Shipped on Wednesday, arrived today.
Made in China. Think about that for just a second.
Yesterday at the Missouri Ethics Commission for a new (What else is new?) PAC:
C190907 09/14/2019 Mighty Missouri PAC Missouri C PAC 145 Boonville Rd. Jefferson City MO 65109 9/13/2019 $10,000.00
C190907 09/14/2019 Mighty Missouri PAC American Federation for Children 1020 19th St NW Suite 675 Washington DC 20036 9/14/2019 $10,000.00
Yep, they’re new:
C190907: Mighty Missouri Pac
Committee Type: Political Action
12026 Manchester Road
St Louis Mo 63131
Established Date: 07/16/2019
12026 Manchester Road
St Louis Mo 63131
The American Federation for Children?:
The American Federation for Children is a 501(c)(4) organization that does lobbying and grassroots advocacy work in the states and Washington, D.C. We are affiliated with the American Federation for Children Action Fund, a political committee that supports and opposes state-level candidates for elected office. We work closely with our educational partner, the American Federation for Children Growth Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization, to promote the benefits of—and the need for—school choice, make parents aware of their options, mobilize grassroots supports and ensure private school choice laws work for students.
Ah, defunding and dismantling public education.
A 501(c)(4), eh? Who’s paying for it?
On July 16, 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced that tax-exempt nonprofit groups described under section 501(c) of the nation’s tax code would no longer be required to disclose the names and addresses of their donors on tax documents. The policy change did not apply to reporting requirements for 501(c)(3) groups, which remained unchanged. [….]
Back to the American Federation for Children:
The American Federation for Children (AFC) is a conservative 501(c)(4) dark money group that promotes the school privatization agenda via the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other avenues. [….]
Someone on the board:
The Honorable Joseph Lieberman Board Member New York, NY
Betsy DeVos (r), too, eh?
Some of the headlines in the press section of the American Federation for Children web site:
AFC on Fox & Friends – Tommy Schultz on Fox News
AFC Board Member Sen. Joe Lieberman Discusses School Choice on Fox Business
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to Speak at 2019 American Federation for Children National Policy Summit
AFC and Liberty Justice Center Submit Amicus Brief to U.S. Supreme Court on Montana School Choice Case
School Choice Mentioned in the State of the Union Address – Uh, he craps all over everything he touches.
John Schilling Discusses School Choice on Fox Nation – The darlings of a single network, eh?
Educational Choice Candidates Prevail in Missouri Primary – Guess which party.
There’s been some, albeit far too little, discussion of the harm that the Republican tax bill will do to colleges and universities. However, the nastiness hidden in the tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy bill that passed the Senate last night will also hurt public schools:
Under SALT, income that paid for public schools went untaxed at the federal level. Current law allows states that raise taxes to better fund public schools to receive a deduction through SALT. The Senate bill ends that ability. As states struggle to lessen the impact of the tax bill on citizens, there will be an outsized amount of pressure on the taxes that typically help public schools.
Missouri’s boy Governor, Eric Greitens, is a big beneficiary of the largess of Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos and her family. As ThinkProgress observes, these tax provisions are simply setting the table for her efforts to privatize public education. And here in Missouri, Greitens has been getting a head start clearing the table in order to to make Betsy’s job easier.
In an extraordinarily awkward power play, Greitens played musical chairs with the State Board of Education – firing and replacing its members over and over – until he packed it in just the right way to begin to implement the Devos agenda. His first step: Fire respected Public Education advocate, Commissioner Margie Vendeven, who, since her appointment in 2015, has done a remarkable job given the poor level of state education funding. Next step: Find and appoint an Commissioner who will be amenable to political direction and oversee the expansion of charter schools and the extension of public funding to private and religious schools. Odds are that Missouri under Greitens – and with the educational tweaking encouraged by the GOP middle-class-tax-increase bill – will soon have a well-established dual educational track, one for well-off families and a default public system that will, as the effect of neglect accumulates further than even at present, wither.
In spite of all the hype about drastic measures needed to rescue our “failing” educational system, it works just fine for those living in affluent areas where the bulk of school funding is channeled via property taxes. That could change, though, as funds are diverted to the private sphere. Nor should you expect the charter school part of the equation to help those in areas where the public school system is not adequately funded. Privatizing education and eliminating the type of oversight we have been able to institute in our public school system will not help anyone. Charters, like public schools, show good results when they have full resources and well-prepared students. When they don’t, they perform no better than the worst public schools.
