Ever hear critics of public schools just swear that if we’d run schools like a business, educational problems would magically disappear? Former Kansas Department of Education commissioner Bob Corkins was a perfect representative of that group; before state board of education radicals appointed him as commish, Corkins lobbied the Kansas legislature against education funding on behalf of the Flint Hills Public Policy Institute. The FHPPI is one of the several anti-any-tax think tanks funded primarily by Koch Industries, and allied with the global-warming-denying Kansas Chamber of Commerce.
Let’s indulge those businesslike fantasies for a moment and imagine a public school classroom run like AiG or Merrill Lynch.
Only a tiny fraction of this class would actually graduate from high school. Truancy would be an attractive option because it would get kids away from the drugs and violence in the halls. Scores on the state assessments would plummet and this particular group hasn’t met its goal for Annual Yearly Progress. Money that was supposed to be spent on textbooks and whiteboard markers and lab equipment instead found its way into the teacher’s pocket. The school board recognizes that the teacher is driving learning into the ground for these kids, but instead of firing him outright, they agree to give the teacher a huge chunk of the district’s funds when he inevitably leaves this classroom in search of another group of kids to exploit.
This is a horrid fantasy. Even more horrid is the reality:
For Citigroup’s Prince that means $10.4 million in cash and stock holdings valued at $22 million that he received on his departure in November 2007.
That was after the nation’s largest bank announced far bigger-than-expected losses on mortgage-related assets and other risky debt. Under Prince’s watch, Citigroup built up its exposure to mortgage and consumer credit markets and he was paid handsomely for the effort.
At Merrill Lynch, O’Neal’s pay package for his final year as a CEO was $46.4 million.
He was forced out in October 2007 following the investment bank’s disclosure of $7.9 billion in unexpected losses related to the credit market turmoil.
His severance package of stock, options and retirement benefits built up over a 21-year career was valued at the time at $161 million. The market’s downturn since then has driven the value down to about $66.5 million.
Merrill Lynch investors have had to face $30.5 billion in writedowns and reported losses of nearly $17 billion in the three full fiscal quarters since O’Neal left.
Earlier this month, Merrill’s weakening financial condition forced it into a takeover by Bank of America, with an acquisition price of $29 a share – less than half what it was a year ago.
At Wachovia, Thompson was ousted by the bank’s board in June after a series of missteps, the most pronounced being his purchase of a California mortgage lender for roughly $25 billion at the height of the nation’s housing boom.
Thompson’s total pay package for last year was nearly $16 million.
Keep this in mind the next time someone tells you that public schools should be run on the “business model.”
P.S. Another Koch-funded, anti-any-tax, global-warming-denying group is Americans For Prosperity. It’s worth noting that District 8 state board of education candidate Dennis Hedke is an ardent supporter of AFP.