According to the first filing of spending in the Newark race for Mayor, the hedge fund managers’ group Education Reform Now has given $850,000 to Shavar Jeffries, a charter school supporter. 69 more words
Tags » Privatization
WHAT happens when you get a traffic ticket? Probably much gnashing of teeth, perhaps a tongue-lashing from the spouse and a groaning eye-roll as you get your checkbook and slip a hundred of your hard-earned dollars into that orange envelope of shame. But what if you can’t pay that ticket? Well, in some states, including Georgia, you get passed over to one of dozens of private-probation companies. Since 2001 private companies have overseen misdemeanant probation, which includes not just minor crimes such as shoplifting, petty theft and public drunkenness, but also speeding tickets and other traffic violations.
Penalties for such crimes rarely exceed a few hundred dollars, but of course not everyone has a few hundred dollars. That’s where private-probation companies come in. I’ve written about these fees before, but here’s a quick refresher: if you get hit with a $200 ticket you can’t pay, then a private-probation company will let you pay it off in instalments, for a monthly fee. Then there may be additional fees for electronic monitoring, drug testing and classes—many of which are assigned not by a judge, but by the private company itself. When probationers cannot pay, courts issue warrants for their arrest and their probation terms are extended—a reprehensible practice known as “tolling”, which a judge declared illegal last year. These are folks who had trouble paying the initial fine; you have to imagine they’ll have trouble paying additional fines. It’s plausible to posit that these firms’ business models are based on assigning unpayable fees to people who lack the sophistication, time, will or whatever to contest them. One might even say these predatory firms treat the long arm of the law as sort of lever on a juicer into which poor people are fed and squeezed to produce an endless stream of fees.
How much do these companies make? How well do they supervise their charges? Do they in fact deliver on their promises of efficiency? Who knows! They may do the state’s business, but they are private companies, and hence not subject to sunshine or open-records laws. Human Rights Watch estimates that in Georgia alone private-probation companies rake in around $40m in fees each year (and remember, these are fees paid by people who could not pay a simple misdemeanor fine in the first place), but the fact is nobody really knows.
In comparison to Davonte’s Inferno by Laurel M. Sturt… Well, there is no comparison to this brilliantly descriptive memoir of the reality of public schools in New York. 274 more words
This reader, a lawyer in Mine, asks important, thoughtful questions that go to the heart of the current debate over the future of education–from pre-kindergarten through graduate school. 453 more words
Reader Laura Chapman has done some research on the education entrepreneurs now meeting in Scottsdale to learn more about how to profit from the public education industry. 1,035 more words