WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 21-28, 2014)

September 29th, 2014

Hauser Institute for Civil Society, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard University

The nonprofit sector — the universe of associations, civil society, philanthropy, and voluntary action — is the most rapidly growing and changing organizational domain in the world.

Once considered an adjunct of government, over the past half century nonprofits have taken on many of the tasks of government and play key roles in the process of public governance, not only as sources of policy and vehicles for advocacy and political mobilization, but also as providers of a wide range of public services.

Because nonprofits operate in virtually every industry and in many jurisdictions — global, national, state, and local –, it is extraordinarily difficult to track significant the emerging issues and trends that affect them. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that press coverage of nonprofits is fragmentary and often shallow and because scholarship is highly specialized and balkanized.

Through weekly global surveys of major newspapers, periodicals, broadcast media, and on-line news sources, this blog brings to readers’ attention important stories and will, through commentaries, link those news accounts to pertinent scholarship in order to offer in-depth understanding of important emerging issues and trends. The blog will also take note of scholarly books and articles of potential significance to practitioners, policy makers, and other thoughtful readers.

Using Nonprofit News & Comment

Blog entries appear as “Weekly News Summaries” — compilations of news article headlines. Each entry includes a link to the original source and the full text of the story. Because of the on-going monetization of on-line newspapers and other media, full texts may not be available for all stories.

Stories relating to the United States are organized topically by type of organization or activity. International stories are organized by country and, in certain instances, by topic (such as “Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal” and “Sustainable Development”). All stories are archived by topic and date.

Contact Us

Comments or questions about Nonprofit News & Comment should be directed to Peter Dobkin Hall, Senior Research Fellow, Hauser Institute for Civil Society, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard University.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 21-28, 2014)

September 29th, 2014


Why Don’t We Have Real Data on Charter Schools? Charters were supposed to be laboratories for innovation. Instead, they are stunningly opaque.” By Pedro Noguera. Nation. September 24, 2014. In several cities throughout the country, there is a fierce conflict raging over the direction of education reform. At the center of this increasingly acrimonious debate is the question of whether or not charter schools—publicly funded schools that operate outside the rules (and often the control) of traditional public-school systems—should be allowed to proliferate. Given their steady growth (from no more than a handful twenty years ago to over 6,000 today), charter schools and their advocates appear to have the upper hand. A new bipartisan bill—the Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act, sponsored by Republican senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Democratic senators Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Michael Bennet of Colorado—would provide new funds to launch, replicate and expand charter schools nationwide. The concept of the charter school was originally developed in 1974 by Ray Budde, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, who envisioned it as a way to bring innovation to schools by freeing them from the regulations that frequently limit and constrain traditional public schools. The idea was later embraced by American Federation of Teachers president Albert Shanker, who felt, like Budde, that there was a need for schools that could operate with greater flexibility and could serve as a laboratory for innovations that would then be applied to public schools. In 1991, Minnesota became the first state to adopt a charter-school law. Today, forty-two states and the District of Columbia have laws providing for the operation of charter schools. The vast majority of charter schools are located in large cities, and their numbers are growing rapidly. However, instead of collaborating with public schools as envisioned by Shanker, charter schools have become the centerpiece of a market-based reform strategy that places greater emphasis on competition. Advocates of charter schools frequently make the argument that by providing parents with “choice,” the educational system—public schools and charter schools alike—will be forced to improve through greater accountability. As the New York City Department of Education has insisted, charter schools “offer an important opportunity to promote educational innovation and excellence [and] bring new leaders, resources, and ideas into public education.” Michelle Rhee, the former Washington, DC, schools chancellor (and ex-CEO of StudentsFirst, a market-based school-reform organization), seemingly agrees, stating that “accountability has to sit everywhere in the system. The children have to be held accountable for what they’re doing every day; the parents, teachers, school administrators, all the way up.” Education Secretary Arne Duncan, supportive of many charter-school initiatives, has spoken on how we “need to be willing to hold low-performing charters accountable.” The problem here is that charter schools are frequently not accountable. Indeed, they are stunningly opaque, more black boxes than transparent laboratories for education. According to a 2013 study by the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes at Stanford University, only 29 percent of charter schools outperformed public schools with similar students in math, while 31 percent performed worse. Most charter schools, in fact, obtained results that were no better than traditional public schools. So what was that 29 percent doing right? And what went so wrong with the failing 31 percent? There are a few reasons why it’s nearly impossible to find out. . . . Transparency will not put an end to charter schools or eliminate the threat they pose to traditional public education. However, we could begin to address these inequities by fostering a level of public accountability that currently does not exist. Moreover, if charter schools are to serve as the engines of innovation envisioned by their earliest advocates, we must also determine whether the ones that obtain the best results do so because of truly novel and innovative approaches to teaching and learning, or simply because they have more money and fewer disadvantaged students. Finally, if it is true that some charter schools have genuinely found more effective ways to serve children, then they should be encouraged to collaborate—rather than compete—with traditional public schools. Despite the considerable momentum that charter schools have gained in terms of growth, it is important to keep in mind that around 85 percent of American children attend traditional public schools. In most parts of the country, these schools continue to be our most accessible and stable institutions—a vital part of the social safety net for poor children, whose numbers have grown dramatically since the 2008 recession. Charter schools, on the other hand, were never intended to serve all children. So if the charter-school movement is going to serve as a means of revitalizing—not undermining—public education, greater transparency and collaboration with public schools must be required.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 21-28, 2014)

September 29th, 2014


Will Occupy end up having a bigger impact than the tea party on real people’s lives?” Daily Kos. By September 22, 2014.

