September 27, 2012


NJ: Camden Rejects Bids for New Jersey’s 1st Privately Owned Public School…In January, Christie signed the Urban Hope Act, a law allowing nonprofits to apply to start up to a dozen new public charter schools in Camden, Newark and Trenton. Once a school board approves an applicant, the groups are free under the law to contract with businesses to purchase land, construct facilities and manage the schools with taxpayer money – a provision that could give companies unprecedented control over public schools in New Jersey… The board considered four applications, including one brought by affiliates of powerful South Jersey Democrat George Norcross, before voting down the proposals when the district’s school business administrator could not produce cost estimates for the projects…. Barbara Morgan, a DOE spokeswoman, declined to say whether the state would step in and override the vote.

GA: Georgia Archives to Cut Back Service, History to the Public. The move will make Georgia the only state without an archives open to the public on a regular basis. But this closing is simply the most severe symptom of a greater crisis facing permanent government collections in nearly every state, professional archivists say.  The New York Times

TX: With 85 MPH Speed Limit, Trucks May Avoid New Toll Road. In a matter of weeks, a 41-mile stretch of toll road with the fastest speed limit in the country will open in Central Texas. But truck drivers may steer clear of the new high-speed road, said John Esparza, president of the Texas Motor Transportation Association, which represents the trucking industry in Texas. “It’s going to be a deterrent, yes,” Esparza said of the road’s 85 mph speed limit….[M]ost trucking companies try to keep drivers from traveling faster than that speed, both out of concerns for safety and because it reduces a truck’s gas mileage, Esparza said….The American Trucking Association has urged the Texas Transportation Commission to reverse its decision ton the 85 mph speed limit for the new toll road. The group favors a maximum 65 mph speed limit for all highways.  Texas Tribune

IN: Panel delays vote on outsourcing Ind. lottery. The State Lottery Commission postponed a vote on outsourcing most lottery operations to a private business that had been scheduled for Wednesday so members could have more time to digest proposals from two possible vendors behind closed doors. Businessweek

IN: Hoosier Lottery’s aim: Avoid Illinois’ privatization troubles…In Illinois, which last year became the first state to outsource management of its lottery, results have been mixed. Northstar Lottery Group, which is a partnership between GTECH and Scientific Games, brought in record profits but fell short of the $825 million it promised the state to win the bid. ..Under Illinois’ deal, Northstar receives bonuses or pays penalties based on two thresholds: the amount of money the state projected it would bring in without Northstar’s assistance and the amount of money Northstar promised for the state in its bid. Those two different systems of bonuses and penalties have the potential to essentially cancel each other out. Northstar could bring in more money than the state would have earned but still fail to reach the amount it promised.

LA: Shreveport residents, employees rally against LSU Health budget cuts. SU Health employees and concerned citizens in Shreveport rallied Wednesday morning against the privatization of the hospital…Caddo Parish Commissioner Ken Epperson, who says they are adamantly against the possibility of privatization. “Once you privatize a facility or outsource a facility, the basic motive is profit. Once profit is in place, there’s the degradation of facility maintenance, there’s employee layoffs, there’s loss of wages and benefits and the quality of services certainly diminishes, because those institutions that purchased this facility under privatization, their main motive is profit.” Among those in the small crowd were nurses and people who say they’ve used the hospital and don’t want to see services cut, along with Louisiana State Representative Barbara Norton (D) Shreveport. KPLC-TV

The corporate education agenda behind “Won’t Back Down”… Anything that moves the needle of public opinion toward privatizing K-12 is a victory. And it’s a victory for more than just for-profit charter and private school companies. The school-choice army is increasingly diverse. It has a growing “digital learning” wing of technology and software companies eager to “individualize” and “virtualize” American classrooms.  Salon