Category Archives: Horror.Stories

Student Attrition And “Backfilling” At Success Academy Charter Schools: What Student Enrollment Patterns Tell Us

Source: Leo Casey, Albert Shanker Institute, February 18, 2016

Last week, at a press conference called to respond to the New York Times publication of a video of a Success Academy model teacher berating a child for making a mistake in arithmetic, Moskowitz reiterated her claim that such practices were “anomalies.” The notion that students were being “pushed out” in order to boost Success Academy scores on standardized exams was “just crazy talk,” Moskowitz told journalist John Merrow in a PBS interview. … The general pattern is unmistakable.  In the early grades, student enrollment in Success Academy Charter Schools increases: Whatever losses the schools may suffer through student attrition are more than compensated for by the enrollment of new students. After Grade 2, however, the enrollment numbers begin to decline and do so continuously through the later grades. There are only small variations in this essential pattern among the different Success Academy Charter Schools. In New York State, high stakes standardized exams begin at the end of Grade 3.

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Student Discipline, Race And Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy Charter Schools
Source: Leo Casey, Albert Shanker Institute, October 19, 2016

At a recent press conference, Success Academy Charter Schools CEO Eva Moskowitz addressed the issue of student discipline. “It is horrifying,” she told reporters, that critics of her charter schools’ high suspension rates don’t realize “that five-year-olds do some pretty violent things.” Moskowitz then pivoted to her displeasure with student discipline in New York City (NYC) public schools, asserting that disorder and disrespect have become rampant. This is not the first time Moskowitz has taken aim at the city’s student discipline policies. Last spring, she used the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal to criticize the efforts of Mayor Bill De Blasio and the NYC Department of Education to reform the student code of conduct and schools’ disciplinary procedures. Indeed, caustic commentary on student behavior and public school policy has become something of a trademark for Moskowitz.

U.S. Marshals Are Arresting People in Texas Who Have Outstanding Student Loans

Source: Samuel Lieberman, New York Magazine, February 16, 2016

Texas congressman Gene Green explained to Fox 26 that the federal government has been contracting out student-loan collections to private debt collectors, who are allowed to deploy the U.S. marshals as their enforcement arm. … Around Houston, that “better way” involves 1,200 to 1,500 arrest warrants. Student debt is at an all time high in the U.S., where students hold an average of $35,000 in federal debt, according to an analysis of government data on Edvisors.

Empty Promises: Something Still Stinks in Michigan and Ohio’s Prison Kitchens

Source: Stephen Katz, Cleve Scene, February 17, 2016

A series of reports over a two-year period in Michigan told of disturbing incidents in which the company served food tainted by maggots on multiple occasions, knowingly served rotten meat, ordered inmates to serve food pulled from the garbage, handed out food on which rats nibbled, and served moldy food. … Things were no better in Ohio. The Buckeye State cited Aramark 240 times in 2014 for shorting inmates on food. The state’s prison kitchens have also seen issues with maggots, mice turds, employee shortages, substandard food, and unsanitary conditions. … In Ohio, the prisons’ unions offered to run the kitchens for less money than Aramark, but Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitation and Correction opted to extend Aramark’s contract in June while boosting its pay from $110 million to $130 million over two years. As a precautionary measure, Michigan and Ohio hired more monitors to ensure prisoners aren’t starving or eating larvae. So there’s that. … Aramark, the world’s largest institutional food conglomerate, and Trinity, plop meals onto prisoners’ trays at around 950 detention centers in North America, according to the companies’ websites. But that figure is dropping, mostly because Aramark is establishing itself as the poster child for all that’s wrong with privatization, due in no small part to widely publicized incidents in Michigan and Ohio. Trinity’s record is better than Aramark, but the bar is low. Last year the Southern Center for Human Rights considered suing the company for allegedly starving inmates in Georgia.

How Chicago Students Are Fighting Disgusting School Lunches

Source: Tom Perkins, Munchies, February 4, 2016

In fact, the food is free, but it’s so bad that students are grabbing up to a million fewer trays annually. That trend started in 2013, when CPS hired food giant Aramark to run its kitchens. The company now earns around $14 billion annually cooking in prisons, hospitals, schools, and sports stadiums, but over the last two years it has faced widespread criticism over food quality. … Trips trough the lunch line turned into such a horror show that Delizo and her classmates, along with civics teacher Tim Meegan, began organizing boycotts as part of a campaign calling for improvements. Their objective: Convince CPS to provide healthier and higher quality food. If it can’t, it should offer alternatives to Aramark. … In an attempt to address the food quality, Fowler facilitated a mid-December meeting with students and Aramark managers. Meegan says the meeting ended with Fowler giving students “coloring worksheets” to draw and color in the foods they would like to see. That idea was met with some indignation. Fowler also asked students to audit the food service. Students say they declined to do so because the request was viewed as an attempt to deflect blame onto the lunch ladies.

