Category Archives: Cataloged

New Study Finds Many Charters Feeding School-To-Prison Pipeline

Source: Mike Klonsky, National Education Policy Center, March 21, 2016

A first-ever analysis of school discipline records for the nation’s more than 5,250 charter schools shows a disturbing number are suspending big percentages of their black students and students with disabilities at highly disproportionate rates compared to white and non-disabled students. This from UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies at The Civil Rights Project. It identifies 374 charter schools across the country that had suspended 25% or more of their entire student body during the course of the 2011-12 academic year. The study also finds:

  • Nearly half of all black secondary charter school students attended one of the 270 charter schools that was hyper-segregated (80% black) and where the aggregate black suspension rate was 25%.
  • More than 500 charter schools suspended black charter students at a rate that was at least 10 percentage points higher than that of white charter students.
  • Even more disconcerting, 1,093 charter schools suspended students with disabilities at a rate that was 10 or more percentage points higher than that of students without disabilities.
  • Perhaps most alarming, 235 charter schools suspended more than 50% of their enrolled students with disabilities.

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The Disturbing Reason Why Charter Schools May Have Higher Test Scores
Source: Kristina Rizga, Mother Jones, March 18, 2016

But as more “no excuses” charter schools open, a growing number of critics have been raising serious concerns: Do charters truly admit all students—such as kids who face great challenges like severe disabilities or recent immigrants who don’t speak English—like traditional schools do? And do some charters engage in practices that artificially raise kids’ test scores? Yesterday, the UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies published a study that for the first time looked at discipline data for 5,250 charter schools and 95,000 public schools. The study, “Charter Schools, Civil Rights and School Discipline: A Comprehensive Review,” focused on how often students were sent home on detention (or “out-of-school suspensions,” in education jargon) during the 2011-12 academic year. Researchers have found that being suspended is a strong indicator that a student will eventually drop out. And students who drop out are much more likely to end up in prison, becoming part of the “school to prison pipeline.” This issue disproportionately affects black students (in charter and noncharter schools), who are suspended at a rate three times greater than white students.

Charter Schools Suspend Black and Disabled Students More, Study Says
Source: Mokoto Rich, The New York Times, March 16, 2016

Black students are four times as likely to be suspended from charter schools as white students, according to a new analysis of federal education data. And students with disabilities, the study found, are suspended two to three times the rate of nondisabled students in charter schools. … The analysis of charter school data from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights of close to 5,000 charters was done by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the University of California, Los Angeles, a nonprofit civil rights research and policy organization. … Based on data from the 2011-12 school year, the report found that charter schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels suspended 7.8 percent of students, compared with 6.7 percent of students in noncharter schools. Among students with disabilities, charter schools suspended 15.5 percent of students, compared with 13.7 percent at noncharters. At the extreme end, there were 235 charter schools that suspended more than half of their students with disabilities.

Read full report.

Charter school scandal haunts John Kasich

Source: Kimberly Hefling, Politico, March 14, 2016

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is an avid proponent of school choice, but his home state’s notoriously problematic charter school sector is often held up as an example of what can go wrong. In the last year, he successfully pushed for revisions to Ohio’s charter school oversight, but the sector remains embroiled in scandal. At the epicenter is David Hansen, Kasich’s former charter school chief, who resigned last summer after acknowledging that he didn’t include the grades of online charter schools in ratings of their oversight agencies. The online schools are generally low-performing and have ties to GOP donors, which led critics to pounce. And Hansen is married to Beth Hansen, who is Kasich’s campaign manager for his bid to be the next president. … Kasich has denied any involvement in Hansen’s calculations or the grant application, and no evidence has surfaced to indicate he was aware of what was going on at the time. But the scandal has remained stubbornly in the spotlight as Kasich struggles to remain relevant in the GOP presidential race. Kasich has vowed to maintain his campaign at least through the Ohio primary Tuesday, but it’s unclear what path his campaign would take beyond that if he doesn’t win his home state.