Our universal, public educational system has long been one of our national treasures – it has been one of the main drivers of our prosperity and one of the best guarantors of our democracy. It is sad and infuriating to see it decimated by selfish, dim-witted plutocrats and politicians like Greitens, up for sale to the highest bidder. But you better get used to despair and anger over the destruction of all that was good about our way of life; it looks like that’s just the way it’s going to be in the new American oligarchy.
“…People need to know, all the major policies that have been announced so far by the Trump administration, all of them disadvantage rural Missouri…”
Senator Claire McCaskill (D) continued her face to face contact with constituents in Missouri on Saturday with several events in Kansas City.
The Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus hosted a forum with Senator McCaskill midday. Close to one hundred fifty individuals attended. The Senator spoke for about twenty minutes then took questions for about an hour.
One of the questions was on Donald Trump’s (r) policies and agriculture in Missouri:
Senator Claire McCaskill (D): [….]
….People need to know, all the major policies that have been announced so far by the Trump administration, all of them disadvantage rural Missouri. [voice: “Yes.”]
Um, the health insurance plan, um, a, a farmer in Ralls County that makes thirty thousand dollars a year and is sixty years old, his premiums would go from about twenty-five hundred a year to about twelve thousand dollars a year under the plan that was passed by the House. That’s because he’s older and because he lives in a rural area. And those two things are a double whammy on their plan.
The second thing that hurts rural Missouri is education. Um, what they don’t, they haven’t figured out, [Secretary of Education] Betsy DeVos hasn’t figured out that the vast majority of my state there is no choice. [voices: “That’s right.”][applause] I mean, most people out in rural Missouri, there’s not a lot of private schools to pick from. There’s a public school system. Period. It’s the beating heart of those communities. And when you cream, when you skim the cream and money from public school it is directly hurting rural school districts so that private schools in the cities can get more money. Um, so that’s the second thing he’s done to rural Missouri.
The third thing he’s done to rural Missouri is his infrastructure plan. His infrastructure plan that we have seen, the only one we’ve seen, depends on private investment. Now I got news for you. Nobody wants to build a road and put toll on it between Chillicothe and Albany. [laughter] Nobody wants to fix a bridge down in Shannon County because there’s not enough traffic on it for it to make money for a private business. And when you do private infrastructure what you’re saying is we’re gonna toll roads and toll bridges. ‘Cause no private business invest in a road unless they’re gonna get their money back. [voice: “Right.”] They have to have a source of revenue.
Now I’m not, Missouri doesn’t have any tolling, and if other states want to toll, that’s fine. But I think we’ve got to make sure that the White House understands that for rural Missouri, for all of Missouri, we need to make sure there’s public money in the infrastructure bill so the needs can be met even if they’re not in highly trafficked areas. Okay.
The fourth thing, and the thing Kay was referring to, is trade. When you do bilateral trade deals and you cut countries off from multilateral trade deals. That causes retaliation. Okay. There is like, okay, you’re gonna do this to us, we’re gonna do this to you. There’s, for every action in the trade area there is a reaction. So, it’s not as simple as going that’s a bad deal we’re getting out of it. It’s what can we get in that will protect our agricultural economy in Missouri. And the, the scary thing about his back and forth on NAFTA in the last week, first of all, not only does that dramatically affect our corn growers and our bean growers ‘cause their number one export is Canada, their number two export is Mexico, their number three export is China, not only is it dramatically affect them it also affects companies like Kansas City Southern, the railroad, the big building downtown with lots of employees. Their stock went down five percent just when he said we’re gonna withdraw from NAFTA. Now, then he went back and reversed it. You know, he said, never mind the day. [laughter] But, this uncertainty with our agricultural economy in Missouri , and that has ripple effect all the way to the very, very heart of both Kansas City and St. Louis.
So, Mexico doesn’t have to buy corn from us. They can buy corn from Brazil. Um, China can, is, they’re about to open up foreign ownership in Brazil, China can buy a bunch of land in Brazil and grow cotton there and bring it back to China.
