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madfloridian

Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Florida
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 81,408

About Me

Retired teacher who sees much harm to public education from the "reforms" being pushed by corporations. Privatizing education is the wrong way to go. Children can not be treated as products, thought of in terms of profit and loss.

Journal Archives

Charter schools a gravy train for US wealthy. Also path to citizenship for foreign investors. EB-5

As TeacherKen at Daily Kos pointed out last year....all you have to do is follow the money.

Just follow the money

Our democracy is being sold off, one piece at a time.

The idea of local control of public functions is disappearing.

And remember that the restrictions imposed upon government agencies with respect to rights protected in the Bill of Rights and elsewhere do not necessarily apply to corporate entities. No pubic school could fine a parent for a child's behavior, nor expel a child without due process, but charters are known to do both, often with regularity.

Perhaps it is hard for people to understand how much the profit motive is driving the expansion of charters - which I might note is only one part of the corporate attempts to control the hundreds of billions in tax revenue intended to fund PUBLIC education. The traditional media organizations have done a horrible job in covering this aspect of what is happening in American public education.


Also last year there was an important article at Forbes on how the EB-5 visas are now involving charter school investment.

Charter School Gravy Train Runs Express To Fat City

It’s not only wealthy Americans making a killing on charter schools. So are foreigners, under a program critics call “green card via red carpet.”

“Wealthy individuals from as far away as China, Nigeria, Russia and Australia are spending tens of millions of dollars to build classrooms, libraries, basketball courts and science labs for American charter schools,” says a 2012 Reuters report.

The formal name of the program is EB-5, and it’s not only for charter schools. Foreigners who pony up $1 million in a wide variety of development projects — or as little as $500,000 in “targeted employment areas” — are entitled to buy immigration visas for themselves and family members.

“In the past two decades,” Reuters reports, “much of the investment has gone into commercial real estate projects, like luxury hotels, ski resorts and even gas stations. Lately, however, enterprising brokers have seen a golden opportunity to match cash-starved charter schools with cash-flush foreigners in investment deals that benefit both.”


I am bringing this gravy train thought down to what is going on in Florida. The Chinese are very involved in this here, except we can't know the charter schools in which they are investing. They like their privacy, you know.

From 2012

Chinese investing 90 million in FL charter schools by next year. Remain anonymous.

Chinese funding Florida charter schools

Chinese investors are taking advantage of the EB-5 investment visa program, the so-called "green card via red carpet," by putting millions into Florida's charter schools and an aquaculture farm in Central Florida.

Under the EB-5 program, through investments of at least $1 million — or $500,000 for "targeted employment areas" — foreign nationals are able to obtain legal residency in the US so long as the money they invest will help secure or create at least 10 full-time jobs.

A group of Chinese investors have put $30 million into the state's charter school program to date and are looking to invest three times that amount in the next year, Ilona Vega Jaramillo, director of international business development for Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development arm, said in a US-China roundtable discussion last week.

She would not name any of the investors, citing confidentiality.


Just in case you were wondering how successful Florida charter schools have been...take a look at this list of charter schools that have closed here.

I have not counted them, but I hear there are 250 on the list...dating from 1998 until this summer.




Charter School Scandals Resemble the Subprime Mortgage Crisis..short but powerful video.

Mark Naison (1970), Fordham University Professor of African and African American Studies, Chair of African and African-American Studies and Co-Director of the Urban Studies Program. Ph.D., Columbia. African-American history; 20th century social and labor history.



Some background from Naison's blog.

Why Charter School Scandals Resemble the Subprime Mortgage Crisis

....But inevitably, the boom turned to bust. When the high rates on the mortgages started kicking in, millions of people defaulted on their loans, not only losing their homes but setting in motion a chain reaction which destabilized not only the banks which had written the mortgages, but the financial institutions which had bundled them, along with their customers. Some of the largest banks and insurance companies in the nation failed and went under, and others had to be rescued through an injection of funds from the federal government at huge expense to tax payers. And as the economy plunged into near Depression, the residential housing market was shattered, and along with it the dream of widespread home ownership among the poor. Today, there are 13 million abandoned homes and commercial properties in the US, while large numbers of families live doubled and tripled up in properties which were designed to be private homes

While the comparison is not exact, there are some powerful similarities between what happened to subprime mortgages and what is currently taking place with charter schools, another “short cut” to opportunity which has been seized upon by elites for financial and political gain, to the detriment of those for whom the charter school was initially designed to help.