Black University Student Leaders Form New Coalition For Racial Equality.” By Jessica Dickerson. Huffington Post. September 23, 2014.

Democrats relying on big donors to win.” By Kenneth P. Vogel. Politico.com. September 23, 2014.

Why the Billionaires Got Bupkus; Our so-called elites wanted immigration reform, fiscal discipline and better schools. They got nothing.” By Michael Lind. Politico.com. September 23, 2014.

Walmart goes too far in pushing PAC donations, groups say.” By Laura Clawson. Daily Kos. September 23, 2014.

Action and dysfunction in the Beltway swamp. How the Koch Network Exploited the Veterans Affairs Crisis.” By George Zornick. Nation. September 24, 2014.

ALEC sees more losses as Facebook and Yelp jump ship, too.” By Brian Fung. Washington Post. September 25, 2014.

Politics, media and the politics of medi; Hardest-Hitting Anti-Koch Ad Ever.” By Leslie Savan. Nation. September 25, 2014.

Republicans Rally Base at Values Summit.” New York Times. September 26, 2014.

Top Billionaire Campaign Donors Favor Republicans In 2014.” By Paul Blumenthal. Huffington Post. September 27, 2014.

Ted Cruz and Rand Paul Make Appeals to Social Conservatives.” By Jeremy W. Peters. New York Times. September 27, 2014.
Related stories
Sen. Ted Cruz captivates Values Voter Summit.” By Katie Glueck. Politico.com. Septemb
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz wins Values Voter straw poll.” By Jane C. Timm. MSNBC. September 28, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 21-28, 2014)

September 29th, 2014


NY Culture: The Met Set to Cut Millions; Peter Gelb Looks to Trim $11.25 Million From Budget.” By Jennifer Maloney. Wall Street Journal. September 22, 2014.

Protesters: Opera Is ‘Anti-Semitic’; More Than 1,000 Protest the Met’s Production of ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’.” By Jennifer Maloney. Wall Street Journal September 23, 2014.
Related story:
At Met’s Opening Night, Protesting a Production.” New York Times. September 2, 2014.

The Facts of Oklahoma City: The clear focus of the exhibits is on the victims and the aftermath.” By Mark Yost. Wall Street Journal. September 23, 2014.

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Cancels Concerts.” By Allan Kozinn. New York Times. September 23, 2014.
Related story:
The Atlanta Symphony Lockout Continues, Musicians Picket On Peachtree Street.” By Adam Ragusea. Weekend Edition Sunday/National Public Radio. September 28, 2014.

What’s next for San Jose Rep’s theater?” By Karen D’Souza. San Jose Mercury-News. September 23, 2014,

The Case of the Satanic Philanthropist.” By Terry Teachout. Wall Street Journal. September 26, 2014.

Natural History museum gets $5M for teachers; The money from the federal grant goes to the American Museum of Natural History’s Masters of Arts in Teaching program.” Crain’s New York Business/Associated Press. September 26, 2014.

Stanford Opens a Museum Highlighting American Art; The Anderson Collection, the university’s new museum, focuses on American art; An interview with the collectors.” By Alexandra Wolfe. Wall Street Journal. September 26, 2014.

“‘An empty tomb’: Former Corcoran staffers hold ‘funeral’ for museum staircase of the 19th century Corcoran Gallery of art building.” By Maura Judkis. Washington Post. September 28, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 21-28, 2014)

September 29th, 2014


Why Don’t We Have Real Data on Charter Schools? Charters were supposed to be laboratories for innovation. Instead, they are stunningly opaque.” By Pedro Noguera. Nation. September 24, 2014.

The Secret to Eva Moskowitz’s ‘Success’; Her charter schools get outstanding performance reports—which leave out some salient facts.” By Diane Ravitch. Nation. September 24, 2014.

Former director of Marlborough charter school resigns.” By Jennifer Fenn Lefferts. Boston Globe. September 28, 2014.


Feds sue for-profit college network of predatory lending, phony career services.” By Russ Van Arsdale. Bangor Daiy News. September 22, 2014.

The investment in for-profit colleges isn’t paying off.” .Opinion. By Catherine Rampell. Washington Post. September 26, 2014.

Venture Capitalists Are Poised to ‘Disrupt’ Everything About the Education Market; Venture capitalists and for-profit firms are salivating over the exploding $788.7 billion market in K-12 education. What does this mean for public school students?” By Lee Fang. Nation. September 27, 2014


Yale-NUS changes course on banned film.” By Lavinia Borzi and Matthew Lloyd-Thomas. Yale Daily News. September 22, 2014.

