Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"Visions of Cash"

Today, intrepid reporter Erin Einhorn of the Daily News followed the trail of the story that we first broke on our blog last Wednesday, "A Free Choice for Principals?" In the article entitled "Visions of Cash", she describes how the organization New Visions is distributing Gates Foundation grants to new schools but has "decided to attach strings to the cash: It wants a payoff of sorts."

Officials at New Visions
have told principals at the start-up schools that they will not get any funding unless they also sign New Visions up as their PSO, or Partnership Support Organization, for the next five years, which means paying them substantial funds out of their limited school budgets.

A principal was quoted that she feels

"I thought, 'Oh, my God, what a huge conflict of interest,'" the principal said. "We have to join their PSO and pay them for support in order to get this grant that we qualified for?"

The Gates foundation refused to comment; a DOE spokesperson said that "it's too early to comment on what rules PSOs will be required to follow or whether New Visions had broken them."

Just like the
Children's First game, or the new Survivor version, this reflects the administration's way of making up the rules up as they go along, to make sure that no one will know what they are until it's too late! Luckily, in this case, the DOE may not be the final arbiter -- there are laws about this sort of thing.

In related news, the LISs (or Learning instructional supervisors, whose positions were established just a few years ago and are now being eliminated) are running scared. They have been reportedly warned by DOE officials in charge of the internal Learning Support Organizations that they will get jobs only if they persuade enough principals that they still supervise to sign up -- and promise to pay cold hard cash -- to the LSO.

A message from an insider at

"LISs and others seeking to stay employed have allegedly been told that their invitation to join an LSO will be dependent upon how many schools they bring in with them. Principals are reaching out to colleagues and friends across district and borough lines to put together networks. Parents seem to be out of the loop. The Chancellor made it clear that the choice of support organization is the PRINCIPALS alone."

Is this the sort of school system we want for our kids?


Anonymous said...

This is just the beginning of the private sector and not for profits that are going to fleece the city for money, not unlike the stuff you see on a larger scale with military contractors. This is the bloomberg transformation, stealing and failure by the private sector going unchecked.

Btw, the Special commissioners office can no longer be counted on to provide independent oversight of the school system as everyone reports to the mayor now and bloomberg is only going to allow investigations to go only so far.

I hope someone up in Abany is paying attention.

Noel said...

Amazing that Robert Hughes as attributed isn't even apologetic about the obvious impropriety here. This is the contemporary face of corruption. When the public welfare is privatized, blackmail just "makes sense". It sounds like present-day Russia.