Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Illinois Facility Fund

What does the Illinois Facility Fund know about education? Not much. What the Illinois Facility Fund knows a lot about though is real estate, specifically real estate for charter schools. The Illinois Facility Fund is a non-profit lender and real estate consultant that offers a full range of financial services for charter schools including below-market rate loans, credit enhancement of bonds and investor pools and a range of real estate consulting services. The fact that the Illinois Facility Fund study was funded by a $100,000 gift from the Walton Family Foundation should trouble anyone who supports public education. The Walton Family Foundation, established by Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, has been one of the strongest forces in the country advancing public charter schools through its gifts. It has given hundreds of millions of dollars to charter schools as it seeks to promote charter schools that compete with government-run public school systems. Just as Walmart disregards locally-owned stores that can’t match its low prices, it disregards long-established neighborhood public schools.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Parents Anticipate Report as Assault on Low-Income Neighborhood Schools

The Deputy Mayor for Education, with a 100,000 dollar grant from the Walton Family Foundation, engaged IFF (Illinois Facility Fund) to study the capacity and performance of DCPS and public charter schools.
Click Map to Enlarge
IFF has authored reports in Denver, Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Louis, using a defined method to determine what they term "performing" or "non-performing" seats. This analysis is being done with an eye to "right sizing" district schools which beyond consolidation could include reconstitution and replacement with school management organizations.
Mary Levy, independent public school analyst, applied IFF methods to DCPS and public charter school data and found that where "performing seats" are located correlates with household wealth and family income of students. So that ALL schools in high wealth neighborhoods are "performing" and those in low wealth neighborhoods and with large numbers of children from low income families are "non-performing" with a very few exceptions, as illustrated in a map and data-tables. The IFF findings are expected to be issued at the end of November. There has been no public input or discussion solicited on the methods, criteria, or purpose of this study.