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

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bruce Rauner's charter school, a pawn in his political game

Rauner boasts that he started a charter school.

Billionaire candidate for governor, Bruce Rauner and charter operator Mike Milkie, are trying to play Rauner Charter School for all its worth. Rauner's using it for political reasons, Milkie, it seems, for personal gain.

The school's teachers and students have become pawns in Rauner's campaign publicity game. Until today that is, when an expose in the Sun-Times could bring the game to a grinding halt.

Although he brags in his campaign commercials, about starting a charter school (because, "there’s no excuse for failing schools. Zero. None. Period") he, along with CEO Mike Milkie and the school's operators are now forced to put a little distance between Rauner and the Rauner College Prep.

From the Sun-Times
Rauner, a venture capitalist and member of Noble’s 20-member board, says: “I’ve never had a role in day-to-day operations at Noble or, frankly, in almost anything I get involved with. My role is generally as a board member or kind of an adviser providing overall strategic advice or feedback. . . .
The S-T says, Rauner has given about $2.5 million to Noble. His family foundation has also given about $4 million to other organizations that operate or support charter schools.
Though Noble teachers make less than those at CPS, Milkie makes nearly as much as Chicago schools chief executive Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who is paid $250,000. 
Milke milks his charters

Ironically, it's Chicago who's made out like a bandit off Rauner.
Ironically, it's Gery Chico who seems to be making out like a bandit off of Rauner's charter. Ironically because Chico was appointed chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education by Rauner's likely opponent, Gov. Quinn.  Charter operator Milkie has thrown a lot of school business Chico's way. The S-T reports their relationship dates back to 1998, when Chico was president of the Chicago Board of Education — which gave Milkie permission to start Noble. After leaving the school board, Chico and his law firm were paid $239,363 by Noble for legal work in the 2009-10 school year. Chico’s firm has continued to work for Noble even after he was appointed by Quinn in May 2011.

Milkie and Rauner have also been able to get the state of Illinois (Quinn and Chico) to loan Noble $42 million by issuing bonds, which could cost the school $85 million in principal and interest by the due date of 2040, bond records show. The bonds are repaid with taxes. Noble also borrowed $13 million through the Mayor's tax-credit financing program. Not a bad deal for the charters as Rahm is closing dozens of schools in the city's black and Latino neighborhoods. Rauner claims he didn’t know Chico had worked for Noble.

Yeah, right.

Interesting stat:  Milkie and Rauner like to boast that their charter sends 90% of its kids to college. But the S-T reports that 2/3 of them fail to earn a degree within 6 years. 

Then there's the question of whether Rauner would ever send his own kid to Rauner Charter School or to any charter? Remember, he used his clout and a phone call to Arne Duncan to get his daughter into Walter Payton, a selective enrollment school, through the back door.

Also see the accompanying S-T piece on how the would-be Republican candidate for Illinois governor took control of the Academy of Communications and Technology Charter School that teachers Sarah Howard and Michelle Smith started, dumped Sarah as executive director, and then suspended operations for two years, before handing the teacher-led school over to a national charter school operator.

And then there's the UNO connection.
Rauner’s family charity has contributed $800,000 to the scandal-tarred United Neighborhood Organization in recent years, including $750,000 to help expand the Hispanic community group’s network of 16 charter schools in Chicago
 Rauner says he wasn’t aware UNO used some of his money to make up for the suspended state funding.

Yeah right. And Chris Christie didn't know about the bridge.

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