Is the Governor trying to give away jobs in Tennessee?

What’s really behind the newly passed charter school bill SB3345/HB3540?

If the Memphis School of Excellence wasn’t being operated by the Cosmos Foundation….

If the Memphis School of Excellence hadn’t been sponsored by the Read Foundation…

If Matt Throckmorton, Director of the Charter School Association had done his due diligence…

If Willie Herenton hadn’t chosen to partner with the Cosmos Foundation on 9 new charter school applications….

If the Cosmos Foundation wasn’t under federal investigation for misuse of public funds and overutilization of the H1B visa program to staff the charter schools it operates….

Then maybe the bill would not have been necessary.

A few as yet unreported facts related to this bill….

No person living overseas has a right to a H1B temporary work visa.  A U.S.  employer must first recruit and offer a job to a person living overseas who may then apply for the visa.

  • Reported by several news outlets in several states that there is a nationwide, federal investigation into charter schools and charter school operators that have high H1B visa utilization
  • Cosmos Foundation is a charter school operator that is part of the investigation
  • Cosmos has ranked #1 consistently among top 100 secondary school education H1B users using public funds to recruit workers from overseas in favor of bypassing qualified U.S. workers
  • Bloomberg Business Week report re: the 200 companies that received most H1B visa approvals in 2007, ranked Cosmos #78 ahead of MIT and Texas Instruments
  • H1B visa reports for Secondary School Education sponsors

2001-2009 Cosmos dba Harmony – #1 – 731 visas

Cosmos Foundation – #10 – 117 visas

2009            Cosmos dba Harmony – #1 – 268 visas

Cosmos Foundation – #6 – 88 visas

2011             Cosmos Foundation – #1 – 147 visas

  • Examples of positions for which Cosmos recruited overseas and obtained H1B visas:

Area Superintendent

5 Assistant Principals

                     English Teacher

                    ESL Teacher (english as a second language)

  • in 2012, a charter school operated by the Sky Foundation in partnership with Cosmos used an H1B visa to fill a “budget analyst” position (were there no U.S. accountants available?)
  • The Cosmos Foundation is connected to the following TN charter schools:

o   Memphis School of Excellence (MSE, opened 2010)

o   Knoxville Charter Academy approved but not open yet

o   9 charter school applications approved by a Memphis/Shelby County committee, submitted by W.E.B. DuBois Consortium

Memphis School of Excellence (MSE) and Cosmos

o   READ Foundation is a management company listed in the charter application for MSE

o   Cosmos is represented as a “partner organization” in the READ Foundation charter application

o   The application describes Cosmos’ role as offering “comprehensive school advisory services to the READ Foundation board and the Memphis School of Excellence”

o   The application further states that Cosmos will “advise and provide services when necessary in…. staff hiring and management trainings including recruiting…”

o   See also, Commercial Appeal 3/6/2010 and 10/3/11 for references of relationship between MSE and Cosmos

  • Co-founder of the Iris Educational Foundation which proposed the Knoxville Charter Academy is also listed as a Director of the READ Foundation which is partnering with Cosmos to operate MSE

Louisiana recently revoked the charter of Abramson charter school and is investigating Kenilworth.  Both schools are operated by the Pelican Foundation which has a support contract with Cosmos

Charter schools in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania all being investigated in part because of high H1B visa utilization.  The Philadelphia LEA charter office is recommending to the School Reform Commission that Truebright Science Academy charter not be renewed.  It is reported that almost 1/3 of the staff at Truebright are working on H1 B visas.

Millenium Education Foundation which operates charter schools in Missouri also partners with Cosmos.  In 2009 it was ranked #23 within the top 100 secondary school education users of H1B visas

Sky Foundation which operates the Dove charter schools in Oklahoma also partners with Cosmos.  Dove ranked as follows within the top 100 secondary school education users of H1B visas – 2009 – #13; 2010 -#12; 2011 – #10

Charter school operators that partner with Cosmos consistently ranked high in 2011 top 100 secondary school education H1B visa use including – Riverwalk Education Foundation, #3; Sky Foundation, #10; Pelican Education Foundation #12

Wherever Cosmos goes, jobs go overseas.

Why would the Governor or any other steward of PUBLIC FUNDS question a bill that would help keep these jobs in Tennessee?

Other states are closing charter schools connected to this same network – why is Matt Throckmorton backing them?