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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The OTHER Facebook IPO

I know you're all bummed out that you missed out on the Facebook IPO... well, I mean, only if you could get the special deals they apparently had for "preferred customers" of the brokerage houses.

But don't worry - there's another Facebook investment opportunity, happening right here in Jersey! You can vie to get some of Zuckerberg's $100 million "gift" to Newark's schools... if you're in the right place at the right time and know the right people:
The Foundation for Newark’s Future, the fund created from Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to Newark public schools, will soon commit approximately $15 million to the city’s charter schools -- nearly doubling its overall outlay so far.
Hey, nice! How do I get in on that?

Oh, I see... it's like the IPO; you have to be a "preferred" customer:

Derrell Bradford, executive director of the school advocacy group E3, said some applications were very strong, and others "needed a lot of work." Each reviewer read about three applications, he said, and several reviewers read each one. 
Bradford also said school proposals were vetted for possible conflicts. He, for example, said he did not read applications submitted by the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey, whose executive director, Reginald Jackson, is on the board of E3. 
The five proposals submitted by the minister’s council were approved. 
Meanwhile, while some charter school applicants were beginning to plan the work ahead, others were left asking why their application was passed over. 
Arthur Nunnally of Newark, whose Newark Horizon Charter School proposed linking academics and an "entrepreneurial" curriculum for elementary school children, questioned why his proposal was turned down, when all five from the Black Ministers Council were approved. 
"I don’t get it. I’m not going to claim there was politics involved here ... but that to me raises questions," said Nunnally. 
Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman ( D-Mercer) issued a statement Wednesday applauding Christie’s attention to education but asking why no new charters were approved in Trenton. 
Another charter school applicant, Vashti Johnson of the proposed Bright Minds Charter High School in Jersey City, asked why nine schools were approved in Newark, but only two in Hudson County. 
She also said she received no formal denial notice. 
"I’m not politically connected. I’m just a group of parents and life-long residents in the community. Maybe we don’t get the same focus and consideration that more highly political people do," she said. [emphasis mine]
I've written about this several times; there are some charters Chris Christie loves, and some he doesn't. There are people who have the magic touch when it comes to getting charters approved, and there are people who don't. Some charter funders get to sit up on stage for town halls with the guv; others can't.

Which charters do you think are going to get the benefits of this second Facebook IPO?

Of course, charter schools haven't been the only "preferred customers"; look at the list of who got in on the ground floor:

Newark Public Schools -- Operational Excellence: $4 million

Technical assistance and management consulting for Newark Public School's Superintendent Cami Anderson's, particularly with numerous reforms she plans on implementing.

Newark Public Schools -- Diagnostic and Transition: $2,845,582

Funds to support a diagnostic assessment of Newark public schools in the first few months of Anderson's leadership.

PENewark: $2,034,866

An early public campaign that surveyed the Newark community and sought input through community meetings as to how to spend the FNF's resources.

Teacher Innovation Fund: $600,000

Fund to give cohorts of teachers up to $10,000 in grants each to implement innovative programs in their school buildings. The first round of grants this year gave out $200,000. The next round for next year will distribute another $200,000.
"Innovative." 'Kay...

Bard High School Early College: $550,000

NPS offers an accelerated curriculum, with two years of tuition-free college liberal arts program. Students graduate with a New Jersey high school diploma and an Associate in Arts degree from Bard College.

Financial Audit: $550,000

Funding to support NPS in conducting a sophisticated financial audit to better allocate resources.

Newark BRIDGES High School: $500,000

This Newark Public School provides alternatives for children who left the traditional system in order to help them complete high school.

Newark Leadership Academy: $500,000

This NPS school also targets at-risk youth to provide opportunities to achieve academic success and move on to college.

Teach for America: $500,000

Funding to support Teach for America in recruiting, placing, and supporting its corps members in Newark. Greg Taylor, FNF chief executive, said additional funds, yet to be determined, are expected to be committed to TFA.

New Leaders for New Schools -- Emerging Leaders and Principals: $500,000

NLNS conducted an "Aspiring Leaders" program with Newark public schools to create a school leadership pipeline for NPS. Additional funding is not expected, Taylor said.
And so on. Consultants. Alternatives. Audits. Leaders (whatever those are). Charters...

You know, were I a parent with a kid in a Newark neighborhood school, I'd wonder when my child was going to see some of this money in her classroom...

Community Foundation of NJ -- Equity Grants for Shared Campuses: $110,000

Purchase of items such as Smart Boards, air conditioners, and furniture to ensure equity at district schools sharing campus sites with charter schools.

Institute for Community Peace -- Engaging Newark Community: $100,000

Establishment and facilitation of a new community advisory board to incorporate community voices into FNF's work.

Pathways to College -- Continuation of Program at Newark High Schools: $100,000

Support for a local college access program for at-risk youth.
Ah, down at the bottom. $4 million for consultants; $110K for equity. Nice.

Hey, it's not like this is a surprise or anything; it's been going on since Zuck wrote the check:
According to this story in the Newark Star-Ledger, records obtained by the Education Law Center in Newark show that of the first $13 million spent out of the total $148 million donated, about a third has been been spent since September 2010 to pay political and educational consultants and contractors. And there’s more:
Most of that money has gone to people and organizations that have connections to Booker, as well as to New Jersey’s acting education commissioner, Chris Cerf, according to the newspaper.
The Star-Ledger quotes foundation director Greg Taylor as defending the payments to the consultants, saying that they were necessary costs related to setting up the new foundation and that they went to people who had extensive experience.
Listen, you didn't expect it to go into the classrooms, did you? I mean, that would be such a waste!
But the newspaper reported that the single biggest grant given so far was the $1.9 million that went to Global Education Advisors. That’s a consulting firm that Cerf started but separated from before he became acting education commissioner under Gov. Chris Christie (R) late last year. Cerf was quoted as saying he has no involvement in the work the company is doing for the foundation.
No, of course not! Just like Morgan Stanley "played by the rules" on the Facebook IPO:
Capital Research and Management, an investment firm based in Los Angeles, may be one of the preferred investors that received a warning from an underwriter about Facebook's lower-than-expected revenue days before the IPO, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"We, like other investment mangement firms, had access to publicly available information and we made an investment decision based on publicly available information," Chuck Freadhoff, a spokesman for Capital Research and Management, told ABC News. 
Jim Krapfel, an IPO analyst with the investment firm Morningstar, said that activity may first sound "legal and common."
"Clearly, though, the rules need to be changed to put all investors on a more even playing field," Krapfel said.

This is how they roll in the "real world"; they write the rules, we get the shaft. Do you really think they act any differently when it's "for the kids"?
I know I need to update this, but you get the point...

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