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

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Mosaica Education, Inc. and the Lack of Parent/Local Control

Here's a classic example of the kind of corporate-driven charter chain that is neither educationally innovative nor locally controlled: the Math & Science Preparatory Academy of South Fulton. The charter schools proposal - developed by the for-profit Mosaica Education, Inc. - illustrates just how much the charter movement has evolved (err, been bastardized) by entrepreneurs, profiteers, and corporate hucksters looking to turn a buck. Local control? Nah. Teachers permitted to experiment with new teaching techniques and approaches? Nope, not here. This is all about profit, baby, and expanding the privatized version of public education.

Mosaica Education is not your typical school district. It runs a global empire like a corporate giant from chic offices in Lenox Towers, overseeing classrooms from Atlanta to Abu Dhabi.

Its top executives see Georgia as fertile ground for planting new public schools.

But the state is cautious about its advances. Mosaica's international growth seems to have hit a roadblock in its hometown.

Last month, state Board of Education staff recommended denying Mosaica’s latest project, the Math & Science Preparatory Academy of South Fulton. State administrators were concerned that the school appeared to be corporate-driven, not parent-driven. Opening day has been postponed from August 2010 to 2011 as parents address the state's concerns about its governance and goals. The campus was to be the third Mosaica school to win state approval, boosting the firm's profile as one of the top education management providers in metro Atlanta.

A pioneer in the charter school movement, Mosaica makes money by selling its brand of public education to parents looking to open new campuses with government dollars. Its portfolio boasts contracts with 77 schools in China, Egypt, India, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S. Southeast, and it is negotiating to open others in those places.

“We are profitable because we have lots of schools,” said Mosaica co-founder and president Gene Eidelman, who launched the education management organization, or EMO, in 1997.

...

"As of right now, we are still with Mosaica, but that is up for debate," said Spencer, who joined the board after the management contract had been signed. "What we will be looking for is understanding that the parents and the community leaders are driving the ship as opposed to the other way around.”

Local control is key so that boards can independently keep watch over public money and charter school leadership.

State associate superintendent Garry McGiboney said his staff found it unusual that Mosaica, rather than parents, responded to most of the questions in a probe of Math & Science Prep. Staff suggested that the school didn't seem to have a true math and science focus because of curriculum limitations. Staff also warned the state to wait to approve another Mosaica school until it learns how Atlanta Preparatory Academy, Mosaica's first Georgia contract school, performs on the Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Test. Mosaica, like other EMOs, has had contracts lapse when some of its schools failed to meet performance goals over time or decided they could run the campuses without the company.

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Continued here. And the Mosaica website is here.

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