"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Taking the Public out of Public Charter Schools

A fuzzy photo, I know, but the best I could do uploading from the Columbus Dispatch piece on Mr. White Hat Management Co., himself, David L. Brennan. It seems that Ohio citizens are having a hard time completing an audit on the 34 public schools in Ohio under Mr. Brennan's control. What they have found is that Brennan is scraping off huge profits from the schools where public auditors have been able to pry open the books:

Akron industrialist David L. Brennan is reaping nearly $1 million in Ohioans’ tax dollars for each charter school operated by his White Hat Management Co.

A Dispatch analysis of recent state audits for 17 of Brennan’s 34 schools shows White Hat made $15.4 million in combined profits and management fees last year.

That means that nearly a third of the state funding received by each school was pocketed by Brennan’s operation. The rest was spent on teacher salaries, books and other expenses.

Audits for the 17 Hope Academies and Life Skills Centers are among the first completed under a new law requiring management companies to report profits and losses. They provide the first glimpse at how White Hat is spending the tax dollars it receives.

"It’s millions of dollars coming from state and local taxes going into the pockets of a businessman whose schools are producing terrible results," said Tom Mooney, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers and a leading critic of charter schools. "When is some responsible legislator going to say this is enough and pull the plug on this? It’s nuts." . . .

Here are some numbers on the status of these corporate welfare schools that are waiting in the wings as NCLB continues but hack away at public support of public education. At present, these company schools constitute about 15% of all charter schools but have amassed an intense corporate support system that, of course, is embellished by what could be considered a criminal coziness with the Dept. of Education. The following is from Arizona State's Commericalism in Education Research Unit:

For 2004-2005, the Profiles report lists 59 EMOs managing 535 schools, enrolling approximately 239,766 students in 24 states and the District of Columbia. This is an increase of eight firms and 39,363 students. Of the EMO-managed schools profiled, 86 percent are charter schools, up from 81 percent in 2003-2004 and 74 percent in 2002- 2003.

The 14 large (non-virtual) EMOs – those managing 10 or more schools – account for 81 percent (434) of the schools under management and 89 percent (214,205) of the students enrolled in managed schools.

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