Review of The Effect of Co-locations on Student Achievement in NYC Public Schools

Source: Tina Trujillo, Marialena Rivera, National Education Policy Center, April 2014

From the press release:
A recent report argues that co-locating charter schools with traditional public schools doesn’t harm the achievement of the traditional public school students. But the report leaves out the necessary documentation by which its conclusions could be reasonably assessed, a new review released today explains….

Trujillo and Rivera reviewed The Effect of Co-locations on Student Achievement in NYC Public Schools, written earlier this year by Marcus Winters and published by the Manhattan Institute.

The Effect of Co-locations argues that its data analyses show no statistical impact on traditional public school student achievement in New York City resulting from co-locations of charter schools with traditional public schools. The underlying issue has garnered recent interest as a result of the election of Bill DeBlasio as New York City mayor and the resulting shift away from former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s education policies.

In their review, Trujillo and Rivera write that the Manhattan Institute report omits details about its analysis that would enable readers to evaluate the merits of its methods and its claims. Additionally, they write, the report does not examine existing related research or background information on co-locations. The reviewers also point out the report’s decision to reject any consideration of “important outcomes related to students’ socio-emotional development, safety, health, and broader academic experiences.”

As a consequence of its shortcomings, “The report ultimately serves more as a marketing tool for the continued growth of charter schools in New York City than as a carefully presented research study,” the reviewers conclude. It therefore offers neither policymakers nor educators adequate information to evaluate co-location’s impact on students’ educational experiences and outcomes….
The Effect of Co-locations on Student Achievement in NYC Public Schools
Source: Marcus Winters, Manhattan Institute, Civic Report, No. 85, February 2014

D.C. Council weighs ceding power to mayor, upending checks and balances on contracting

Source: Aaron C. Davis, Washington Post, April 15, 2014

The D.C. Council on Tuesday began working on a bill that would eliminate its power to vote on multimillion-dollar contracts negotiated by the mayor. The legislation would prohibit council members from voting on large contracts bid on by some of the city’s biggest contractors — and political contributors. But the bill would also tilt the city’s balance of power in favor of the mayor. … Although a majority of council members have signed on as sponsors, not everyone appeared convinced. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) who will determine whether the measure moves forward, said the criticism he hears most often from city residents is that District business remains opaque. He said he worried that eliminating the council’s public voting on large contracts and its production of contract documents for public review could remove voters’ only view of many decisions. Government watchdogs and some city contractors also raised concerns, saying that taking award decisions out of public view would do more harm than good — and come at a time when the Democratic mayor’s relationship with the city’s former top contractor remains the subject of a federal investigation….

Private money, public projects: More U.S. states doing deals

Source: Hilary Russ, Reuters, April 14, 2014

Short on funding but big on need, U.S. states and cities are increasingly turning to such deals, known as public-private partnerships, or P3s, hoping to leverage assets that can bring a quick infusion of private dollars to rebuild crumbling infrastructure. … The projects include everything from a light rail system in suburban Washington, D.C., to the replacement of hundreds of bridges in Pennsylvania. In the past, the United States has had an average of one or two public-private partnership deals valued at more than $500 million in the works annually, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s municipal banking group. This year, the bank said, there are 8 to 10 such projects. Thirty-three states allow varying levels of public-private partnerships for transportation projects, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, up from 23 in 2006. Kentucky lawmakers passed such legislation in late March, but the governor vetoed it on Friday. …

Steering Clear of Outsourcing

Source: Jennifer Gladwell, Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions + Kaiser, Labor Management Partnership, April 2, 2014

The Colorado Couriers UBT is set to save $375,000 this year after an objection prompts a close look at its use of outside contractors.

Department: Couriers (Colorado)

Value Compass: Affordability, Best Place to Work

Problem: The Colorado Couriers department was using outside contractors to do jobs also done by SEIU Local 105-represented employees.

SMART goal: Reduce the cost of external courier services from $53,000 a month in June 2013 to $38,000 a month by Aug. 31, 2013, while continuing to meet the business needs of the organization.

