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

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

When You're Rich and Connected, Call the US Treasury!

Yesterday, the U.S. Treasury Department gave a $50 million tax credit to Excellent Education Development, an organization helping with the rapid expansion of charter schools in the state of California (and, conveniently, in Eli's backyard). Eli must have been mighty pleased to see the U.S. Treasury Department step up to the plate and help his cause - after all, one of the lessons we learned during the banking collapse of '08 was the rich can always count on the feds to offer bailouts, buy-outs, tax breaks, and other forms of corporate socialism. Oh - and EED's board is headed by, you guessed it, a former banker, William Siart.
In this case, the feds dished out $50 million in tax credits as part of the Los Angeles Charter School New Market Tax Fund, described as "an innovative financing mechanism created by ExED in partnership with the U.S. Treasury Department." The partnership already distributed $71 million, including a $12 million loan to Steve Barr's Green Dot project. What about public schools, oh dear Treasury? California's "starve the Beast" tax policies are working out quite nicely for Eli and other market-driven reformers with their eyes on public education. The decision to support charters instead of public schools becomes much clearer after taking a peek at EED's supporters:
Ahmanson Foundation

The Broad Foundation

California Community Foundation

Michael J. Connell Foundation

Joseph Drown Foundation

Rose Hills Foundation

James Irvine Foundation

The Riordan Foundation

William B. Siart Family Foundation

The Walton Family Foundation

Washington Mutual

Weingart Foundation

For a little extra dose of EED reality, check out board member Guilbert Hentschke talking about the "shaking out" of charter schools - we're not talking mom and pop charters (as originally conceived), we're talking about the massive charter chains, the Wal-Mart version of education. No wonder the Wal-Mart family loves this guy!
Think of it this way: Eli and his rich buddies can donate money to their favorite cause, and then lobby the Treasury to give them even MORE money! Ain't bein' rich great?
From the Business Wire:

Excellent Education Development Receives $50 Million Tax Credit From U.S. Treasury Department

Mon Nov 2, 2009 12:52pm EST

Largest Allocation to Date Will Boost Financing Efforts for Charter Schools inLow-Income Areas of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES--(Business Wire)--

The U.S. Treasury Department has awarded Excellent Education Development (ExED)with a $50 million allocation of New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs), which will be used to support high-performing charter schools in Los Angeles. This is ExED`s third NMTC allocation and the largest to date, reflecting the success of the organization`s past efforts to transform schools in the most underserved regions of Los Angeles.

The recent $50 million allocation will allow ExED to continue offering low-interest rate loans to build and improve facilities for charter schools. In addition to providing construction and permanent financing, ExED will also expand its current activities to offer new programs that finance improvements to leased facilities.

"We are thrilled about this new allocation, as it will enhance our efforts to bring great new schools to the lowest-income areas of our city," said ExED Executive Director Anita Landecker. "We look forward to working with more high-achieving charter schools to continue to create affordable facilities in neighborhoods that so desperately need them."

This new allocation marks a significant milestone for the Los Angeles Charter School New Market Tax Fund, an innovative financing mechanism created by ExED in partnership with the U.S. Treasury Department. ExED pioneered the application of this tax credit to charter schools, using it to finance the creation of facilities at 12 charter schools throughout the Los Angeles area. The organization recently finished dispersing the $71 million allocated by the Treasury Department in two funding rounds over the past four years.

One of these new facilities is Stern Math and Science School (MASS), which opened its permanent 34,000-square-foot school in November 2008 on the campus of California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). Attending school on a college campus every day, Stern MASS students have access to the university`s student teachers, counselors, library and selected courses, for which they receive high school and college credit.

In the nearby Boyle Heights neighborhood, KIPP LA Preparatory School received a $2.75 million tenant-improvement loan through ExED`s NMTC fund to rehabilitate a former tortilla factory into a middle school for 360 students, which opened in February 2009. A high-performing school serving a very low-income population, KIPP LA Prep prepares its students for college with elements such as an extended school day and regular field trips to university campuses.

ExED`s NMTC fund also provided a loan of nearly $12 million to transform a large warehouse property into a new facility for Ánimo Pat Brown School, which is located in an impoverished South Los Angeles community. Last fall the school moved into its new facility - the first likely charter school candidate for LEED-Silver Certification in Los Angeles. Administered by Green Dot Public Schools, Ánimo Pat Brown offers a renowned math and science program, reporting extraordinary math scores for a school with a large underserved student population.

"We are proud to be part of such a ground-breaking program, which puts tax credits to their best use," said Landecker. "This financing enables charter schools to fulfill their mission, creating innovative buildings that foster learning, while revitalizing surrounding neighborhoods in the process."

About ExED

ExED is the premier non-profit provider of back office and business consulting services to charter schools in Southern California. The organization assists charter schools with the essential functions they often find most difficult: securing affordable facilities, dealing with school districts, complying with state and federal regulations, accounting and payroll. Since its founding in 1998, ExED has served over 25,000 students across more than 75 schools.

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