Few states rely so heavily on for-profit management companies as does Ohio. Lately, corporate reformers at the Cambridge Education Group, have formed a new charter school network in to try and clean up the mess created by their former notorious company, for-profit White Hat charters. But Cambridge's new name is not enough to pull them from the muck and corruption of "free market" education.
The company was formed in 2012, founded by Marcus May, a former White Hat executive.
Beacon Journal staff writer, Doug Livingston writes:
The Akron company and the 20 Ohio charter schools it manages are seeking to disentangle themselves from the likes of White Hat Management, a primordial force in Ohio’s charter school movement.
But Cambridge claims to be different. It has no interest in owning school assets or signing property leases that make it hard for school boards to fire the management companies they hire.But, writes Livingston, "Cambridge, for all its promise, can’t shake a past rife with questionable business relationships."
Summit Academy, White Hat, Concept Schools of Illinois and Imagine Schools of Virginia and other for-profit charter networks, all like to buy the school buildings they manage, drawing revenue from rent and putting school boards at a disadvantage if they wish to shop around for a new operator. Cambridge school boards — starting with Towpath Trail High School on Market Street — are collecting property deeds, eliminating their use as bargaining chips.
Ohio’s charter schools ...
Drawing state dollars from local school districts, charter schools presented a cheaper, market-driven alternative to government-run schools.
■ Ohio law allowed for the first charter schools in 1998.
■ Nearly 40 percent of the 595 charter schools that ever opened in Ohio have closed. Financial difficulty is cited three times as often as academic failure. More than half the time, closure is voluntary, according to a state directory of shuttered charter schools.
■ Ohio’s charter schools rank among the lowest in the nation in advancing student learning.______________________________________
May founded Rearden Capital and d’Anconia Development to provide financing and line up private investors to purchase school property, often with an option for the schools to buy the property later. “Rearden” and “d’Anconia” are the neoliberal protagonists in Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s ode to an unfettered free-market capitalism. Such is the philosophy May and others bring to public education.
A grand jury in Florida indicted School Warehouse and Newpoint Education Partners, May’s version of Cambridge in Florida, on charges of grand theft, money laundering and aggravated white-collar crime.
And so it goes. It's White Hat without the hat.
THE FALLOUT... The Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, one of Ohio’s leading charter-school lobbying and advocacy organizations is disbanding after a decade of shaping the state’s charter-school policy. Some say its demise stems from Ohio’s poor charter-school record, which is causing national funders to pull their support.