Metric: Cost of outside contractors

Team co-leads: Anthony Lopez, courier driver, SEIU Local 105; Terry Wagner, manager

Small tests of change:
- Reconfigure and bring routes in-house that were contracted out.
- Work with internal customers to assess their needs.
- Hire an additional employee to reduce overtime and outside courier costs on the weekends.
- Purchase new technology for central dispatching that enables better tracking of pickups and deliveries.
- Equip drivers with smartphones so they can receive information in real time about pickups and deliveries. Central dispatch can monitor drivers’ locations using the phones’ GPS technology, so it is easy to see which driver is closest when a call comes in for an unscheduled pickup.

Results: The team exceeded its stretch goal and is saving an average of $25,577 a month, a cost reduction of 48.2 percent. The team has sustained its success for more than six months. By the end of 2013, the team’s effort had resulted in a cost savings of $145,165. The projected savings for 2014 is more than $375,000…..

Louisiana corrections firm says it will operate treatment center in Hardin jail

Source: Mike Ferguson, Billings Gazette, April 10, 2014

A Louisiana corrections company plans a job fair April 16 at the Two Rivers Detention Facility in Hardin in an effort to find up to 115 employees to operate a therapeutic treatment center for Bureau of Indian Affairs inmates, beginning as early as May 15…. Treatment would be provided at the detention facility itself, built in 2007 through the issuance of $27 million in revenue bonds….Emerald Companies, which includes Emerald Correctional Management and Emerald Healthcare Systems, is involved in the design, construction, management and health care services in a variety of correctional settings in four states — Louisiana, where the company is based, as well as Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. According to the company’s website, the company contracts with four federal agencies as well as state corrections departments and a number of city and county jurisdictions. A Montana Department of Corrections spokesperson said the company hasn’t contracted to provide services here….

…Jeff McDowell, executive director of Two Rivers Authority, the tax-funded economic development agency for the city of Hardin, said he had no comment Thursday about the company’s plans, but said he’ll issue a statement later. Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder said he won’t likely consider placing any county inmates at the Two Rivers Detention Facility “until they are up and running.”…

Infographic: Privatization of the US Prison System

Source:, April 12, 2014

The Private Prison System in USA - How private companies are making billions from public confinement

Privatization of the US Prison System
Source: Global Research News, April 14, 2014

The following infographic shows us how profitable the US prison industry is. “Between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion” dollars. As reported in The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery?, inmates, mostly Blacks and Hispanics, are also being exploited by various industries:

“For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold

They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.”…

Beer, wine and liquor would all be sold in the same store under new proposal to privatize Pa. booze sales

Source: Jeff Frantz,, April 14, 2014

There’s another plan on the table to change the way booze is bought and sold in Pennsylvania, one that would totally undo the state store system. Now we get to see if this proposal — put forward by a coalition of businesses including the Pennsylvania Retail Federation, Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, Pennsylvania Business Council and a group representing some beer distributors — can gain traction in an increasingly crowded field. In a letter to state Senators last week, the coalition said its proposal is the most friendly to consumers and businesses, since it’s crafted by the very businesses that want to move into the beer, wine and spirits game, that would have to meet customer needs to recoup their investment. …. The proposal would tie a license to sell beer, wine and liquor together. License holders would have the choice to sell whichever of the products they want. Any place that sells beer could sell it by the six-pack or case. Initially, the coalition expects many of these revamped “D” licenses would come from current beer distributors….
House Democrats, union say not so fast on plan for full liquor privatization in Pa.
Source: Jeff Frantz,, April 14, 2014

So is news of yet another proposal to privatize liquor sales in Pennsylvania evidence that momentum for a change exists? Or is all the talk about momentum just an effort to create momentum? House Democrats and the union that represents state store employees — both longtime privatization foes — think it’s the later. They also believe the proposal put forward by a coalition of business groups is a bad deal for taxpayers….

