What’s that smell? A defense of Pay for Success from the White House.

pay for success

White House Director of Social Innovation, David Wilkinson and Department of Education Secretary of Policy and Early Learning, Libby Doggett.

When the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was recently reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), it contained federal approval of Pay for Success.

We have written about Pay for Success here frequently, although it has gone unspoken by both AFT and NEA leadership, even as they swooned in fandom over ESSA.

Pay for Success is a social impact bond (SIB) that pays Wall Street investors like Goldman Sachs a bounty for every child that does not receive special education support.

Pay for Success is nothing less than a push-out program that then pays the bond investor a bonus for every child that is pushed out of special ed services.

And in an op-ed piece in The Salt Lake Tribune, Department of Education and White House officials praise Pay for Success as the second coming.

Libby Doggett is deputy assistant secretary of Policy and Early Learning in the U.S. Department of Education. David Wilkinson is director of the White House Office of Social Innovation.

Why Utah? Because it is in Utah that Pay for Success has denied special education services to 99 out of 100 identified pre-schoolers. But it is also being used in Chicago Public Schools pre-K programs.

Write Dogget and Wilkinson:

Because of Utah’s project, thousands of children have been and will be enrolled in public and nonprofit preschool programs. The agreement is that the state will repay the investors for success in preventing these children from needing special education services after preschool, which would both improve lives and save the state money. In the first group of students (which didn’t include children already in special education), only one at-risk child now qualifies for special education after preschool.

Says Illinois’ leading special education advocate, Bev Johns:

“In my opinion this is a new low for USDOE. Uncritically mentioning that only one student in the PFS group was identified for special education, justifying these absurd results by stating it will be a bumpy road, completely failing to stress that only very high quality pre-school produces results – failing to point to the very substantial questions about the quality of PFS in Utah, not stating that Goldman Sachs has ALREADY BEEN PAID over $260,000 as its first payment, and by saying USDOE is excited by Pay for Success in ESSA is irresponsible.”

11 thoughts on “What’s that smell? A defense of Pay for Success from the White House.

  1. My husband is a retired CPS school psychologist. Much of his time was spent on staffings where kids were placed in appropriate special Ed programs. I image the Psychologists who remain will be defending their professional opinions that a child belongs in special Ed. Image the lawsuits to follow if kids are denied due process.

  2. My readings about the program suggested that, based on flawed criteria, many children were identified as possibly needing special education. The criteria could have included limited language ability, when the real situation was that the primary language at home, for the very young children, was not English.
    Anyway, this high number of children are given some type of intervention. (Remember, many of this group probably would not have needed special education anyway.) And for each child who does not go on to special education, Goldman Sachs gets money.
    My guess is that Goldman Sachs will contract out the intervention on the cheap and just collect the money. The AFT touted this program on its website before this bill was passed.http://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/communityschools-awards2015_0.pdf

  3. Everyone please understand that “Pay for Success” will require an obscene about of data tracking of individual students. The rate of return paid to outside investors using this model depends on analysis by a third party of how “successful” the program was. The type of “success” they are looking for will data-driven and will demand large amounts of “evidence-based” research, which will essentially turn each child enrolled in these programs into a mind-bogglingly large set of data points.

    Some outcomes, for example the rate of return on early literacy programs, might require tracking a child all the way through high school into higher ed and their employment status. Think about it. This is VERY scary.

    Right now the United Way of Salt Lake City is leading a Community School’s program called “Promise Partners.” This is in addition to the “Pay for Success” pre-k program, but they are related. The United Way has a campaign to encourage parents waive their child’s FERPA rights until that child is 18, so that anyone listed as a Promise Promise partner can share any information, data, or educational records without limit. There is no discussion of how data will be secured or what will happen to this data once the child leaves the program. Promise Partners include the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, behavioral health providers, and many others.

    Read the waiver here: http://www.uw.org/about-us/accountability/data-accountability/ferpa-2014-kearns-jr-_english.pdf

    More information about the United Way’s involvement in the Salt Lake Community School’s Initiative and the pre-k program can be found here: http://www.communityschools.org/assets/1/AssetManager/UWSaltLake2015Awardee.pdf

  4. It’s amusing how there was a reluctance to identify students that needed special education services, thru IDEA & case study evaluation, because funds were not being allocated to match the identified need. But now we have money to give to Wall Street by identifying potential special ed students and then not giving them services and giving money to Wall Street.

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