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One teacher aide paid $94,000 because of family ties, while most are paid $30,000... New Jersey profiteering as privatization sweeps through schools for children with disabilities

[Editor's Note: The following article from Diane Ravitch's must-read blog exposes another sad example of why Chicago is such a dismal place for news. The Newark Star-Ledger has completed a major investigation showing how much profiteering and corruption has resulted from the privatization of public school education for children with disabilities. Below is the posting from Ravitch's blog that came to us on October 14, 2013].

DIANE RAVITCH REPORT ON CORRUPTION IN PRIVATE SCHOOLING FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES IN NEW JERSEY:

New Jersey governor Chris Christie.New Jersey has 180 private schools that receive public funding for students with disabilities.

They operate with little or no state oversight.

Governor Chris Christie and his State Commissioner Chris Cerf are big supporters of privatization.

They rant about the high salaries of public school superintendents, but say it is none of their business if the publicly-funded private schools have even higher salaries.

They don't care about nepotism or self-dealing.

Hey, it's the private sector.

Christopher Baxter of the Star-Ledger reports on a two-month investigation of private schools that spend public money in ways that would be illegal in public schools.

Baxter writes:

The payroll at Somerset Hills School reads like a family tree, with 10 relatives sprinkled throughout. Four of them earn six-figure salaries.

The cafeteria serves up a nice profit, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for food to a company founded and owned by the school's executive director.

Even the land and buildings are worth big bucks. The school paid nearly half a million dollars for rent in 2012, mostly to a company owned by its former executive director.

Tucked away amid lush green meadows in Warren Township, Somerset Hills is one of about 180 private schools across the state where more than 10,000 severely disabled children go for an education when their public schools can’t handle them.

Though Somerset Hills is privately owned and run, it’s like a public school in one simple way: You pay for all of it.

And more:

In an era when public schools are under intense pressure to do more with less, the newspaper’s review showed nepotism, high executive salaries, generous pensions, fancy cars and questionable business deals are common in parts of this more than $600 million New Jersey industry.

Of course, Governor Christie would not tolerate such practices in the public schools.

But here are more findings:

• While Gov. Chris Christie rails about the pay of public school superintendents, top employees at these schools live in another world, spared from his rancor. Nineteen directors were paid the maximum allowed salary — $225,734 — to oversee schools with anywhere from 30 to 327 students a day. And 52 people at these schools took home more than $175,000, the most superintendents are allowed to earn in public schools with up to 10,000 students.

• About a third of the schools did business with companies owned or controlled by the same people who run the schools, or their relatives or associates, oftentimes at a higher cost than other schools pay. The deals ran the gamut from real estate to bus rentals to food.

• Nearly one-fifth of schools had instances of nepotism. One school had four related directors, three of whom earned the maximum $225,734. Another employed a part-time classroom aide related to the director who earned $94,000 in 2013, three times other aides’ salaries.

• Three dozen schools offered generous pension plans paid for by the public but requiring no contributions by employees, in stark contrast to public school teachers and administrators’ plans. At one school, a former official collected retiree health benefits after she served time for ripping off taxpayers.

• Twenty-two cars — including two BMWs, a Land Rover, three Lexus and two Mercedes — were charged in part to taxpayers despite being used for personal transportation by officials. School disclosure reports show many cars were kept at officials’ homes.

Consider that Governor Chris Christie want more privately managed charter schools, which will enjoy the same lax supervision as the private schools for children with disabilities.

Expect more outlandish executive salaries, akin to Eva Moskowitz's $475,000 in New York City, where her schools enroll fewer than 5,000 students (she is an attorney, not an educator). Expect more nepotism, as is now common when charter schools (like those in Arizona) are unregulated. Expect more elaborate real estate deals, where the charter operator buys the real estate, then pays his corporation outlandish rent.

That's the future, New Jersey. Governor Christie believes in it. So does Chris Cerf. They are pushing as hard as they can to privatize schools in every city in the state, which will operate with minimal oversight.



Comments:

April 7, 2014 at 11:07 AM

By: MarquihnoGaucho

Christie hijo de puta

Just another scam by Christie and his cronies to bilk tax payers out of money while blaming the blameless.

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