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Freedom Rider:Charter School Corruption

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    by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

    Charter schools are the inventions of rightwing corporations and foundations, and serve as profit centers for the filthy rich. Given that these are the people who run American society, it is no surprise that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio “got his head handed to him” when he clashed with charter school interests. “The mayor’s little nod to protecting public education was no match for big money.”


    Freedom Rider:Charter School Corruption

    by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

    The hedge fund honchos and the Walton Family Foundation want to get rid of the teaching profession.”

    Every injustice in American life can be laid at the feet of the richest people in the country and the politicians who do their bidding. Nowhere is that terrible dynamic more obvious than in the destruction of public education by the charter school system.

    The fix is officially in for charter schools in the state of New York. The legislature finished its session by giving these privately funded “public” schools more protection than they have almost anywhere else in the nation. Charter schools are allegedly public schools but that label is nothing more than public relations gimmickry. In March a New York state Supreme Court judge ruled that the comptroller had no standing to audit charter schools because they are educational corporations and not “units of the state.” The charter school executives who usually insist that they are running public schools were strangely silent and for once didn’t disagree when someone said their schools are not public after all.

    Charter schools are a scam inflicted on black and Latino children and are meant to turn education into just another profit center. These schools take public money without being accountable to the public and they are funded by organizations like the Walton Family Foundation of WalMart fame and hedge fund chieftains. There is no data which proves that they provide superior education. They don’t have to accept children with special needs and often expel children who are struggling academically because they may bring down the all important test scores they use to justify their access to public dollars.

    There is no data which proves that they provide superior education.”

    Bill de Blasio, New York City’s newly elected mayor, promised to slow down the process of co-locating schools, shoving charter schools into real public schools and depriving children of physical space and resources. At Public School 149 in East Harlem, special education students will literally not have a place in that school. A Success Academy charter school already in residence is expanding and the disabled children at P.S. 149 will have to be moved elsewhere.

    Teachers at charter schools are akin to fast food workers. They are the least experienced and have a high rate of turnover, all of which happens by design. The hedge fund honchos and the Walton Family Foundation want to get rid of the teaching profession and make educators as insecure in their work lives as everyone else in the country.

    The protections recently given to New York state charter schools are the result of cynical collusion between governor Andrew Cuomo, big money political donors and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. In the last weeks before he left office in December 2013, Bloomberg co-located an additional 45 new charters into public school buildings. The incoming mayor Bill de Blasio had a rather modest charter school reform agenda. He didn’t propose the radical steps that are needed to eradicate them, instead choosing only to ask that they pay rent for taking up public school space. He even approved 17 of the new co-location plans.

    But the big money people were having none of it. They worked with the nominally Democratic Cuomo to make sure that charter schools would continue to take over as many public school buildings as they want and not pay one penny in rent. Not only that but they conspired to get even more funds for charter schools from the state budget.

    Cuomo is running for re-election in November 2014 and depends on campaign donations from people like Daniel Loeb, founder of Third Point hedge fund and chairman of Success Academies charter schools. Together they and others developed a lobbying effort which demolished any hope of the small reforms de Blasio proposed. A previously little known group, Families for Excellent Schools, appeared on the scene with more than three million dollars worth of advertising featured black and latino parents making the case for charters. Families for Excellent Schools is certainly not made up of any New York City families. Its offices share an address with the infamous Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst organization.

    Hopes for good public education have been dashed by the evil nexus of money and political ambition.”

    It was obvious very quickly that the mayor’s little nod to protecting public education was no match for big money and his nemesis in the governor’s office. When Success Academy charters closed all twenty of its schools for one day, and brought 7,000 parents and children to a rally in the state capital, it was clear that they had won the day.

    Kenneth Langone is the founder of Home Depot and chairman of Promise Academies. He is a Republican who nonetheless contributed $50,000 to Cuomo’s last campaign. “He said that when the governor asked him to lead a group of Republicans supporting his re-election, he agreed because of Mr. Cuomo’s support for charter schools. ‘Every time I am with the governor, I talk to him about charter schools,’ Mr. Langone said in an interview. ‘He gets it.’”

    Cuomo gets to stay in office because Langone, Loeb and others like them keep him there. It is impossible to run a viable campaign for governor of New York state without raising at least $30 million. That means the rich will have access to promote charter schools or anything else they are interested in seeing come to fruition.

    At the end of the day in New York state, charter schools and their wealthy backers got a very good deal. They not only won’t pay any rent for using public school space, but they can force the city to pay if they end up leasing space. They will also get a larger share of funds over the next three years, $250 per pupil in the first year, $350 in the second year and $500 in the third year.

    As the saying goes, de Blasio got his head handed to him. More importantly however, the hopes for good public education have been dashed by the evil nexus of money and political ambition. It is unfortunate that the real families for excellent schools have again gotten the shaft. In the charter school business as in every other field, money talks and everything else walks. Education has now been brought down to the level of every other institution in American society and that is a sad turn of events.

    Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)

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    Inner City Public schools do have a host of 'issues'

    Because their inner-city neighborhoods also have a host of issues [Hi unemployment, hi crime, etc]. And unfortunately too many Black schools can be too disruptive in school- BUT...

    Any time a so-called school 'reform' movement is mainly headed by a bunch of rich white guys, who have NO true credentials as educators [IE: Obama's Sec of ED Arne Duncan {picked as CPS 'CEO' w the qualifications of a Jr Hi-school Basketball coach / PE Teacher} & Bill Gates {ain't even bothered to finish his BS degree in IT technology], & who did NOT even go to any public school nor send their kids to any [let alone to any Inner-City public school]- instead of by teachers, school kids' parents & grass-roots community-based orgs- IMO shows that what Duncan & 'Wiz-Kid' Gates & their ilk are really hyping is {mis}Education [of the Negro] Deform!

