25 Michigan “ghost” charter school operators received millions and never opened their doors to students

Charter School Black Hole:

CMD Special Investigation Reveals Huge Info Gap on Charter Spending

– See more at: http://www.prwatch.org/charter-school-black-hole#sthash.YNa8QRUE.dpuf

Madison, WI (CMD) – Today the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) is releasing a special report on its year-long investigation into charter schools spending in the United States. You can access the full report “Charter School Black Hole” here.

CMD, a national investigative group that conducts in-depth investigations into the influence of corporations, trade groups, and PR firms on media and democracy, found that the public does not have ready access to key information about how their federal and state taxes are being spent to fuel the charter school industry since charters began almost 25 years ago.

Indeed, no one even knew how much the federal government had spent on its program designed to boost the charter sector. So CMD reviewed more than two decades of federal authorizations and appropriations to calculate the sum, which is now more than $3.7 billion—as noted in this new report. CMD also found that the federal government was not providing the public with a list of all the charter schools that received federal tax monies and how much.

CMD also found that many states have not provided the public with ready information about the amounts of federal funding each charter has received under the federal “Charter School Program” (CSP) for state education agencies (SEAs), and that most states have not provided the public with information about the amounts in state and federal tax dollars that have been diverted to charters rather than spent strengthening traditional public schools.

What is even more troubling is how difficult it is to find essential information on how some charters have spent federal and state tax dollars, even as governments continue to increase funding for charters while slashing funds for traditional public schools. Unlike truly public schools that have to account for prospective and past spending in public budgets provided to democratically elected school boards, charter spending of tax monies is too often a black hole.

This is the largely due to the way the charter industry has been built by proponents, favoring “flexibility” over rules.

– See more at: http://www.prwatch.org/charter-school-black-hole#sthash.YNa8QRUE.dpuf

Below are a few key findings from the report:

Michigan: In 2011 and 2012, $3.7 million in federal taxpayer money was awarded to 25 Michigan “ghost” schools that never even opened to students. The organizations behind these schools received at least $1.7 million, according to the state expenditure database. WestEd—a private company that contracts with the U.S. Department of Education to monitor how states comply with federal regulations—flagged this as a potential problem, but the agency did little to address the problem. After verbal assurances that this would not happen again, the federal agency assured the Michigan Department of Education “that there will not be any additional follow-up.”

See more at: http://www.prwatch.org/charter-school-black-hole#sthash.YNa8QRUE.dpuf

“Simplify, simplify”

“The art of art, the glory of expression, is simplicity. Nothing is better than simplicity, and the sunlight of letters is simplicity. Nothing is better than simplicity—nothing can make up for excess, or for the lack of definiteness * * * To speak in literature, with the perfect rectitude and the insouciance of the movements of animals and the unimpeachableness of the sentiment of trees in the woods, is the flawless triumph of art * * * The greatest poet has less a marked style, and is more the channel of thought and things, without increase or diminution, and is the free channel of himself. He swears to his art, I will not be meddlesome, I will not have in my writing any elegance, or effect, or originality to hang in the way between me and the rest, like curtains. What I feel, I feel for precisely what it is. Let who may exalt, or startle, or fascinate, or soothe, I will have purposes, as health, or heat, or snow has, and be as regardless of observation. What I experience or portray shall go from my composition without a shred of my composition. You shall stand by my side to look in the mirror with me.” – Walt Whitman

Thomas Jefferson: The original “red-letter” Christian

The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth

Done with his official work for the day, Thomas Jefferson sat in the new presidential mansion in Washington in 1803 and opened his Bible–not to pray, but to cut. He scoured the text for Jesus’ greatest teachings, sliced out his favorite portions, and glued them into an empty volume. He called it “The Philosophy of Jesus.” That book was lost to history.

In 1819, he started over and created a new version called “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth,” commonly referred to now as the Jefferson Bible. This volume was kept largely secret and passed among Jefferson’s relatives until 1895, when it was discovered by the librarian at the Smithsonian. In 1904, it was published by Congress.

What follows is, for the first time online, the complete Jefferson Bible–plus links to many of his key deletions. You’ll see that Jefferson cut out miracles and signs or declarations of Jesus’ divinity. As you read through the Jefferson Bible, click on the little scissors icons and you’ll see what Jefferson deleted.

Click here for more on the origins of the Jefferson Bible or on the controversial religious views of Jefferson. To discuss Jefferson or the Jefferson Bible, click here.