May 18 2012
10:38 am

In yet another example of "journalism from the rear view mirror," this post to explain how it is that a nonprofit charter school sponsor can nevertheless operate that charter in a manner that segregates students, weakens transparency, and funnels taxpayer dollars to for-profit entities--in the following example by funneling those dollars to a for-profit Education Management Organization (EMO):

Per the Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) site, that school system announced in June 2010 its upcoming opening of Spectrum Academy.

MPNS said the Academy would offer a "structured academic and behavioral program to serve students with emotional disturbance," which students are of the sort KCS serves here locally through its special ed programs operating within the building of each of our traditional schools.

Spectrum Academy's program, though, MPNS said would be delivered by Educational Services of America (ESA), which is a for-profit EMO. ESA would deliver the program, they said, at ESA's own site, 1645 Murfreesboro Pike-Focal Point A, which lies within a Nashville-area business park, just around the corner from ESA's own corporate office.

After that first semester of operations, a subsequent announcement at MNPS's site in December 2010 did indicate that Spectrum Academy was moving back into the school system's space in "the old Hickman Elementary School building" at 3125 Ironwood Drive. These students nonetheless remained segregated from their former peers within MPNS traditional schools.

At ESA's own site, we learn that the EMO operates two divisions--its Spectrum Center schools for "special ed" students and its Ombudsman schools for "alternative ed" students of the sort we serve locally through a system of "alternative schools" within our traditional school system.

Following the link to Spectrum Center we learn that they operate in just California, Tennessee, and Washington D.C. Clicking on Tennessee on the page's U. S. map we see that they manage only the MNPS Spectrum Academy "special ed" facility.

Following the other link from ESA's site to its other Ombudsman program, we learn that ESA now operates "alternative schools" in 20 states, again including Tennessee, and we stumble across just its management of The Bridge Academy in Jackson, within the Madison County Schools system.

However, in searching the 2011 TN Report Card to examine the performance of either the Spectrum Academy within the MNPS system or The Bridge Academy within the Madison County Schools system, we find that neither school is listed there, presumably because each is too small?

Where are these kids and how are they faring???

This, then, is the manner in which for-profit EMOs may segregate students, weaken transparency, and funnel taxpayer dollars to for-profit entities.

And I have a longer list of them to share with you in the coming days.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Also note that MNPS Superintendent Jesse Register is now soliciting more such providers via the RFP process.

See RFPs at their site, dated February and March of 2012.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


And finally note that in June 2011 for-profit EMO Educational Services of America was subjected to civil penalties by the Tennessee Ethics Commission in a matter relating to their employment of lobbyists.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


See also this letter in today's Tennessean.

Ms. Morrison, a special ed assistant, advises that Superintendent Jesse Register has eliminated 1/3 of such paraprofessionals within the MNPS system.

Poor Ms. Morrison doesn't seem to yet realize her profession has been outsourced.

Possibly she can find a job with Educational Services of America Incorporated, at a salary that won't impact their profits too badly?

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