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

Friday, December 11, 2009

For-Profit EMOs in GA

From The Weekly (GA):
State Charter Schools Commission
Recommends Five Petitions for Approval

Recommendations underscore group’s commitment to quality

ATLANTA (December 10, 2009) – The Georgia Charter Schools Commission announced Thursday that it has recommended five charter petitions for approval.

Charter petitions for the following schools were recommended for approval when the Commission holds its regularly scheduled meeting, Monday, Dec. 14, at 10 a.m.:

· Atlanta Heights Charter School. Originally denied a charter by the Atlanta Public Schools, the proposed school would serve students in grades K-8, and is backed by National Heritage Academies, Inc.


· Peachtree Hope Charter School. Originally denied by the DeKalb County Public Schools, the proposed school would serve students in grades K-12, and is backed by SABIS Educational Systems, Inc.
Both SABIS and National Heritage Academies are for-profit EMOs. Interestingly, the Atlanta Heights Charter Application includes a brief statement about a potential conflict of interest:

The only Board member with a potential conflict of interest is the lead applicant, Mr. Kay Madati. Mr. Madati currently serves as Chairman and founding Board Member of Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School in Brooklyn New York. However, if this petition is approved Mr. Madati has agreed to step down as Board president at Brooklyn Excelsior in order to focus his efforts on Atlanta Heights Charter School, thereby relieving any conflicts of interest on the Board.

The Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School is listed as a 501(c)(3) organization, but they contract out to the Heritage folks, too. Mr. Madati, who also works for CNN, is essentially tasked with setting up nonprofit charter schools for NHA - and I cannot find out (and probably cannot find out) how much he's paid by NHA.
"NHA receives all revenue allocated to the School as its management fee (total $8,721,211)," says the company's most recent 990 tax form. NHA received $130,230 for their services in 2006, and this number has climbed to over $250,000 during the past two years even though the school's operating budget has only risen by roughly $1.5 million over the same period of time (up from $7.23 million in 2006). In other words, NHA skims a bigger percentage from the schools as they grow in size. The school claims to be a nonprofit - but, of course, this is the Imagine Schools brand of "nonprofit," meaning it's really just used as a front group for NHA. Sneaky bastards.
You can explore other applications for GA charters here. Kaplan, which is owned by the WaPo company, submitted an application, too - they know the charter game is a potentially lucrative market. Poke around some - you're practically guaranteed to find some more examples of profiteering via the expansion of charter schools.

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