Thursday, October 11, 2012

Invest in a Charter School, Get a Visa!

Miami Today has a story about Chinese investors earning money to invest in Florida's charter schools. In exchange for their investment, they get a visa under the EB-5 investment visa program.

 Investment money is pouring into Florida from wealthy Chinese who find that Florida has exactly what they are looking for — and what they need to secure US green cards. 
   Chinese investors are taking advantage of the EB-5 investment visa program, the so-called "green card via red carpet," by putting millions into Florida's charter schools and an aquaculture farm in Central Florida.  
   Under the EB-5 program, through investments of at least $1 million — or $500,000 for "targeted employment areas" — foreign nationals are able to obtain legal residency in the US so long as the money they invest will help secure or create at least 10 full-time jobs.  
   A group of Chinese investors have put $30 million into the state's charter school program to date and are looking to invest three times that amount in the next year, Ilona Vega Jaramillo, director of international business development for Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development arm, said in a US-China roundtable discussion last week.  
   She would not name any of the investors, citing confidentiality.
You can read the rest of the story here.  

Forget the fact that this seems so ludicrous, though this EB-5 program has been around for a while. However, the bigger question is whether charter schools will still be able to lobby for more state funding when they are receiving lots of extra funds via foreign investment. Well, I am sure they will still lobby for more money, but should the state provide the additional funding? If the amount of money they receive from investors combined with their state funding goes over the FTE amount for traditional public schools, will the state decrease the charter schools' funding by the difference? I doubt it, but it doesn't hurt to ask. 

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