You think you’re ready for this show to get on the road.  In Biblical terms, we are now closing in on the halfway mark of my ancestors’ wandering in the desert.  Right?  Forty years?  We’re now at fifteen.  And — as back then — there is no assurance we’ll ever get anywhere. Still, our lottery ticket is worthy of note.  Witness this squib in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

Ultra Electronics Holdings PLC . . . announces that it has acquired ICE Corporation Inc (“ICE”) based in Manhattan, Kansas for an initial cash consideration of $8.6m. Ultra has acquired ICE from private investors, which includes the original founder. All of the management team will stay with the business. ICE designs, develops, manufactures and supports aerospace products including, motor control electronics, electrothermal ice protection controllers, pneumatic valve controls and engine control interface units. ICE customers include Parker Hannifin Corporation, Cessna Aircraft Company and Meggitt. The acquisition of ICE will be financed using Ultra’s existing facilities and will be fully earnings accretive in 2015. Additional payments of up to $3m will be made subject to certification of the new WheelTug electric taxi system for which ICE provides essential parts.  ICE, which has 50 employees, will continue to operate from its existing facilities as a bolt-in acquisition to Ultra’s Controls business within Ultra’s Aircraft & Vehicle Systems Division. Rakesh Sharma, Chief Executive of Ultra, commented: “I am pleased that we have been able to bring ICE into the Group as a part of Controls. This acquisition further extends Ultra’s capabilities in the aerospace sector and will support planned growth in the US market.”

Away BOREF and its partners toil, as inch by inch they — maybe — get someplace.


Stephen:  “The Success Academy story is wonderful to read, but critics claim cherry-picking of students, high attrition rates of students and teachers.”

☞ They do.  That link, for one, claims that Success Academy schools kick out 50% of their students, to be left only with the better ones.  And faults them for highlighting the results of just one of their 22 schools.

But Success points out that the one school they highlighted was the one school the mayor proposed to close — so it made sense to focus on it.  And Success says it absolutely does not kick out students (with rare disciplinary exceptions) — retaining over 90%, versus 80% for traditional public schools.  In the subset of “special needs” kids, they claim over 88 percent retention vs less than 80% for the traditional public schools.

Another criticism: that the highlighted school did not have “the best 5th grade in the state.”  Success says it did, because 96% of its students passed the New York State math test (got a 3 or 4, which were the passing grades).  This is the metric the state uses.  Its critic used a metric of her own that weights the 3’s and 4’s separately — on which basis some other schools did better.

“Overall,” says one Success Academy enthusiast, “our schools had 83% of students pass in math versus 8% for our co-located schools (where the kids would go otherwise) and 58% in English, also versus 8 percent.”  Why is that bad?

Murdoch Matthew:  “Sorry to see you backing the money people in promoting the misnamed Success Charter Schools.  With their million-dollar advertising campaign, the excessive salaries, and the hedge-fund profits, seems to me that Success is about taking public money intended for schools and diverting it into private pockets.  See this Moyers report, which references this Department of Education report (‘A new report released today reveals that fraudulent charter operators in 15 states are responsible for losing, misusing or wasting over $100 million in taxpayer money.’)  There are good charter schools — they are operated to educate, not to produce profit for investors.”

☞ Fraudulent charters should be shut immediately, with their perpetrators indicted.  Obviously.  And the numerous well-intended but not particularly successful charters deserve no disproportionate share of resources, if kept open at all.

But the terrific ones producing amazing results?  In the case of the 22 Success Academy schools, they are non-profit and have not been getting more from the city per pupil than the traditional public schools.  Some wealthy folks are involved — it’s true — but as donors, giving millions to help set launch the schools and cover their losses as they grow to scale.  (New enterprises of any kind require time to reach break even.)  These donors have no ownership stake and will never see a dime back, let alone a profit.  Kind of like 19th Century steel baron Andrew Carnegie, who built 2,509 public libraries.

Good, not bad.



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