Centurion of Florida takes over health services for three-fourths of state’s prisoners

Source: Dara Kam, Gainesville Sun, February 2, 2016

State corrections officials have hired Centurion of Florida LLC to take over prison health services for more than three-fourths of Florida’s 100,000 inmates after Corizon Health walked away from a five-year, $1.2 billion contract three years early. Centurion, a joint venture between Centene Corp. and MHM Services, will be paid a maximum of nearly $268 million to fill in for Corizon, which exercised a 180-day cancellation provision in its contract with the state. …

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Editorial: State needs to reverse privatization of prison health care
Source: Palm Beach Post, December 7, 2015

The withdrawal of Corizon Health from its nearly $1.2 billion contract to provide medical services to most of Florida’s prison inmates — after a new inspection that details yet more examples of serious neglect — underscores the folly of a state government contracting with for-profit companies to deliver basic human services on the cheap. … Inmate death reports weren’t regularly submitted to the state, and medical exams showing whether inmates were injured by guards were missing in 2013 and 2014, The Post also reported. … Inmates may not be entitled to “Cadillac” health care, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled they are entitled to adequate care. What we have seen from Corizon, under this contract, is far less than adequate. A year ago, we urged the DOC to scrap its failed experiment with privatization. Amid this crisis, that may not be practical. Once Corizon makes its premature departure, in fact, it’s not clear how the state will provide care during the year that it will take to complete another bidding process.

After Corizon’s Contract Cancellation, What Happens To Prison Health Employees?
Source: SASCHA CORDNER, WFSU, December 4, 2015

Still, some unions already have an answer to that particular question: transfer those Corizon employees back into state employment. Worried about the loss of thousands of state employee jobs, AFSCME and the Florida Nursing Association were part of a lawsuit to stop the state from privatizing prison health care services. The unions lost, and while Corizon and Wexford employed many, there were still hundreds of layoffs as well as others moving to work for other state agencies. …

Corizon pulls out of prison health care contract, leaving future of privatization in limbo
Source: Mary Ellen Klas, Tampa Bay Times, November 30, 2015

After two years of complaints about healthcare in Florida’s prisons, the private company that has been responsible for the largest share of inmate care — Corizon Health — decided not to renew its $1.1 billion contract with the state Monday, leaving the future of care for 74,000 inmates in limbo when the company pulls out in six months. The decision by the Tennessee-based company to exercise its right to terminate the contract that was scheduled to expire in 2018 came as the Florida Department of Corrections was attempting to renegotiate the agreement amid reports of inmate maltreatment, chronic understaffing and rising numbers of unnatural inmate deaths.

Post investigation: Prisoners dying for care – Privatizing prison health care leaves inmates in pain, sometimes dying
Source: Pat Beall, Palm Beach Post, September 26, 2014

Just months after all medical care in state prisons was privatized, the count of inmate deaths spiked to a 10-year high… Handing off prison inmate medical care to for-profit companies was designed to deliver tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer savings beginning in 2012. But for inmates, it has come with cold-blooded consequences, a Palm Beach Post investigation found. Just months after all medical care in state prisons was privatized, the count of inmate deaths spiked to a 10-year high in January and continued at a record pace through July. Doctors have expressed alarm. The number of seriously ill prisoners sent for outside hospital care is on track to drop by 47 percent from 2012, the last year for which the state handled medical care. Inmates say prescription painkillers are abruptly replaced with over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen. Pickelsimer’s undiagnosed lung cancer was treated with Tylenol and warm compresses…. In 2012, the state inked inmate health care contracts totaling $1.3 billion with two companies: Wexford Health Sources for care at nine major prisons and Corizon Inc. for approximately 44. In addition, the companies care for inmates at prison annexes, work release centers and two centers for new inmates — roughly 100,000 prisoners in all….

Privatized prison health care is worse than you thought
Source: Billy Manes, Orlando Weekly, October 9, 2013

Until now, we could all be comfortable with our blue-sky or black-cloud extrapolations on the merits of privatizing prison health care, something the state achieved this year with two five-year health-provider contracts with a total worth of $1.4 billion. Yeah, we knew that thousands of public employees would lose their jobs, but the companies – Corizon and Wexford Health Sources – told us with a sparkle in their eye that those employees would surely be sucked up into the free market. All would settle back down. You wouldn’t notice a thing.

