I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Halliburton High

Public education in New Jersey has been roiled recently by conflicts over charter schools, vouchers and "virtual" schools — but, now, a new type of privatization is on the horizon: allowing public schools to contract with a private company to offer "alternative" education.
The idea has been promoted to school superintendents by one of their own, Mount Olive schools chief Larrie Reynolds. He says it could bring extra income both to cash-strapped school districts and to a private, Dubai-based company for which he works as a consultant.
He [Reynolds] also is president of Sangari Active Science, a subsidiary of Sangari Global Education, a company once run by [ACTING NJ Commissioner of Education] Cerf. Reynolds also headed Newton Learning, a division of Edison Schools, a private education management company Cerf served as chief operating officer. 
The current president of Sangari Global, Rajeev Bajaj, headed Global Education Advisers, a consulting company started by Cerf out of his Montclair home. It received a $500,000 contract from the Newark public schools. Cerf said he left Global Education Advisers before it received the contract and never received money from the company. Randy Cerf, Cerf’s brother, is chief financial officer of Sangari Global.
[emphasis mine]
New York
By almost every educational measure, the Agora Cyber Charter School is failing. 
Nearly 60 percent of its students are behind grade level in math. Nearly 50 percent trail in reading. A third do not graduate on time. And hundreds of children, from kindergartners to seniors, withdraw within months after they enroll.
By Wall Street standards, though, Agora is a remarkable success that has helped enrich K12 Inc., the publicly traded company that manages the school. And the entire enterprise is paid for by taxpayers. 
Kids mean money. Agora is expecting income of $72 million this school year, accounting for more than 10 percent of the total anticipated revenues of K12, the biggest player in the online-school business. The second-largest, Connections Education, with revenues estimated at $190 million, was bought this year by the education and publishing giant Pearson for $400 million. 
In Pennsylvania, where K12 Inc. collects about 10 percent of its revenues, the company has spent $681,000 on lobbying since 2007. The company also has friends in high places. Charles Zogby, the state’s budget secretary, had been senior vice president of education and policy for K12. In a statement, Mr. Zogby said he still owned a small number of K12 shares, but did not make decisions specifically affecting online schools.
An analysis by the National Institute on Money in State Politics concluded that K12 and its employees had also contributed nearly $500,000 to state political candidates across the country from 2004 to 2010. [emphasis mine]
Gosh, I hope this isn't coming across the wrong way. I mean, it would be so completely wrong of me to have a "generalized presumption that people who care about education have a hidden agenda."

Obviously this is all being done for the kids...

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