Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Sunday, February 3, 2013

CSGF, a hedge fund for charter school expansion

Did you know there was a special Charter School Growth Fund?  The fund raises money from private investors and then pours millions into selected charter schools through their private operators thereby creating yet another tier of competing "public" schools.

They even make real estate loans to the charter operators, charging them interest in the process, "to help charter school operators within our portfolio finance school facilities at more attractive rates and terms."
Kind of a bank for the private charter management companies. Investors include names like Gates, Walton, Bradley, Dell, etc...

The board of CSGF consists of these heavy hitters:
  • John Fisher, President of Pisces, Inc. and founding Partner of Sansome Partners, a private equity investment group with investments in timber, hotels, etc...
  • Greg Penner, General Partner at Madrone Capital Partners, an investment management firm based in Menlo Park, California. Penner was the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Wal-Mart Japan. Penner is a Member of the Board of Directors at Wal-Mart Stores (U.S.), (Beijing), Cuill, Inc., and Global Hyatt Corporation.
  • Michael W. Grebe, President and CEO of the right-wing Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.
  • Mason Hawkins, Chairman and CEO of Southeastern Asset Management, Inc. and is a current board member of KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools. (Gee, do you think KIPP is on the receiving end of CSGF money?)
  • James C. Rahn, President of the Kern Family Foundation.
  • Allan C. Golston, President of U.S. Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Kevin Hall, before joining CSGF, Hall served as the Chief Operating Officer of The Broad Foundation 
What you say? No educators on the board? Get real.

Oh, in case you were wondering, a  CREDO study, the results of which, (un-skeptically reported by Sean Cavanagh at EdWeek), supposedly offers proof (test score results) that those charters getting millions more in CSGF money, "produced greater academic gains than both traditional public schools and other charter networks."

Of course they did.

You see, CSGF only funds higher scoring charter networks. It's comparable to selective enrollment schools, which admit only the highest scoring kids, then bragging that their test scores are higher than neighborhood schools which take in all kids.

With this kind of financial backing, it's easy to see why cash-strapped urban school districts want to attract heavily-funded charter schools while closing resource-starved neighborhood schools.

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