Archive for the ‘Dennis Bakke’ Tag

Higher Ed takes notice of Georgia’s preference for privatizing Education   Leave a comment

Monday’s AJC will feature an Op-ed piece by University of Georgia professor William G. Wraga regarding the obvious (my word) move towards privatizing education in Georgia. Wranga acknowledges the ‘intent’ of charter schools, i.e., curricular innovation and greater autonomy for teachers; however, he also addresses an issue of late for the charter community: More charters are increasingly being controlled by for-profit or faux non-profit (again, my word) management companies. I have shared my opinion on this all-too-common practice here in Georgia in this blog as well as this one.

What’s really interesting are the posts from people who, appear to be charter supporters, but do not really read what Wranga has written. They only ‘see’ an ‘attack’ on charter schools. I do not believe that was Wranga’s intention. If I am not mistaken, his concern is the fact that money, and lots of it, has become the main motivation for furthering the charter school movement in Georgia. I will admit to being a supporter of charter schools, but I am also a vocal supporter of quality education, school choice, and including parents in the education decision-making process. Charter schools are supposed to be governed by parents, teachers, and community members; however, many of us know that does not always happen. If you don’t believe me, just Google Imagine Schools and Dennis Bakke. Let me know what you find. It also appears that some people with a great deal of technical knowledge about charter schools are posting comments to the blog, under fictitious names. How do I know this? According to the Charter School Commission, a majority of the groups that submitted petitions did not have the technical knowledge or experience necessary to govern schools. By process of elimination, if the petitioners are not knowledgeable then that leaves the Commission members themselves, as well as the members of the Georgia Charter Schools Association and the state’s Charter School Division. Not a conspiracy theory, just common sense and basic observation. Man-up! Post your rebuttal or argument using your real name, since you attempt to sound like an expert on charters.

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Higher Ed takes notice of Georgia's preference for privatizing Education   Leave a comment

Monday’s AJC will feature an Op-ed piece by University of Georgia professor William G. Wraga regarding the obvious (my word) move towards privatizing education in Georgia. Wranga acknowledges the ‘intent’ of charter schools, i.e., curricular innovation and greater autonomy for teachers; however, he also addresses an issue of late for the charter community: More charters are increasingly being controlled by for-profit or faux non-profit (again, my word) management companies. I have shared my opinion on this all-too-common practice here in Georgia in this blog as well as this one.

What’s really interesting are the posts from people who, appear to be charter supporters, but do not really read what Wranga has written. They only ‘see’ an ‘attack’ on charter schools. I do not believe that was Wranga’s intention. If I am not mistaken, his concern is the fact that money, and lots of it, has become the main motivation for furthering the charter school movement in Georgia. I will admit to being a supporter of charter schools, but I am also a vocal supporter of quality education, school choice, and including parents in the education decision-making process. Charter schools are supposed to be governed by parents, teachers, and community members; however, many of us know that does not always happen. If you don’t believe me, just Google Imagine Schools and Dennis Bakke. Let me know what you find. It also appears that some people with a great deal of technical knowledge about charter schools are posting comments to the blog, under fictitious names. How do I know this? According to the Charter School Commission, a majority of the groups that submitted petitions did not have the technical knowledge or experience necessary to govern schools. By process of elimination, if the petitioners are not knowledgeable then that leaves the Commission members themselves, as well as the members of the Georgia Charter Schools Association and the state’s Charter School Division. Not a conspiracy theory, just common sense and basic observation. Man-up! Post your rebuttal or argument using your real name, since you attempt to sound like an expert on charters.

IRS needs closer scrutiny of ‘non-profit’ CMOs   2 comments

During a conversation with a charter school organizer/colleague, I learned that the Internal Revenue Service has implemented guidelines for ‘non-profit’ charter school companies. To read the full guidelines, click here. Of particular interest is this statement: The primary concern regarding charter schools is whether they are operated for exclusively charitable purposes and do not operate for the benefit of private management companies and service providers (4.76.8.8.1  (07-01-2003). The IRS also has criteria that must be met before any organization receives tax-exempt status. For example, organizations created for educational or religious purposes often qualify for 501C3 status. Given the amount of work done by the IRS and number of applications it receives each year, it is certainly understandable how monitoring of Charter Management Companies (CMOs) may go by the wayside.

