What I Learned from Watching a Week's Worth of Olympic Charter School Ads
It is my opinion that, if a television network is going to bring us something like the Olympics, which take place over 17 days, the network must be compelled to change the damn commercials halfway through. I love Allison Janney, but I can only see her interacting with tiny CGI squirrels so often. And while I admit that Dylan's licensing "All I Really Want To Do" for use by a chicken farm is one of the most Bob things ever, I tired even of that. Give us some relief. The airwaves belong to the people, man!
However, the constant repetition did give me a chance to study at length a couple of interesting political ads. For example, Kelly Ayotte, the Metternich of Manchester, the Talleyrand of Tuftenboro, had one in regular rotation. The following words do not appear in this ad in any combination.
"Donald Trump" and "Republican."
For all you can glean from her commercials, Kelly Ayotte might as well be running on the American Party ticket downballot from Millard Fillmore.
The other one was a commercial in favor of the referendum here in the Commonwealth (God save it!) that would lift the cap on the number of charter schools here. This, of course, was pitched by a nice suburban mom who thinks every child in Massachusetts should go to the best school they can choose. This ad was in heavier rotation than Ayotte's was, and it was sponsored partly by a little somethin'-somethin' called Education Reform Now, which is one of those nom de scams that sets off alarm bells in anyone who actually pays attention to how politics works in this era of institutionalized influence peddling.
Sure enough, thanks to the invaluable Diane Ravitch, we are directed to the research of Professor Maurice Cunningham of the University of Massachusetts at Boston. Cunningham has dropped his bathysphere deep into the depths of the dark money behind the push to life the charter cap.
SGP also helped to introduce Leadership for Educational Equity into Massachusetts in 2014. LEE is a spinoff of Teach for America and according to Education Week assists TFA alumni in seeking leadership roles in their communities, including to elective office. LEE teaches advocacy, community organizing, and assists TFA alums with their campaigns. It also provides network access to people who give to privatization candidates. American Prospect got access to a LEE site that asserted that by 2015 it aimed to have 250 members in elected office, 300 in policy or advocacy leadership roles and 1000 in active community roles. LEE is a 501(c)(4) but its form 990 tax returns are not available through the IRS website. Both of the newly funded 501(c)(4) organizations, FES and LEE, have a political focus. Educators for Excellence and OneGoal are 501(c)(3)s and should not be involved in politics, but their roles in Massachusetts bear watching as well. The contribution to Education Reform Now isn't that big, but ERN is the funder of Democrats for Education Reform, which has spent millions in dark money in Massachusetts politics.
Yes, the push for corporate education "reform" is sadly a bipartisan one. Cunningham also traces within Massachusetts a dynamic common to corporate education "reform" everywhere—namely, What I Learned from Watching a Week's Worth of Olympic Ads: