Teach for America 2, Parents 4: A Tale of Two Elections
Teach for America scored big in Minnesota recently, with an Election Day, under-the-radar purchase of two suburban Minneapolis school board seats.
Purchase might be a strong word, but Teach for America and its affiliates definitely threw moneyed support behind Richfield, Minnesota school board candidates Crystal Brakke and Paula Cole. Both Brakke and Cole have served as TFA alums, and Brakke has stayed with the organization in executive positions. Currently, she works as TFA’s ombudsperson, based in Minneapolis.
Campaign finance reports for both candidates reveal a surprising influx of out of state dollars, primarily for Brakke:
California-based venture capitalist Arthur Rock, who has become notorious as a funder of TFA-affiliated school board campaigns, gave both Brakke and Cole around $600.00 each. Rock is a TFA board member, an investor in KIPP charter schools, and has used his fortune to prop up the controversial Rocketship Charter School chain, which seeks to promote large class sizes with fewer teachers and more educational technology.
New York resident Michael Buman also gave $600 each to Brakke and Cole. Buman is the Executive Director of Leadership for Educational Equity, or LEE, which is Teach for America’s more overtly political, and famously secretive, spinoff. In a 2014 article, writer Stephen Sawchuck noted that, in the span of just a few years, LEE went from a tiny operation—with a handful of staffers—to a coordinated team of 60 people, managing a budget worth close to $4 million. LEE’s stated mission is to “develop leaders” while “growing a movement.” Important note: Arthur Rock has paid $500,000 to place TFA alum in policy positions on Capitol Hill.
Alex Johnston, another East Coast resident, donated a relatively modest amount--$100--to Brakke and Cole, but his education reform pedigree should not be underestimated. Johnston is the former CEO of “ConnCAN,” which is part of the hedge fund-supported 50CAN franchise. At ConnCAN, Johnston deployed an elaborate marketing campaign to promote a now-familiar list of preferred reform strategies, such as expanding charter schools and evaluating teachers using test scores. Today, Johnston runs “Impact for Education,” which advises “forward-thinking philanthropists” on how to push for “systemic change in public education.”
Brakke also raked in thousands of dollars from Teach for America members in California,
Transcribed: Walmart’s Anti-union Employee Orientation Video
In my November 11, 2015, post about former US senator Mary Landrieu’s becoming a “strategic advisor” for the very-anti-union Walton Foundation, I included the following nine-minute Walmart employee training video, which came to public attention in May 2015:
The video was made public, then disappeared, then returned.
Lest the video permanently disappear, I decided to transcribe the entire video so that the content is preserved. Plus it makes for some eyebrow-raising reading.
The video is a very telling account of the Waltons’ efforts to influence new employees to avoid signing an agreement to allow a union to represent them in labor negotiations. The video is entitled, “Protect Your Signature– New Associate Orientation.”
The primary message is that unions are out to make a buck, and that working at Walmart is ideal because all one must do to resolve any issue is speak to a leader. End of story.
I Saw A Generation of Educators Destroyed By Silence In Tragedy [Howl Again]
Changing our Facebook profile overlays won’t be enough.
I’ve seen a whole generation of educators who have so much direct access to the most massive body of knowledge the world has ever seen and yet are so disconnected from the realities around them as a result. Folks with large followers elide the mere mention of race, religion, and gender in the context of power because, ultimately, it makes them culpable as well. I’m far from perfect, but, tomorrow, I plan on giving my students space to ask and speak, which leaves me open to not knowing the answers.
This means I’m not the expert, and I’ve learned to live with that, too.
As educators, we can’t wait until it’s OK for us to speak up and out about the domestic and international tragedies that plague our humanity. We can fabricate standards if we wish, but the underlying tension can’t be standardized. For those of us in schools, children generally look to those who they’re already learning from. But, from where I stand, hope is not enough. We must continue I Saw A Generation of Educators Destroyed By Silence In Tragedy [Howl Again] | The Jose Vilson:
Bill Honig: Replacing “Test and Punish” with “Build and Support”
Bill Honig, former State Superintendent of Instruction in California, suggests a replacement for the current approach to schooling. “Build and support,” he writes, is a far better strategy than “test and punish.” Unfortunately, NCLB and Race to the Top locks most schools into “test and punish.”
