May 21, 2014


A dozen problems with charter schools. School reformers keep talking about charter schools as if they were the answer to public education’s problems, when there is a great deal of evidence that shows big problems with the charter sector. For example, a report on Pennsylvania’s charter schools recently released by a state legislator found that only one in six of the state’s charter schools is”high-performing” and it notes that none of the online charters is “high-performing.” Washington Post (blog)           

VT: Vt. Transportation Agency to study road tolls. Vermont’s deputy secretary of transportation has asked her staff to re-evaluate whether the state could impose interstate tolls. WCAX

LA: Bobby Jindal administration will send revised hospital privatization plan to federal officials. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration announced Thursday night that it intends to send the federal government a revised financing plan for the privatization of six state-run hospitals by the end of the week. Louisiana will have to adjust the fiscal arrangement that governs some of its medical facilities for the poor and uninsured or face potential turmoil in its operating budget in 2015. The state would have to pay back at least $200 million to the federal government if an agreement over how to structure the hospitals’ privatizations can’t be reached. The Times-Picayune

DC: DC approves three new charter schools. The D.C. Public Charter School Board has approved three new charter schools: a residential school meant for children in foster care, a K-8 school targeted at students with special needs, and a middle school that emphasizes international education. Washington Post

VA: Redflex Caught Using Violation Calculator. Yellow lightRedflex Traffic Systems uses a special spreadsheet to calculate precisely how much profit a city can expect from red light cameras on an intersection-by-intersection basis. WTKR-TV reported about the “violation calculator” that Redflex used to provide the city of Chesapeake, Virginia with the dollar figure it could expect after signing a contract with the Australian firm. The violation calculator is a more refined version of the criteria red light camera companies have always used. In 2001, a team of attorneys in San Diego, California used a court subpoena to obtain a copy of the confidential site evaluation performed by vendor Lockheed Martin (which now operates as Xerox). The decisions on where cameras were installed were based on finding high volume, downhill approaches where the yellow time was less than 4 seconds.

TX: Do not believe the Trinity toll road is dead. I do not believe it. These are dangerous conclusions for those of us who think the road through the levees is a bad idea. The road has a very serious funding gap, north of a billion dollars. That puts it in a very precarious position. But it remains the top priority of transportation planners in the region. It’s possible that the NTTA will get more bonding capacity in coming years and find a partner to go in on the deal. It might not be likely, but to say it is impossible concerns me. The toll road (please don’t call it a parkway) has been the vision for Dallas leaders for so long that it will be hard to shake them from their place. Dallas Morning News (blog)