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

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Imagine Schools, Inc. Becomes Funnel for Public Dollars to Corporate Investors

On top of their commitment to establishing urban behavioral chain gangs that train up docile uniformed and uniform populations of black and brown children, the corporate school privatizers are even more keen on receiving regular transfusions from the three quarters of a trillion dollars that Americans spend each year on education for their children. The corporate welfare charter school system is the result, and there are over 4,000 of them now, with more on the way. Imagine Schools, Inc. could be the poster corporation for the kind brazen corruption and lying that the charter industry will be known for long after it has been strangled in its own sewer.

These corporate school mercenaries operate with little or no oversight, and CEO principals hire and fire at will--until they, themselves, are yanked by the corporate home office. When parents have a complaint, as they do now in Las Vegas after the third CEO in three years has been yanked without explanation, there is no school board to appeal to because outfits like Imagine Schools, Inc. operate outside the purview of any elected school board. And don't expect a straight answer from Imagine, Inc., especially since its employees like Pat Crain lie at public school board meetings even about Imagine's corporate status. Yet Secretary Arne Duncan, taking his marching orders from Gates, Broad and the Walton Clan, does not want any challenge to the corporate scripted "innovation" that miracle workers like Imagine, Inc. bring to poor children, and he certainly does not want to get in the way of the home office innovative hiring and firing of teachers or their CEO principals. The corporate model has come to school.

Imagine School, Inc., which now boasts 74 stores, er, schools in 13 locations, has recently partnered up with Entertainment Properties Inc., which will act as Imagine's property management arm and, thus, allow one partner to set the amount of rent that will be paid to another partner from public dollars received to run the schools. Perhaps this kind of corrupt siphoning of public funds has something to do with why Imagine Schools, Inc. is still waiting after 3 1/2 years for its application for non-profit status to be approved.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Charter schools, already seeing a surge in students, are getting attention from another group — private investors.

Entertainment Properties Inc., known mostly for sinking its money into movie theaters and wineries, recently bought 22 locations from charter school operator Imagine Schools for about $170 million. The real estate investment trust acts as landlord, while Imagine operates the schools and is using the investment to expand its chain of 74 locations.

"They really are an effective source of long-term financing that we can rely on and enables us to do what we're best at, which is running schools, and do what they're best at, which is long-term real estate ownership," said Barry Sharp, chief financial officer for Arlington, Va.-based Imagine. "It's a good fit."

. . . .

Focusing on large players who know how to operate schools, hire teachers and develop a curriculum, he said, provides the company a more dependable return.

"We're not speculators, we're investors, so I have to invest in property making money for me and my customers today," said Brain, whose trust oversees a $2.6 billion portfolio. "The charter public schools offer lenders/leaseholders a dependable revenue stream backed by a government payer. It's a very desirable equation." . . . .

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