For Charter School Company, Issues of Money and Control
When the energy executive Dennis Bakke retired with a fortune from the AES Corporation, the company he co-founded, he and his wife, Eileen, decided to direct their attention and money to education.
Mrs. Bakke, a former teacher, said she had been interested in education since the summer she was a 12-year-old and, together with a friend, opened the Humpty Dumpty Day School, charging $2 a week in “tuition” to parents of the children attending. Mr. Bakke was eager to experiment with applying business strategies and discipline to public schools.
The Bakkes became part of the nation’s new crop of education entrepreneurs, founding a commercial charter school company called Imagine Schools. Beginning with one failed charter school company they acquired in 2004, they have built an organization that has contracts with 71 schools in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Imagine is now the largest commercial manager of charter schools in the country.
But as Imagine continues to expand, it is coming under growing scrutiny from school boards and state regulators questioning how public money is spent and whether the company exerts too much control over the schools.
The concerns are being raised as charters, designed by education reformers to create alternatives to hidebound and failing public schools, are becoming an indelible part of the nation’s education landscape. Such schools are among the biggest beneficiaries of the billions of dollars the Obama administration plans to spend to improve public education.
"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972
Friday, April 23, 2010
"For Charter School Company, Issues of Money and Control"
Excerpt from the New York Times:
The only downside of the article? It didn't get the many, many pages needed to fully outline and document the myriad of problems with Imagine, but particularly the real estate deals and management fees (not to mention how these concerns relate to their governance).
Three cheers for Stephanie Strom. We certainly don't get this kind of coverage very often.