Step Up for Students Touts Pro-Charter School Study Financed by Walmart and Charter Schools USA Boss

With it’s last five of its last six posts written in support of the for-profit charter school industry and fresh off its weekend effort to smear a local school board who rejected them, Step Up for Students’ blog, redefinED no longer tries to be an objective education outlet.  Financed by cash which comes from Florida’s voucher program, the Florida Tax Credit Program, its unclear if such advocacy in any way imperils them with Florida statutes. At any rate, it is doubtful that any action from a republican-dominated state would lift a finger if were so. They are all in on the scheme together.

Let’s look at a recent post from Travis Pillow:

Around the country, few states approved new policies giving charter schools greater autonomy or helping them grow, according to a new report.

The report by the Center for Education Reform gives Florida’s policies a B, the same grade it received last year, as most states, including those with relatively charter-friendly policies, saw little change in their scores.

Kara Kerwin, the organization’s president, blames the lack of movement on election-year politics and a “growing body of misinformation” fueling calls for increased regulation.

“It is abundantly clear that little to no progress has been made over the past year,” she writes in the report’s introduction. “Charter school growth does continue at a steady, nearly linear pace nationally, especially in states with charter laws graded ‘A’ or ‘B,’ but an even more accelerated pace would allow charter schools to play a more central role in addressing the demands and needs of our nation’s students.”

The center looks at factors that help charter schools grow, like the funding the receive, the autonomy they are granted and their ability to open new schools without facings caps or other restrictions.

The Center for Education Reform primarily exists to promote the for-profit charter school industry and has Florida ties. Charter Schools USA boss, Jonathan Hage is on its board of directors.  Along with Hage, many of the usual suspects finance CER among them, the Walton Foundation.

The family who owns Walmart no longer masquerades as a benevolent education reformer. Abby Jackson writes in the Business Insider how the Walton Foundation is helping Hedge Funders make money off charter schools:

Charter Schools are drawing promoters from a place you might not think of: Walmart.

The Walton Family Foundation — the philanthropic group run by the Walmart family — sponsored a symposium at the Harvard Club for investors interested in the charter school sector, last week.

The event, hosted in Manhattan, was called “Bonds and Blackboards: Investing in Charter Schools,” and was cosponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Hedge funds and other private businesses are particularly interested in the growth and success of charter schools. The growth of charter networks around the US offer new revenue streams for investing, and the sector is quickly growing. Funding for charter schools is further incentivized by generous tax credits for investments to charter schools in underserved areas

Among the nation’s top hedge funders who cash in on charter schools is Step Up for Students’ founder, John Kirtley, who now serves as a member of its board of directors. Hage, Kirtley and the Walton family have all helped finance a study from CFR which supports their own financial interests. The study  is furthermore touted by Step Up for Students, which is largely financed by Florida taxpayer dollars,  in its redefinED blog. They’ve all learned how to make taxpayer dollars work for them.

There couldn’t be a better follow-the-money example. And featured prominently on CFR’s website is a supporting video featuring former Florida governor, Jeb Bush.



About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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