Cashing in on Kids

Jeb Bush’s cozy relationship with for-profit charter schools

In the New Yorker's article, Testing Time, Alec MacGillis takes a close look at Jeb Bush's business history and political relationships that influence his involvement with the charter school movement. During Bush's eight years as governor, the population exponentially grew and developers began opening charter schools "less as a means to innovate than as a way to benefit from Florida’s boom."
The “McCharters,” as they became known, were paid for with public money—not just their daily operations but often their buildings, too, since Florida was one of a few states that allowed taxpayer revenue to be used for the construction of charters. But, as charters, the schools were free of public oversight and collective-bargaining agreements.
By 2002, for-profit companies were managing most of the state's charter schools while "spending about two thousand dollars less per student than traditional public schools (which received relatively low funding, by national standards), a practice that often resulted in inexperienced teachers and spartan facilities." MacGillis reports that Bush has close ties with Jonathan Hage, former Heritage Foundation staffer, who started Charter Schools USA and helped Bush open Liberty City Charter School.
For-profit charters now spend half a million dollars a year on lobbying, and they contribute heavily to political campaigns. Charter Schools USA alone gave more than two hundred thousand dollars to candidates for state office in the 2012 elections.