So, we’ve got to be really careful and there’s no question that our corn growers and our bean growers are in jeopardy with some of the trade policies that President Trump is talking about….
And yet, a majority in Missouri voted for him. Anyone think they’ll figure it out?
What a difference eight years makes (April 13, 2017)
“…Each school district that has one or more of its resident pupils attending such a charter school as nonresident pupils will pay to the charter school, for each pupil, 90% of its average per pupil expenditure…”
Members of the Missouri General Assembly can also be elected and serve on their local school board at the same time they are serving in Jefferson City. Usually such politicians make a big show about supporting public education. Usually.
Then, there are bills considered which help charter schools and reallocate resources from public schools:
Changes provisions related to charter schools
Sponsor: Roeber, Rebecca (034)
Proposed Effective Date: 7/1/2018
LR Number: 0986H.04P
The Bill summary, as perfected:
HCS HB 634 [pdf] — CHARTER SCHOOLS (Roeber)
COMMITTEE OF ORIGIN: Standing Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education
This bill allows charter schools to be operated in any school district in which at least one school building has received a score of 60% or less on its annual performance report (APR) for two of the three most recent annual performance reports available as of the date in which a charter school applies to open a charter school in the district. When a charter school is allowed to operate under this provision, the person, group, or organization seeking to establish the charter school must submit the proposed charter to the local school board before the charter school submits its proposed charter to any other sponsor. This bill allows the local school board 60 days to consider the proposed charter and accept or decline the sponsorship. If the local school board declines to sponsor the charter school or does not respond within the specified time, any other authorized sponsor may enter into a sponsorship agreement. Charter schools must give enrollment preference to resident students that reside in the attendance area of the school building with an APR of 60% or less. Charter schools may enroll nonresident students so long as it does not displace a resident student. Each school district that has one or more of its resident pupils attending such a charter school as nonresident pupils will pay to the charter school, for each pupil, 90% of its average per pupil expenditure.
This bill also allows charter schools to be operated in any school district not served by a high-quality career technical center, sponsored only by the local school board, for the purpose of establishing a career and technical center whose mission will focus on helping students earn career and technical education certificated in addition to their high school graduation diplomas. High-quality career technical center is a center that has met the performance targets for the Perkins Core Indicators of Performance for the secondary level for the most recent school year. Such charter schools may enroll nonresident pupils who are residents of a district that is located in the same county in which such charter school is located, and nonresident pupils who are residents of a district that is located, in whole or in part, in a county adjacent to the county in which such charter school is located.
Charter schools may renew for a five-year term unless the charter school’s APR score, other than a charter school in which 50% or more of the school’s students were previously considered dropouts, is below the average of the APR scores of all non-selective grade level-equivalent school buildings in the school district in which the charter school is located for two of the three consecutive years immediately before a devision [sic] whether to renew is made. In that case such renewal will be for three years. If the charter school’s APR continues to be lower for another two out of three years, the charter school term will not be renewed. Such renewal application will include a financial audit performed by the State Auditor, with costs paid for by the charter school.
This bill also requires all members of any governing board of any charter school to be resident taxpayers, except that, any member serving a term as of August 28, 2017, may serve the remainder of his or her term even if such member is not a resident taxpayer of the state of Missouri. This bill also requires charter schools to meet all state and federal requirements and the same academic performance standards required of seven-director school districts.
This bill will become effective on July 1 following the school year in which the foundation formula is fully funded.
The bill was third read and passed (from the Journal of the House – 1086 [pdf]):
On motion of Representative Roeber, HCS HB 634 was read the third time and passed by the following vote:
The local NEA chapter, representing teachers and public education, has taken exception to Rep. Shaul’s (r) support for the bill. We received a copy of the letter:
Sue Navratil, President
Jamie Gobel, VP
Kris Miller, Secretary
Denise Ballew, Treasurer
April 9, 2017
Windsor C-1 School District
Board of Education
Imperial, MO 63052
Ladies and Gentlemen:
WNEA believes that the purpose of a school district should be to provide various experiences that will allow its students to develop intellectually, athletically, and culturally. The purpose that a school board and its members have should be to guide the district with strategies and an allocation of resources to accomplish these objectives.
