Monday, December 07, 2015

Matt Bevin names Hal Heiner to head education, workforce cabinet

Modernizing our education system is essential to the future success of our commonwealth.
-- Hal Heiner

Hal Heiner seems to think charter schools equal modernization. He looks forward to the day when Kentucky has the same opportunity as other states. Unfortunately, for states with weak charter school laws, what Kentucky has avoided is a huge mess of uneven performance, and outright corruption. That may be modern, but it is hardly desirable.

I'd feel a lot better about his advocacy if Heiner would begin assuring the public that his ideas for charters include close state control that would not permit the abuses seen in many other states. Charter schools must BE PUBLIC schools with open records, open meetings, a strong governing board with investigative power and other controls. In too many instances, charters have been little more than an opportunity for adults to steal from children.

Heiner needs to add that bit to his rhetoric, post haste. It would go some distance to allay fears that what Heiner really wants is for groups like...oh let's say Capstone Realty, to gain the ability to lease a bunch of space to charter school operators - for personal profit.

This from the Herald-Leader:
Gov.-elect Matt Bevin has picked Louisville businessman Hal Heiner, one of Bevin’s opponents in last May’s Republican primary election for governor, to be his secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

Heiner has been vocal in calling for charter schools in Kentucky.

“Modernizing our education system is essential to the future success of our commonwealth,” Bevin said Friday in announcing the appointment. “Hal has the proven experience and commitment to ensure that we make meaningful progress for students at all levels.”

Heiner said the state’s most important responsibility is providing options for education that help citizens achieve “their most fulfilled life.”

“I am honored to have the opportunity to work towards improvement of those options and broadening their availability,” Heiner said. “I look forward to the day that every Kentuckian has the specialized educational options available in so many other states.”

Heiner has been active in civic and political activities. He has been a vice chairman of Greater Louisville Inc. and was elected in 2002 to the Louisville Metro Council. He served on it for eight years.

He is founding chairman of Kentuckians Advocating for Reform in Education and of Kentucky Charter Schools Association and was chairman of the Christian Academy of Louisville School System.

He also served on the Asbury University Board of Trustees, the University of Louisville Board of Overseers and the Summit Academy Board of Trustees. He currently sits on the Metro Leadership Foundation Board, which is focused on after-school instruction for elementary school children.
Heiner, who has a master’s degree in engineering, was a partner in a civil engineering firm before becoming president of the commercial division of a multistate development company.

In 1997, Heiner founded Capstone Realty. It has developed more than 5 million square feet of office and industrial buildings.... 
On any given day reports of charter school abuses surface in American newspapers. This was last week:

Audit finds closed Kansas City charter was overpaid $4.3M

A Kansas City charter school was overpaid at least $4.3 million in the two years before it closed because administrators falsified and inflated student attendance, according to a state audit released Friday.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway said that Hope Academy reported a 97 percent attendance rate when the actual rate was about 32 percent. She also noted that several students who had graduated were included in the perfect attendance records. The inflated attendance boosted the school’s budget because charter schools, like traditional public schools, receive state funding based on student enrollment and attendance.

The audit also found students received credit for classes in which they weren’t participating and for unapproved activities outside of the classroom, such as grocery shopping, house cleaning and dog walking.

“What we see is the school failed these kids,” Galloway said. “It was the school’s responsibility to provide these kids an education.”

Hope Academy attorney Dana Cutler said the auditor’s recommendations did not arrive until after the school was closed.

“The recommendations by auditor would have been considered and implemented had the school continued to be open but by time we got through with the audit process, there was not a lot of reason to say we would do these things because the board had no school at that point,” she said.

The school, whose mission was helping dropouts and students at risk of dropping out, operated from 2009 to 2014. With its academic performance among the lowest in the state, it already had been placed on probation by its sponsor, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, when the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education conducted a surprise visit in the fall of 2013.
Along with attendance issues, the state discovered that one student allegedly paid an employee $700 for academic credits, although the student was refunded after the impropriety was discovered...

Charter Schools Crime Log from Schools Matter:

from Ohio:
State Auditor Dave Yost plans to have employees fan out across the state again this year in an attempt to verify that charter schools’ enrollment reports match up with the students sitting in their buildings.
Yost also noted that although the Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that charter-school operator White Hat Management can keep furniture and equipment paid for with taxpayer money, the majority of justices made a key finding that could keep operators from getting the upper hand in future contract negotiations.
Last fall, auditors from Yost’s office made unannounced visits to 30 charter schools to count students. They found significantly lower numbers than expected at half the schools.
from California:
SUNNYVALE, Calif. (BCN) -- A Sunnyvale charter school that was temporarily closed after the arrest of an employee revealed that the school had failed to complete background checks and tuberculosis tests has been cleared to reopen, the Santa Clara County Office of Education said Thursday evening.
Spark Charter School was shut down at the end of the day last Friday after county education officials found the school could not confirm they had complied with all state procedures regarding employee background checks, TB clearances and teacher credentials.
from New Jersey:
PATERSON – In the latest salvo over the role of charter schools in New Jersey, a Newark-based education advocacy group issued a report that says Paterson-based charters accumulated $6 million in surplus funds this year while the local school district was forced to impose layoffs because of financial problems.
The group, the Education Law Center (ELC), says in a report issued on Thursday that the state has not imposed the same two-percent limit on charter schools’ unrestricted fund balances that it applies to regular school districts.
The Law Center reports says that if the state’s two-percent cap on unrestricted fund balances were applied to charter schools, then the four charters in Paterson would have to return $5.4 million to the city school district. The report says that statewide charters ought to return $77 million to local districts.
“This speaks to the favoritism that the state seems to extend to the charter schools at the expense of the vast majority of the students in the district,” said Paterson Board of Education President Jonathan Hodges, after reading the report.
from Seattle:
First Place Scholars, the state’s first charter school, received about $200,000 more public money than it should have in the 2014-15 school year because the Seattle school reported incorrect information about its staff and enrollment, according to the Washington State Auditor’s Office.
The audit, released Monday, also found that First Place Scholars:
• Did not properly account for the use of some public funds;
• Inappropriately mixed business expenses of First Place’s private parent organization with those of the public charter school;
• Failed to follow provisions of the state’s open-meetings laws.
The state’s Charter School Commission had already reported those problems, and the school remains under close watch as it starts its second year.
ead more here:

1 comment:

Richard Innes said...

Corruption isn't restricted to charter schools, unfortunately. We've had far too much right here in charter-void Kentucky. A former Dayton Independent superintendent got federal time for swiping cash from his district for many years and a former Mason Co. Super also got in trouble.

There is muck all over the education system, and focusing on charters alone is just plain misleading.