As has been mentioned repeatedly in the comment threads of my last two posts on the subject (here and here), Teach for America just signed a new strategic partnership deal with Imagine Schools, the nation's largest for-profit charter schools company. Because, you know, TFA is all about the kids:
The for-profit charter operator has been investigated in some states for the way it exercises control over the schools it manages, essentially ignoring the boards of trustees that are supposed to really run the schools.
It has also come under scrutiny for its complicated real estate deals that generate millions of public dollars for Imagine. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for example, detailed the deals involving six Imagine schools operating with public money in St. Louis. Essentially Imagine opened schools and then sold the buildings in which the schools operated to a company that then leased them back to Imagine at often extremely high rates, which are, of course, paid for out of public money.
Beyond the rent, the paper also reported that Imagine’s charter schools must pay 12 percent of their budget for management costs. Still, it said, some Imagine schools were missing pencils, paper, books and other basic supplies.
As for student outcomes, the standardized test scores in that city’s Imagine schools are below the state and city average, the paper said.
I guess these are the kind of innovative "solutions to the problems of urban education" the Seattle Times is talking about when it obediently editorializes in favor of promoting both charter schools and TFA here in Seattle, and the kind of strategic partnership TFA is "truly excited about." Not that TFA can be blamed for Imagine's scandals, but you can't blame critics for judging TFA by the company it keeps.