I’m In Your District Stealing Your Tuition: Gateway to Success For-Profit Charter School Announces Open Enrollment

Friday , 12, February 2016 4 Comments


For-profit charter school of the future Gateway To Success Academy announced open enrollment for their program scheduled to begin in the fall of 2016. Gateway is the brain child of former Journey Alternative High School Principal, Jamie Bandstra, and Western Land Services owner John Wilson. Bandstra began working and promoting the project while still principal of the alternative education program, even using public school professional development hours to have soon to be unemployed public school teachers help him study the blueprints of the for-profit charter school they were not guaranteed to be offered jobs to teach at. The location for the enrollment paperwork is at 1100 Conrad Industrial Drive in Ludington. This address is also the location for Western Land Services.

John Wilson has his fingers in many pies in Mason County and surrounding communities. He’s the owner of Western Land Services, an oil royalties company that specializes in helping oil companies lease land for oil and gas drilling. Not only heavily invested into opening Gateway To Success Academy, he helped a for-profit company open a day care in Ludington’s closed South Hamlin elementary school (a building that Journey could have used, but the day care was chosen for the building instead). Wilson is the current head of the West Shore Bank Board. He also in the process of opening through his Pennies From Heaven charity partnered with the United Way the Lakeshore Resources Network, a members-only food pantry and community services center.

John Wilson’s Western Land Services was busy until 2010 leasing mineral rights from Northern Michigan land owners for a company called Northern Michigan Exploration. This was a shell company formed in Michigan by another shell company from Delaware called LA Land Acquisition. LA Land then hired O.I.L. Niagaran, who in turn hired Western Land Services to offer land leases to unsuspecting Michigan residents. Who was behind all of this shell company within a shell company smoke and mirrors? Oil giant Chesapeake Energy of Oklahoma. Wilson’s Western Land was under orders not to disclose which company was really leasing the mineral rights from Michigan property owners, and they would have gotten away with it too if hadn’t been for Chesapeake suddenly voiding all of the leases, which means the landowners expecting promised bonuses were never paid. People promised money and not getting it after they signed the contract tend to get angry and sue. Western Land Services was named with all of the other companies involved in the lawsuit on behalf of the leaseholders.

What is it with these “entrepreneurs” and their need to take over property and convert perfectly good public institutions like schools into for-profit corporations? John Wilson reminds of another man who bought up part of a city, opened charter schools and got caught in a fraudulent business deal while convincing people he was a community builder and philanthropist.

The for-profit charter school will be holding a series of presentations over the next few weeks to convince parents to enroll their children into a new, untried school program based on a for-profit charter school chain in San Diego where parents complain about the remedial classes their kids have to take in college because they didn’t learn the skills they need in high school, and all of the students are required to fill out applications to local community colleges so the school chain can boast ALL of their graduates are accepted into college.

We don’t need another for-profit charter school in Northern Michigan siphoning state funds from our already underfunded public schools. The best thing would be for Gateway To Success to never open, or close after failing to make a profit from our tax dollars.

4 thoughts on “ : I’m In Your District Stealing Your Tuition: Gateway to Success For-Profit Charter School Announces Open Enrollment”
  • Matthew J. Fitch says:

    Did you guys block me on Facebook? Was I posting too much anti-Hillary posts? You guys are the biggest hypocrites on the planet – first you say that your page is for all progressives, yet you have one candidate, Hillary Clinton, that you shamelessly promote! Even though she has been bought out by the banks, the drug industry, big oil, etc. etc. etc. If you knew anything about her record, you would immediately support Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders has integrity that Hillary Clinton can only dream about at night. I hope you guys realize the folly of your ways and let people expose Hillary Clinton for the corporate hack that she really is.

    • Up North Progressive says:

      And this comment is exactly why you’re blocked from the facebook page now. This blog used to list Sanders’ campaign website right next to Hillary Clinton’s. This blog until now never chooses a candidate in a primary election, and fully supports the nominee in the general. The rhetoric from the Bernie Sanders side of this election is full of bigotry, misogyny, and outright hate speech. Something Bernie Sanders has publicly stated he doesn’t condone and please stop if you really support him.

      Senator Sanders has many excellent progressive ideas. Unfortunately, too many of his supporters resort to bullying Clinton supporters, using sexist language when talking about her and fictionalizing her past in order to demonize her. It’s as if all of the Ron Paul people switched to Bernie Sanders and brought their abusive, brow-beating strategy to the Democratic Party. “It’s our candidate or nobody! If you don’t agree with us and march in lockstep, you’re just as bad as we want you to believe she is!”

      Now take a moment, reread your comment, and see if you can figure out what you’re doing wrong before commenting here again. It’s people like you who are making the rest of us say no thanks to Bernie Sanders.

  • John says:

    Oh good Lord!

    Both G2S and Oaktree Academy are 501c non-profit educational institutions. We’ve invested $250,000 into South Hamlin School to rehab a school that was literally falling apart. Our goal is for all Mason County 4 year olds to have a preschool experience. When kids are kindergarten ready they have a better chance of reading by the 3rd grade. Last year 88%, this year 92%, hopefully we’ll reach 100%. We pay Ludington Schools annual rent of $60,000. That facility will never make any money, nor can it.

    G2S was a collaboration of MCC, MCE, LAS and ESD Superintendents and an independent board. It was their idea, not mine. It also is a non-profit. We’re investing $3.5 million into raising our ESD’s graduation rate from its current 80%. When kids drop out of school no one gets their funding. That’s our target audience. If we can identify those kids before they drop out we’ll have a better chance of helping them graduate. Our current graduation rate of 80% is unacceptable. Too many kids are falling through the cracks. G2S is hoping to help give those those kids a better future.

    We are also funding Mason County Family Link. A collaboration with United Way, DHS and local schools. With the United Way we placed school coordinators and mental health clinicians in each district to assist families with special needs. The goal being to let teachers teach.

    Yes we’re developing a Resource Center / Food Pantry, again to help get families the assistance they need to be successful. “Members” have to pay $10.00 per month or invest 2 hours of volunteer time, its a model pioneered by a group of non-profits in Grand Rapids and has proven effective in engaging people to make better choices. We’re going to give it a try.

    Pennies From Heaven Foundation’s goal is to help with our community’s greatest needs through funding and leadership. The needs are significant. It definitely is not a for profit venture and by its charter cannot participate in one. Hopefully we’ve cleared that up.

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