Support for HB634 would seemingly interfere with these functions. First, instead of rushing to charter schools as a quick-fix solution, why not work to find a building’s weaknesses and seek to improve them? Secondly, establishing charter schools would take much needed resources from the public school district to support the charter schools and possibly students who do not even live in the district. Why should residents of a district have their tax dollars spent on students who live outside the district? Finally, it shows a lack of confidence in the administrators and teachers of the district to solve any academic issues.
Windsor school board member Dan Shaul voted for HB634, in his role as state representative, which seems to present a conflict of interest. How can he proclaim his allegiance to public education, but then support charter education which could affect the resources of the Windsor C-1 School District? He is either fully committed to public education or fully committed to the charter school concept. He cannot support both.
Dan Shaul did not hesitate to use his position as a member of the Windsor School Board with at least one of his mailings to the citizens in his district to help him get elected to the Missouri House of Representatives. The following are quotes from one of his mailings: “Dan Shaul knows education, on November 4th, vote for the candidate who is already working toward a brighter future for our children. Putting students first, as a member of the Windsor School Board and a proud parent of three, Dan Shaul is committed to ensuring our best resources and the best teachers, so that our students receive the top-notch education they deserve. Preparing them for the future, Dan Shaul knows that good schools prepare our children for the next stage of their lives and attract employers seeking a well-educated workforce. As our State Representative, Dan Shaul will always support our schools to make sure our children have everything they need to succeed.”
As a board member for the 2016-17 school year per the minutes that are on our website, Mr. Shaul responded with the following comments about our students, administrators and school district:
September 21, 2016, Mr. Shaul congratulated Mr. Bouzek and Freer Elementary regarding their recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School; thanked Dr. Holland for working to keep our tax levy the same over the past years.
October 26, 2016, Mr. Shaul recognized our 2 ‘CERT’ students and thanked them for what they did for their grandma. Positive evaluation of our Transportation Department with no problems, and inspections ranked with a 100% approval rating; great to see MSIP improving and thanks to all teachers for their efforts.
March 22, 2017, Mr. Shaul acknowledged the positive program evaluations presented, and the different programs and ECH we offer to provide the start of a positive education.
At a time when the Windsor C-1 School District needed him to cast a vote for public education, Mr. Shaul chose not to do so. His support for HB634 shows us that he is not 100% committed to supporting public education or our students in the Windsor C-1 School District. As stated in board policy BBF on School Board Member Ethics, number 13 states, “avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance thereof.” As stated above, Mr. Shaul’s yes vote on HB634 shows a clear conflict of interest, and we hope that it would be addressed by our Board of Education. This decision on Mr. Shaul’s part to not support public education is a great disappointment to our students, staff, and community. School board members should not conduct themselves in this manner as overseers of our school district.
Sue Navratil, President
On behalf of the WNEA Executive Board
I dunno, it may be something of a reach that voting against the interests of your local school district in the General Assembly is a conflict of interest. But it sure is something that local voters should know about so they can hold a politician accountable come election time. In this case, twice – for the seat on the local school board and for the General Assembly.
Representative Shaul (r) has faced the voters twice for election to the General Assembly:
State of Missouri – 2016 General Election – November 8, 2016
As announced by the Board of State Canvassers on December 12, 2016
State Representative – District 113 12 of 12 Precincts Reported
Karen Settlemoir-Berg Democratic 6,995 42.156%
Dan Shaul Republican 9,598 57.844%
Total Votes: 16,593
State of Missouri – General Election – November 4, 2014
As announced by the Board of State Canvassers on December 3, 2014
State Representative – District 113 10 of 10 Precincts Reported
Sean Fauss Democratic 3,168 37.967%
Dan Shaul Republican 4,749 56.915%
Donna Ivanovich Constitution 427 5.117%
Total Votes: 8,344
There appears to be a bit of volatility when it comes to off year and presidential year elections. Gee, at some subsequent election someone could exploit voter upset about the incumbent’s lack of support for their local public schools…
Well, who and/or what contributes some of that money to get Representative Shaul (r) elected to the General Assembly?