A Globalizer for N.Y.U. in Abu Dhabi.” By Ben Sisario. New York Times. September 22, 2014.

Ed School Aims for $250 Million in Campaign.” By Matthew Q. Clarida and Zara Zhang. Harvard Crimson. September 22, 2014.

In Heated Discussion, ‘Excellent Sheep’ Author Fields Criticism from Faculty, Students.” By Alexander H. Patelan. Harvard Crimson. September 23, 2014.

Faculty Deanship To Be Renamed Following Gift; Change in Name to University’s Highest-Profile Deanship Sets Precedent.” By Dev A. Patel. Harvard Crimson. September 23, 2014.

Outside Board to Guide UCLA on Research Deals; The Non-Profit Will Help Find Funding, Commercial Applications for Its Research.” By Erica E. Phillips. Wall Street Journal. September 24, 2014.

Endowment Grows to $36.4B with 15.4 Percent Return.” By Christine Y. Cahill and Matthew Q. Clarida. Harvard Crimson. September 24, 2014.

Stanford Promises Not to Use Google Money for Privacy Research; Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society has long received funding from Google, but a filing shows the university recently pledged to only use the money for non-privacy research. Academics say such promises are problematic.” By Julia Angwin and Robert Faturechi. ProPublica.com. September 24, 2014.

People to Watch in Higher Education.” Crain’s New York Business. September 24, 2014.

Yale endowment rises to all-time high.” By Adrian Rodrigues. Yale Daily News. September 25, 2014.

Manhattan Country School Gets Flak Over Growth Plan; Critics Say Changes Put Mission at Risk.” By Sophia Hollander. Wall Street Journal. September 25, 2014.

Harvard Names Investment Chief as Yale Reports 20% Return.” By Geraldine Fabrikant. New York Times. September 25, 2014.

UCLA launches effort to bolster inventions and revenues; The medical center at UCLA may be a source of new discoveries and research patents for the campus.” By Larry Gordon. Los Angeles Times. September 25, 2014.

Graying activists return to Berkeley to mark ’64 free speech protests..” By Dave Getzschman. Los Angeles Times. September 27, 2014.

Gordon College faculty dissent not new; Concerns predate hiring flap.” By Matt Rocheleau. Boston Globe. September 28, 2014.


NY Schools: Private-School Testing Jitters; New iPad Tests Add Another Level of Anxiety for Those Looking to Secure Coveted Kindergarten Slots.” By Sophia Hollander. Wall Street Journal. September 22, 2014.


Two School Districts Split $1 Million Prize.” New York Times/Associated Press. September 23, 2014.


Why did Bill Gates give $10million to history teacher David Christian?” By Giles Whittell. Times of London (UK). September 22, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 21-28, 2014)

September 29th, 2014


Five myths about billionaires.” Opinion. By Darrell M. West. Washington Post. September 28, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 21-28, 2014)

September 29th, 2014


Big Oil’s heirs join call for action as climate summit opens.” Washington Post. September 22, 2014.
Related stories:
Rockefellers, Heirs to an Oil Fortune, Will Divest Charity From Fossil Fuels.” New York Times. September 22, 2014.
Climate change fears spur divestment on fossil fuel; Demonstrators march in New York to support measures combating climate change ahead of a special United Nations summit.” Los Angeles Times. September 22, 2014/
Rockefeller Brothers Fund Forsakes Its Legacy.” Morning Edition/National Public Radio. September 22, 2014.
Rockefellers go green: Rockefeller foundation divests funds in fossil fuel industries; American oil dynasty to pull all investment in fossil fuel industries on eve of global climate change summit, placing it as an unlikely champion of the push towards alternative energy sources.” Independent (UK). September 23, 2014.
Rockefeller family divesting $50 billion from fossil fuel investments.” Daily Kos. September 23, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 21-28, 2014)

September 29th, 2014


Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk draws thousands to fight cancer; Jimmy Fund event expected to raise $7.5m.” By Alyssa Edes. Boston Globe. September 22, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 21-28, 2014)

September 29th, 2014


Portland’s homeless receive thousands of meals, free clothing at annual Union Gospel Mission event; Lines stretched around the block for two hours before Operation Overcoat, a street fair where Portland’s homeless can get free food.” By Luke Hammill. Oregonian. September 28, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 21-28, 2014)

September 29th, 2014


Why is Thomas Piketty’s 700-page book a bestseller? Thomas Piketty is a French economist whose Capital in the Twenty-First Century has swept American discourse. Four experts – Brad DeLong, Tyler Cowen, Stephanie Kelton and Emanuel Derman – take on why that is; Is it all just a question of right book right time?” By Heidi Moore. Guardian (UK). September 22, 2014.

The Mysteries of Inequality Are Only Mysterious to Elites.” By Dean Baker. Huffington Post. September 23, 2014.