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NCLB Outrages

The Washington Post/Kaplan Benefits from NCLB Policies It Endorses

This, of course, is not new information but it doesn't hurt to remind people that the Washington Post isn't about to bite the hand that feeds it so generously.

Mai Abdul Rahaman spotlightoneduction@yahoo.com

The Washington Post has editorialized and used its pages for countless articles and editorials supporting, initiating, and advancing positions it deems best for our children and our public schools. What the Washington Post has so far failed to openly disclose is how critical No Child Left Behind and Student Supplemental Education (SES) funding is to the survival of its enterprise.

NCLB/SES funds as of 2005 totaled a $3.5 billion initiative that benefits privately held companies, among them Kaplan, a subsidiary of the Washington Post. SES funds are provided to poorly performing school districts that are mandated to outsource and funnel these earmarked funds to largely (70 percent) for-profit large publicly held or privately owned SES vendors. These are companies that provide tutoring services to the growing Title I student population in large urban school districts. The large and growing SES multi-billion dollar fund has attracted the notice of large for-profit companies such as Kaplan, Princeton Review, and privately owned Sylvan Learning Centers, Huntington Learning Centers, EduVentures, Inc, and Knowledge Quest Ventures (âKnowledge Universeâ â the âcradle-to-grave education-business empireâ created by the former junk-bond specialist Michael Milliken). The Washington Post lost more then two thirds of its publishing revenue; these funds have offered it the means to stay afloat. In the fall of 2008, the Washington Post Company reported dramatic earnings losses totaling 77 percent, while the companyâs Kaplan education division saw a 52 percent growth. In 2003, just one year after NCLB/SES was passed, Kaplanâs revenue for its elementary and secondary school division doubled.

Federal SES funds are generously awarded and continue to increase, while student enrollment, according to the Department of Educationâs 2009 Report, has remained stagnant at 20 percent nationally. SES providers are exempt from meeting the highly qualified teacher federal requirements; they are free to determine the curriculum they offer, the instructional practices they use, and how services are delivered. NCLB has allowed SES companies to run their programs with little oversight or monitoring while guaranteeing payment regardless of the number of students enrolled or hours utilized. Princeton Reviewâs Annual Report elaborates: âProviders are paid per student for each hour attended, whether the student attends for one hour or the maximum possible number of hours. Payments are subject to a maximum total amount an SES provider may earn per student, known as the Per Pupil Allotment (âPPAâ), which is determined by the state or the school district.â With the promise of increased revenue and assured payment regardless of student attendance, private for-profit SES providers have shown great interest in NCLB/SES funds. As a result, in 2005 the for-profit K-12 education companies saw revenue growth of 2.7 percent, totaling $50.1 billion.

Since 2002 the Washington Post Company has reaped millions, while its subsidiary company Kaplan has taken advantage of these guaranteed funds that have shown little if any substantive results in student improvements. Most troubling is the ability of the Washington Post to use its journalists, writers, and editors to dictate and advance local and federal policies that the company directly benefits from.

— Mai Abdul Rahaman
DC Watch


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