‘The Pinchot Retirement Program’

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Wednesday it was the Harlem Success Academy that got me off track. Yesterday it was dealing with police who had been summoned on a noise complaint from my neighbors, who’d been driven crazy by my uncontrollable whooping.

That whooping, fellow GLDD warrant owners will understand, was brought on as the underlying stock climbed to $8.75 on volume of more than a million shares – I don’t know what’s going on, but something must be – giving our warrants, which we bought at prices between 38 cents and 70 cents this past year, an intrinsic value of $3.75.

Any time I can make six or eight times my money in a year, I whoop. A good neighbor should understand that.

So Monday (I hope): ‘The Pinchot Retirement Program’

In the meantime . . .


George Berger: ‘Harlem Success Academy sounds wonderful, as does Joel Greenblatt’s work with Public School 65Q in Queens. Now those are a couple of projects I wouldn’t mind sending some of my GLDD and TLBTBTM profits to. (Sorry, not the DNC.) I was thinking it would be great if Joel Greenblatt could set up a charitable foundation to fund worthy education projects, so we TLBTBTM people could have a reliable place to donate that could really make a difference in education. Or if you’re familiar with anything like that I’d be interested to hear about it.’

☞ That’s a great idea! (Except for the part about the DNC – you are missing the best possible political investment.) And for now, there’s an immediate solution. Just send your check to:

34 W. 118th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10026
ATTN: Jenny Sedlis

Their 501(c)(3) tax ID number is 20-5298861.

(Amazingly, the web site does not yet accept on-line donations; but I’ll bet it soon will.)

And when you have finished funding Harlem Success Academy, never fear: the goal is to open three more such school next year and a lot more after that.

But neither is this a bottomless pit. The further goal is for each school to reach breakeven in about six years – even when funded with just 75% of what public schools currently get per pupil.

Warren Spieker: ‘As you know, this is an initiative (charter schools) which most Democratic politicians have opposed – largely due to the influence of the teachers unions, I suspect. Like Joel, I contribute to a local charter school and have seen similar extraordinary results. I would be interested to read more about your thoughts on this subject. Even better, what can you do as the treasurer of the DNC to influence party politicians to change their position on this issue? It seems at odds with Democrats general interest in looking out for the poor and giving them the opportunity to improve their lives through education.’

☞ Well, yes and no. Many Democratic politicians have led the way on charter schools (and I agree with you that more should). Here is a news report that begins:

President Bill Clinton took his education reform tour to Minnesota on Thursday, heralding the rapid expansion of public charter schools during his seven years in office and announcing additional federal grants to help ensure their continued success.

. . . “We have invested almost half a billion dollars since 1994 to help communities start charter schools [Clinton said] … my goal was to at least fund 3,000 (charter schools) or more by the time I left office and I believe we are going to meet that goal.”

☞ Governor Spitzer and New York City School Chancellor Joel Klein (who came from the Clinton White House) have been important supporters.

Joel Greenblatt and his business partner John Petry have launched Democrats for Education Reform. I’ll post a link to the web site when it’s ready a few weeks from now.

I hope our Democratic nominee will take a strong stand for continuing the progress our last Democratic Administration was very much a part of encouraging.

We need to support our teachers and our public schools. The teachers unions do a great job of that . . . but sometimes a little too great. We need to make it easier to replace poorly performing teachers and administrators, because our kids deserve competence. And because the return on investment of providing an effective education (which most of our kids get but far too many don’t) is all but incalculably large.

Gennady: ‘I think the charter school movement is great. I’m speaking from experience since my youngest son Jacob went to the first, only – and now defunct – High School of Math and Science here in Fulton County. The school closed due to lack of funding. While on the state and national level there is a lot of support for the idea, on the local level (county board of ed) there is a lot of resistance which really ends up sabotaging the idea. The failed schools, like ours, are then used by opponents as ‘examples’ of why not to support the charter schools. By far the biggest problem is funding, as you mentioned in your column. Here in Atlanta, school boards pay charter schools 100% of operating costs per pupil (roughly $7.5K/year for high school here), but they conveniently forget the capital side of the budget (which is used to build schools, like our new $50 million high school), which would make per pupil number more like $10K. They force the charter schools to pay rent out of the same measly per-pupil money they give – which is what closed our beloved Math & Science High in three years, after a very supporting and understanding landlord ran out of patience.’


Mark Lefler: ‘Al Gore hits the nail on the head.’

☞ After you read that essay, buy The Assault On Reason, Al Gore’s new book.

Have a great weekend.


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