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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How to make money off Education

From by Lisa Fingeroot

Charter schools were intended to be a public school option for children stuck in bad schools, but dollar signs have transformed them into big business commodities.

As the nation’s first charter school heads toward its 20th anniversary in Minnesota in September, some in Florida are asking how schools here came to be touted as commercial investment opportunities on developer websites, and when business people began to flip schools for a profit.

“What happened is over the years so many more people have gotten involved,” said Jackie Pons, Leon County Schools superintendent. “The for-profits have come in and are trying to make money off educating children.”

Proponents of charter schools suggest that tracking results is more important than following the money.

A spokesman for former Gov. Jeb Bush, who still yields great influence over Florida’s education policy, questions why people are offended by schools making a profit when they don’t question whether a textbook publisher makes a profit.

“This question of what makes some for-profits OK and some not OK is why focusing on outcomes is important,” said Bush spokesman Jaryn Emhof.”

Basing decisions on student results will take personal philosophy out of the equation, she added.

Charter schools are public schools that are allowed to operate a little differently than traditional public schools, but still receive public funding.

Simply explained, the big picture of for-profit charter schools is one where companies build a school and most times create a local board to govern that school. The hand-picked board then contracts with the company to manage the school for a fee, which becomes the company’s profit.

Many charter schools also have complicated business relationships between parent company, management company, and even finance companies created to borrow the money to construct a school that is then leased back to the school board for a profit.

Pons said it is nearly impossible to follow the family tree of individual for-profit charter school companies because of the number of intertwined corporations. “You go through layers and layers,” he said. “It can be very mind boggling.”

To read the rest of the article, and you really should, click this blog's title or paste bleow into your browser. -cpg

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