    TFA alumn Michelle Rhee as head of DC schools, presided over a test cheating scandal to 'cook the books' to try to make her deform policies falsely look successful. And hers is NOT an isolated case. With 17% of charters doing better than regular public schools vs 37% of charters in fact doing worse [by their own testing metrics]- that's like taking 1 step forward & then 2 steps backwards &hyping it as 'progress'.

    Food for thought: If these charters that Rhee, Gates, the Waltons, Duncan, Obama, Rahmbo, Cuomo, Bloomberg, Dan Loeb, Ken Langone - et-al hype as their 'magic bullet' solution to all that ails inner-city public schools are really so great- then why don't they / won't they send THEIR own KIDS to any??? IMO these filthy rich [mainly] white guys could care less about Black & Brown inner-city students. They're just playing the 'race-card' & using our Black children as 'stage props' to hype their corp charter school agenda for BIG Profit$$$!!!

    And about MS [Evil] Eva Moskowitz' 'Success'{ful} bid vs new NYC Mayor DeBlasio: } In the dying weeks of his regime, ex-mayor Bloomberg rammed thru a record 45 new school-sharing arrangements — including 17 new charters. de Blasio OKed 36 of them, including 14 of the 17 new charter co-locations. Ms Moskowitz’s Success Academies network was handed five new sites. Hardly a war or personal vendetta.

    2 the 3 charter co-locations De Blasio did NOT approve were for new Success charter elementary schools, neither of which has yet to accept a single student. This makes [Evil] Eva's claims of “closed” schools and “evicted” students disingenuous at best. So [Evil] Eva has been playing the 'victim-card' falsely claim a vendetta on TV...' {

    PS: Maybe it's time for Parents, Community Orgs & [fired] Teachers to start occupying & taking over closed schools &/or schools slated for closing- and start holding classes outside of the NCLB / RTTT / Corp Charter Domain!!! 

    The Big Enchilada

    I agree with everything Nixakliel has written.  I wish he would use fewer brackets, slashes, exclamation marks, and highlighting:   but the content is accurate and spot on.

    I've posted on other occasions this exerpt from an essay by Jonathan Kozol that appeared in Harper's magazine many years ago, but it's worth reprinting.  It nicely complements Ms. Kimberly's article and Nixakliel's comment:

    "Some years ago, a friend who works on Wall Street handed me a stock-market prospectus in which a group of analysts at an investment-banking firm known as Montgomery Securities described the financial benefits to be derived from privatizing our public schools. "The education industry", according to these analysts, "represents, in our opinion, the final frontier of a number of sectors once under public control" that "have either voluntarily opened" or, they note in pointed terms, have "been forced" to open up to private enterprise.

    Indeed, they write, "the education industry represents the largest market opportunity" since health-care services were privatized during the 1970s... "The larger developing opportunity is in the K-12 EMO market, led by private elementary school providers..." From the point of view of private profit, one of these analysts enthusiastically observes, "the K-12 market is the Big Enchilada".

    Language as outright cynical as this is never heard in the...civic-minded arguments that voucher (and charter) advocates present when speaking to poor parents... The black and Hispanic kids with whom I've worked for forty years in Boston and New York have no reason to suspect that their little destinies, downgraded and diminished for so long by governmental penury, have now become the object of so large a corporate appetite...

    The next and more ambitious stage in the introduction of the private market and its values into public schools did not become possible until the voucher advocates made the... decision to renounce the terminology of "vouchers" and to forgo temporarily their efforts to assume the outright ownership of schools. They settled instead for the management of schools that technically remained within the public sector. Newly created corporations, which characteristically adopted such academically impressive names as "Nobel Learning" or "Edison Schools", began convincing contract with them to operate at first a few, then larger numbers, of their schools.

    Almost simultaneously...the testing affiliates of some of our largest textbook publishers, as well as the major test-prep companies... began to move into our public schools... By 2005, the schools were generating $2.8 billion a year for the testing industry. In both these areas... the encroachment of the private sector on public education has been mightily assisted by provisions that the Bush Administration managed to insert into the No Child Left Behind Act...

    Some $490 billion (four percent of GNP) is spent on education yearly in the United States. It will be an act of social suicide if liberals blithely continue to dismiss the opportunities this vast amount of money represents for corporate predation."

    (From "The Big Enchilada" by Jonathan Kozol)



    I've read this article RE: Wall St Banksters' schemes to Take-

    a BIG Chunk of upwards of 1 TRILLION$$$/yr that USG's & state gov'ts' Depts of ED & US universities have budgeted. For Profit Charters, standardized testing [administered test corporations], vouchers & playing the 'race-card' are their main weapons of choice for their {mis}Education [of the Negro] Deform agenda.

    The mere fact that the heads of major public schools systems- IE: Chicago's CPS- have changed their titles from superintendent, chancellor or even president to 'CEO' [a corporate title], clearly indicates this is a leveraged take-over of public-schools by Corp Wall St Bankster types! 

    Black parents can shut them down

    Why are black parents being so gullible toward charter schools?  If they do their homework they will find charter schools do not educate black students better than traditional schools.  Teachers are not required to be certified, PE once a week, at he charter schools in my state, very little science is taught.   Charter schools are money making tools for major corporations, just like the prison industrial complex.  These criminals do not care about educating black people.  They are pipelines to the prison industrial complex.  Black parents should use information that is available to them to check these corporation out, such as their accountability scores.  States department of education is just as bad, because they are paid high salaries to be overseers of charter schools.  I wish to say to black parents, just shut them down, and stay in your traditional schools, these folks do not like your children, all they see, is the money.