Special Needs Action Alert: Keep Pay For Success Out of ESEA

imageFrom Bev Johns:

MESSAGE: Oppose and remove the Goldman Sachs Pay for Success parts of S. 1177 in Conference Committee – Do NOT allow the use of Federal funds to pay Goldman Sachs for each child NOT identified for special education (as is happening in Utah and in Chicago with State and local funding).
Pay for Success does not belong in ESEA.  Using Pay for Success, Utah is keeping over 99 percent of students out of special education, violating the Federal special education law, IDEA.

Members of the Conference Committee (which meets today, Thursday):

U.S. SENATORS (contact Alexander and Murray and your Senator)
Lamar Alexander (R) Tennessee, Chair, Senate Education (HELP) Committee
Patty Murray (D) Washington, top Democrat, HELP Committee
Mike Enzi (R) Wyoming
Richard Burr (R) North Carolina
Johnny Isakson (R) Georgia
Rand Paul (R) Kentucky
Susan Collins (R) Maine
Lisa Murkowski (R) Alaska
Mark Kirk (R) Illinois
Tim Scott (R) South Carolina
Orrin Hatch (R) Utah
Pat Roberts (R) Kansas
Bill Cassidy (R) Louisiana
Barbara Mikulski (D) Maryland
Bernie Sanders (I) Vermont
Bob Casey, Jr. (D) Pennsylvania
Al Franken (D) Minnesota
Michael Bennett (D) Colorado
Sheldon Whitehouse (D) Rhode Island
Tammy Baldwin (D) Wisconsin
Chris Murphy (D) Connecticut
Elizabeth Warren (D) Massachusetts

U.S. REPRESENTATIVES (contact Kline and Scott and your Rep.)
John Kline (R) Minnesota, Chair House Education Committee
Bobby Scott (D) Virginia, top Democrat, House Education Committee
Virginia Foxx (R) North Carolina
Dr. Phil Roe (R) Tennessee
Glenn Thompson (R) Pennsylvania
Brett Guthrie (R) Kentucky
Todd Rokita (R) Indiana
Glenn Grothman (R) Wisconsin
Carlos Curbelo (R) Florida
Luke Messer (R) Indiana
Steve Russell (R) Oklahoma
Marcia Fudge (D) Ohio
Susan Davis (D) California
Jared Polis (D) Colorado
Frederica Wilson (D) Florida
Suzanne Bonamic (D) Oregon
Katherine Clark (D) Massachusetts

There are two (2) problems in Utah: (1) increased payments of public funds to Goldman Sachs each year over many years because Utah identified too many
students as at risk of being identified for special ed, and (2) Utah violating IDEA by identifying less than 1 percent of students in Pay for Success as needing special education.

As the New York Times stated –
The program’s unusual success — and the payments to Goldman that were in direct proportion to that success — were based on what researchers say was a faulty assumption that many of the children in the program would have needed special education without the preschool, despite there being little evidence or previous research to indicate that this was the case.

“We’re all happy if Goldman Sachs makes money as long as they are making it with smart investments that make a real difference,” said Clive Belfield, an economics professor at Queens College in New York, who studies early childhood education.

“Here they seem to have either performed a miracle, or these kids weren’t in line for special education in the first place.”


On Tuesday, November 17, 2015, the U.S. House voted to go to Conference Committee with the U.S. Senate on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA – which used to be called No Child Left Behind) to write a final version of the legislation.

On October 28, 2015, a majority of the 15 Statewide associations
that are Members of ISELA, the Illinois Special Education Coalition, voted to oppose the inclusion in ESEA of Pay for Success as a possible use of Federal funds authorized under ESEA.

In Chicago and in Utah, Pay for Success pays investors Goldman Sachs and the Pritzker Family for each child NOT identified as needing special education. Utah claims a 99% success rate.
This program creates a disincentive for schools to identify students that need specialized and individualized education. It is a violation of the Federal special education law, IDEA, that mandates schools identify all students in need of special education.

Pay for Success funding is more like a high interest (to 100% or more) loan than a bond.
Through this program private investors are paid EACH YEAR if students are not identified as needing special education. It commits school funds to paying private investors for NOT having to provide special education services in the future.
The annual pay back to investors (escrow payments as well as yearly payments for each student not identified as needing special education services) is exorbitant. As structured in Chicago and Utah, investors would make money, possibly doubling their investment in Pay for Success, forcing schools to use an increasingly large percentage of future local, State and Federal money it receives to provide services to do just the opposite, NOT provide services to students.
There are no objective ways of determining which students may be in need of special education in the future and thus eligible to participate in Pay for Success.

What can YOU do?
(1) Share this email. Most people are not aware of Pay for Success.
Most people (even in D.C.) are not aware Pay for Success is in both
the House and Senate ESEA bills, and will be in the FINAL ESEA
bill unless a determined effort is made to remove it.
(2) Contact any National organization to which you belong.
Ask them what they are doing about Pay for Success in ESEA.
Ask them if they know what is happening in Utah and in Chicago
on paying investors in Pay for Success for each child NOT identified
for special education.
Ask them is they are aware that Utah claims it is stopping 99 percent
of children at risk of being identified as needing special education
from actually entering special education.
(3) Call U.S. Senators from Illinois Richard Durbin ( 202.224.2152 )
and Mark Kirk ( 202-224-2854 ) and your U.S. Representative.
Ask them to help you get Pay for Success removed from ESEA
in the Conference Committee on S. 1177.
Urge Mark Kirk, as a Member of the Conference Committee, to
make a motion to REMOVE Pay for Success from S. 1177.
(4) Share this message with friends/relatives in other States.

Bev Johns


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