March 10, 2015


IN: Lake County commissioners vote to pursue toll road lease. Lake county commissioners voted unanimously Monday to pursue a bid for lease rights to the Indiana Toll Road in a joint venture with LaPorte County. A positive vote is still needed by the Lake County Council to join the bid pursuit. That vote is scheduled for Tuesday. It’s all part of a quest for local government to claim the revenue rights to the state-owned toll road, which was leased to a private Australian-Spanish consortium in 2007, Commissioner Gerry Scheub said Monday.

AR: Walmart lobbyists push bill privatizing Arkansas’ public schools. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) will back legislation from lobbyists connected to Walmart that would open the door for private contractors to take over management of local school districts, the Arkansas Times reported. The bill, HB 1733, was introduced by state Rep. Bruce Cozart (R), and was written by Walton Family Foundation lobbyists. Cozart is also chair of the state House Education Committee. The bill was sent to the committee for review on Friday, and needs 11 votes to advance to a vote on the floor. According to the Times, the bill would establish an “achievement school district” that could include any school district found to be under “academic distress.” Raw Story

MA: Massachusetts Teachers Association calls charter school threat of lawsuit ‘appalling and deceptive’. . . “Any claim that the charter school cap is the basis of Massachusetts children being denied their civil rights is appalling and deceptive,” MTA President Barbara Madeloni said in a statement Sunday. “The real threat to our students — and to our democracy — is the two-tiered school system funded by public dollars that charter proponents will go to any lengths to expand.” Madeloni went on to say, the lawsuit “will represent just one more step in the effort to dismantle public education, put public resources into private hands, and undermine the schools in our poorest communities.” Current limits allow for up to 18 percent of the state’s lowest-performing school districts to be spent on charter school tuition.

KY: Outlook bad for public-private partnership bill. The bill allowing the state to contract with private companies to finance major road and bridge projects appears it may be stalled for the duration of the 2015 legislative session. . . . One key opponent to the bill is Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, who said Monday, “I would say that bill is in jeopardy.” Thayer said he and other legislators from Northern Kentucky are concerned that the bill could lead to the use of tolls as a way to finance the $2.6 billion plan to build a new Brent Spence Bridge linking Covington and Cincinnati. The Courier-Journal

PA: Sustainable community schools: An alternative to privatization. . . . The reality of understaffed, poorly resourced public schools destabilized by punitive and largely ineffective school transformation policies has driven many families to seek refuge in charters, few of which perform better than the schools they left. The charter lobby ignores the fact that charter school expansion, given the present charter school law and the absence of additional funding in the form of a charter school reimbursement line in the state budget, can only come at the expense of children in traditional public schools. Philadelphia Public School Notebook