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Will Ohio ever get around to setting new charter-school regulations?
Source: Jim Siegel, The Columbus Dispatch, February 24, 2016

Charter sponsors want to delay new evaluations of their performance, arguing that they deserve the same protections that traditional schools are getting this school year. The Ohio Department of Education reportedly is concerned that such a delay could jeopardize a $71 million federal grant that the state is already struggling to keep hold of in the wake of a charter data-scrubbing scandal. … Later this year, the Ohio Department of Education is expected to release sponsor evaluations for both the 2014-15 school year and 2015-16. It appears likely that lawmakers will ensure sponsors will get protection from the 2014-15 results, but there is much debate about whether the current year results should count. … The state’s grant application for the charter money included inflated claims, such as saying Ohio had no poor-performing charters in 2012-13 even though about a third of schools didn’t meet a single standard on their report cards.

Ohio lawmakers tackle charter school bill after scandal, ruling
Source: Julie Carr Smyth and Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Associated Press, September 16, 2015

Recent charter school developments have put additional pressure on Ohio lawmakers trying to tighten regulation of the schools via pending legislation. … A bipartisan bill cracking down on the publicly funded, privately operated schools is pending in the Republican-controlled Legislature. House and Senate leaders and Gov. John Kasich have all said strengthening the charter school law is a priority this year. The bill would crack down on low-performing Ohio charter schools and impose a host of new accountability standards on sponsors.
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The State of Public Water in the United States

Source: Food and Water Watch, February 16, 2016

Food & Water Watch reviewed eight years of data from the Federal Safe Drinking Water Information System to document the ongoing annual shift toward public ownership. Food & Water Watch also conducted a comprehensive survey of the water rates of the 500 largest U.S. community water systems and found that large for-profit, privately owned systems charged 58 percent more than large publicly owned systems. This is the largest water rate survey of its kind in the country. The survey finds that nearly nine out of ten people in the United States receive their water service from a publicly owned utility. Although water privatization receives a great deal of attention from policy makers, the dominant trend is in the other direction — toward public ownership. …

Read full report.

For-profit colleges in Maryland are ripping off students, consumer group says

Source: Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Washington Post, February 5, 2016

Maryland students are making a risky bet when they attend for-profit schools that are saddling them with high levels of debt for what are often worthless degrees, according to a new report from the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition. … The consumer advocacy group compared costs, student debt and loan defaults at for-profit colleges, private career schools and public colleges in Maryland, using data from the Department of Education and Maryland Higher Education Commission, a state regulator. Advocates found that programs offered at for-profit schools cost at least twice as much as public colleges and universities. One for-profit college in Maryland charges $52,737 for a degree in dental hygiene, while an associate’s degree in the same field at the state’s public colleges costs about one-sixth that price. The average income of a dental hygienist in Maryland is $38,740. … Students at for-profit schools in Maryland borrow three times more than their peers at public colleges and universities, leaving school with a median $18,083 in loans. Twenty-three percent of students enrolled in for-profit schools for a certificate or degree default on their loans, compared to 15 percent of students at public colleges in Maryland.

Read Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition report.

Ohio bypass project: ‘Boondoggle’ or boon?

Source: Kathiann Kowalski, Midwest Energy News, February 5, 2016

Ohio’s first public-private partnership deal for a highway bypass project is a waste of taxpayers’ transportation dollars, claims a report released last month by two consumer advocacy groups. The Portsmouth Bypass project will build a new 16-mile highway with limited access so through traffic can avoid the downtown area of Portsmouth, Ohio. The new joint report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and the Frontier Group labelled the project a “highway boondoggle.” Leaders in Portsmouth, however, say the project is sorely needed and could help drive new business development to the area, especially because of the new road’s proximity to a major natural gas pipeline. … Portsmouth Gateway Group will borrow extensively and build the road for an estimated cost of $429 million. That private group will also be responsible for maintaining the road through 2053. However, state funds will pay back any loans, interest and related charges over time. The state will reimburse maintenance and repair costs as well. The total public outlay over the deal’s 35-year term could be as much as $1.2 billion, the Columbus Dispatch reported last year. …

