As a would-be artist of the con, you follow in a great American tradition going all the way back to John D. Rockefeller’s father, the Dr. Marvel medicine show guy who traveled the West selling Everything Cures. Many possibilities for grift lie before you. Like renowned televangelist Jim Bakker, you could sell “Covid cures.” (Try the very reverend Bakker’s colloidal Silver Solution! And, oh, the healing power of donations!) You could adopt the “business model” of the multilevel marketing Ponzi schemes or of the “charity” or “university” run by Donald Trump. You could go into cyberscam operations by assuming the identity of an ex-princess of Nigeria. You could go into online sales of “genuine” costume jewelry or erectile dysfunction pills. You could, like Bernie Madoff, sell nonexistent securities. But because of the government’s insufficient appreciation of the entrepreneurial spirt, all these have their downsides, including, alas, hefty fines and prison terms.
This is, however, your lucky day, for I, Bobby Bigbucks, the guy who put the con in economy, am going to reveal to you, right now, THE SECRET to Making Million$ in the Charter Game. Rest assured that the nominal Membership Fee you paid for this TOP SECRET information will be multiplied like a politician’s bank account on being elected to Congress!!!
But, there’s a hurdle up front. No way ’round it. You have to learn THE FUNDAMENTAL EQUATION of Charter Management Operations because that’s what this whole scam is based on. Remember, there’s Fun in Fundamental! So, with no further ado:
(FTE * n) – (C + E) = G
FTE = the annual per-student funding, or full-time equivalency, that the state will provide you for every kid whose parents you sucker in or pretend to have suckered in
n = the number of students that you enroll and pretend to enroll in your school
C + E = costs and expenses of running the school
G = the grift, what’s left over for you
Now, it doesn’t take a stable business genius like Donald Trump or Big Daddy Ewing to figure out the secret here. ANYTHING YOU DON’T SPEND ON ACTUALLY PROVIDING AN EDUCATION, YOU GET TO KEEP.
YUP. IT’S YOURS!!! (Well, technically, it’s the school’s, but I’ll tell you how to get around that in just a minute! It’s slicker than a . . . hey, cut that part out, OK?)
You might be asking yourself, how on Earth is that legal? Good question.
First, create a CMO, which is short for Charter Management Organization, or Channel for Megabucks Outflow. Via your CMO, buy, on time, an empty factory building or K-Mart or whatever. Gut the building and divide it up into classrooms, bathrooms, a lunchroom, and administrative offices. Don’t worry about frivolities like a library, science labs, a nurse’s office, a gym, or a theatre. Remember, anything you don’t spend is yours. It’s best if you have a little grass-covered dirt outside for PE.
Next, buy a bunch of refurbished computer terminals in bulk from China. Line the walls with these. Use the same source for desks, chairs, filing cabinets, telephones, and security cameras.
Then, contract with a Virtual Charter School to provide online “Personalized Learning” (For a guide to running one of THOSE scams, send a 12-inch stack of twenty-dollar bills to Bobby Bigbucks in the Cayman Islands.) You will promote your school as a high-tech, innovative, personalized learning environment that leaves the old Factory Model of Education in the dust. Hee hee. I know, right? People will believe most anything.
Now, here’s the biggie: Via your CMO, lease the building and the equipment to your school AT SEVERAL MULTIPLES of the market rents for these and of your mortgage.
You might think, hey, that was easy! But no, you can’t just write checks to strip clubs and massage parlors and the like from the school or CMO accounts. NO. DON’T DO THAT.
Instead, hire and pay as employees of the school and the CMO yourself, your spouse, your children, your mistresses or misteresses, your ne’er-do-well cousins and golfing buddies, your pool boy, etc., and pay all these people exorbitant salaries and load them up with perks. You will be one popular person!!! Talk about an opportunity to throw your weight around. Remember this motto, which enshrines the American Way: one’s worth is one’s girth.
And know that every day in operation, you are building equity on the property that those suckers, the marks, the taxpayers are paying for!!!! That’s the real beauty. If you need a little infusion of cash, just tell investors that you are not actually in the education biz; you are in the real estate biz, just like Donald J. Trump.
Employ the most unemployable in your family and fiends network to do janitorial, waste management, and busing services, and make sure you get your Vig, or mob boss tax, on each of these operations.
Of course, in keeping with the Fundamental Equation, you must drive expenditures WAY below the FTEs. Pay the lowest possible teacher salaries. Churn those teachers so that they don’t build seniority and get uppity and expensive. Don’t by any means spend money on frivolous stuff like nurses or whiteboards or markers or paper or art and science supplies or anything else that might result in actual education. Start a PTO to hold bake sales to raise money for sports equipment. DO NOT spend money on athletic fields. (If you insist on this, pouring concrete for an outdoor basketball court is pretty cheap.) You can pay a buddy or cousin with a start-up busing company to haul kids to a local park where they can play football, baseball, field hockey, and if there are fees, parents can pony up for those. Teachers can buy their own supplies out of the pittances you pay them. And who needs library books and textbooks when you are a next generation digital learning environment!
Practice in a mirror: “What? You want classroom libraries?!?!?!?! Do I look like freaking Santa Claus to you? And do I have to remind you that this is a next generation digital school of the future?” What is that teacher going to do? Complain to the union? LOL. In your school, there is no freaking union.
Now, I know that it’s easier to get these charters approved in poor neighborhoods because state legislators don’t give the-leftovers-on-the-country-club-luncheon-tray about those schools. However, take my advice and open in a nice (you know what that means–nudge, nudge), middle-class neighborhood where the kids will, by virtue of their ZIP codes, do reasonably well on the standardized tests despite the education you’re giving them. This will save you a ton of headaches. Oh, and maintain a “No Excuses” discipline policy. That way, you can make up reasons to kick out any kids with less than desirable demographic characteristics, with “needs,” and with potential to score very poorly on the state tests–you know, the kids that public education schools have to include and help.
And that final point raises another beauty of this: you get to run a private business for your own profit at taxpayer expense and call it a “non-profit charter school” because, after you have milked it for pay and perks, there’s no profit, just as students won’t profit from your use of them to enrich yourself. The Fundamental Equation becomes
(FTE * n) – (C + E, including pay and perks for you and your pals) = 0
Voila! You’re nonprofit! Hee hee, haw haw. And the state legislators whom you pay off or actually employ as part of your CMO can tell voters: “Well, charter schools are innovative, no excuses, digital public schools of the future, and I support only the nonprofit ones.”
OK, if you happen to be so dense as not to have seen that this piece is satire meant to call attention to horrific, illegal scams being perpetrated right now in the United States, have someone with a brain explain this to you. And if you follow any of the “advice” given below, you will possibly receive and richly deserve housing in a state or federal penitentiary.
For more pieces by Bob Shepherd on so-called “Education Reform,” go here: https://bobshepherdonline.wordpress.com/category/ed-reform/