What we didn’t quite know, and apparently weren’t supposed to know, is that Corizon has been sued for malpractice 660 times in the last five years; Wexford has faced an alarming 1,092 malpractice complaints in the same period. Both have had to pay out substantial claims after being found guilty either by settlement or jury.

According to an alarming investigation by watchdog site the Broward Bulldog, both Corizon and Wexford were exempted from disclosing any of their litigious histories during the vetting process for their contracts, even though it’s pretty typical for state contractors to undergo these fairly obvious background checks….

Local charter school king hit with felony

Source: Maureen Magee, San Diego Union Tribune, January 14, 2016

A former San Diego County superintendent who approved charter schools that later hired his consulting firm was arraigned Friday in San Diego Superior Court on one felony count of conflict of interest, according to the San Diego district attorney’s office. The allegation facing Steve Van Zant, who currently is superintendent of the Sausalito Marin City School District, dates to May 2010 while he was superintendent of the Mountain Empire Unified School District. … Van Zant, 53, has been a controversial figure among San Diego County educators. Long before he faced legal troubles, Van Zant stirred animosity among school districts for years as he brokered deals with charter schools to operate in their districts — often without providing the notice required by law. … A couple of years into his tenure at Mountain Empire, Van Zant and his wife, Ingrid, established EdHive, a consulting firm that offers administrative services and helps charters find districts to green-light their schools. … According to profiles of company officials posted on the LinkedIn professional networking website, EdHive has represented at least 27 charters in California. Among them are several charters approved by Mountain Empire during Van Zant’s tenure as superintendent. Charters that hired EdHive include Endeavour Academy, which was shut down last year after the San Diego Unified School District sued the charter and the Alpine Union School District, which authorized the campus to operate in a Clairemont church.

American Medical Response taking over Rural/Metro

Source: Dani Ruberti, WVLT, January 5, 2016

American Medical Response, the largest ambulance company in the nation, has acquired Rural/Metro and they’ve launched an Employee Recruitment Campaign. They’re hoping to hire 60 Emergency Medical Technician’s and Paramedics in Knox County. …

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Rural/Metro to pay $50,250 in fines for slow September response times
Source: Hailey Holloway, WATE, November 13, 2015

The latest compliance report for Knox County’s ambulance provider, Rural/Metro, shows multiple performance issues that resulted in a $50,250 fine, bringing the total up to $185,750 so far this year. WATE 6 On Your Side has pulled the performance reports every month since March, and September’s report shows more Level 0s than ever before. Level 0 is when the ambulance company doesn’t have any ambulances available to respond to an emergency, and another company has to step in. In September, Rural/Metro had six Level 0s, resulting in $26,000 in fines. … Another chunk of the September report is for Level 3 notifications, where Rural/Metro only has three ambulances available to respond to emergencies and has to call other counties and agencies. In September, there were 109 Level 3 notifications as Rural/Metro got to Level 3 every day but two. Dr. Buchanan said the response time problems boil down to not having enough employees.

Rural/Metro faces additional penalties from Knox County for slow response times
Source: Hailey Holloway, WATE, October 21, 2015

New compliance numbers show Rural/Metro has another month of performance issues with Knox County. … Even though the August numbers show compliance, they also show Rural/Metro is have to call Mutual Aid more than ever. In August, there were 108 Level 3 notifications where Rural/Metro only had three ambulances available in Knox County to respond to emergencies, and had to call other providers. The contract, which is overseen by the Knox County Health Department, requires Rural/Metro to call Mutual Aid when it gets that low on ambulances. The August report shows that happened every single day, sometimes as many as seven times in one day. … The August compliance report also shows Rural/Metro reached Level 0 once. Level 0 means Rural/Metro did not have any ambulances available to respond to emergencies and had to rely on another provider to step-in. … August marks the third month in a row that Rural/Metro has had a Level 0. As WATE 6 On Your Side has previously reported, the contract says the agreement between Rural/Metro and Knox County can be terminated if “The Contractor has failed to satisfy the response time requirements for a period of three (3) consecutive months.” … In 2015, total fines paid to Knox County are $135,500 so far.

Rural/Metro questions remain
Source: Gerald Witt, Knoxville News Sentinel, September 28, 2015

Ambulance response times now have the attention of Knox County Commission. In Monday’s regular meeting, commissioners asked the county Law Director Richard “Bud” Armstrong to draft a letter asking the county’s ambulance provider, Rural/Metro, to answer some questions on service. Dr. Martha Buchanan, director of the Knox County Health Department, answered some of the questions about response times, fines the county levies for long waits and accreditation for mutual aid ambulances, but the detailed responses commissioners wanted may end up with Rural/Metro staff being called before the elected body. … The questions came up during a discussion over Rural/Metro, which has been scrutinized in recent months after reports were made showing when the ambulance provider had long response times and some instances when no ambulances were free to respond for calls.