Charter schools, which are public funded schools which have their own boards of directors and can set their own hiring policies, curricula, and patterns of student recruitment and discipline independent of the regulations governing public schools , were initially created to promote greater experimentation and innovation in public education. Many early charter schools were created by teachers and parents and promoted innovative pedagogies. Some still do.

But somewhere along the line, public officials began to see charter schools as a way of circumventing expensive labor contracts with teachers unions and of providing an alternative to public schools in inner city communities which had been battered by disinvestment, job losses and drug epidemics. They invited foundations and the private sector to come in and create charter schools on a far larger scale and with a very different model than parent/teacher cooperatives, using private money as well as public money. The professed goal was to give inner city parents and students safe alternatives to battered, underfunded and often troubled public schools, something many parents welcomed, but inviting powerful interests to help shape what was essentially an alternate school system free from public regulation and oversight proved to be as dangerous as it was tantalizing.

Abandoned baby horse meets 4 ft teddy bear. Adorable pics.

Abandoned Foal Finds a Friend in the Most Adorable Way Possible

Hours after birth, this baby horse foal was found stumbling around by a farmer. The newborn foal was abandoned by his mother. We’re sure she had her reasons, but the story does get better. The foal was taken to the Mare and Foal Sanctuary where they instantly started caring for him. What happened next is both adorable and heartwarming.




They became inseparable.

New pro-public-school group. Democrats for Public Education.

Is it real? Is it in name only? Who really knows.

DFER gives Donna Brazile smart-ass answer.

Please note in this post in GD someone posts unclear criticism, and just walks away without explaining. One way to try to discredit a post. There are lots of others, and I am learning just about all of them.


That response?

Joe Williams on announcement of AFT's launch of Democrats for Public Education:

"Welcome to the Jungle, baby."


Democrats for Education Reform

It's a big game to them. The DFER group looks down on public schools and the public school teachers, yet it is impossible to find a list of Democrats at their site.

Here is more about the new group being formed to supposedly fight back against education "reformers". I say supposedly because right now trust is hard to come by for me. Two national unions have now called for the head of Arne Duncan. Maybe some Democrats are getting the message.

From the Salon article about the new group.

Michelle Rhee’s minions meet their match: New anti-charter group declares war

For many years now, Democrats at the highest levels — including President Obama and his Education Secretary Arne Duncan — have pursued a series of so-called reform policies, which include charter schools, test-based teacher evaluations and eliminations of tenure. The Race to the Top program, where the Education Department forced school policy changes as a condition for competing for additional funding support, engendered a quiet revolution in the classroom. Duncan famously called Hurricane Katrina “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans,” an example of his desire to overhaul school districts and break union power.

Teacher’s unions typically resisted the reformers, but in the end would come back into the Democrats’ fold, perceiving Republicans as worse. Both the AFT and the National Education Association (NEA) endorsed President Obama in 2012. With teachers a substantial part of the Democratic activist base, unions had reasons to downplay the disagreements.

But a ruling out of California became a touchstone, bringing this simmering debate further into the open. In the Vergara case, bankrolled by Silicon Valley elites, a state judge effectively invalidated California’s teacher tenure rule as violating the civil rights of poor students, who cannot have bad teachers jettisoned from their classrooms. The ruling earned praise from Arne Duncan, and Obama Administration alums formed a public relations group to support future copycat lawsuits in other states. Vergara threatens perhaps the core position of teacher’s unions – job security for their members.

.....While Democrats for Public Education may not have the funds of DFER (as Brazile told Salon, “We don’t have their money and we don’t want their money”), there are plenty of races that could use a counterweight to education reform groups. Perhaps the biggest is in Chicago, where Rahm Emanuel earned the enmity of teachers for school closures and a bitter strike (during which DFER spent $1 million on pro-Emanuel ads). Emanuel faces re-election next February, and a new poll out this weekend shows that Karen Lewis, head of the Chicago Teachers Union, leads him by 9 points. That comes before one dollar has been spent on the race, of course, and Emanuel will have millions at his disposal. So Democrats for Public Education’s role just in Chicago would be critical, if they decide to back candidates.


I hope this is a sincere move, because teachers right now could see false hope a mile away.