FORM CD-1 SUPPLEMENTAL
MISSOURI ETHICS COMMISSION CONTRIBUTIONS RECEIVED – SUPPLEMENTAL
12/8/2016 FRIENDS OF SHAUL [pdf]
CNS Corporation 500 E 9th Street Kansas City MO 64106 11/3/2016 $3,000.00
Friends of Joe Don Mcgaugh 516 West 4th St Terrace Carrollton MO 64633 11/1/2016 $250.00
Pfizer Inc 6730 Lenox Center CT Memphis TN 38115 11/1/2016 $350.00
HRCC P.O. Box 1313 Jefferson City MO 65102 11/1/2016 $15,471.00
HealthPac P.O. Box 60 Jefferson City MO 65102 11/1/2016 $3,027.20
Lance Hastings 2818 Bree Hill Road Oakton VA 22124 Miller Coors 11/7/2016 $249.00
Joe Williams 876 CR 624 Dayton TX 77535 Association Management 11/3/2016 $50.00
Deborah White 3140 Aberfoyle Place NE Washington DC 20015 Consultant 11/3/2016 $100.00
FORM CD-1 SUPPLEMENTAL
MISSOURI ETHICS COMMISSION CONTRIBUTIONS RECEIVED – SUPPLEMENTAL
11/1/2016 FRIENDS OF SHAUL
David Humphreys P.O. Box 4050 Joplin MO 64803 Tamko 10/1/2016 $25,000.00
Robert Dierberg 1982 Kherson Mill Rd Chesterfield MO 63005 Dierbergs Market Inc 10/2/2016 $1,000.00
Dierbergs Markets Inc 16690 Swingly Ridge Road Chesterfield MO 63006 10/2/2016 $2,500.00
HCA Missouri Good Government Fund 101 East High Street Jefferson City MO 65102 10/3/2016 $500.00
Credit Union Political Action Committee 223 Madison Jefferson City MO 65101 10/3/2016 $250.00
Missourian to elect Warren Love 8381 NE Highway ZZ Osceola MO 64776 10/3/2016 $100.00
Friends of Joe Don Mcgaugh 516 West 4th Street terrace Carrollton MO 64633 10/5/2016 $375.00
Friends of Elijah Haahr P.O. Box 14506 Springfield MO 65814 10/5/2016 $1,000.00
Ann Wagner for Congress 313 Saint Andrews Ct Ballwin MO 63011 10/16/2016 $500.00
ABC PAC 4035 Denton Rd Kansas City MO 64133 10/16/2016 $1,000.00
HRCC P.O. Box 1313 Jefferson City MO 65102 10/19/2016 $22,650.00
Friends for Jered Taylor 702 N Prospect Ave Nixa MO 65714 10/20/2016 $1,000.00
Alferman for Missouri P.O. Box 84 Washington MO 63090 10/14/2016 $1,000.00
David Humphreys P.O. Box 4050 Joplin MO 64803 Tamko 10/27/2016 $5,000.00
HRCC P.O. Box 1313 Jefferson City MO 65102 10/21/2016 $5,000.00
You get the picture.
Why on earth would anyone in Joplin care so much about the success and financial stability of Windsor C-1 public schools that they would drop a ton of money on the campaign of the local state representative? Exactly.
Orange Buffoon’s nominee to Head the Education Department is so unqualified that at least two normally compliant GOP Senators can’t bring themselves to hold their noses long enough to vote for her. Here’s how unqualified she is: DeVos has been supportive of shifting public financial support to charter schools. Yet a major supporter of charter schools, philanthropist Eli Broad, thinks she is so unqualified that he has written to U.S. Senators imploring them to deep-six the nomination.
DeVos will probably make it through the process and end up running the Untied States’ educational system as long as no more than two Republicans defer to a preference for the public good. Why? The lady’s rich. Really rich. And she’s showered many of the very Republican senators who will be voting for her with lots of rich folks special type of pocket-book love. That means very large direct donations as well as big PAC spending.
One of those Senators is Missouri’s Republican Senator Roy Blunt. DeVos has assisted Blunt’s electoral efforts with $33,100. It’s a foregone conclusion that our Roy will vote “yea” when DeVos faces the final confirmation vote. To be fair, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) got more dosh than Blunt, $43,000, to be exact, and she has elected to follow her conscience and oppose DeVos’ appointment. But she’s the exception that proves the rule.
