Here We Go Again – Contracting ‘Management’ For Public School Pillage 

Here we go again. As if anyone could be surprised, the far right Republicans have found yet another way to siphon money from taxpayers and give it to wealthy companies. This for a task that could be done in house for certainly much cheaper  with much better control.

 In this case this is a task that shouldn’t be done at all. That task is, of course, the disbursement of money from Iowa’s education fund to private, often religious, schools. I will not be shy about stating that supporting private schools totally undermines the concept of public education and the checks that that system has. It also flies in the face of the religious freedom clause of the first amendment when taxpayer’s money is used to support religion, any religion.

But be that as it may, the Iowa legislature chose to privatize part of our public system. This will certainly take a big bite out of the public schools’ budgets no doubt resulting in cost cutting measures that will be reflected in student performance. So one would like to think that our leaders in this effort would like to keep the losses to the public system as minimal as possible.

This is an opportunity to drain the public school funds and pass a big chunk of money to some “management” firm with little oversight.

Wednesday the lucky winner was announced. According to the Des Moines Register, Governor Reynolds picked the firm. No committee or oversight board, just the Governor:

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has hired a company to administer the state’s new program to let families access taxpayer funds to pay private school costs.

Reynolds said Tuesday she has chosen Odyssey, a vendor that has contracts in Idaho and Arizona. Iowa still has to negotiate a contract with the company before it can open the application process for the program.

As you can see, the way we do things in Iowa now is to hire a company and then figure out what it is they are going to do Ass backward if you ask me, but this is the new Iowa. 

But what caught my eye was the pay Odyssey will be getting: 

Odyssey will be responsible for managing all aspects of Iowa’s program, including applications, payments, compliance, fraud prevention and customer service, Reynolds said in a news release Tuesday. The state picked Odyssey over three other applicants seeking to run the program.

The company’s application estimates that running Iowa’s program would cost $629,550 per year. (my bolding)

That is $629,550 that WILL NOT be going to any student, public or private. That is money that will most likely come from the public school funds which will therefore see some cuts in budgets somewhere. 

Based on Iowa’s experience in the Medicaid privatization scam that Branstad/ Reynolds pulled off nearly a decade back we can expect a couple things to happen:

  1. The cost for “management” will increase rapidly and dramatically with little to show for it.
  2. The customers in this setup – students comparable to patients in the Medicaid scam – will be the ones that get screwed by these fee raises with a cut back in services.
  3. With the Medicaid, before the privatization, the management was done very well within the state government for about 1/10th of what the privatized management costs AND
  4. It will be hard to audit the management firm.

I am only basing that on Iowa’s experience with their boondoggle with the Branstad/ Reynolds Medicaid Privatization scam.

One other thing I found interesting is that Reynolds is bragging up her role as a leader among states that are at the low achievement end of the spectrum. I am so old that I remember when our governors bragged about challenging for the national lead in educational achievement. That was back before Branstad II – the stinky sequel:

“It is model language that we are seeing states across this country pick up and adopt. I know Arkansas is moving it. I know Oklahoma is moving. Texas is looking at it,” Reynolds said. “I could go on and on.”

Iowans may want to take some pictures of their community schools before they fall into disrepair. They were once the pride of the community, but Kim Reynolds has another idea.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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1 Response to Here We Go Again – Contracting ‘Management’ For Public School Pillage 

  1. Lauren Tiffany says:

    Interesting that the management company is able to ‘estimate’ the cost of administering Iowa’s public-dollars-to-private-schools grift, even before the governor and her minions have specified what they want the company to DO. The fix was always in, wasn’t it?


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