Detroit: Bankruptcy water deal with suburbs is dead, unless court orders mediation

Source: Nathan Bomey, Christina Hall and Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, April 14, 2014

The City of Detroit has ended negotiations with Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties over the potential spinoff of the city’s water department as a regional authority, but the city and counties signaled they haven’t ruled out a deal entirely. After Wayne County last week asked Judge Steven Rhodes to appoint a mediator to resolve the dispute between Detroit and the counties, the city asked Rhodes to reject the request. Detroit bankruptcy attorneys said in a court filing that they have ended talks with the counties, leaving the possible privatization of the system as the city’s main focus….
Editorial: What we’d lose by privatizing Detroit’s water system
Source: Detroit Free Press, April 6, 2014

Detroit’s fast track to private water risks high rates, bad service, experts say Oakland County seeks alternatives to ‘monopolistic’ Detroit water and sewer The meltdown over the future of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is Exhibit A in southeast Michigan’s epic regional dysfunction. Everyone knows the system has to be “rationalized” in the city’s municipal bankruptcy — not just leveraged as an asset, but changed to manage debt and long-term maintenance better. The solution that Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr favors is best for all players: an authority that would give the suburbs a say in the way the system is managed, and give the city much-needed cash for relinquishing its ownership.

Detroit’s fast track to private water risks high rates, bad service, experts say
Source: Brent Snavely, Detroit Free Press, April 6, 2014

Detroit risks higher water and sewer rates, poorer service and a mountain of administrative headaches if it insists on an aggressive timetable for choosing a private company to run the city’s sprawling system, experts told the Free Press. The city, as part of its plan to restructure $18 billion in debt and emerge from bankruptcy, asked private companies in March to provide initial proposals by this week and will ask some from the pool to submit binding bids by June….

Detroit seeking offers for private management of water and sewerage department
Source: Brent Snavely, Detroit Free Press, March 25, 2014

With negotiations with suburban counties deadlocked, the City of Detroit has issued a request for offers from private companies to operate and manage the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who is steering the city through the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history, said the city has a duty to its creditors to explore all options, especially since the city’s proposal for the creation of a regional authority with Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties is stalled.

Detroit Water, Sewer Bonds Downgraded Deeper Into Junk
Source: Brian Chappatta and Chris Christoff, Bloomberg, March 25, 2014

Detroit’s water and sewer bonds were dropped five levels to CCC from BB- by Standard & Poor’s — its fifth-lowest grade — citing a possible default as the city goes through the largest U.S. municipal bankruptcy. … The city’s water system, which serves about 40 percent of Michigan’s population, accounts for $5.8 billion of Detroit’s debt. Orr has proposed leasing the system to a new regional public authority to help pay for services. Surrounding counties have so far balked. ….

Detroit Threatens to Cut Water Service to Delinquent Customers
Source: John Eligon, New York Times, March 25, 2014

…Although the department said its effort to collect on delinquencies was not related to Detroit’s bankruptcy, the water department has been an issue in the process. The city has been looking to shed some of its $18 billion debt by privatizing some of the system. Kevyn D. Orr, the city’s emergency manager, has proposed folding Detroit’s water department into a regional authority that would handle water service for Wayne County, which includes Detroit, and the wealthier suburban counties of Oakland and Macomb. Those counties have been resistant to the idea in part because of the fear that they will be caught up in Detroit’s delinquencies. Bill Nowling, a spokesman for Mr. Orr, said the water department’s efforts to collect back payments did not affect the city’s push for a regional authority. The authority would give the counties more control in recovering unpaid bills, Mr. Nowling wrote in an email. Besides the effort to create a regional authority, Mr. Orr has also been looking into selling the water department or having an outside company manage it. The city put out a request last Friday seeking bids to buy or manage the department, and Mr. Nowling wrote that interest was strong. …

Detroit Seeks Proposals to Privatize Its Water System
Source: Matthew Dolan, Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2014

This bankrupt city is seeking proposals from private companies to run and potentially buy its regional water and sewer system as talks to lease it to the city’s suburbs have stalled. The move to at least partially privatize one of the nation’s largest water systems comes as the city considers unloading assets to finalize its debt-cutting plan, which is expected to be voted on by creditors this spring. …. Privatizing water and sewer service in southeast Michigan could provide a test case for advocates who argue the private sector would bring greater efficiency and needed improvement to aging systems nationally. Opponents of such privatization efforts fear rate increases and question turning a public entity into a profit-making enterprise….