Perhaps some are noticing that November is not that far off, and that it is not just the teachers who are angry. Parents are organizing as well.

An apt description of Arne Duncan by an advocate for public education

Duncan is without question the most anti-teacher,anti-public school Secretary of Education in our history, and I say that advisedly. Both Bill Bennett Reagan’s second term Secretary) and Rod Paige (George W. Bush’s first term Secretary) had their faults, but they did nothing more than talk. Paige, remember, called the NEA a “terrorist” organization. But neither had the ability to open thousands of privately managed schools, neither persuaded states to judge teachers by the test scores of their students. Besides, both served Republican presidents so their antipathy to unions was not surprising. Duncan works in a Democratic administration. What is his excuse for applauding the mass firing of the staff in Central Falls, Rhode Island? The destruction of public education in New Orleans? The release of teacher names with student scores in Los Angeles? The Vergara decision, attacking due process rights? His close alliance with anti-public school groups like Democrats for Education Reform?


Since Arne will most likely never retire on his own...it is now up to the president to listen to the teachers of two national unions who want him gone. Fire him.

Smart-ass answer from DFER (pro-school-privatization) to Donna Brazile on new anti-reform...

group called Democrats for Public Education. DFER is a group of not really Democrats called Democrats for Education Reform. What they really want is more charter schools, less public schools, and more and more profit for the education Billionaire Boys' Club.

That response?

Joe Williams on announcement of AFT's launch of Democrats for Public Education:

"Welcome to the Jungle, baby."


Democrats for Education Reform

It's a big game to them. The DFER group looks down on public schools and the public school teachers, yet it is impossible to find a list of Democrats at their site.

Here is more about the new group being formed to supposedly fight back against education "reformers". I say supposedly because right now trust is hard to come by for me. Two national unions have now called for the head of Arne Duncan. Maybe some Democrats are getting the message.

From the Salon article about the new group.

Michelle Rhee’s minions meet their match: New anti-charter group declares war

For many years now, Democrats at the highest levels — including President Obama and his Education Secretary Arne Duncan — have pursued a series of so-called reform policies, which include charter schools, test-based teacher evaluations and eliminations of tenure. The Race to the Top program, where the Education Department forced school policy changes as a condition for competing for additional funding support, engendered a quiet revolution in the classroom. Duncan famously called Hurricane Katrina “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans,” an example of his desire to overhaul school districts and break union power.

Teacher’s unions typically resisted the reformers, but in the end would come back into the Democrats’ fold, perceiving Republicans as worse. Both the AFT and the National Education Association (NEA) endorsed President Obama in 2012. With teachers a substantial part of the Democratic activist base, unions had reasons to downplay the disagreements.

But a ruling out of California became a touchstone, bringing this simmering debate further into the open. In the Vergara case, bankrolled by Silicon Valley elites, a state judge effectively invalidated California’s teacher tenure rule as violating the civil rights of poor students, who cannot have bad teachers jettisoned from their classrooms. The ruling earned praise from Arne Duncan, and Obama Administration alums formed a public relations group to support future copycat lawsuits in other states. Vergara threatens perhaps the core position of teacher’s unions – job security for their members.

.....While Democrats for Public Education may not have the funds of DFER (as Brazile told Salon, “We don’t have their money and we don’t want their money”), there are plenty of races that could use a counterweight to education reform groups. Perhaps the biggest is in Chicago, where Rahm Emanuel earned the enmity of teachers for school closures and a bitter strike (during which DFER spent $1 million on pro-Emanuel ads). Emanuel faces re-election next February, and a new poll out this weekend shows that Karen Lewis, head of the Chicago Teachers Union, leads him by 9 points. That comes before one dollar has been spent on the race, of course, and Emanuel will have millions at his disposal. So Democrats for Public Education’s role just in Chicago would be critical, if they decide to back candidates.


I hope this is a sincere move, because teachers right now could see false hope a mile away.

Perhaps some are noticing that November is not that far off, and that it is not just the teachers who are angry. Parents are organizing as well.

