Monday, April 20, 2015

Fund Charter Schools, Get Visa, Green Card, Fast Track to Citizenship

We, The Big Money Foreigners Want to Own American Schools

This story is a couple of years old but still a serious topic worth reviewing and tracking. At the same time, I am sure GOP free market, let it all hang out, trickle down zealots love this sort of stuff.

This is subject is both simple and complex: Help fund an American CHARTER school, get a special Visa, then green card and fast track to U.S. citizenship. What a deal.

(Reuters - Oct 12, 2012) - It's been a turbulent period for charter schools in the United States, with financial analysts raising concerns about their stability and regulators in several states shutting down schools for poor performance.

The volatility has made it tough for start up schools to get financing. But an unlikely source of new capital has emerged to fill the gap: foreign investors. Wealthy individuals from as far away as China, Nigeria, Russia and Australia are spending tens of millions of dollars to build classrooms, libraries, basketball courts and science labs for American charter schools.

1.  In Buffalo, NY, foreign funds paid for the Health Sciences Charter School to renovate a 19th-century orphanage into modern classrooms and computer labs.

2.  In Florence, AZ, overseas investment is expected to finance a sixth campus for the booming chain of American Leadership Academy charter schools.

3.  In FL, state business development officials say foreign investment in charter schools is poised to triple next year (that was 2013) to $90 million.

It is now 2015 – I wonder where we stand now?

How this worksChina example (linked from the above story):

In a conference room in an office building in downtown Shanghai, Jason Lee, literally sells the American dream. (BTW: Who is this Jason Lee? Well, on the day that Reuters spoke with Lee in Shanghai for the story, he was selling an investment in an Idaho gold mine that has been closed for decades but which a U.S. business now wants to reopen. Suddenly, Lee reminds me of a modern-day Flim-Flam Man (same title as the 1967 movie) version of Mordecai Jones).

Lee BTW runs Maslink, a firm that connects cash-hungry American businesses with Chinese investors keen to move to the United States. His company is part of a global cottage industry that has popped up in recent years to profit from a program that allows foreigners who invest in certain small U.S. businesses to get on the fast track to U.S. residency and then citizenship.  

Interest in the program, officially known as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor, is so high that Lee’s Maslink, now has offices Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, and Chongqing, and with plans to expand into two more Chinese cities.

Firms like Maslink, and the U.S. companies that pay them, all promote the EB-5 visa as a quick, easy way to gain legal entry to the United States, and naturally: to make a potential profit in the bargain, and their pitch is very effective.

For example, in 2010, nearly 2,000 would-be immigrants, many from China, applied for EB-5 visas, the most ever in a single year, and that is according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) who oversees the program. The surge has been driven in part by a 20-fold increase in the number of U.S. companies looking to participate.

My bottom line: Foreign investments are okay just like U.S. investments abroad are okay, but somehow I want to draw the line regarding their ownership of the American education system. 

That simply does not tickle my fancy as they say. I think Congress should step in shut down this aspect of the program. Why? We ave enough Corporate greed a lot of other areas -- we do not need it in our schools like this. So, stopping it here and now seems to me like a good place to start.

Thanks for stopping by ... leave a note if you want. Certainly pass this along to others of a like mind.

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