Two of California’s largest charter school organizations are planning a merger which would make the new organization one of the biggest in the U.S. with 12,000 students. Talks are currently underway between financially struggling ICEF Public Schools and Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, both centered in Los Angeles (which is to say that Alliance wants to swallow its weaker cousin to gain a larger market share).
Former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, who served on the boards of both organizations, revealed details of the merger at a San Diego charter-school convention this week. Riordan's fundraising efforts over the last few months have brought in $15 million to beleaguered ICEF, but he said the group still needs $11 million to become fiscally sound. ICEF had been highly regarded by the media and the corporate Ed Deformers as a model charter management organization. Millions of dollars had already been pumped into the business prior to Riordan’s recent foray. One has to wonder what happened to it all. Robert Skeels suggests a criminal investigation of ICEF would be in order (see ICEF Crooks to get gobbled up by competing Corporate Charter Chain).
Later, at that same conference, current L.A. Mayor and charter school cheerleader, Antonio Villaraigosa, asked charter schools to take over more low-performing low-income schools. Villaraigosa’s attack on the charter schools is being spun as a reasonable and balanced follow up to his recent attacks on teachers unions. To his credit, he mentioned that charter schools “cherry pick” their students and called on them to target “difficult-to-educate” children, which is to say, low-income kids, students with disabilities, and those who have been in and out of the juvenile justice system. However, his call to start “blurring the lines between charter and traditional schools” sounds like a call for a complete corporate takeover of the public education system.