11 Comments for this article

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Transparency – What you may not know…
Posted on July 7, 2014 by bakeramitchell

Governments by Open Records: The original purpose of transparency through Open Meetings and Public Records and LEA salary disclosures is that these laws applied to the governments which made the rules and controlled the public’s money– the governments, whether state (the legislature and executive branch and DPI), county, or city. These entities needed transparency in their operations so the public could see what was going on between elections and adjust their votes accordingly. The people in the voting booths were the only check or balance on these government entities. Oversight of government rests with an informed public who elects the government, and who have no choices, otherwise.

Corporations by Contracts: The need for transparency as it may apply to private corporations is quite different. The government has the discretion to make contracts or award grants to private corporations to accomplish certain ends. The government retains the right, through its contracts or grants to terminate the contract or cancel the grant if the ends envisioned are not being achieved. The need for transparency is superfluous. Oversight of contracts and grants rests with the government which issues these contracts and grants and which has many choices for promoting its ends.

Government Inspection or Public Disclosure: We must be careful to distinguish between unfettered government inspection and unlimited public disclosure. The government, in its role issuing contracts and grants, requires the right to inspect and audit the records of its contractors and grantees. Furthermore, private corporations receiving government grants must make available their annual financial statements and their tax returns for public scrutiny.

So when a politician says that private corporations must be subject to the same public disclosure and transparency as government entities, he is effectively saying that government is not capable of properly exercising its oversight duties. The politician is tacitly admitting that his government is failing in its oversight duties and must abdicate this oversight role to the public – who elected them for that job in the first place.

In a free-market capitalistic society, the quality of results determines success or failure and ensures efficiency in the delivery of goods and services. That principle should stand as the criteria for governmental oversight of its contracts and grants. When the media intrudes into the affairs of private corporations by disrupting meetings, making exhaustive, pointless demands for mountains of records, and demanding the most private personal information of employees, the operations of these corporations become distorted in coping with these demands. The corporation becomes less efficient, less responsive to those it serves, and ultimately may fail in its essential purpose of creating the better ends for which it was striving.

Recently Governor McCrory told a reporter that private corporations operating charter schools of parental choice under contracts with the state should be made to adhere to the same transparency as government-run schools with forced student assignment. Thus, he was effectively saying that he did not trust the government’s oversight body – the amply-funded Office of Charter Schools (OCS) in the Department of Public Instruction – to properly fulfill its role in ensuring that the contracts were being complied with. Also is the implication that he felt the parents were too ignorant to properly exercise their choice in selecting a school for their children. So he wants to let the media intrude and spin their agenda and force burdensome disclosures on these private corporations holding contracts for schools of choice. Are politicians too afraid to defend the government’s oversight role in the contracts that it enters into with private corporations?

A Few Differences: Unlike government schools, no child is forced to attend any charter school. Unlike government schools, charter schools can be closed (by the government) if they violate their contracts or do not have “clean” financial government audits. Unlike government schools, the parents can force a charter school shut-down by merely redrawing their children. Unlike government schools, they can be shut down if their test scores on the government tests are too low. Unlike government schools, they are prohibited from seeking additional funding from their county for any reason. Unlike government schools, they do not receive any separate public funding for their facilities. Unlike government schools, they may enact merit-based performance salaries for their teachers.

The North Carolina charter school act states that one purpose for charter schools is to move from a rule-based system to a performance-based system: “Hold the schools established under this Part accountable for meeting measurable student achievement results, and provide the schools with a method to change from rule-based to performance-based accountability systems.” Really, Governor McCrory?

Make all Pigs Equal: Governor, you said you want the same transparency in private corporations as in government schools (in spite of extensively funded government oversight)? Then how about the same funding, the same facilities, the same permanence regardless of test scores, the same ability to seek county funds, the same ability to force students to attend? Why not make us all the exactly same so we can all continue the same decades long record of mediocrity and same low achievement and same inefficiencies of the government schools by these charter schools?

Speaking of treating everyone the same: Go to www.NCopenbook.gov and go to Grants and select Wake County. The site will return dozens of pages with hundreds of private nonprofit corporations receiving public funding of hundreds of millions through grants by the General Assembly and agencies of state government; almost none of these corporations receiving public funding are subject to “transparency” such as Open Meetings, Public Records, or Salary Disclosures. Why? Because the GA or the agency has the power to withhold the grant or cancel the contract by exercising its oversight responsibilities.

Three examples out of hundreds may be of interest. The North Carolina Symphony corporation has received over $16 million in public funds. The Autism Society of NC has received over $18M in public funding. The Governors Institute for Substance Abuse, Inc. has received over twelve million in public funding. Why aren’t these private nonprofit corporations subject to the same “transparency” as you are requesting for private nonprofit corporations that control charter schools. They are all NC nonprofits organized under GS 55A. They all receive public funding. Then they should be treated equally. Right, Governor?

Comment on this Story

Leave a Reply

11 Comments on "Roger Bacon’s Baker Michell rationalizes why transparency with public funds doesn’t apply to him"

dorothy cook
2015 years 10 months ago

Public Schools only release some information and at best its only what they want to show us not what we want to see. Such as when complaints are filed against public school employees the person filing never gets to see the results its stated as private information and what they usually do is set the employee up I a new job title such as from being a principal of a school to working as some position at the central office making the same if not more money and call it disciplining them. There is also the retire with full benefits and more with the other I know for a fact to be making it look like they fired the employee but in fact the just sent that employee to another school system to work within the school district they are a part of PLEASE I HAVE ASKED FOR QUITE SOME TIME NOW , HOW MUCH DOES THE ATTORNEYS FOR THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM SALARIES??? If they want Charter School information why not bring their own to the table of the public eyes also.