An apt description of Arne Duncan by an advocate for public education

Duncan is without question the most anti-teacher,anti-public school Secretary of Education in our history, and I say that advisedly. Both Bill Bennett Reagan’s second term Secretary) and Rod Paige (George W. Bush’s first term Secretary) had their faults, but they did nothing more than talk. Paige, remember, called the NEA a “terrorist” organization. But neither had the ability to open thousands of privately managed schools, neither persuaded states to judge teachers by the test scores of their students. Besides, both served Republican presidents so their antipathy to unions was not surprising. Duncan works in a Democratic administration. What is his excuse for applauding the mass firing of the staff in Central Falls, Rhode Island? The destruction of public education in New Orleans? The release of teacher names with student scores in Los Angeles? The Vergara decision, attacking due process rights? His close alliance with anti-public school groups like Democrats for Education Reform?


Since Arne will most likely never retire on his own...it is now up to the president to listen to the teachers of two national unions who want him gone. Fire him.

Florida politics changing...huge growth in NPAs. Going to be hard to predict election results.

Big surge in no-party voters could reshape Florida politics

Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political scientist who closely studies voting patterns, said the biggest drop in early voting between the 2008 and 2012 elections in Florida was among voters of no party. He said that's because the major parties direct political messages at their own voters, not independents.

"They're not getting steered to cast absentee ballots. They're not getting mobilized on Election Day," Smith said. "If you're registering as an NPA, the two parties are less likely to think that you can be persuaded."


Statewide Florida Electorate

Republican: 4,128,098 (35.2 percent)

Democrat: 4,587,502 (39 percent)

NPA & other: 3,023,401 (25.8 percent)

Statewide total: 11,739,001


Here is a list from the article of the Republicans, Democrats, and NPA/Others for the 8 counties in which NPA/Others outnumber either Democrats or Republicans. Usually Republicans.

Most of these counties are South Florida, a few in Central Florida. North Florida is another matter.

County>Republicans>Democrats>NPA/Other*>Total county
(* Statewide, 89 percent of all voters in this category are registered as No Party Affiliation)


Broward 233,771 537,229 276,275 1,047,275

Collier 92,456 44,066 46,495 183,017

Lee 169,353 114,543 114,887 398,783

Miami-Dade 362,284 550,668 369,762 1,282,714

Okaloosa 70,932 24,649 25,821 121,402

Orange 203,759 299,473 206,639 709,871

Osceola 41,329 69,086 51,188 161,603

Palm Beach 235,720 367,833 238,054 841,607


Those with no party affiliation, those who say they are undecided are going to play a huge roll in coming elections.

AND the polls often fail to show these folks and to give a true prediction of which way the wind is blowing.

AFT needs to join NEA condemning "toxic testing" and calling for Arne Duncan to resign.

The NEA, a national teachers' union, took those positions already. The AFT which is convening right now needs stand with them.

A short to the point post by Dr. John Thompson, a favorite education blogger and teacher.

Thompson: The AFT Needs to Support the NEA's New Positions

The National Education Association annual conference approved a national campaign for equity and against "Toxic Testing." It seeks to end the "test, blame and punish" system that began under President Bush and which has grown worse under the Obama administration. As outgoing NEA President Dennis Van Roekel says, "The testing fixation has reached the point of insanity," The delegates then called on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to resign.

Hopefully the American Federation of Teachers national conference will do the same this month.

The AFT should help the press write its lede. It should adopt the same language, word for word, in order to make the key point. Both unions are on the exact same page in terms of testing and Duncan.

Nuance is appropriate when teachers discuss issues like Common Core standards or how we should deal with edu-philanthropy. But, the jury is in on the damage done by high-stakes testing. And, dumping Duncan is a doable short-term objective. Let's also unite in sharing the bows when we finally force President Obama, who we helped elect and reelect, to repudiate his appointee who personifies complete fidelity to corporate reform. - JT(@drjohnthompson)

Ravitch's very apt description of Arne Duncan.

Why the California Teachers Association Launched the Call for Duncan’s Resignation

Diane Ravitch at her blog points out the words of the California Teachers' Association in calling for Arne Duncan to resign. She links to their website and resolution.

Then she describes how Arne Duncan is such a terrible Secretary of Education. Every word true.