“I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of Alice’s question. As more educators, parents, community, political, and opinion leaders become aware of the harm done and the lack of results from high-stakes accountability based on reading and math test scores ( “test and punish”) and privatization (“choice, charter, and competition”), they are increasingly open to alternative strategies. A viable replacement is staring us right in the face–not primarily from the limited number of excellent charter examples but mainly from our most successful schools, districts, and states which follow a more positive, engaging “build and support” agenda.
Massachusetts could offer a powerful model. It performs better than just about every country in the world. Similarly, our nation’s most successful districts and schools such as Long Beach, designated as one of the three best in the country and among the top twenty on the planet should inform this alternative to the top-down, harsh reform agenda. Many comments on this blog describe such schools. Several years ago, a broad coalition in the state of California rejected the major tenets of the “reform” movement, used Massachusetts and high-performing districts as a model, and is pursuing this more positive “build and support” agenda.
What are the hallmarks of the alternative “build and support” approach? First of all, it is patterned after what the best educational and management scholarship has advised, irrefutable evidence has supported, and the most successful schools and districts here and abroad have adopted.
These states, districts, and schools have placed improving instruction and teaching as the main driver of raising student performance. Their policies and practices center on implementing a rigorous and broad based liberal arts instructional program aimed at not just job preparation, but also citizenship, and helping students reach their potential. Curriculum, instruction, and materials embody a shift to a more active, collaborative classroom incorporating questions, discussions, and performances. Implementation efforts build on and improve current practice and endeavor to deepen learning for each child.
Crucially, successful states have provided local schools and districts the leeway and resources to accomplish these improvement goals. They have substantially increased school funding. They attend to class size, teacher pay, and investing in building capacity to continuously improve.
Filmmakers Jack Paar and Ron Halpern are creating a film that will blow the lid off of the corruption that is behind the corporate takeover of public education.
In 2014, Jack Paar attended a rally for teachers, parents, and students in Washington, D.C. with his wife, an elementary school teacher. Jack says, “Before the rally in D.C., I didn’t really know that big business was taking over our public schools, nor did I understand why it was problematic. I know that there are others who don’t understand the real problems with our public education system because big business is really good at blaming it all on the teachers. However, it’s not the teachers who are to blame. It’s the fault of greedy politicians like Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Andrew Cuomo, and Arne Duncan, who are owned by greedy, big business: Pearson Learning, Gates Foundation, Walton Family, Eli Broad, Koch Brothers, and Bradley Foundation. To them your children are simply a dollar sign. So, we’ve decided to create a film that will reach a diverse audience and provide them with hard facts and heartfelt messages from dedicated teachers, parents, and students.”
“Corporatized” pulls back the curtain on the charade to reveal how big business is doing a devastating disservice to our public school students, and how they are dismantling and destroying the teaching profession in the name of profit.
Each year, over $600 billion of taxpayer money is used to fund the U.S. public education system. In today’s era of privatization, it was only a matter of time before corporate education reformers figured out a way to get at that money.
My plan for funding CPS sports programs. So crazy it just might work.
Lease back the Skyway.
I just heard the news that CPS claims to be so broke that they're cutting elementary school sports programs out of the budget. As a former CPS coach, I'm horrified at the prospect. So I've come up with a funding plan that's so crazy, it just might work.
It came to me after reading about the Canadian consortium that just purchased the lease to the Chicago Skyway from the Spanish/Australian consortium which had originally leased it from us for 75 years, via former Mayor Daley. The original deal was all part of Daley's plan to solve the city's debt problem. It didn't. But it sure made a bundle in profits for the consortium.
That original Skyway concession company was a partnership of Cintra Infraestructuras of Spain and Australia’s Macquarie Group. Their $1.83 billion payment in January 2005 was nearly $1 billion more than the next highest bid, which prompted speculation that the investors had overpaid.
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CORPORATE ED REFORMNYC Public School Parents: My frustrating Thursday: DOE's evasions and the Mayor's refusal to reduce class size or admit that he ever said that he wouldNYC Public School Parents: My frustrating Thursday: DOE's evasions and the Mayor's refusal to reduce class size or admit that he ever said that he would: My frustrating Thursday: DOE's evasions and the Mayor's refusal to reduce c