As you might imagine, your taxpayers dollars are funding this experiment:
The project was awarded nearly $40 million in Urban Transit Hub tax credits from the state Economic Development Authority and allocated $60 million in federal New Markets tax credits for the school portion. Other public financing came from the city of Newark, the state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, and federal Qualified School Construction Bonds, according to an EDA memo. Private financing came from Goldman Sachs, Prudential Financial Corp., TD Bank and New Jersey Community Capital, Beit said. In the early months of the recession, Beit said, Berggruen’s unwavering commitment to the project — Berggruen said he considers his investment "long-term" — brought everyone else together.$100 million in tax credits; not too shabby. If anyone tries to convince you that billionaires are interested in charter schools solely out of altruism, point them to this project. Why else do you think the biggest Master of the Universe of them all showed up?
I'm going to have a lot to say about this as I keep digging over the next few weeks. For now:A veritable who’s who of real estate developers, corporate leaders and elected officials gathered this morning to celebrate the groundbreaking of Teachers Village in downtown Newark and mark the start of a major project now underway.The crowd of more than 200 piled into a tent at the site at the corner of Halsey and William streets, two blocks from the Prudential Center. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, whose urban investment group helped finance the project, said projects like Teachers Village are exactly the types of opportunities they look for to support economic growth. World famous architect Richard Meier, who was born in Newark and designed the buildings, said the day was “more than a homecoming, it is a dream come true.” The majority of project investors are from New York, including lead developer Ron Beit of RBH Group. [emphasis mine]
- The apartments in the complex are studios to two-bedrooms that will range from $700 to $1,400 a month. Who do you think will be attracted to this housing: young people just starting out, or older couples with families? So much for experienced teachers working at these charters, although that has always been one of the key points of the charter "movement," hasn't it? Even here in Jersey (thanks, Darcie).
- According to my dead tree version of the S-L, there are three charter schools scheduled to take up residence at Teachers Village: Discovery Charter School, TEAM Academy (a K-4 KIPP school), and Great Oaks Charter School. I'll be taking a closer look at all three, but let's see what Bruce Baker has already uncovered about TEAM (my annotation):You can see that roughly 60% of TEAM's students qualify for free lunch (a measure of poverty). That's quite a bit, but far less than most of the other schools in Newark. And, even then, Bruce's model shows the school slightly underperforms expectations when accounting for student characteristics. I'm not saying TEAM is a bad school; far from it. I just wonder why they - and, for that matter, Discovery and Great Oaks - got the space at Teachers Village. What was the criteria? Who made the decision?
- The lead developer, Ron Beit, gives great credit to Nicolas Berggruen's "unwavering commitment" to the project. Guess who Berggruen's good buddy in Los Angeles is? Eli Broad. Yes, the same Eli Broad who paid ACTING Commissioner Chris Cerf's old firm $500,000 to write up a plan to convert many of Newark's pubic schools into charters. Everyone OK with that?
This is a big, complicated story, and it's going to take time to unravel it. Stay tuned...
ADDING: Dana Goldstein weighs in:
ADDING: Dana Goldstein weighs in:
Oh, my.Newark is not the first city to experiment with workforce housing for teachers, and to combine such projects with a standards-and-accountability school reform agenda. Baltimore’s Miller Court includes 40 teacher apartments, 70 percent of which are rented by Teach for America recruits. In Los Angeles, the Glassell Park complex combines a district pre-school with affordable housing for teachers and other community members.Another model is an attempt to increase parents’ involvement with their children’s education by co-locating schools with housing reserved for low-income families. Using a mix of public and philanthropic dollars, the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society runs four full-service children’s centers within public housing projects in the neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy, and Brownsville. The centers include pre-schools and family support services, and the Society partners with city social service agencies to identify which children living in public housing are most in-need of early academic enrichment.Of course, this type of project lacks the potential profit-making upsides of market-rate housing for middle-class teachers. [emphasis mine]