Archives for category: Black Alliance for Educational Options

Mercedes Schneider, high school teacher, debates Common Core with a state representative and a representative of the pro-voucher group Black Alliance for Educational Options. Mercedes explains who BAEO is, then engages in 6 minutes of debate in which the two men were pro-Common Core and Mercedes was critical. Does 2 vs. 1 sound unbalanced? At least there was some disagreement. A few days ago, there was a well-publicized forum on Common Core that included Merryl Tisch, chair of the Board of Regents; John King, state commissioner; Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers; Carmen Farina, Chancellor of the New York City public schools; and one or two others. Every member of the panel supported Common Core. Some debate.

Kentucky is one of only eight states that have not passed a charter law. That means that the state has been unwilling to turn public money over to private entrepreneurs, who will operate schools with little or no oversight.

The privatizers can’t tolerate the possibility any state refuses their wares or their opportunity to operate in the dark with public dollars.

So now the full-court press is on. The National Alliance for Public (sic) Charter Schools reports: “A bill was introduced and passed the state Senate last session, but it died in the House. Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul will join the National Alliance, Democrats for Education Reform, and the Black Alliance for Educational Options, for the kick-off event, which will feature a roundtable discussion with education, business, and faith community leaders in Louisville. Kentucky is one of only eight remaining states without a charter school law and is our top priority state for 2014.”

McConnell and Paul are singing the praises of charters. The far-right Black Alliance for Education Options–handsomely funded by the Walton Foundation–has descended on Kentucky to claim that public education must be demolished to “save” minority children. The Wall Street hedge fund managers’ group Democrats for Education Reform is on the case, hoping to turn Kentucky away from public schools. And the National Alliance for Public (sic) Charter Schools is leading the charge against community-based public schools.

Before Kentucky buys the snake oil, its policymakers should review the state’s NAEP performance and compare it to its neighbor, charter-happy Tennessee. Kentucky educators could give lessons to Tennessee about the importance of strong community schools.

On the NAEP, Kentucky consistently outperforms Tennessee.

Stay strong, Kentucky. Snake oil cures nothing. You don’t need a dual school system of publicly-funded schools. The one you have is good and getting better.

Julian Vasquez Heilig has been posting an illuminating series of posts that he calls “The Teat.”

Each of his posts follows the connection between advocacy groups and their funders. Some of these advocacy groups appear to do research, studies, and surveys, but they invariably reflect the priorities of those who supply the money.

In this post, Heilig inquires into the activities of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. This is an organization that advocates for school choice, whether charters or vouchers. The group is politically important because it provides cover for the conservative white men (and they are mostly men) who are pushing privatization.

Historically, disadvantaged minorities have benefited by the protection of the federal government and the courts. Privatization has not been good for those who are poor. Minorities understood that privatization was not their friend. The role of the BAEO is to demonstrate to conservative white politicians and a gullible liberal media that blacks are clamoring for charters and vouchers. With charters and vouchers, that troublesome issue of desegregation may be forgotten, no longer relevant to our day.

Who is funding BAEO? You will not be surprised to learn it is Walton and Gates.

I received a desperate message on Facebook from Tarrey Banks, the founder of The Project School in Indianapolis. TPS is a charter school started with a grant from the Walton Foundation. Greg Ballard, the mayor of Indianapolis, is the authorizer. TPS has low test scores, after four years, and the mayor has decided to close it. Banks and TPS parents are outraged. They went to court, blocked the mayor in a lower court, but then lost when a federal judge upheld the closure. TPS is losing the battle.

To get the big picture of what is happening in Indianapolis, read here. You will encounter a familiar cast of characters, including, of course, Bill Gates and Stand for Children.

What is happening in Indianapolis is terrifying if you believe that public education belongs to the public, not to private corporations. .

Here comes a scary future. First, the “blueprint” for Indianapolis, confidently predicting a future of perfection and excellence, but without any meaningful road map. Just promises. And here come the charters, opening with high hopes and closing when judged by scores.

Open, close. Open, close. Open, close.

Below is Banks’ letter. Read it. Read Mayor Ballard’s Blueprint for Utopia. But if you read nothing else today, read this article about the grand plan to privatize the schools of Indianapolis.

This is the Mind Trust / Mayor Ballard (TFA Deputy Mayor Jason Kloth) take-over blueprint. This will literally be the end of public education in the urban core of Indianapolis.

We need help. It’s all but over. The 10th most populated city in the country is about to be one of the biggest systems of educational apartheid in the nation.

My name is Tarrey Banks and I’m the founding school leader of the Indianapolis Project School. I am a lifelong public school educator who made the decision to start a charter school with a group of passionate educators. We are the only truly progressive public school in our city. We take and teach all kids…we don’t push out, kick out, expel, etc. My daughter is a 7 year old student at our school…I made it for her because I know that all kids deserve what she deserves. We are four years old and this week we were the victim of a conservative political strategic attack. Just 3 weeks our mayor has decided to close our doors. The process was corrupt and the information they used was false and/or inaccurate. We are fighting the good fight, but I firmly believe our school will be shut down by the close of business on Monday. I truly believe this is the death of progressive public education in our city if we do not use this as a catalyst to attack the corporate reform agenda.

