October 30, 2014


This Is What Happens When You Criticize Teach for America. Last year, Wendy Heller Chovnick, a former Teach For America manager, spoke out against her former organization in The Washington Post, decrying its “inability and unwillingness to honestly address valid criticism.” In recent years, such criticism has centered on Teach For America’s intimate involvement in the education privatization movement and its five-week training, two-year teaching model, which critics claim offers recruits a transformative résumé-boosting experience but burdens schools with disruptive turnover cycles. . . . An internal media strategy memo, obtained by The Nation, confirms Chovnick’s concerns, detailing TFA’s intricate methodology for combating negative media attention, or what it calls “misinformation.” The Nation

Democratic Candidates Are Paying the Price for Meddling With Social Security. Some things in life are self-evident. Fire burns, supply side economics doesn’t work, and no Democrat, ever, under any circumstances, no matter what, should even think about offering to cut one solitary cent from Social Security, through partial privatization or means testing or raising the retirement age. Huffington Post

NC: Group opposing I-77 toll lanes looks into legal challenge. The group who opposes toll lanes on Interstate 77 between Charlotte and Mooresville is beefing up efforts to stop the project. The group said it has hired a lawyer to look into the possibility of a legal challenge that could stop the toll road project. Members said they’ll study possible legal strategies in hopes of getting a judge to issue an injunction against the toll lanes. The state is close to finalizing a contract with the Spanish firm Cintra. WSOC Charlotte

OH: Ohio State might offer lease to manage its utilities. Ohio State University is looking at ways to make money from something that would ordinarily be one of its fastest-growing costs: energy. The idea, disclosed yesterday to faculty leaders, would involve an outside company signing a long-term lease to manage utility and lighting systems. . . . At first glance, the idea might seem similar to OSU’s 2012 agreement to lease parking operations to an outside vendor. The 50-year, $483 million deal has helped pay for academic programs, but it has also led to complaints from students and faculty members about rising parking fees. University officials say the similarities are that both plans involve long-term leases and are designed to provide OSU with a new income source. Columbus Dispatch

NJ: NJ charter schools see smaller percentages of poor and special needs students, study says. Charter schools in many of the state’s most disadvantaged districts do not look much like the communities they serve, according to a study to be released today by public school advocates. According to the report, the schools—concentrated in Camden, Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark, Paterson, Plainfield, and Trenton—educate significantly smaller percentages of poor students, those from non-English speaking families, and special education students, than do the public school districts they serve. The Star-Ledger

KS: Former Insurance Exec Sues Medicaid Agent. A former insurance company executive involved in Kansas’ privatized Medicaid program filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit alleging retaliation by management for objecting to potentially unethical or illegal maneuvers to improve company revenue, documents said Tuesday. . . . Centene was among three for-profit, managed-care organizations selected in 2012 by the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback to operate a new $3 billion initiative named KanCare. . . . Leary, who was vice president of contracting and network development at Sunflower State Health Plan, said in the suit Centene managers responded to poor financial performance of the Kansas operation by blocking assignment of Medicare beneficiaries to medical providers that had contracted for reimbursement rates in excess of Kansas’ standard rate. . . .The objective was to avoid expenses related to referrals by KUMC physicians and specialists. Insurance News Net

WV: Ballot issue raises privatization, necessity issues. A constitutional amendment that would allow the Boy Scouts of America to operate for-profit ventures at the Summit Bechtel Reserve is looming on the Nov. 4 ballet, and voters are being asked to make changes to the state constitution for one entity while leaving amendment safeguards in the hands of legislators at a later date. Montgomery Herald

MD: City should reject privatizing water – letter to editor. . . . Baltimore should not enter into a contract that could allow Veolia, a private corporation, to advise the city on its public water system. Many cities from Gladewater, Texas to Indianapolis have ended their contracts with Veolia after experiencing a litany of problems from rate hikes to overbilling to failure to invest in infrastructure — and they’ve actually saved money. Why would we look to a private water company to advise us on efficiency if cities around the globe are saving money and improving infrastructure after rejecting Veolia? This is a pivotal moment for our city when we must decide how to manage our water system well into the future. Baltimore Sun