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

Thursday, October 8, 2015

J.B. Pritzker and Goldman Sachs doing the special ed hustle

J.B. Pritzker
Goldman Sachs and J.B. Pritzker may call it "philanthropy" but it's a profitable brand that includes their benefiting financially from cuts in special ed and from every child who's dropped from or pushed out of a SpEd program.

It's all because of the latest corporate scheme in which private firms foot the initial bill for public services and then are repaid with interest if those services reduce the number of kids in special ed. They call it "social impact" investing.

In Utah for example, GS and J.B. have committed $7 million to area pay-for-success programs through the United Way, which will fund preschool services for five cohorts of children. Even at a 5% rate of return, they still receive 95% of any special-education savings to the state until the investments are repaid with interest. After that, the firms will receive 40% of ongoing cost savings until the participating students complete sixth grade.

If only companies like Goldman Sachs didn't operate virtually fax-free, there would likely be adequate public funding for special ed and all other education funding. Instead schools are forced to operate on the largess of private investment firms who not only operate at a profit, but also influence important public ed policy issues -- like which child should be in SpEd and which one needn't be?

According to Crain's,
United Way of Salt Lake is betting that the savings from keeping kids out of special-education, which is much more expensive than providing standard instruction, will provide the repayment to the investors.
About 600 students enrolled in public and private preschool programs in 2013. Of those students, 110 4-year-olds were expected to need special education during their kindergarten year. But only one of the students — who are now in the first grade — has required special education, which translates to about $281,000 in cost avoidance for Utah's public education system with 95% kicking back to the investors.

What these type of private funding schemes do is create pressures on school districts to remove students with special needs out of individually designed learning programs.

Pritzer says:
"Im not in the business of investing for 5 percent returns" but, "there are portions of people's portfolios invested in low-return opportunities, like treasuries. If you can prove this out, Goldman, Fidelity and other investors who put large amounts of capital into bonds, they could put them into social-impact bonds."
While social impact bonds pay out a relatively healthy interest rate when they succeed — between 5 and 7 percent a year in the Utah program — the investors lose all the money when they fail.

According to Huffington Post:
The success of the program is Salt Lake is intended to provide a more replicable template for funding and implementing preschool programs.
Chicago operates in early childhood Head Start programs in much the same way. Instead of relying on public funds to expand the programs and keep the benefits for itself, Rahm Emanuel has turned to lenders such as Goldman Sachs, Northern Trust and the Pritzker Family Foundation to provide the upfront money, with promises of substantial profits for the lenders down the road if the program goes as planned.

Great hustle, J.B.

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