There’s more going on, of course. There may be some Republicans who are just as ignorant as DeVos and/or are so ideologically blinkered that they think she’s just fine. Our Roy, of course, seems to want to climb the leadership ladder in the Senate, so we can count on him to toe the line even when we suspect he’s smart enough to know it’ll lead to disaster. To judge by his past deportment, Roy’s rule has always been what’s good for donors is good for him, what’s good for him is what he went to Washington for and devil take the hindmost. Missourians are, of course, the hindmost.
Nevertheless, there’s a big question raised by DeVos’ candidacy and the almost lockstep Republican support for a manifestly unqualified, but rich and generous – to Republicans – nominee. Shouldn’t the senators who have benefited most significantly from her largesse recuse themselves from voting on her nomination? Who’s to say if it’s just an “appearance” of corruption or the substance – does any fool really think we can trust the beneficiaries of that appearance of corruption to tell us the truth? Nevertheless, we’re expected to take their assurances of their own probity at face value and shut up about the impropriety of their actions.
DeVos herself has been pretty unequivocal about the fact that she expects her greenback “free speech” to do some big talking, observing in 1997, when asked what she expected to receive from politicians who accepted her money, that ” we expect a return on our investment.” Looks like she’s going to get it. Big time.
Selling government? It’s pretty clear that this is just the beginning. We’ve entered the age of Trump, folks. Americans – or a particular minority of Americans, at any rate, wanted to shake things up. Who’d have guessed that what would get shattered in the process would be the ethical norms we’ve observed or tried to observe for generations?
Running government like an unfettered, unregulated business turns out to be a pretty ugly, cutthroat phenomena and the only folks who make out well are those with power and those with money enough to buy power. For politicians like Roy Blunt the next few years should rival his heyday when he rode high with Tom DeLay.
“Why didn’t you turn in your homework?” “Doing so would violate RSMo 161.096…”
A bill, introduced yesterday:
Prohibits school districts from collecting biometric information on students without the express written consent of parents or legal guardians
Sponsor: Pogue, Jeff (143)
Proposed Effective Date: 8/28/2017
LR Number: 0287H.01I
Last Action: 12/12/2016 – Prefiled (H)
Bill String: HB 201
Next Hearing: Hearing not scheduled
Calendar: Bill currently not on a House calendar
Part of the text:
FIRST REGULAR SESSION
HOUSE BILL NO. 201 [pdf]
99TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVE POGUE. 0287H.01I D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk
To repeal section 161.096, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof one new section relating to collection of student data by school districts.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Section 161.096, RSMo, is repealed and one new section enacted in lieu thereof, to be known as section 161.096, to read as follows:
4. School districts shall not collect biometric information on any student without the express written consent of the student’s parent or legal guardian. For purposes of this section, “biometric information” means a record of one or more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be used for automated recognition of an individual, including fingerprints, retina and iris patterns, voice prints, DNA sequence, newborn screening information, facial characteristics, and handwriting.
[emphasis in original]
“…and handwriting.” Think about that for a second.
Last week there were numerous radio reports that Missouri Lt. Governor (and one of a bevy of GOP gubernatorial candidates) Peter Kinder was all worked up about the recommendations of the Ferguson Commission Report that concerned education. Seems the report neglected to mention charter schools, the favorite GOP fix for the failing schools one finds in the poorest parts of the U.S.
True – some Democrats talk the charter school talk as well, usually in the name of allowing innovation – or as seems to be the case for some state senators representing urban St. Louis, despair that the legislature will ever provide adequate resources to bring urban public schools up to the level of those in the suburbs – where, significantly, nobody wants charter schools. But for the most part, charters tend to ring specifically Republican bells.
The partisan bias has become more pronounced now that we have some experience with charter school performance and opponents have begun to push back. Recent studies evaluating charters show that their results are, overall, no better than those of public schools. Some do better, some do worse, some show little difference – despite the ability of charter schools to cherry-pick the best students and exclude problem children. There is also the problem of financial malfeasance that has cropped up with some regularity:
The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reports that 2,500 charter schools have failed since 2000. The list includes “ghost” schools that collected public funds but never served any students. These include 25 charter schools in Michigan that were awarded federal grants of between three and four million dollars in 2010-2011 but never opened. CMD estimates that during the last twenty years the charter school industry has received over three billion dollars in federal tax dollars that should have gone to public schools.