Delta study: Privatizing air traffic control will increase costs to travelers

Source: Kate Modolo, The Financial, February 2, 2016

Air travelers could be on the hook to cover 20 to 29 percent higher costs if the U.S. moves to a private air traffic control (ATC) organization funded through “user fees,” according to a new study released on February 1 by Delta Air Lines. … The study, which is a compilation of data from various independent reports, reviewed the ATC fees associated with a privatized model in Canada and the United Kingdom and found that after the first six years of privatization, Canada saw an additional 59 percent increase on ATC-related fees. In the United Kingdom, ATC fees rose 30 percent. The study also included examples of extreme tax increases, and outlined how a privatized, revenue-based system could result in ATC resources being prioritized at larger airports to raise greater revenue, to the detriment of smaller regional airports across the country.

Read full study.

NYC Pre-K Special Education Provider Claimed Nearly $3 Million In Ineligible Expenses

Source: Office of the New York State Comptroller, January 6, 2016

A Brooklyn preschool special education provider, Yeled v’Yalda Early Childhood Center, claimed nearly $3 million in ineligible expenses for reimbursement, according to an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “Schools for special needs children must properly account for their use of public funds,” DiNapoli said. “We have found too many schools that fall short of state education requirements, which is why we are auditing preschool special education providers throughout New York. We’ve referred our findings to the State Education Department for recovery of the misspent funds.” … Unlike most other states, New York’s SEIT programs are privately-run, some for profit and some not-for- profit. The programs submit annual financial reports to SED that include their expenses for reimbursement. Yeled, like many SEIT programs, offers other services, but the expenses related to these cannot be reimbursed by the state’s SEIT program. …

Read full audit.

Private firms offer to run state retirement plan

Source: Ed Mendel, Calpensions, November 2, 2015

A board working on a proposal to enroll most small business employees in a state-run retirement savings plan, unless they opt out, was told last week that small technology-focused financial firms could do the job. The founders of three firms that offer 401(k)s and other retirement plans to small businesses did not object to competition from the state. They offered their services, acknowledging that several small firms may be needed due to the size of the job. … The Secure Choice program was created to provide a job-based retirement savings plan for about 6.3 million California workers without access to one. Only 45 percent of workers age 25 to 64 have an employer plan, less than the 53 percent national average.

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Editorial: Consider privatizing services
Source: Press-Enterprise, July 30, 2015

With local government budgets set, it is time for all city and county governments to evaluate what services they provide in-house and, at the very least, consider alternative means of providing services. In a problem seen throughout the state, local governments in the Inland Empire are all too often faced with the specter of rising expenditures and lagging revenues. And as public safety costs and pension contributions escalate, options are running out. … For example, a report released by the Manhattan Institute in April, entitled “California Crowd-Out: How Rising Retirement Benefit Costs Threaten Municipal Services,” discussed how the rapid growth of public employee retirement costs imperils the provision of services. With greater portions of budgets devoted to pensions alone, there is less room for actual, tangible service delivery.

Referenced Report:
California Crowd-Out: How Rising Retirement Benefit Costs Threaten Municipal Services
Source: Stephen D. Eide, Manhattan Institute, Civic Report No. 98, April 2015

Executive Summary: In recent years, California municipalities have seen retirement benefit costs grow at a rate above that of taxes, fees, and charges. “Crowd-out” is the term given to this condition by some public officials forced to deal with the resulting fiscal strain. Balanced budget requirements mandate that when costs grow more rapidly than revenues, something must give. All too often, this has meant reductions in core government services, most of which—police, fire, libraries, parks, and street and sidewalk maintenance—are delivered at the local level in California. Retirement benefit costs have caused California localities to underfund basic infrastructure maintenance needs, even in affluent areas such as Sonoma County. Teachers in Los Angeles are threatening to strike over stalemated contract negotiations, as the school district has found itself unable to satisfy union demands for increased personnel and salaries, as well as its long-term benefit commitments. This paper takes a broad look at California crowd-out, documenting the phenomenon across the local government sector. It will compare rates of growth between revenues and retirement costs and examine workforce levels, salary trends, infrastructure spending, and other service indicators.