2015 years 10 months ago

This seems like a tempest in a teapot. Essentially, this is another government fee for services contract. Remove the emotionally charged rhetoric and these education expenditures can be likened to a contract to build a road, provide medical care, etc.

If a doctor, nurse or other practitioner works directly for the state, then their individual costs including costs for facilities, support staff, janitorial supplies, etc. including compensation are public information. However, if the state pays a hospital, medical practice, or doctor for treating a patient receiving Medicaid benefits, the state agrees to pay that practice a fee for that service.

How much the practice pays for rent, administration and support staff, or paper towels is not public information. The state may still inspect the facility to ensure that the facility meets health and safety standards. It also may evaluate the patient care and outcomes to determine that the service was provided and at an appropriate level. But in the end, the state has contracted for a service and agreed to pay a fee for a service that it cannot or does not want to provide directly.

Similarly, the state is essentially contracting with a charter school to provide an appropriate level of education and like a medical practice, the details are not public information. Similarly, it can and does inspect the facilities to ensure that they meets health and safety standards. Similarly, it can and does apply metrics (testing for example) to ensure that the services are provided and at an appropriate level. The state is paying a fee for the service provided. In this case, that means a child’s education.

The state is getting a bargain based upon the dollars paid versus the performance of many charter schools and the performance of the students. Some schools don’t perform well and close, much like a doctor’s office going out of business for failing to provide good service. When patients and parents have choices, the providers of these services are accountable to their customers: patients and parents.

Where is the outcry to know how much the administrators of a medical practice are compensated and how much they pay for paper towels? Perhaps that CEO of a paving company is making money. Good for him or her. Did the road get built to standard? Did the taxpayers get the road built to a higher standard and for less money than the state has built roads in the past?

Who stands to benefit from raising these issues? Who benefits from drumming up compensation envy? Could it be the public school industry: teachers, administrators, and state employees? Who is afraid of the competition?

I have never met Mr. Mitchell. But if he can provide a quality education and do it better (higher test scores for example) and at a lower cost than through traditional public schools and still make a profit, then we should be praising him, not pillorying him.

At the end of the day, children should be the highest priority, not teachers’ associations, administrators, politicians their minions or private businesses. Parents have a responsibility to make good choices for their children. Taxpayers should demand the highest quality for the services for which we pay, regardless of the source, public or private.

Sharon Bowen
2015 years 10 months ago

I don’t know much about the school but talking to some teachers that has taught students from there question, why is it that it has been said more than once some kids leave there and go to another school when tested they seem to be behind and why is it teachers that can’t pass the state test can get a job there and some called a head teacher, is it the state FAULT? Don’t get me wrong I certainly want what’s best for my kids and grandchild but in the process I want THEM to profit from it.

patsy cline
2015 years 10 months ago

He was thinking that would be enough to get everyone off his back. Just do as they ask and then they will leave you alone. What do you have to hide?

2015 years 10 months ago

Then why did he divulge teacher salaries?

2015 years 10 months ago

Mitchell, people can’t stand success when their system is failing. It is hard for them because you are doing a better job with educating your students than they can with less money.

Keep up the great work. Maybe, one day they will look and model their failing system after one that works.

2015 years 10 months ago

You must be a paid shill for RBA.
This guy leases buildings and equipment to himself, provides management services to himself THEN on top of THAT does NOT provide transportation, lunches or libraries for his students.
YOU are absolutely correct that he spends LESS per student and test scores do indicate that his pupils perform better than public schools do.
this does NOT absolve him of his responsibility to comply with the law, which he was well aware of when he started this process.
You are absolving him of any responsibility for following the law while being blinded by his students test scores.
The law says release the info, the Governor said the law will remain the same and he will VETO changes to it.
You are coddling a potential criminal. Is this the type of person you want leading your children? Of course not.
The issue here is not public schools test scores, nor RBA’s.
Mr Mitchell needs to release the info or be arrested and charged.
What is he hiding?
(You already know the answer to that)

2015 years 10 months ago

My question is, why did CDS choose to omit certain teachers’ salaries.
Since the omissions have been noted, why was this not corrected?

Khem Irby
2015 years 10 months ago

This seems to be the fight around the nation for charter schools. The operators who say they care so much about the communities that they are serving continue not to be forthright about the use of public dollars. Eva Moskowitz of the Success Charter Schools in NYC recently evaded the same issue. Charter schools seem to be quite confusing when it comes to public disclosure when they continually say they are public schools but do not want to be transparent about their budgets and salaries. If these schools continue in this manner then the public should demand that a cap be placed on the charter schools, cut their per pupil funding and allow counties to hold their funding until full disclosure has been made to the school counties that they are serving. These schools have caused more educational divides and dysfunction in certain communities. I thought they were suppose to share their best practices and show us how they do so much more with less. These same schools cooperate with Pearson, inBloom and others by sharing children’s personal data. How contradictory in their thinking and actions about our public dollars.

2015 years 10 months ago

Why keep them secret? Unless there is something to HIDE!!! Your dirty laundry can’t be hidden forever.

2015 years 10 months ago

You are setting a poor example for your students

I believe ANY entity getting state funds should release this type of info.

You are a charlatan and a crook – what are hiding?
No discussion about test scores until you release your info.
And Baker? The Gov has already stated he would veto any legislation hiding your or anyone elses salary.
So give it up…



Related News