Thursday, June 29, 2017

For-profit charter operator lobbies for workplace schools

For-profit charter operator lobbies for workplace schools:

For-profit charter operator lobbies for workplace schools

RALEIGH - As profit-driven charter school management companies seek growth opportunities, one of the country’s largest for-profit firms is lobbying North Carolina legislators to create a new market for a type of school only rarely attempted.
The North Carolina legislation, modeled on a six-year-old Louisiana law, would allow corporations that help build or equip taxpayer-funded charter schools to reserve half the seats in those schools as an employee perk. With existing rules already allowing a charter school’s employees and board members to claim places for their own children, the change could leave only a third of the seats in such schools for the general public.
Charter schools operate independently of other public schools under a contract, or charter, that allows exceptions to most state regulations. Enrollment is free, funded with tax dollars corresponding to the number of students they serve.
The North Carolina proposal comes at a time of increased excitement among charter advocates now that their most prominent lobbyist, Betsy DeVos, is President Donald Trump’s education secretary. DeVos spent nearly two decades advocating for private-school vouchers and working for greatly expanding educational choices outside of traditional public schools.
The only workplace charter now operating in the country is affiliated with a massive retirement community in central Florida. Others have closed or businesses have cut ties since the first one opened for the Ryder truck rental company’s suburban Miami headquarters in 1999. A Baton Rouge, Louisiana, medical center plans to open a workplace charter next year as part of a real estate development.
But a company lobbying for North Carolina to allow workplace charter schools believes they allow the private sector to fund school start-ups where states don’t.
“There is a need and we would be filling the need and there is a demand for it,” Charter Schools USA founder and CEO Jonathan Hage said in an interview. “To me, it seemFor-profit charter operator lobbies for workplace schools:

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