Dec 23, 2012
Andre Agassi was a great tennis star and continues to be a celebrity. Lately, he is an education investor.
Agassi may have good intentions. He may be trying to help a distressed and poverty riddled community in Las Vegas. Philanthropy and schools mixed with a dash of banker on the side. It’s likely that his charter activities are making himself and his friends rich.
Agassi provides up-front money. He uses his connections to fund raise. And he has managed to create a template for charters. In fact, he is joining other sports heroes in the charter school reform movement (Magic Johnson and Deion Sanders).
Agassi has been so “successful” — he is attracting big money investors to expand his charter creating operation.
Former tennis star Andre Agassi has joined with Los Angeles bankers to create an unusual for-profit investment fund for construction of as much as $750 million worth of charter schools in urban communities across the country.
The goal of the fund is to develop 75 schools serving 40,000 students over the next three or four years while earning a financial return for investors, which include Citigroup Inc. and Intel Corp.
So what makes Andre Agassi the tennis star and investor bankers and real-estate brokers experts in education? Good question. Just ask them – they will tell you.
Charter schools have become a new investment fad.
Agassi is opening charters in Arizona.
Agassi is opening charters in Texas.
Agassi is opening charters in Wisconsin.
Agassi is opening charters in Philadelphia, Baltimore, the District of Columbia and markets in New Jersey and Tennessee.
Agassi, who operates an award-winning charter school in a poor area of Las Vegas, has long been a champion of charter school education.
Turner said the fund is designed to offer traditional investors a return on social projects that are normally associated with either public finance or philanthropy. “It’s a double bottom line,” said Turner, who is on the board of Pacific Charter School Development, a nonprofit developer of charter schools.
The Canyon-Agassi fund will use investors’ money to build schools and lease them to charter organizations, which will later have an option to buy the buildings through low-interest, tax-exempt loans once the school becomes stabilized.
Agassi is partnering up with some big money investors.
They have a great business model right? Out of the goodness of their investing hearts – they are going to build more charters?
And Agassi Prep is AWARD WINNING! Wow! Questionable but wow!
Sure wish that meant a great education for the students who attend Agassi Prep. It’s nice to have a lot of shiny medals to look at! School teachers everywhere should cheer for the great champion – a tennis star! The super star has come with his rich and powerful friends to save the impoverished students. Errrrrrr . . . . right?
In fact, Agassi’s community centers, libraries, and schools did vastly improve a physical area of North Las Vegas that was neglected. Politicians far and wide have visited the school and embraced the star power of Agassi and basked in the glow of the beautiful buildings. Hooray! The power of charters has improved this part of town. And the district was only too happy to allow Agassi to try. The school board loves to re-establish the contract annually pronto, pronto, pronto.
UNFORTUNATELY – Andrew Agassi Prep has FAILED in important ways year after year.
The teaching staff has been replaced nearly in totality every year. Recently, great teachers have not even lasted through the contracted year. Turnover was almost complete for the last two years. Following scandal after scandal.
Tanaka was with the school for three years. Then the veteran educator decided to retire, again. He was followed by Kim Allen. Her tenure was fraught with high staff turnover and problems with regulators, who cited the school for having too many unlicensed teachers. Tensions with parents boiled over in heated board meetings.
Brian Thomas replaced Allen in 2004. He was followed by Jerome Meyers, who was replaced by Marsha Irvin, who came to Agassi Prep from the Clark County School District in 2008. They had different titles — executive director, CEO, chancellor — but all of them had the same job: to guide the school as it grew from three grades to 13.
According to former teachers, the frequent changes in administration led to staff turnover.
The people in this article are still working at Agassi? No.
That has been the school’s downfall. No staff retention. Great administrators with decades of professional experience don’t last long there. Every year new names appear for Agassi staff and administration.
Agassi’s schools have burned out and turned away the best and brightest.
The students have had a questionable education at best – tainted with cheating scandal education at worst.
Agassi’s charter claims to send all it’s graduates to college? Wow! Not true – but you can claim whatever you want right?
The Foundation for Education sends funding to Agassi Prep, which has sent every one of its graduates for the past three years to college. The school is located in an “at-risk neighborhood in the urban core of Las Vegas,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Claims like that can get your rich friends to donate right?
Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, the former owner of MGM studios, is donating $18 million to the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, Agassi announced over the weekend.
$18 million. Wow those lucky teachers!
WAIT. . . hmmmm teachers in the classroom report they don’t have the technology they were promised, they don’t have the support that is required, and they did NOT get what they were promised. I guess that is why teachers at Agassi Prep always quit.
Business model right? Labor is a number. Teachers can be hired. Students are data.
Hmmmmm. . . how is that working out for students?
Teachers do work a longer day, can drink beer when they bowl at staff development, and have less vacation time. That is better for kids right?
Some have already started to cry PONZI scheme?
That would be something right? No authentic education for at-risk students, but a great investment? Selling out the impoverished communities that they are purporting to invest in?
At the very least – the investment is just that – an investment. Not in the community or kids, but with real estate.
FUNDS LIKE Canyon-Agassi are promoted with language that passes them off as some kind of socially responsible investment. But at the end of the day, their goal is to generate returns for their investors–nothing more.
The money behind this venture–Canyon Capital Realty Advisors–has a long history of funding commercial real estate ventures in the guise of economic development. For example, Canyon has been a long-time partner to Magic Johnson and has made a mint helping the former NBA star build Starbucks, movie theaters, restaurants, banks and urban malls across the nation.
And now the infamous Teach for America – has placed the best and brightest (not trained teachers, but smart Ivy League kids willing to work in at-risk schools for a couple of years) inside Agassi walls to replace all the rejected, abused, or fired staff from last year. It’s difficult to find staff willing the work there.
Never fear! Agassi is expanding to include MORE children to allow MORE of the waiting list to enter the Vegas charter. Not only that, he’s bringing his failed formula from Vegas and spreading it national. And power and big money is backing him every step of the way.
It’s all part of the plan.
The experiment has gone awry – because the business model does NOT lead to better education.
What’s happening in Vegas – is not staying in Vegas.