Rural/Metro faces $112,500 fines in 2015 for Knoxville contract violations
Source: Hailey Holloway, WATE, September 4, 2015

Rural/Metro faces $112,500 in fines for 2015. The compliance report for the ambulance company’s July numbers shows another month of contract violations. … Another chunk of fines is due to non-emergency response times, which were higher in July than they have been in at least the last two years. There were 57 calls where response times took longer than 45 minutes, with one taking almost four hours. That brought on a $14,250 fine, bringing July’s total to $30,500.

Cheaper Isn’t Necessarily Better for Government Purchasing

Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, Governing, January 2016

Many states and cities get hung up on low prices and fail to consider a company’s performance when deciding whether to contract with them. …. That’s like buying the cheapest used car on an auto dealer’s lot, without checking out the condition of the motor. ….

….. The San Francisco administrative code, for example, doesn’t require its six departments that contract out for construction to evaluate past performance when considering bids. Some departments do so, but inconsistently. This still goes on despite a 2014 survey conducted by the city services auditor in which 90 percent of construction employees agreed that departments should be required to conduct evaluations and use them in the bid-award process. “Continuing to award contracts to poor performers,” the audit warned, “negatively impacts the city and its resources in the form of project delays, abandoned projects, substandard work, and, at times, claims and litigation.”…

…..Digging a bit deeper into the fine print, most cities and states use the word “responsible” to describe the type of bidder with whom they’ll consider doing business. But whether or not past performance is taken into account is often contingent on how one interprets what “responsible” means: Does it include information about prior experiences or not?

A 2015 report by the Hawaii State Procurement Office, which noted that bidders must be “responsible,” found that the state’s 21 chief procurement officers had different definitions for what the word meant…..

The For-Profit Probation Maze: A for-profit “offender-funded probation” payment system unfairly penalizes, and often traps, the poor

Source: J. Weston Phippen, National Journal, December 16, 2015

In the Mis­sis­sippi Delta town of Green­wood, a for-profit com­pany prom­ised city lead­ers it could take over its cash-strapped pro­ba­tion sys­tem without any ex­pense to tax­pay­ers. Not only that, but the com­pany said it could ac­tu­ally turn a profit for it­self, and the city, by col­lect­ing fines. Just eight months later, nearly 10 per­cent of the town’s 15,000 pop­u­la­tion was on pro­ba­tion for minor of­fenses like traffic vi­ol­a­tions and ow­ing fees to the com­pany. By the time city lead­ers real­ized the dam­age, the com­pany had en­titled it­self to profits of at least $48,000 a month, all paid for, as one county of­fi­cial said, “off the backs of the poor people.” …..

The For-Profit Probation Maze

Meal Plan Costs Tick Upward as Students Pay for More Than Food

Source: Stephanie Saul, New York Times, December 5, 2015

…For the first time this year, the University of Tennessee imposed a $300-per-semester dining fee on Mr. Miceli and about 12,000 other undergraduates, including commuters, who do not purchase other meal plans…..Tennessee’s contract with its dining vendor, Aramark, is just one example of how universities nationwide are embracing increasingly lucrative deals with giant dining contractors, who offer commissions and signing bonuses to help pay for campus improvements and academic programs. It is part of a new model of raising money through partnerships with private vendors, officials say, and with state funding for higher education still below pre-recession levels, a way to replace lost revenue. Under its contract, which runs through 2027, Tennessee will get 14 percent of all food revenues plus $15.2 million in renovations to dining facilities. In exchange for signing a 20-year contract that runs through 2034, the University of Virginia recently got a $70 million contribution from Aramark, based in Philadelphia — in addition to $19 million in renovations and annual commissions increasing to $19 million a year. Texas A&M announced a 10-year deal in 2012 with Chartwells, a subsidiary of the British-based Compass Group, that included a $22.7 million signing bonus and $25 million in capital investments…. At South Carolina State University, a historically black institution, a 2014 audit found that students paid $343 a year in “hidden costs” for food. The money was rebated to the institution by its vendor, Sodexo, a French company, partly to pay for a $5 million wellness center, which was never built….. An audit this year at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette found that the food vendor catered free parties for children of a university employee while inflating bills to the university.