But hey! What’s a little fraud and corruption if you’re an ideologically-committed conservative? Charters, especially for-profits, fit well with the extreme free market religion espoused by many on the right. They can operate free of regulations that govern most public schools; they circumvent the hated federal government’s role in setting educational policy; and they are free to hire non-union (and even unaccredited) teachers. Finally, many Southern states seem to be taking advantage of the lack of oversight to violate constitutional strictures against religion in publicly-funded charter school classrooms. For example, an outfit called Responsive Education Solutions (RES) rakes in federal dollars, $82 million in Texas alone where it is a major player, and in return delivers lots of that old time religion:
For a student enrolled in an RES charter school to pass biology they have to study “Knowledge Units,” workbooks that overtly and underhandedly discredit evidence-based science and teach creationism as science in public-school classrooms. Responsive Ed not only discredits science, the opening section of a workbook section on the origin of life plagiarizes the Christian bible and states, “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.” The so-called science curriculum also states emphatically that “scientists question the validity of the conclusions concerning the age of the Earth” to mislead students into believing there is serious scientific debate about the age of the Earth, the nature of the geological record, and validity of biological sciences.
You can see why all this potential right-wing bounty might appeal to some wingers despite the indifferent educational record racked up by charter schools. But there’s even more to the Republican love-affair with charter schools. And by more I mean the private money that greases the political system.
In Missouri, it doesn’t hurt that Rex Sinquefield, the billionaire who has been in the process of buying the state on the installment plan for the past several years, counts charter schools along with other efforts to privatize education as one of his main priorities. The aforementioned Peter Kinder received over $250,000 from Sinquefield in 2008 when Kinder was running for his second term as lt. governor. Almost any state politician, regardless of party, who’ll say a good word about charter schools, has gotten a bite of the dough that Sinquefield regularly doles out – which means that lots of Missouri pols will continue to ballyhoo the virtues of charter schools as the answer to all educational ills.
In 2008 Kinder also received big donations from the charter school crusader, hedge fund owner Paul Singer. Why is a hedge fund manager located in New York donating to a Missouri supporter of charter schools? According to a story that appeared in the Washington Post, investment bankers like Singer, along with real estate types, see big opportunities in charter school expansion that will allow them to profit off the publicly-funded schools:
As a result of this change to the tax code, banks and equity funds that invest in charter schools in underserved areas can take advantage of a very generous tax credit. They are permitted to combine this tax credit with other tax breaks while they also collect interest on any money they lend out. According to one analyst, the credit allows them to double the money they invested in seven years. Another interesting side note is that foreign investors who put a minimum of $500,000 in charter school companies are eligible to purchase immigration visas for themselves and family members under a federal program called EB-5.
The tax credit may also explain why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg partnered with the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, to promote charter schools; donated a half a million dollars worth of stock to organizations that distribute charter school funding; and opened his own foundation, Startup: Education, to build new charter schools.
The real estate industry, which already receives huge tax breaks as it gentrifies communities, also stands to benefit by promoting charter schools and helping them buy up property, or rent, in inner city communities.
So charter schools have something for every Republican. They hit all the right ideological notes, satisfy the GOP one percenter patrons, and bring in the dollars.With all that who cares if they’re effective?
No wonder Kinder is so aggressive in pushing charter schools as a solution to the issues of education in Ferguson. He gets a chance to criticize the Ferguson report (which earns points with Missouri GOP racists) while avoiding any discussion of the report’s actual recommendations – which stress equity in funding across all school districts – and significantly increased funding to support the “whole” child, something that the legislature (and a GOP governor, should there be one) will likely never touch since it might mean admitting that Missouri’s inadequate and unbalanced system of taxation should be addressed by something other than a flat tax. On top of that, Kinder’s commitment to the charter school cause pleases many of the ideology über alles crowd while stimulating the largess of rich men who plan on getting even richer off charter schools. Hog heaven for Republicans.
Edited slightly for clarity 12/31/15
…you may get responses.
