Detroit, Education — June 23, 2014 at 6:49 am

UPDATED x2: As Detroit Free Press does week-long exposé of charter schools, National Heritage Academies buys up all its ad space


NOTE: This post has been updated HERE.

The Detroit Free Press is running a spectacular, week-long series on charter schools in Michigan and the woeful lack of oversight and accountability our state exercises when it comes to charters. While some states have outright bans on for-profit schools, 61% of Michigan charter schools are run by for-profit corporations and over a third are in the bottom 25% of academic performance.

One of the main players in the for-profit charter business is National Heritage Academies, Michigan’s largest for-profit school management company. In response to this incredible journalism by the Detroit Free Press, they have purchased pretty much all of the ad space on the front page of the Free Press website this morning. Here’s a screenshot:

Click for a larger version

From the Free Press reporting yesterday:

Michigan far exceeds states like Florida, Ohio and Missouri, where only about one-third of charters were run by a full-service, for-profit management company in 2011-12, according to research by Western Michigan University professor Gary Miron, who has studied charters extensively. […]

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan, who runs the Michigan Department of Education and chairs the state Board of Education, said Michigan’s Legislature must insist on more transparency.

But Miron said the trend in Michigan and nationwide seems to be toward less transparency — such as the types of management agreements negotiated by National Heritage Academies.

The company takes 95% or more of the per-pupil taxpayer funding that its schools receive from the state, with 3% going to the authorizer and 2% or $35,000, whichever is less, given to the school board to spend at its discretion. NHA pays the bills and keeps whatever is left as profit.

Only seven of NHA’s 47 Michigan for-profit charters are in the top 25% with regard to academic performance.

The ad buy is such a perfect response from a corporate entity: use the profits obtained from our tax dollars to blanket unfavorable press with an over-the-top advertising onslaught to convince us that there is nothing to see here but happy interracial students excelling in life thanks to a for-profit charter corporation.

It’s also perfectly nauseating.

You can read more about the National Heritage Academies from the Free Press reporting HERE and HERE.

UPDATE: Leaving nothing to chance, the National Heritage Academies is blanketing the Detroit News website, as well:

Click for a larger version

UPDATE 2: Here’s the front page of the Detroit Free Press on the following day (Tuesday):

The Detroit News has the same monstrous drop-down ad that opens automatically when you first visit the sites.

  • judyms9

    National Heritage is doing the equivalent of pointing their fingers at the Freep and going “pew, pew, pew.” Bless the Freep for boldly publishing an article the for-profits clearly wanted to see “killed”.

    For-profits in education seem to be proliferating at the same time there is growing awareness, including journalistic awareness, that for-profit hospitals, medical services and pharmaceuticals are driving up costs to consumers while providing poorer outcomes than in other countries. Take note, too, of how much advertising is done by the health care and pharmaceutical companies. We pay extra for all those pages of fine print in magazines and all those billboards and television ads touting med specialties. According to the New York Times, 06/21/14, Business Section, the pharmaceutical industry spends more on advertising than on research and development. The equivalent in education will be more spent on testing and advertising than on teaching. For example, we paid $8 a ticket at the movies yesterday and had to sit through four public and charter school recruitment ads.

    Finally, even the churches have paid out tithing funds to convey religious messaging with commercial advertising in an effort to expand church membership. So apparently turning a big buck is our primary motive even in those areas that should be part of the landscape of human well being: our schools, churches and health care.

    • Bilgewater

      Do you want public schools to advertise with tax dollars that came out of your pocket?

      • judyms9

        There was a time when schools did not advertise. They were neighborhood and community based and had no need to.

  • Carolyn Nord

    Methinks the National Heritage Academies doth protest too much! Signifying…..

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  • The Urban Educator

    What a desperate attempt by NHA to counter the professional researched based editorial of the Free Press. Actually NHA makes themselves look pretty desperate along with the letter sent out by MAPSA.

    MAPSA, along with these charter authorizers, are major jokes and don’t care one bit about student achievement.

  • Jon Lubar

    What’s most surprising to me, though not very, is that it obviously never occurred to the fools at NHA that this tactic would immediately backfire and blow up in their faces. Using their ill gotten profits to attempt to counter a legitimate, well researched news story in the Detroit Free Press that shows them for what they are by carpet bombing the paper and website with ads? PRICELESS TROLL STUPIDITY! No wonder their schools are doing so poorly; really lousy management.

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