLB) leftover casserole, and that “keeping teachers in the classroom” can only elicit prolonged stares from those of us who know better. All of these anti-public-education truths noted, the deeper story in what the Obama administration values regarding American education lay in its selection of US Department of Education (USDOE) appointees. Their backgrounds tell the story, and it isn’t a good one for the public school student, the community school and the career K12 teacher. Huffington Post

NJ: N.J. lottery misses revenue target under private manager. Three months after Illinois declared the first privately run state lottery a failure, New Jersey’s similar experiment is faltering, endangering a program that supports schools and the disabled. Northstar New Jersey Lottery Group’s revenue fell short $24 million in the year ended June 30, even after Gov. Chris Christie let the company cut the target. Chicago Tribune

AR: Privatization, using abandoned building among options in legislative prison overcrowding study. Arkansas should look at sending some inmates to private facilities to ease overcrowding, along with converting abandoned public buildings and expanding alternative sentencing programs in addition to building a new prison, according to a report issued to lawmakers Monday. Daily Journal

GA: Georgia court OKs private probation supervision. Georgia’s highest court ruled Monday that a state law allowing courts to contract with private probation companies to supervise misdemeanor offenders is constitutional but does not allow for additional requirements beyond what is imposed by the courts. The Georgia Supreme Court was considering a case brought by a group of misdemeanor probationers in east Georgia who argued that Sentinel Offender Services and other private probation companies were illegally requiring electronic monitoring and extending sentences. The unanimous high court opinion partially affirmed and partially reversed lower-court rulings on the issue. Macon Telegraph (blog)

OH: Meet the newest bosses at City Hall. Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black added.. .development expert Oscar Bedolla from one of the nation’s largest accounting firms as director of trade and development. . . . Oscar Bedolla comes to Cincinnati from New York City, where as a vice president in KPMG’s advisory practice he specialized in project finance and public-private partnerships. . . Bedolla has been involved in a number of large-scale, complex development transactions, including the Chicago Riverwalk Project, Interstate 395 Air Rights disposition to allow for retail and residential development, municipal parking deals in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., redevelopment of Denver Union Station in Colorado and the LA-1 Toll Road Restructuring.

CT: Outgoing Senate President Heads To Teachers Union.The outgoing Democratic leader of the state Senate, Donald E. Williams Jr. has been hired by the state’s largest teachers union. Williams, who has served for 10 years as the Senate president pro tempore and has been a strong supporter of teachers’ unions, has been hired by the Connecticut Education Association as deputy director of professional policy, practice, research and reform. “This is a challenging time for public education,” Williams said. “Well-funded national ‘reform’ movements seek to privatize public schools and undermine teacher unions.” CTNow           

ID: Commentary: Is it Teach for America or Teach For A While?Gov. Otter, the State Board of Education, the Idaho Department of Education and many in the Legislature continue to push policies that move Idaho toward privatizing its public schools. . . In districts across the country, Teach for America “teachers” get their feet wet for a couple years before moving on to be hedge fund managers, directors of nonprofits, attorneys and CFOs with for-profit education companies, etc. The vast majority of TFA “teachers” do not go on to teach for a career, but merely use it as a stepping stone into another profession where they can make three to five times as much. Former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee may be the most notable example, who went on to found StudentsFirst, an aggressive school reform organization. Idaho Press-Tribune