Yesterday Speaker John Boehner (r), via Twitter, going after teachers:
Speaker John Boehner @SpeakerBoehner
It is unfortunate that the unions & the education establishment in our country see #schoolchoice as a threat. [….] 11:13 AM – 24 Oct 2015
And, of course, the responses:
David Pepper @DavidPepper
@SpeakerBoehner now that you’ll have more time in Ohio, you’ll see why #chartergate #forprofitfailures 11:14 AM – 24 Oct 2015
@SpeakerBoehner I’m tired of politicians telling educators what’s wrong w/ education. We know what’s wrong w/ education. POLITICIANS. 11:31 AM – 24 Oct 2015
Allen Clifton @Allen_Clifton
@SpeakerBoehner it’s unfortunate that Republicans see education as a whole as a threat. 12:30 PM – 24 Oct 2015
Mr. Jake Miller @MrJakeMiller
@SpeakerBoehner It’s unfortunate your GOP leadership sees unions – not poverty or lack of resources – as the real #education threat #edchat 12:03 PM – 24 Oct 2015
Pirate Fish image courtesy of the CotFSM.
The Missouri Constitution has an establishment clause in, not one, but two places. The first:
BILL OF RIGHTS
Public aid for religious purposes–preferences and discriminations on religious grounds.
Section 7. That no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion, or in aid of any priest, preacher, minister or teacher thereof, as such; and that no preference shall be given to nor any discrimination made against any church, sect or creed of religion, or any form of religious faith or worship.
And, in another place in the Missouri Constitution:
Prohibition of public aid for religious purposes and institutions.
Section 8. Neither the general assembly, nor any county, city, town, township, school district or other municipal corporation, shall ever make an appropriation or pay from any public fund whatever, anything in aid of any religious creed, church or sectarian purpose, or to help to support or sustain any private or public school, academy, seminary, college, university, or other institution of learning controlled by any religious creed, church or sectarian denomination whatever; nor shall any grant or donation of personal property or real estate ever be made by the state, or any county, city, town, or other municipal corporation, for any religious creed, church, or sectarian purpose whatever.
A bill, introduced yesterday by Representative Scott Fitzpatrick (r):
FIRST REGULAR SESSION
HOUSE BILL NO. 687 [pdf]
98TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVE FITZPATRICK.
1463H.01I D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk
To repeal section 173.1104, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof one new section relating to financial assistance awards for theology degrees.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Section 173.1104, RSMo, is repealed and one new section enacted in lieu
thereof, to be known as section 173.1104, to read as follows:
173.1104. 1. An applicant shall be eligible for initial or renewed financial assistance only if, at the time of application and throughout the period during which the applicant is receiving such assistance, the applicant:
(1) Is a citizen or a permanent resident of the United States;
(2) Is a resident of the state of Missouri, as determined by reference to standards promulgated by the coordinating board; and
(3) Is enrolled, or has been accepted for enrollment, as a full-time undergraduate student in an approved private or public institution[
; and (4) Is not enrolled or does not intend to use the award to enroll in a course of study leading to a degree in theology or divinity].
2. If an applicant is found guilty of or pleads guilty to any criminal offense during the period of time in which the applicant is receiving financial assistance, such applicant shall not be eligible for renewal of such assistance, provided such offense would disqualify the applicant from receiving federal student aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.
3. Financial assistance shall be allotted for one academic year, but a recipient shall be eligible for renewed assistance until he or she has obtained a baccalaureate degree, provided such financial assistance shall not exceed a total of ten semesters or fifteen quarters or their equivalent. Standards of eligibility for renewed assistance shall be the same as for an initial award of financial assistance, except that for renewal, an applicant shall demonstrate a grade-point average of two and five-tenths on a four-point scale, or the equivalent on another scale. This subsection shall be construed as the successor to section 173.215 for purposes of eligibility requirements of other financial assistance programs that refer to section 173.215.
[emphasis in original, added strike through emphasis illustrates text to be removed]
Chapter 173 RSMo refers to higher education and, in part, scholarships and tuition aid programs administered by the state.
The bill listing on the House web site:
Specifies that any benefits afforded to students enrolled at an institution of higher education shall be afforded to students enrolled at a theological or divinity school
Sponsor: Fitzpatrick, Scott (158)
Proposed Effective Date: 8/28/2015
LR Number: 1463H.01I
Last Action: 01/26/2015 – Introduced and Read First Time (H)
Bill String: HB 687
How do the changes in HB 687 conform with the requirements of the Missouri Constitution? Just asking.