Crony Capitalism and Charter School Networks

Betsy DeVos is visiting the SLAM charter school in Miami today. SLAM was started by Pitbull and is part of Florida’s largest charter chain, Academica. Academica is the same charter chain that owns Key West Collegiate (a charter high school) and the recently approved charter middle school which will share the same campus space on the grounds of the Florida Keys Community College/College of the Florida Keys.

Jennifer Berkshire writes the blog “Have You Heard.” In this piece, titled “Crony Capitalism“, she interviews Preston Green, discussing how deregulation in education has led to cronyism, corruption and conflicts of interest… it is worth a read in its entirety.

Last year Academica was investigated for related-party transactions. As explained by Preston Green:

“Related-party transactions occur when you have two entities that have a pre-existing relationship. For example, if two entities have common management, or in the charter sector context, you could have an EMO that also has a real estate arm, which then leases property back to the charter school at a greatly inflated rate. In the case of Academica, which is the management company that runs the school Secretary DeVos visited, it’s *all of the above.* You see different entities sharing the same board of directors, conflicts of interest and questionable real estate dealings, including charter schools paying rents that are well above the market rate to companies that Academica owns.”

Monroe County residents would be wise to remain vigilant. Please read the piece and learn the risks of fraud in these for-profit organizations.

It’s definitely concerning that we just don’t remember the recent past and how the problems that occurred at Enron are now appearing in the charter school sector. You even see some of the same people who were involved in Enron then showing up in subprime and now in charter schools. That should tell you something.

Visit her blog here: http://haveyouheardblog.com/crony-capitalism/.

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