Following Some Education Money

Non-Profit Achieve, Inc. Profits

New science standards – discussed on air – were released this year by Achieve, Inc., an education-related non-profit organization. Content and quality of the standards aside, Achieve has trademarked and copyrighted the new standards and warns other organizations, even non-commercial 3rd parties, like states using the standards, against using the material in many ways. (Previous science standards, known as “Project 2061,” bear no such warnings.)

….For context: Achieve, Inc. maintains a $9 million annual budget, with 11 staff members were earning over $130,000 and a president earning over $300,000, according to 2012 financial statements.

Achieve is but one of a huge network of organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, benefiting from the education reform industry. Moreover, the line between profit and non-profit in the industry’s incestuous funding arrangements is very fine. Just how fine is illustrated by a recent incident involving the giant international corporation, Pearson Education.

Pearson Pays $7.7 Million as Amends for Illegally Earning $15.1 Million-Plus

Pearson was recently charged with using its non-profit arm to benefit its for-profit operations. Non-profits dedicated to education reform regularly support efforts that benefit other non-profit and for-profit efforts. In this case, however, Pearson Foundation is charged with directly soliciting business for its corporate parent. In a settlement with the New York Attorney General, Pearson agrees to stop sending corporate representatives to foundation-sponsored events. It will also pay $7.7 million to another non-profit with related goals.

Meanwhile, the foundation sold its Common Core product to Pearson’s for-profit arm for $15.1 million.

The foundation’s $7.7 million settlement donation goes to 100Kin10 collaborative, which is setting out as an independent non-profit in 2014. It was established to promote STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) teaching and dispenses many millions in grants to organizations supporting the same work that enriches Pearson.

See New York Times story story and additional commentary, citing a Washington Post article.

Chicago Public Schools: “Stuff” and Rising Closing Expenses

When Chicago Public Schools announced plans to close 54 schools at the end of last academic year, the first estimate of savings was above $500 million over 10 years. Following questioning from WBEZ in Chicago, this number was adjusted downward to $437 million in 10 years. (see, e.g., this Catalyst story.)

Now, WBEZ’s Linda Lutton finds that costs of moving and storage related to the closings have been quietly rising from an initial report of $8 million to over $30 million, substantially eroding, in one line item, any possible savings for the first of those ten years. (See also AP report.)

Lutton also investigated “What happened to all the ‘stuff’ in Chicago’s closed schools?” Among items CPS is now trying to manage are some 700,000 books, old computer equipment, including unopened floppy disk drives, and a small orange pickup truck found in a school storage area. The radio report, plus photos and videos appears on WBEZ’s website.

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