Another attempt to publicly fund a private school

A little bird flew in the window this morning bearing news of the application for a new charter school here in Chapel Hill/Carrboro.  I found that interesting because when I was education chair for the local NAACP the idea was kicked around and found to have many holes in it. For me the expense and building of infrastructure was too great.  This district, although it is failing the majority of the children of color, has a fantastic infrastructure and curriculum that, if improved upon, will do well for all students.

Recently, I and a group of parents from Chapel Hill and Carrboro met with the new school superintendent, Dr. Forcella. As a result I intend to work with him as opposed to funneling money away from the district as a charter school would do, if the application is approved.

So, as what should be normally done when faced with something unexpected, follow the money.  In this case it started with an article from I read yesterday discussing the "pilot" programs in Florida centering around the privatization of education.

How Online Learning Companies Bought America's Schools
Florida "reformers", after suffering political setbacks, strategized and attacked again on multiple fronts. You can read of their strategies in the above article. 

The cover of the application reads:

The Howard & Lillian Lee Scholars Charter School
Application for a charter school to open in fall 2012
Submitted to:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Office of Charter School
Submitted by:
Angela Lee, James Farrar, Danita Mason-Hogans, Damien Fields, Stephanie Perry, and Jeanne Kirschner
November 10, 2011



It is proposed that this charter school will address the achievement gap and overcrowding in the CHCCS by building the school near the Rogers/Eubanks community. Both issues would be addressed by the new superintendent and the building of the new elementary school.  As stated to Dr. Forcella every day we delay is a day that more students fall through the cracks.  While we don't intend on waiting 19 years we do have to give him a chance.

So, back to following the money. In our research the Howard & Lillian Lee Scholars Charter School will be backed by the for profit National Heritage Academies. Google the names J.C. Huizenga and H. Wayne Huizenga - a cousin. 

Per the contract with NHA it provides all the details and logistical support necessary to start the school — facility, real estate, marketing, hiring, teacher recruitment, human resources — in addition to teacher professional development and the entire school program. 

It also commits financial resources to the successful start-up of the school. Under the Services Agreement, to the extent start-up funds are not available, NHA will provide funds for (i) the development of curriculum, a technology system and a school operations plan; (ii) recruiting, selecting and training of staff members; and (iii) constructing and equipping the school facility. In addition, NHA may make contributions to the school in the event school expenses exceed revenues. NHA contributions, if any, will be in amounts acceptable to NHA and the Board and will be included in the budget. The school will not be legally obligated to repay NHA for NHA contributions.

So, there goes my argument about the heavy cost of infrastructure.  On the surface it seems too good to be true. But the devil is always in the details.  One complaint against NHA is that they pay their teachers low wages with longer work days.  You will have to have the heart and stomach to read more as what stands out to me is too much to print.

The application can be located by Googling "charter school angela lee pdf". I was not able to obtain the link. But you can try this. 


On page 48 of the contract: 

We were introduced to National Heritage Academies by respected friends. Ms. Lee and Ms. Mason- Hogans were introduced to NHA via Howard Lee, who had come to know NHA from his tenure as Chairnan of the North Carolina State Board of Education. Ms. Perry and Ms. Kirschner were introduced through mutual friends and colleagues. Mr. Farrar and Pastor Fields were introduced through Ms. Perry.

Ms. Lee, as lead applicant, reviewed information about Creative School Development (CSD) and Mosaica — two organizations involved with schools in North Carolina.

  • We chose to work with NHA for several reasons:
  • Its experience working with public charter schools in North Carolina.
  • Its willingness to address the education needs of underserved children.
  • The comprehensive nature of its school program, including academics as well as school culture and moral focus as a way to educate the whole child.
  • The financial resources and experience it brings to the equation — i.e., facilities, real estate, start-up capital as a contribution and not a loan, and its willingness to accept the financial risk.
Moral focus was the term used by NHA to get christian based schools funded by public dollars.  This may be a stretch but I can lay bets that gay and lesbian students will NOT be allowed to attend this school.