Duncan is without question the most anti-teacher,anti-public school Secretary of Education in our history, and I say that advisedly. Both Bill Bennett Reagan’s second term Secretary) and Rod Paige (George W. Bush’s first term Secretary) had their faults, but they did nothing more than talk. Paige, remember, called the NEA a “terrorist” organization. But neither had the ability to open thousands of privately managed schools, neither persuaded states to judge teachers by the test scores of their students. Besides, both served Republican presidents so their antipathy to unions was not surprising. Duncan works in a Democratic administration. What is his excuse for applauding the mass firing of the staff in Central Falls, Rhode Island? The destruction of public education in New Orleans? The release of teacher names with student scores in Los Angeles? The Vergara decision, attacking due process rights? His close alliance with anti-public school groups like Democrats for Education Reform?

The only puzzle is why the vote was close. Are there NEA members who like a Secretary of Education who is hostile to public school teachers?


Agree on all.

There is a very good post in the comment section.

“The only puzzle is why the vote was close.”

Just a guess, but perhaps because many (if not most) Democrats will simply not criticize Obama (on anything for any reason) because they have been led (by Obama and other Democratic party leaders) to believe — indeed to fear — that if they do, they will hand victory to the Republicans in the upcoming election.

But, alas, there is always an upcoming election, so such an approach effectively means always withholding criticism, which leads to a party leadership that is sometimes completely unresponsive to (essentially ignores and sometimes even mocks) its members.


School superintendent banned in NJ finds work in FL, brings banned colleagues with him.

Ex-Plainfield superintendent banned from N.J. schools finds new work in Florida, report says

Three charter schools in the South Florida counties of Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade hired Steve Gallon III's company, Tri-Star Leadership, in June 2011, five months after Gallon was banned from working in New Jersey, according to a report from the Sun Sentinel.

In May 2010, Gallon and two of his assistants, Angela Kemp, 36, and Lalelei Kelly, 34, were accused of falsifying documents so that their children could attend schools in South Plainfield. Authorities said at the time that Kemp and Kelly provided a sworn statement from Gallon, who falsely indicated that the women and their children lived with him at his home in South Plainfield.

The charges brought against Gallon, Kemp and Kelly were dropped in January 2011 and the three agreed to serve probation and to never work in the New Jersey public school system again, the report said.

Just over a year after Gallon was hired to work with schools in South Florida, he hired Kelly to work as a consultant, at a salary of $60,000 a year, the report said. Months later, he hired Kemp to be the principal at Excel Leadership Academy in Palm Beach County, at a salary of $80,000 a year, according to the report.


Gallon has been paid over $500,000 in taxpayer money by the 3 charter schools according to the Sun Sentinel.

South Florida charter schools hire educator banned in New Jersey

New Jersey authorities banned educator Steve Gallon III from working in their public schools. Five months later, three South Florida charter schools welcomed him.

The struggling schools gave Gallon’s company $500,000 in taxpayer dollars over two years, allowing him to give jobs and double payments to his cronies, a Sun Sentinel investigation found.

Records obtained by the newspaper reveal questionable decisions at the schools as their finances unraveled, providing a rare look into the perils of Florida’s loosely regulated charter-school industry.

....Success Leadership Academy in Fort Lauderdale and Excel Leadership Academy in West Palm Beach closed in the summer of 2013. Stellar Leadership Academy in Miami faced financial struggles but rebounded and continues to employ Gallon’s company.


Edited to add another article about his being charged with theft.

Schools chief Gallon charged with theft

When last we visited Plainfield Schools Superintendent Steve Gallon III he was under fire for providing jobs to the women who accompanied him from Florida where he was a principal. The school board backed him although the women weren’t qualified. He’s back in the news. This time Gallon has been charged along with two top assistants with stealing more than $10,000 worth of education services from neighboring South Plainfield. Gallon, 41, was charged with conspiring to commit theft by deception and as an accomplice and false swearing. Assistant Superintendent Angela Kemp, 36, and Lalelei Kelly, 34, were charged with uttering false statements, theft by deception, conspiracy to commit theft and false swearing. Bail has been set at $25,000 each. An investigation determined that Kemp and Kelly, residents of the Somerset section of Franklin Township, enrolled their children in South Plainfield and provided false documents they lived there. They provided a sworn statement by Superintendent Gallon who falsely indicated the women and their children lived with him in South Plainfield.


I saw a video in which Dr. Gallon was also honored as ICABA Education Professional of the Year 2013.



Just illustrates my favorite true saying....only public school teachers are held accountable. There is no one in charge of overseeing the spending of our taxpayer money.

Horsey cartoon. GOP meets with base, tries to reason.

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