Anyone in the Education business is aware of the well-known CMOs, as well as the large financial contributions they receive from philanthropic organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation, etc. But how many people actually consider where the money really goes? Sure, their first-year teachers probably earn more on average than those at traditional schools, but they also work more hours. Essentially, it practically evens itself out except for the fact that teachers at traditional schools work as many extra hours but do not receive extra compensation. That’s another blog post altogether.

Perhaps most alarming is the fact that some CMOs hand-pick their board members. This practice is in direct conflict with IRS rule: When examining a charter school that has contracted with for-profit entities for management services, the examiner should determine whether the charter school board remains in control and continues to exercise its fiduciary responsibility to the school. The board may not delegate its responsibility and ultimate accountability for the school’s operations to a for-profit management company without raising the issue of whether the organization is operating for the private benefit of that company. In the state of Georgia, any group submitting a charter petition must be recognized as a non-profit by the IRS. This is interesting, given the statements made in an email by Dennis Bakke, CEO of Imagine Schools. Bakke stated that they (Imagine) own the schools and board members should either do what they are told or resign. Is that the spirit of a true non-profit? If it is, it definitely explains why I had no interest in business until recently. from a financial standpoint, Imagine does own the schools because they ‘convince’ these parents and board members that they need a brand new, multi-million dollar building to close the achievement gap. The schools are eventually strapped with high-interest loans that come due if the board should decide to part ways with the CMO. This scenario seems much worse than any mafia business transactions I have ever seen or heard of. Food for thought.

Stay tuned. I hope to provide a list of CMOs/EMOs that are being investigated by the IRS some time next week.

IRS needs closer scrutiny of 'non-profit' CMOs   2 comments

During a conversation with a charter school organizer/colleague, I learned that the Internal Revenue Service has implemented guidelines for ‘non-profit’ charter school companies. To read the full guidelines, click here. Of particular interest is this statement: The primary concern regarding charter schools is whether they are operated for exclusively charitable purposes and do not operate for the benefit of private management companies and service providers (4.76.8.8.1  (07-01-2003). The IRS also has criteria that must be met before any organization receives tax-exempt status. For example, organizations created for educational or religious purposes often qualify for 501C3 status. Given the amount of work done by the IRS and number of applications it receives each year, it is certainly understandable how monitoring of Charter Management Companies (CMOs) may go by the wayside.

Anyone in the Education business is aware of the well-known CMOs, as well as the large financial contributions they receive from philanthropic organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation, etc. But how many people actually consider where the money really goes? Sure, their first-year teachers probably earn more on average than those at traditional schools, but they also work more hours. Essentially, it practically evens itself out except for the fact that teachers at traditional schools work as many extra hours but do not receive extra compensation. That’s another blog post altogether.

Perhaps most alarming is the fact that some CMOs hand-pick their board members. This practice is in direct conflict with IRS rule: When examining a charter school that has contracted with for-profit entities for management services, the examiner should determine whether the charter school board remains in control and continues to exercise its fiduciary responsibility to the school. The board may not delegate its responsibility and ultimate accountability for the school’s operations to a for-profit management company without raising the issue of whether the organization is operating for the private benefit of that company. In the state of Georgia, any group submitting a charter petition must be recognized as a non-profit by the IRS. This is interesting, given the statements made in an email by Dennis Bakke, CEO of Imagine Schools. Bakke stated that they (Imagine) own the schools and board members should either do what they are told or resign. Is that the spirit of a true non-profit? If it is, it definitely explains why I had no interest in business until recently. from a financial standpoint, Imagine does own the schools because they ‘convince’ these parents and board members that they need a brand new, multi-million dollar building to close the achievement gap. The schools are eventually strapped with high-interest loans that come due if the board should decide to part ways with the CMO. This scenario seems much worse than any mafia business transactions I have ever seen or heard of. Food for thought.

Stay tuned. I hope to provide a list of CMOs/EMOs that are being investigated by the IRS some time next week.