Pay attention to page 52, as well.

Here are the links that tells some of the story:


I am concerned by the strategy of dismantling of our public schools for the profit of the few. The gains that I see the NHA has made in their charter schools are no better than what was obtained at Estes Elementary School in 3 years under thoughtful and determined leadership. A closing of the achievement gap by 30%. Estes Elementary is now a School of Excellence.

What's most egregious and ironic is the fact that the money behind the charter school comes from the same family that was instrumental in having landfills placed in communities of color.  Now they want to profit on the demise of public education on the backs of Blacks and Latinos.  If this was a neighborhood it would be called gentrification. 



"Moral focus was the term used by NHA to get christian based schools funded by public dollars.  This may be a stretch but I can lay bets that gay and lesbian students will NOT be allowed to attend this school."

I am also reminded of how conservative legislators, many funded by Art Pope in the 2010 election cycle, don't seem to be big fans of funding education.  But while with one hand making schools needy, they are with the other hand offering their private funds to help out which is hard not to see as coming with strings attached.  A more cynical person might see such efforts as a ploy to make schools dependent and grateful to the very people who are stripping their resources.

"Staunch opposition from students and alumni helped quash a proposal last week to bring a constitutional law center to the N.C. Central University law school. The project—controversial because of its ties to wealthy Republican strategist Art Pope—had been pitched to the law school by Bob Orr, a former state Supreme Court associate justice and director for the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law (NCICL). After scrutiny by the media, school officials, students and alumni, Orr pulled the proposal—a day before faculty was scheduled to meet on the matter."..."Among Pope's accomplishments: supporting the members of the Wake County school board who eliminated its diversity policy; sitting on the board of Americans for Prosperity, which is credited with sowing the tea party movement in several states, including North Carolina; and spending millions of dollars to help elect Republican legislative candidates. Many of those elected candidates worked this year to restrict abortion and advance a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage in North Carolina."

J.C. Huizenga was not a household name to me.  However, a cursory glance at the Muckety link outlines his role as founder of NHA, and his service as a Director of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty (  In trying to get familiar with Acton, I browsed their recent press releases, including one exploring how god works in culture, which began "There is not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: 'Mine!'".  Acton's 2010 Form 990 tax return describes the expenditure of just over $2mil on education programs, including the sponsorship of "domestic student conferences for future religious leaders and other shapers of the moral culture".  There's that term again.I also learned that Acton counts the Charles B. Koch Foundation as a funder.  Since the Schedule B  of the Form 990 isn't a public document, it's unclear to what degree the Koch Foundation funds Acton, but it's probably safe to assume the organizations are fond of one another.Returning to J.C. Huizenga, it's interesting (although not surprising) to learn that he is a supporter of All Children Matter, a 527 that raises money to support the campaigns of pro-voucher candidates.  Some interesting reading here: to say that I share PACT's concerns about the dismantling of public schools for the profit of the few, and I'm alarmed by what I've learned so far about NHA.  I don't want to rush to judgement about the Lee Scholars Charter School, and I recognize that governance structures are presumably in place to prevent the usage of DPI funds for the promotion of a religious or political agenda.  However, as a parent I would appreciate the opportunity to learn more about why the Lee Scholars Charter School Board selected NHA to serve as the management for the new school, and why NHA is to be entrusted with "the entire school program".  Kudos to PACT for sending out this information.

The above trail is one that we missed. I'm glad it was pointed out. The Koch brothers have been pretty busy this past summer and I have great concerns about their agenda; specially where labor is concerned.

This is also interesting information that was researched and forwarded to me.  It seems that NHA does no better than CHCCS, if not worse in some instances, and in our own state.  

 Data for the charter schools this CMO runs in NC today.  Proficiency rates:

 WhiteBlack Hisp

Again, to get no better service for those who need it most while siphoning money from our school district is not the way to go about resolving the achievement gap.   

 It would only make matters worse.

~ kvn

Motivated by doing what is right for children!


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