Aaron Regunberg is a community organizer in Providence and a state representative in House District 4.

14 responses to “Corporate Agenda Behind Public Charter Schools”

  1. pucci718

    Aside from a debate on charter schools in general (which I do not feel educated enough to have a valuable opinion on), I don’t see how this post demonstrates any kind of “rape” of the public at large. This company, as far as I can tell, rents space in thier buildings to charter schools to occupy and operate in. The states, who fund the schools, pay those rents. That is evil…how exactly? These new schools need to operate somewhere. Would it be better for states/municipalities to build or buy buildings for these schools instead, which would cost WAY more money? If you are against charter schools make that point but ranting that this guy is “driving education policy” because he rents space to them and that this is proof of “the poor getting poorer” is beyond a stretch.  

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  2. cailin rua

    I am glad someone is focused on this. I look forward to your posts.

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  3. leftyrite

    David Brain and his “Imagine” Charter Schools.

    David Brain?

    C’mon, you gotta be kiddin’ me. 

    (Are you going to delete this one, too?)

    Pretty soon, it will just be Sully, Bill Monroe, Doug Diesel, and Sully talking to each other.

    and turbo…

    Can’t forget the turb-meister.

    But David Brain?? 

    C’mon now. 

    How much would WPRI need to burnish this guy’s image?

    IMAGINE DAVID BRAIN!!   (I’m tellin’ Yoko.)


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    1. turbo

      IMAGINE DAVID BRAIN!!   (I’m tellin’ Yoko.)” Is this a poem? 

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  4. Samuel Bell

    Okay, this is pretty convincing.  The point of Wall St. investment in charter schools is to make money.  

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  5. jasonpbecker

    Ok Aaron, let’s play devil’s advocate here. Money in education is bad because money can become political power.

    So the teacher unions in about half of the spent more than $500,000 on campaign contribution. There has also been substantial research to show that teacher union members are far more likely to vote in the common off-cycle elections for school boards (especially when they live in the district they work at). So not only do they contribute way more than these evil, corporate entities, they also get to directly vote for their bosses. 

    Meanwhile, Burrillville with about 2,600 students made $16,000,000 in state revenue in 2008-09! That’s not even including local tax dollars!! (See what I did there? Yeah, revenue numbers are really inflated and are not the ones you want to use your point.)

    How much revenue do textbook companies make? Should we ban for-profit textbook companies? What about how much Dell makes selling computers to schools? Should we ban computers from schools? 

    I noticed completely absent from your “analysis” is a look at whether or not the profits being made in this case (which appear to be over building rents) come at an additional public cost or not. With building construction in education often topping tens of millions of dollars, I would be very interested to know if maybe our “public” schools are spending too much on building. As an urbanist, I have serious concerns with how we build schools and where we build them. We construct palaces that are supposed to last 100 years (or in the case of Providence we let them rot because of lack of funding). We are unable to effectively open or close schools based on changing overall enrollment and residential patterns that make comfortable, neighborhood schools a fiction in a city without sufficient density. We spend vastly more money on public construction projects than other developed nations (Europe can build trains, parking structures, etc at 1/10 the cost) and it’s largely because of complex safety regulations and union work rules all designed to make America overbuild inflexible structures with the most expensive labor.

    So seriously, someone is making money off of renting school buildings? Let’s find out if that’s actually coming at tax payer costs compared to the alternative! I think it probably does, even after all I wrote, but I don’t know and it’s an empirical question that can be answered. You want to report and be taking seriously? Do the legwork before you use the word “raping”.

    I think some/most of those companies suck. I am not a big fan of for-profit education and I’m generally happy it’s illegal in Rhode Island. But if you’re going to use the language you’re using to describe some pretty mundane activities you have to support it with something better than, “I don’t like markets, and look they can spend money on elections!”

    Quite honestly, you are using the word “raping” lightly, and it’s offensive.

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  6. leftyrite

    During my third of a century, give or take, in the high school classroom, I saw my share of weak characters venture into the first of what would be five classrooms, plus a duty assignment, to sheepishly work their first day. Understandably, some never came back for a second try, regardless of their intellectual level in what they IMAGINED was their chosen field.

    And they were sheepish for good reason.

    In order to teach, you first have to get right with the group that you’re working with on a fundamental (read, “animal”) level. If you can’t come to some tacit agreement, on that basis, with the group and the individuals within it, you’re not going very far.

    Now, scroll up and take a good look at that picture of DAVID BRAIN. 

    How long do you think he’d last in a big urban high school today, without the support of his local rightwing sponsors?

    A guy like that might become a school superintendent, sure, but never a good classroom teacher. 


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  7. CitizensArrest

    Pucci718, If you want the details on how the Brain drains your tax dollars, read this article.
    This is a separate issue from the fact that the majority of charter schools are worse than the public schools they have replaced via the hostile takeover of public education
    Wendy Lecker: State uses double standard when judging schools – StamfordAdvocate

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  8. rasputinkhlyst

    This link documents Charter Schools wasting taxpayer money, rampant fraud and harming students.  


    Others have even been potentially associated with terrorists:


    But they are not all bad.  Just ask any right winger!


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  9. davidc

    Aaron, while I appreciate that folks on this blog don’t like charter schools, especially those operating by for-profit companies, I don’t get your outrage based on this video.  This guy is an investor.  He’ll invest in anything that will make him money, and he’s interpreting the support of Republicans and Democrat politicians in charter schools as a good sign for continued expansion.  He’s investing in charter schools; he’s not promoting charter schools.  If the charter school market goes south, he’ll be outta there.

    Relating this back to Rhode Island, the charter schools I’m most familiar with (those in the southern part of the state) are not at all like the corproate-run charters I read about on this blog.  they are, I believe, independent nonprofits who hire their own staff and develop their own curricula.  As such, I don’t get too concerned with the fearful posts about the huge “charter school industry”.  No matter what this investor says.

    I would be interested to learn more about the other charters in Rhode Island – are they operating by for profits?  Regionally and nationwide, are charters mainly operated as franchises of national companies are local, organically built schools?

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  10. davidc

    More accurately, he’s providing services (facilities) to charter schools, just as he does to many other types of businesses. He’s not part of the education reform/charter school “movement” as such.

    Sure wish you could edit these comments.

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  11. leftyrite

    “Oh, I don’t pretend to teach. I just run schools.

    And my fiduciary responsibilities are such there can be no doubt that my loyalties are spoken for by my investors and/or my corporate board.

    But, instead of widgets, I do charter schools.

    Therefore, I am no indication of the quality of charter school leadership, or, of the motivation behind corporate schools.” 

    ***   ***   ***

    Jeez, Aaron, can you do something about these lively commenters so that we can continue to write turgid, dull forty watt business prose and get away with it forever??

    ***   ***  ***

    Aaron, you did a good thing by writing this column. Not an infinitely good thing; just a little good thing.

    Are you going to apologize to David C for people like me (who, after all, actually read your stuff)??

    See if you can just ride this one out. 

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