Detroit water deal not close, Oakland County says
Source: Lauren Abdel-Razzaq, Detroit News, February 11, 2014

Suburban leaders say they’re far from agreeing on joining a regional authority that would run Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department, despite pressure to reach a deal to facilitate the city’s bankruptcy restructuring. Top aides to Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson made their position clear during a meeting Tuesday night with officials from Macomb and Wayne counties to discuss the proposed authority. Their concerns include forcing suburban customers to bear the brunt of future costs associated with the water and sewer system. Oakland County doesn’t feel it has to make a quick deal with Detroit, deputy executive Gerald Poisson said….

Detroit Suburbs Balk at Spinning Off Water Works to Help City
Source: Chris Christoff and Brian Chappatta, Bloomberg, January 28, 2014

Time is running out for Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to persuade suburban leaders and bondholders to help the city wring cash from its water-and-sewer system, a key to resolving its bankruptcy. The Detroit-owned utility serves 127 area communities that now pay for its services. Talks to lease the system to a new regional authority that would generate revenue for municipal services are bedeviled by mistrust and the cost of upgrading a network that serves 40 percent of Michigan’s population across 1,079 square miles (2,795 square kilometers). …

Regional water deal elusive for Detroit emergency manager
Source: Nick Carey, Reuters, December 16, 2013

In bankruptcy and looking for cash, Detroit would like to lease its water utility to raise as much as $9 billion to fund basic services long term, but talks with neighboring suburban counties are stalled. County officials say they are stuck over the price tag and estimates of repair costs, likely delaying plans by Detroit’s emergency manager to deliver a financial restructuring plan early next month. … A key sticking point is the estimate of what it would cost to repair or replace underground pipes and other Detroit Water and Sewerage Department infrastructure. Gerald Poisson, deputy executive for Oakland County – home to 1.2 million DWSD customers – said preliminary financials he had seen estimated it would cost $20 billion to upgrade the system over two decades. Rates would have to quadruple to fund repairs, he said. …

Profit, politics, pain: Private prisons — an eight-month Post investigation

Source: Palm Beach Post, October 28, 2013

Behind the bars of Florida’s private prisons is a multibillion-dollar juggernaut, steamrolling lawmakers, inmates and taxpayers alike.

Palm Beach Post investigative reporter Pat Beall found in an eight-month investigation that hardball politics, lavish campaign contributions and back-room maneuvering fuel Florida’s private prison deals.

Contracts promising millions in taxpayer savings are based on phantom costs and a contrived formula. Strip away the formula and three of Florida’s six private prisons for adults save no money at all, The Post found.

Sweetheart deals stuff private prisons with the cheapest, least troublesome prisoners, leaving Florida public prisons with the sickest and most violent inmates. State law guarantees companies are paid as if their prisons are 90 percent full, even if they aren’t, and even if it means emptying parts of public prisons to pack them.

Audits, security reports, lawsuits, government records and state and federal investigations in 21 states unveil a startling pattern of murder, riots and sexual assault at private prisons nationwide….

PRIVATE PRISONS: Profit, Politics & Pain
INTERACTIVE MAP: Private prison incidents
Private prison documents
Prison enterprise a powerful force in backrooms, behind bars
Startling patterns of violence, cost cutting

Glen Ellyn opts to stay in ambulance business

Source: Quan Truong, Chicago Tribune, February 25, 2014

After debating whether to get out of the ambulance business, Glen Ellyn officials have decided to continue owning and maintaining its own vehicles while outsourcing staffing and billing services. The board of trustees voted 5-1 on Monday to award a contract to Kurtz Paramedic Services, of New Lenox, and also approved the purchase of two new ambulances for roughly $493,000…. A staff analysis of Kurtz’s proposal showed the village can save approximately $153,500 a year if it continues to own and maintain the emergency vehicles, as opposed to having the firm take over ownership along with the staffing and billing services….