Education Funding

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  • Ohio Media Ignore Financial Link Between Failing Charter School Operators And New Charter-Friendly Education Plan

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Ohio media reporting on Gov. John Kasich's (R) new education funding plan neglected to inform readers that the plan funnels millions of dollars in increased spending to private schools and charter schools whose operators have donated millions in campaign contributions to Kasich and Republicans in the state legislature. 

    The Akron Beacon Journal reported on the Kasich plan's significant enrichment of private school operators and the charter school management industry (emphasis added):

    The $8.5 million expansion in the first year represents a 7 percent increase in allocations for vouchers. Based on the average voucher cost of $5,997, the additional funding could afford scholarships for more than 2,800 children by the end of the budget cycle in 2015.

    The budget also expands funding for charter schools, adding an additional $100 per pupil for facility improvements at the privately operated alternative schools. That's an additional $11.9 million for charter schools based on the Beacon Journal's projection of 2011-2012 student enrollment figures.

    The Beacon Journal didn't mention that the additional $11.9 million for charter schools represents a significant return on the investments of for-profit charter school operators who have helped fund Republican campaigns in Ohio for years. One such operator is David Brennan, whose White Hat Management is among the largest for-profit charter school operators in the state. Brennan and his immediate family contributed over $430,000 to Ohio Republicans in 2010, including $46,000 to Kasich's gubernatorial campaign, according to a Plunderbund.com review of state campaign disclosures. Brennan and another for-profit charter school operator, William Lager, have reportedly funneled over $4 million to Ohio Republicans since 2001.

    Ohio's largest print news outlets -- including the Columbus DispatchCincinnati EnquirerCleveland Plain DealerDayton Daily NewsToledo Blade, and the Beacon Journal -- not only ignored the financial connections between Kasich's charter-friendly plan and his campaign donors, they also failed to note that the charter school industry is receiving this boon despite consistently performing well below Ohio's traditional public school districts. Recently released report cards for the 2011-12 school year indicated that "while 92 percent of the state's public school districts scored effective or higher...only 26 percent of charter schools did."

    Brennan's White Hat Management has a particularly poor record of academic success, according to reporting by NPR.org. NPR's examination found that for the 2010-11 school year, no White Hat school in Ohio earned higher than a "C" on the state report card, and most received a rating of "D" or "F." White Hat was also sued by the schools it manages for pocketing "at least 95 percent of the schools' tax funding."

    Nevertheless, White Hat stands to benefit from Kasich's new plan. Unfortunately, Ohio's parents and students are not benefitting from adequate media focus on Kasich's continued financial conflicts of interest.

  • Fox Falsely Portrays In-State Tuition For Undocumented Immigrants As Being Provided "On The Backs Of Legal Students"

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    Fox misrepresented the effect of a Massachusetts plan to provide access to its state colleges for some immigrants in order to falsely suggest that this plan would be a burden on other students and taxpayers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

    On November 19, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick reiterated a policy granting undocumented students the ability to qualify for state resident tuition rates at state colleges. The Massachusetts DREAM Act would allow young people who meet federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals criteria to receive in-state tuition rates if they meet residency requirements.

    On the December 3 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade opened by misrepresenting the law, asking, "Should illegals be allowed to get a break on in-state tuition on the backs of legal students?" He followed up by claiming Massachusetts had made this possible. Kilmeade hosted Massachusetts State Rep. James Lyons who asserted that the law forces "struggling taxpayers of Massachusetts to subsidize those who are breaking the rules." Co-host Kilmeade agreed with Lyon: "[Y]ou believe you should actually be an in-state resident and legal in order to receive [in-state tuition]. What a novel thought." From the show:

  • Fox Sees Women's Rights And EducationDiscussions As A "Distraction" On The Campaign Trail

    Blog ››› ››› MELODY JOHNSON

    Fox anchors are suggesting that the issues of rape, women's reproductive rights, and education are "distraction[s]" from the real issue of the campaign: the economy.

    Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy claimed that President Obama is spending too much time on the campaign trail talking about "how we need more teachers. He doesn't really talk about economics." Co-hosts Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade then claimed that the Obama campaign's strategy is to distract from the economy by focusing on issues such as education, women's rights, reproductive choice, and Rep. Todd Akin's widely condemned "legitimate rape" comments.

    But education is an economic issue. Indeed, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has advised nations to "invest in education to beat recession." The OECD found that "[g]overnment budgets and the overall economy also reap an advantage from higher number of [college] graduates." It also found that people who drop out of school without a job "are likely to spend a long time out of work."

    Furthermore, people with more education obtain higher paying jobs. An increase in education rates decreases unemployment. And investment in education helps the economy, especially during times of economic downturns.

    Fox's attempts to downplay women's rights, reproductive choice, and Akin's comments are also quite problematic. Akin's rhetoric is reflected in policies being pushed by conservatives, who just this week crafted a Republican Party platform that called for a constitutional ban on abortion with no exception for rape. 

  • "Mr. Budget": Right-Wing Media Praise Paul Ryan's Harmful, Gimmicky Budget

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Right-wing media figures are heaping praise on Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget plan, with one Fox host calling Ryan "Mr. Budget." In fact, Ryan's budget plan would harm many Americans: It increases taxes on the poor while cutting them for the wealthy, drastically cuts Medicaid and other needed safety net programs, and would cost millions of jobs by reducing federal spending during a still-weak economy.

  • Fox Hiding Half The Story On Automatic Spending Cuts

    ››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER, ANDY NEWBOLD & REMINGTON SHEPARD

    Fox News is telling a one-sided story focused exclusively on cuts to defense spending that were included in a 2011 budget deal. What Fox is not telling its viewers is that the deal also included cuts to critical services for vulnerable Americans and reductions in important medical research funding, and that non-defense spending cuts would lead to a loss of more than 1 million jobs.

  • The Wall Street Journal Covers Up ALEC Link To Anti-Union School Privatization Law

    Blog ››› ››› MELODY JOHNSON

    The Wall Street Journal this morning failed to report ties between the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and controversial "parent-trigger" legislation that would allow parents to take over and convert public schools to charter schools. They also failed to report that the Journal's parent company, News Corp, is a member of ALEC. The Journal's treatment of the legislation also cited no criticism of the proposal, which has been described as an effort "to manipulate parents into letting [the charter school lobby] privatize more public schools.

    In the July 23 article, the Wall Street Journal reported on legislation that, according to the article, "empowers parents to take control of a school if enough of them sign petitions" and convert it into a charter school. But the article failed to mention that the proposal is based heavily on model legislation developed by ALEC, a controversial right-wing group that was recently exposed as a significant influence in the pro-charter movement in Georgia.

    ALEC has also been behind such controversial legislation as voter ID laws and "Stand Your Ground" legislation. After the group's involvement in these efforts were made public, several of their corporate members left the organization. One of the corporations who remains a member of ALEC, however, is News Corp, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal. The article did not disclose the paper's relationship with ALEC and similarly did not disclose their relationship even while shielding ALEC from critics.

  • How ALEC Is Quietly Influencing Education Reform In Georgia

    ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL & SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    Georgia media have been silent as members of ALEC in Georgia's legislature have successfully pushed through a version of ALEC's Charter Schools Act, which would create a state-controlled board with the power to establish and fund charter schools over local opposition. A Media Matters analysis found that while Georgia media have frequently written about the bills, they have completely overlooked ALEC's influence in the debate.

  • WSJ Falsely Blames Increased Government Aid For Rising Higher Education Costs

    ››› ››› REMINGTON SHEPARD

    In a September 30 editorial, The Wall Street Journal suggested that the rapid rise in the cost of higher education stemmed in part from increased federal funding to the Pell Grant Program. However, experts have noted that federal Pell Grants have decreased as a percentage of tuition and are likely not a major factor in the increasing cost of higher education.