Why charters are taking over our public schools

Philadelphia is just the latest target:

Thanks to a little discussed law passed in 2000, at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency, banks and equity funds that invest in charter schools and other projects in underserved areas can take advantage of a very generous tax credit – as much as 39% — to help offset their expenditure in such projects. In essence, that credit amounts to doubling the amount of money they have invested within just seven years. Moreover, they are allowed to combine that tax credit with job creation credits and other types of credit, as well collect interest payments on the money they are lending out – all of which can add up to far more than double in returns. This is, no doubt, why many big banks and equity funds are so invested in the expansion of charter schools. There is big money being made here — because investment is nearly a sure thing.


And it’s not just U.S. investors who see the upside of investing in charters. Rich donors throughout the world are now sending money to fund our charter schools. Why? Because if they invest at least $500,000 to charters under a federal program called EB-5, they’re allowed to purchase immigration visas for themselves and family members — yet another mechanism in place to ensure that the money keeps rolling in.


Proponents of education reform insist that investments like these are all about how successful charter schools are, and show how much support they’ve garnered in just a few short years. But it’s hard to take this on faith when there are billions of dollars of profit—and, for some, a path to U.S. immigration—at stake in these investments.


Philadelphia teacher Kathleen Melville of the advocacy group Teachers Lead Philly tells AlterNet that for market-dependent actors like these it’s all about finding “market-based approaches to funding education.” But she doesn’t blame private investors alone for the educational crisis the city now faces. “In Philly, another major cause of our budget crisis (and the resulting closings) has been education budget cuts in Harrisburg,” Melville points out. “Years of inequitable funding and neoliberal policy [have] led us to this point.”

Oh then, I feel much better now

Olympia Snowe, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Kent Conrad, and John Sununu are now working for Fix The Debt. Four of the biggest conniving corporate whores around! (No offense meant to sex workers…)

Guess we’re in for some more pious platitudes about cutting Social Security so the elderly have “some skin in the game.” But don’t worry, they’re going to do it “in a balanced way.” The president said so.

Meteor explosion over Russia injures 700+

UPDATE: NASA scientists say this was unrelated to the other meteor fly-by expected today, since it’s traveling on a different trajectory.

And you complain about your morning commute? Jesus, if I saw that coming at me, I think I’d have a heart attack:

MOSCOW — Bright objects, apparently debris from a meteorite, streaked through the sky in western Siberia early on Friday, accompanied by a boom that damaged buildings across a vast area of territory. Hundreds of people were reported to have been injured, most from breaking glass.


Emergency officials had reported no deaths by Friday afternoon, but administrators in the city of Chelyabinsk said that more than 750 residents had sought medical care and 31 had been hospitalized.


Russian experts believe the blast was caused by a 10-ton meteor known as a bolide, which created a powerful shock wave when it reached the Earth’s atmosphere, the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement. Scientists believe the bolide exploded and evaporated at a height of around 20 to 30 miles above the Earth’s surface, but that small fragments may have reached the ground, the statement said.


The governor of the Chelyabinsk district reported that a search team had found an impact crater on the outskirts of a city about 50 miles west of Chelyabinsk. An official from the Interior Ministry told the Russian news agency Interfax that three large pieces of meteorite debris had been retrieved in the area and that 10,000 police officers are searching for more.


A small asteroid, known as 2012 DA14, is expected to pass close to Earth later on Friday, NASA reported on its Web site. Aleksandr Y. Dudorov, a physicist at Chelyabinsk State University, said it was possible that the meteorite may have been flying alongside the asteroid.


“What we witnessed today may have been the precursor of that asteroid,” said Mr. Dudorov in a telephone interview. Video clips from the city of Chelyabinsk showed an early morning sky illuminated by a brilliant flash, followed by the sound of breaking glass and multiple car alarms. Meteorites typically cause sonic booms as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. On Friday, the force was powerful enough to shatter dishes and televisions in people’s homes.

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