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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

 
The corrupt privatization of our public schools

by David Atkins

For all the progressivism of President Obama's 2nd Inaugural speech, there were still a number of elements of "New Democrat" dreck. Among them was this:

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, reach higher.
Sounds great in theory, right? Well, here's what that "school reform" looks like in practice, courtesy of some fantastic investigative reporting by Greg Hinz who does the sort of real journalism the Villagers long since stopped doing:

Here's a story only a Chicagoan could really appreciate, a story about how one chain of privately operated charter schools recently almost got a whopping $35 million grant — as much as Chicago Public Schools were to get for the entire city — thanks to a well-placed pol or two.

I love Springfield.

I first heard about the story from Parents United for Responsible Education, a hard-scrabble civic group that ordinarily targets Chicago Public Schools management and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In this case, though, the group was squawking about money destined for schools operated by the United Neighborhood Organization.

The group, generally known as UNO, is one of the better-connected groups in town. With deep roots in Chicago's growing Latino community, it was tight as could be with former Mayor Richard M. Daley and has maintained warm ties with his successor.

Anyhow, UNO a few years ago got what amounted to a $98 million earmark out of Springfield to build news schools for its operation. And then PURE found out that UNO was pushing to get another $35 million in a measure that was pending in the General Assembly's veto session early in January.

PURE was right. Click here, and you'll see a proposed amendment to Senate Bill 24 that was introduced on Jan. 2 by North Side state Sen. Heather Steans.

And then go all the way to page 52 of the 89-page amendment, to Sec. 110, and you'll see a proposed appropriation "of $35,200,000, or so much thereof . . . to the United Neighborhood Organization" for capital work on one or more green-certified "facilities."

That's a lot of money anytime — particularly at a time when Chicago Public Schools is warning of a $1 billion deficit, and in a week when Gov. Pat Quinn said the state might soon have to cut state school aid by $400 million. So I called Ms. Steans, whose district is entirely in the city, to ask what was up.

Ms. Steans says she found out about the amendment she was introducing "that day, from staff." In other words, she was handling it at the request of somebody upstairs.
There's much more via the link. I encourage you to read the whole thing.

The charter school privatization game is a racket no different from the social security privatization game. The big money boys aren't content with having just 90% of the money. They want it all, and they're happy to ravage what little is left of the commons to get it.


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