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Jeff Bryant: The Profiteering Behind the Effort to Bring Charter Schools to Kentucky

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Until 2015,Kentucky did not have a charter school law. Then hard-right Republican Matt Bevin was elected governor, and he pushed hard to get a charter law passed by the legislature. But the legislature has not yet allocated funding for charter schools. Opposition has been strong and bipartisan. Now the governor has packed the state school board with charter advocates, fired the state superintendent and hired a state superintendent who wants charter schools.

Their target is Jefferson County, which includes Louisville, the biggest city in the state. Parents have mobilized to block a takeover. (I’m speaking at an anti-charter rally in Louisville on October 18, the night before the NPE conference in Indianapolis; the great Jitu Brown of Journey for Justice will be there, and Sue Legg of Florida’s League of Women Voters).

In this article, Jeff Bryant lays out the financial machinations behind Kentucky’s charter cheerleaders. It is NOT about the kids. Follow the money.

Read about the BB&T Bank of North Carolina, which is deeply involved in financing charters and involved in finding Kentucky’s Bluegrass Institute.

“BB&T has collaborated with the Koch Brothers for years in funding academic centers and professorships at colleges and universities across the country with the stipulation gifts will support teaching about principals of free-market capitalism and use the works by libertarian icon Ayn Rand. The bank has donated millions more for capitalism programs at the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky in Lexington.

“But BB&T’s investments in spreading capitalist doctrine and education reform are not strictly ideological or altruistic. The bank finances charter schools. “BB&T Capital Markets has been ranked the No. 1 charter school underwriter in the nation for two consecutive years,” claims the bank’s website, where it also lists numerous charter school properties across the country financed by the bank.

“The connections between charter school expansion and real estate development are underreported and little-understood but worth exploring. Charter school expansions in many states, including North Carolina, Florida, and New Jersey, have been accompanied by new schemes to profit off the land and buildings related to the charter organizations.

“In Louisville, locals see this scheme playing out similarly. Rob Mattheu, a Jefferson County parent and avid blogger about local schools, explains in an email, “There are big bucks to be had” in connecting new charter schools with land deals.”

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