Gove’s primary school hit list sponsors - the US connection

Richard Hatcher's picture
ARK, E-ACT, AET (Academies Enterprise Trust), Ormiston, ATT, CET (Creative Education Trust), Elliott Foundation, ULT, RSA, K12, Edison Learning, Mosaica.

These 12 seem to be the ‘approved‘ sponsors of forced primary school academies being touted by the DfE in Birmingham. I don’t know if they are a national list. Most are familiar names, though I can’t find out who ATT are. But the three that are new Academy sponsors are the last three - K12, Edison Learning and Mosaica. They are leading US state-funded school-for-profit operators.

In the US 98 for-profit Education Management Organizations (EMOs) manage 729 schools in 31 states. Over 93% of EMO-managed schools are charter schools - the rest are district schools. 60 are virtual schools, delivering their curriculum and providing instruction via the Internet.

K12 Inc. is the largest for-profit EMO in terms of enrolment. It runs 24 schools: 23 charter and 1 district. Edison is the third largest. It runs 61 schools: 31 charter schools and 30 district schools. Mosaica runs 30 charter schools.

How effective are they? Under the No School Left behind legislation every school is given an Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) rating based on results in standardised tests. AYP provides a crude indicator of the extent to which schools are meeting state standards. Of the schools managed by for-profit EMOs, 53% met AYP and 47% did not. 61% of K-12 schools, 48% of Edison schools, and only 25% of Mosaica schools met AYP.

In spite of its low performance figures, Mosaica has been chosen by Gove presumably because of its claim that ‘We specialize in school turnaround by bringing positive, sustainable change to underperforming schools.’ For-profit EMOs typically operate a heavily prescriptive rigid model of schooling. According to its website ‘Mosaica Education's competitive advantage is the use of the Paragon curriculum in its classrooms. Paragon combines the rigor of a classical education with hands-on learning modules, a quarterly theatrical performance and classes taught chronologically.’

Mosaica has contracts with 77 schools in China, Egypt, India, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S. Southeast, and it is negotiating to open others, including now in England. “We are profitable because we have lots of schools,” said Mosaica co-founder and president Gene Eidelman. According to a press report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (5 April 2010)

'Mosaica Education is not your typical school district. It runs a global empire like a corporate giant from chic offices in Lenox Towers, overseeing classrooms from Atlanta to Abu Dhabi. Its top executives see Georgia as fertile ground for planting new public schools. But the state is cautious about its advances. Mosaica's international growth seems to have hit a roadblock in its hometown.'

The Georgia state Board of Education recommended not approving Mosaica’s latest project, the Math & Science Preparatory Academy of South Fulton, because the school appeared to be corporate-driven, not parent-driven. State associate superintendent Garry McGiboney said his staff found it unusual that Mosaica, rather than parents, responded to most of the questions in a probe of Math & Science Prep. Staff suggested that the school didn't seem to have a true math and science focus because of curriculum limitations.

Mosaica, like other EMOs, has had contracts lapse when some of its schools failed to meet performance goals over time or decided they could run the campuses without the company.

The move by these profit-hungry companies into the Academies market in England, driven by Gove, is a clear signal of the direction of Tory policy - to step by step open up the schools market to companies running - and perhaps in due course actually owning - state-funded schools for profit.

(See Molnar, A., Miron, G., & Urschel, J.L. (2010). Profiles of for-profit education management
organizations: Twelfth annual report - 2009-2010. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center.
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Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 08/02/2012 - 10:58

Thanks, Richard, for this valuable information about the for-profit Education Management Organizations (EMOs). According to the National Education Policy Center at Colorado University, “Of the 729 schools listed in this report, 67.5% are operated by large EMOs. This is down from 74% share managed by large for-profits in 2008-2009.”

Perhaps the fact that the number of schools run by large EMOs is declining explains the desire to become involved in English education where the Government is enthusiastically embracing such alternative provision (see side bar “Gove IS in favour of profit making companies running state schools).

Murrey Sackwild's picture
Fri, 10/02/2012 - 15:32

ATT is an off-shoot of Ormiston - as Ormiston is currently consolidating with its 9 Academies. I don't believe that it is part of Ormiston - but the same man is behind it as was behind Ormiston.

Ormiston Academies Trust is a not-for-profit organisation which manages the Ormiston Trust’s academy programme. Ormiston has been involved with the academy programme since 2006 and currently sponsors 18 secondary academies across England.

ATT is a new academy sponsor headed by Ian Cleland, the outgoing chief executive of Ormiston Academies Trust, and as such is not part of Ormiston.

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