Multiple Costs of School Privatization/Corporatization

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The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) recently released test results of schools statewide – both public and private. The results showed that public schools outperformed charter schools – again.

The ODE report showed that 228 out of 281 charter schools, many of them run by for-profit corporations, ranked in the bottom 25% academically, 93% of all charters ranked in the bottom 50%. Only 65% of students in charters passed the 3rd grade reading test, compared to 81% overall (the rate for public schools was 85%).

Charters took over $900 million directly out of school district budgets last year. Based on their enrollment, that came to $7500 per student. That compared to just shy of $3500 per student in public districts.

Charter students aren’t receiving a quality education. Taxpayers aren’t getting their money’s worth. Citizens aren’t aware of all that takes place in charters as the private corporate shield prevents many charters from being fully accountable for their activities.

The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) is the largest charter school corporation in Ohio, in fact the 10th largest schools district in the entire state with a reported enrollment of 14,600. They received 7 F’s and 1 D in the ODE report. They continue to rank below all 8 large urban school districts in the state – the ones that we are told are disasters and should be “privatized.” ECOT’s 4-year graduation rate was 26% points lower than the infamous Cleveland public school district. Yet they received 100 million of our tax dollars last year alone. Two other private corporations owned by ECOT’s founder that provide management services to ECOT have shoveled in another $130 million since 2001, $22 million last year alone.

How could such a combined educational, financial and democracy disaster occur?

Political investments, what else.

William Lager is ECOT’s founder. He’s also a major political investor to Ohio Republican politicians. Lager has invested just over $2 million since 2001 in Ohio politicians to make sure his voice is heard – and inept educational corporations fully funded. Over the last 8 years, his political investments have averaged just short of $200,000 per year.

So let’s do the math. Lager’s corporations receive a combined $122,000,000 last year in our tax dollars. He politically invested $200,000. That’s a return of 610 times his investment. Not bad. Sure beats CD’s, even the Quantitative Easing-inflated stock market.

Mr. Lager, like many other CEOs of charter corporations, is making a ton of profit by supplying low quality service.

This couldn’t happen if political money was not constitutionally defined as “free speech” and corporations as “persons.” It’s just yet another reason for working to pass the We the People Constitutional Amendment

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