Talk about privatization!
My name is Richard Cohen. I’m the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, http://www.splcenter.org/. We’re currently involved in a case in New Orleans with the goal of ensuring that so-called “difficult” students and those with disabilities have equal access to the charter schools that dominate the educational landscape there. http://www.splcenter.org/get-
There is another cloud on the horizon, however, one that we thought you might be interested in. It’s a law that was passed in the last legislative session in Louisiana that provides for charter school enrollment preferences for children of corporate employees in exchange for corporate support of charter schools. I’m attaching a copy.
By donating land or a building or by funding a major capital project at a school, a corporation can secure 50% of a charter school’s “maximum” enrollment for the children of its employees. Under the provision for funding capital projects, a corporation can get the enrollment preference by making an investment equal to fifty percent of the parish’s per pupil level of state funding multiplied by the charter’s enrollment. Per pupil state support in NOLA is around $8,000, so at a school with an enrollment of 200 students, a corporation would need to invest $800,000 in order to secure 100 slots that will be then funded by the state at $8,000 per slot. To put it another way, a corporation can secure $8,000 in state funding for each child of an employee for the life of the charter school for a one-time investment of $8,000 per student.
In these lean budget times, I understand the desire to pull in corporate dollars for public enterprises. And I know that the NOLA schools in particular need all the help they can get. But the Louisiana scheme sounds like an awfully good deal to me for corporate children and a bad one for other kids.
As far as we know, no corporation has taken advantage of the new law yet. But I’m sure the Jindal administration would not have pushed the law through the legislature unless it at least hoped that there would be some takers.