New report chronicles 10 years of privatization in Saskatchewan

Source: Saskatchewan Government and General Employee Union, October 8, 2015

The privatization of Saskatchewan’s public services and assets is accelerating, putting the province at odds with a global trend of renewed public ownership, says a new report that tracks 10 years of privatization in Saskatchewan. The Wrong Track: A Decade of Privatization in Saskatchewan, 2004-2015 was released today by the Saskatchewan office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. It identifies over 50 examples of privatization in its various forms – including contracting-out of public services, the sale of Crowns and their subsidiaries, and the use of public-private partnerships (P3s.) A pocket timeline, published along with the full report, provides an easy reference for the dozens of privatizations Saskatchewan has seen in recent years. … The report concludes that Saskatchewan is moving in the opposite direction of the wider world, where privatized services and assets are increasingly being brought back under direct public control. In the United States and the U.K., governments are realizing that privatization hasn`t delivered savings or improved service, and are rebuilding their in-house capabilities.

The Wrong Track: A Decade of Privatization in Saskatchewan, 2004 – 2015
Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Analysis

But has privatization become a figurative ‘third rail’ — too hazardous to even touch? The Wrong Track: A Decade of Privatization in Saskatchewan, 2004-2015 – from the Saskatchewan Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – argues that despite all of the political recriminations and admonitions that have been expended on the issue of privatization in the past decade, Saskatchewan has actually witnessed an acceleration of the privatization of public assets and services over the last ten years. The report offers a detailed chronological history of privatization in the province from 2004 to 2015. The report catalogues privatizations in all of their various forms, from the outright sale of Crown corporations and the sale of Crown subsidiaries to public-private partnerships (P3s) and the contracting out of public services to the private sector. Overall, we identify more than 50 instances of privatization in the past decade, the vast majority initiated by the Saskatchewan Party government since its election in 2007.

Audit reveals UL was over charged by catering company Sodexo

Source: KATC, October 5, 2015

UL is responding to new allegations that it may have overspent thousands of taxpayer dollars to a UL food service provider. According to a newly released legislative audit, UL was over charged nearly $5,500 for tailgating events by food service provider Sodexo, from October 10th, 2009 to November 7th, 2013.  During that time, the audit says Sodexo allegedly overcharged UL nine times.  However, both UL and Sodexo say they’re working to credit the university back that money.

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Audit report: UL at Lafayette food services company catered parties for student union director for free
Source: Lanie Lee Cook, The Acadiana Advocate, October 5, 2015

An audit released on Monday revealed the company selling food services to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette overbilled the school on some occasions, provided free catering for non-university events involving a former school official and brokered unwritten meal deals with university employees in exchange for cleaning services and football tickets. The state Legislative Auditor’s findings come almost a year after university auditors discovered possible misappropriation of public funds in its dealings with Sodexo Management Inc. The school is now “reviewing its contractual relationship” with the company, according to a written response to the audit by UL-Lafayette President Joseph Savoie. … Sodexo also owes the university money for cleaning services, as the union’s housekeeping staff cleaned the student dining hall — which is under lease and operated by Sodexo — while on the university’s clock and in exchange for meal plans, according to the audit. Each employee who cleaned the dining hall received a meal a day from July 2009 to August 2014, costing Sodexo at least $33,213, yet part of Sodexo’s contract includes cleaning the facilities it leases.