Alright, folks. If you needed more proof of the real agenda behind the big-box charter movement; if you still weren’t sold that it’s by and large not about the kids, but rather about the looting of public treasuries for the private gain of the one percent; if you still couldn’t bring yourself to believe that all the pretty pamphlets and inspirational advertisements are just a cover for one more innovative strategy to transfer wealth upwards, well, watch this video.
Here, I’m going to give you the link one more time, because it’s absolutely vital that you watch this clip. You have to watch a dumb 10-second commercial beforehand, but it’s worth it.
Alright, for anyone who refuses to click the link, here’s the setup. CNBC is interviewing David Brain, head of a major investment trust, about why charter schools are such phenomenal money-makers for smart investors like him. Here’s the transcript. Read it.
Anchor: Charter schools have become very popular as parents seek more choice in educating their children. But are charter schools a wise addition to your investment portfolio? Well let’s ask David Brain, President and CEO of Entertainment Properties Trust. David, why would I want to add charter schools into my portfolio?
DB: Well I think it’s a very stable business, very recession-resistant. It’s a high-demand product. There’s 400,000 kids on waiting lists for charter schools, the industry’s growing about 12-14% a year. So it’s a high-growth, very stable, recession-resistant business. It’s a public payer, the state is the payer on this category, and if you do business with states with solid treasuries then it’s a very solid business.
Anchor: Well let me ask you about potential risks, here, to your charter school portfolio, because I understand that three of your nine “Imagine” schools are scheduled to actually lose their charters for the next school year. Does this pose a risk to investors?
DB: Well, occasionally—our Imagine arrangement’s on a master lease, so there’s no loss of rents to the company, although occasionally there are losses of charters in certain areas and they’re used to peculiar, particular circumstances. In this case it’s a combination of relationship with the supervisory authorities and educational quality; sometimes the educational quality is very difficult to change in one, two, or three years. It’s a long-term proposition, so there are some of these that occur, but we’ve structured our affairs so this is not going to impact our rent-roll and in fact you see this is maybe even a good experience as the industry thins out some of the less-performing schools and we move on to the best-performing schools.
Anchor: David there has been somewhat of a backlash to charter schools in some areas given their use of public money, as you noted. Any risk to the growth of charter schools generally?
DB: I don’t—there’s not a lost of risk, there’s probably risk to everything but the fact is this has bipartisan support. It’s part of the Republican platform and Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education in the Obama Administration, has been very high on it throughout their work in public education. So we have both political parties are solidly behind it, you have high demand, high growth, you have performance across the board, most studies have charter schools at even or better than district public education. So, I think it has some risk because it’s new and it’s emerging and it is a high-growth category. But at the same time I think much more’s going forward so it’s still a safe area for investment.
Anchor: You’ve invested in retail centers, ski parks, you’ve got charter schools, you’ve got movie theaters. If you could buy one thing right now, David, one type of asset in real estate, what would it be?
DB: Well, probably the charter school business. We said it’s our highest growth and most appealing sector right now of the portfolio. It’s the most high in demand, it’s the most recession-resistant. And a great opportunity set with 500 schools starting every year. It’s a two and a half billion dollar opportunity set annually.
Wow, a two and a half billion dollar opportunity set annually. That’s an incredible amount of profit to be generated by this “public” good that’s all about helping children. I guess this really is good for low-income communities. I mean, I trust this David Brain guy is in a better position than real educators to be driving education policy. RI-CAN and DFER and all those other corporate-funded “grassroots” advocacy groups spending big money lobbying for these schools must be right. State senate candidates Maryellen Butke and Maura Kelly–who are receiving great gobs of out-of-state corporate ed reform cash for their campaigns–must really be onto something. What idiots we’ve all been to argue that the big-box charter movement, like (as Mr. Brain noted) the rest of the Republican platform, is another rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer scheme.
Sorry for the excessive level of sarcastic anger in this post, but watching that CNBC conversation absolutely makes my blood boil.