I know you are busy…you must be. I intend to use the closing of our school as the beginning of a rebellion. Will you help? How can I get you to Indianapolis to push this force back and make folks wake up and see what is happening? Our city is doomed if I can’t move this conversation in a different direction. We have 100’s of families, students, community members, educators ready to protest…to really blow it up…but I need more…I need a national presence…

Will you? What can I do?

Tarrey Banks

The Center for Education Reform in Washington, D.C., is one of the nation’s leading advocates for privatization of public education. Its leader, Jeanne Allen, was an education policy analyst at the rightwing think tank, the Heritage Foundation, before she founded CER in 1993:

The Center for Education Reform has long advocated for charters and vouchers. It has nothing to say about improving public schools, only that they should be replaced by private management or vouchers.

CER is closely allied with other conservative groups committed to privatization, like ALEC, the Heartland Institute, Democrats for Education Reform, and Black Alliance for Educational Options. CER claimed credit for helping to write the Heartland Institute’s version of the parent trigger law, which served as a model for ALEC.

If you want to track the advance of privatization, keep your eye on the Center for Education Reform.

This is CER’s take on the 2012 elections (to see the links, go to the CER website):

The Center for Education Reform Analysis:
How Education Reform Fared on Election Day

WASHINGTON, DC – The Center for Education Reform analyzed Tuesday’s results through the prism of education reform. Our EDlection Roundup provides our analysis on races up and down the ballots, including:

The White House: The Center congratulated President Obama and offered thoughts about how he could refocus education issues in his second term.

Governors: Two states, North Carolina and Indiana, will be inaugurating reform-minded Governors. They join the 23 other states who are also led by reformers. Is yours one of them? See our Governor grades.

Senate Races: We take a look at the results of four Senate races where candidates were strong reformers, and where two – Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) – were victorious.

Ballot Initiatives: There were education reform ballot initiatives in Georgia, Idaho, and Washington. We look at the results, which included a decisive victory in Georgia.

Superintendents: We examine the results of Superintendent races, with a special look at the disappointing defeat of Tony Bennett, a stalwart reformer.


CER, since 1993, is the leading voice and advocate for lasting, substantive and structural education reform in the U.S. Additional information about the Center and its activities can be found at

The Center for Education Reform
(tel) 800-521-2118 • 301-986-8088 • (fax) 301-986-1826

I had a great visit to Chattanooga and met many dedicated, civic-minded people. I was invited to visit by the Benwood Foundation, which has done an amazing job helping local public schools and supporting environmental improvement.

Chattanooga is a beautiful city of about 170,000 people. It has a lovely, historic central city. Everything is within walking distance or a short ride.

First, I met the local editorial board and had a spirited conversation with them. They literally had a columnist on the left (who sat to my left) and a columnist on the right (who sat to my right). We had a great conversation about what is happening nationally and in Tennessee.

Then I talked to civic and business leaders, and we had a good question-and-answer session about the ingredients needed for a community to improve its schools and how the business community could play a constructive role. I talked about the need for collaboration around children and families; the importance of prenatal care for every woman; early childhood education; the arts in every school; and how vital it is to treasure our educators. I hope that conversations like this will encourage people to ignore those who disrespect and demean educators. Our public schools are vital community institutions. I think the people of Chattanooga understand that.

Before my lecture, there was a reception where I met some old friends that I did not anticipate. One was Henry Shulson, the director of the Chattanooga Children’s Museum. I knew him when he lived next door and was about 8 years old. That was about 50 years ago!

At the same reception, I met a local state senator who told me that Michelle Rhee has been pouring lots of money into political campaigns in Tennessee. Most of the candidates she supports are Republicans, he said. But she pumped $105,000 into a Democratic primary fight. On one side was a liberal Democrat who supports public education; on the other was a very conservative Democrat who wants vouchers. She supported the latter, who won. He said to me, “You have to understand that legislators will work hard to raise $1,000. Can you imagine what it means to have someone give you $105,000?” He said she is going from state to state, knocking off good people who care about public education and support her Republican views.

The lecture went really well. The room at the University of Tennessee was animated. What amazed me was that on several occasions I made statements that caused the audience literally to gasp. I recall saying that states should never cut education to give tax breaks to corporation–which seems like a truism to me–and I heard an audible gasp. Tennessee has been so eager to lure corporations to the state that I think what I said was heresy, yet music to the ears of educated people.

Chattanooga is a city that has enormous potential. There is a real hunger to build a community, to have a city that takes care of its own. That’s a great beginning for the revitalization of public education.

When I first read that The Mind Trust had proposed a sweeping reorganization of the Indianapolis public schools, I assumed it was another reform scheme to dismantle and privatize public education.

But I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, so I held my tongue. I decided to wait and see.

Today I received an invitation from The Mind Trust to hear one of the nation’s leading voucher advocates and all doubt was dispelled.

When I saw that the event was co-sponsored by the anti-teacher, anti-public school group “Stand for Children,” as well as Education Reform Now (the Wall Street hedge fund managers’ front-group), no further question remained.

Something tells me that Howard Fuller, the speaker, won’t acknowledge that the children in voucher schools do no better than those in public schools. Nor will he admit that black children in Milwaukee schools, whether public, charter or voucher, have NAEP scores about the same as black children in Mississippi. That’s the result of 21 years of competition, with public dollars divided three ways.

Indiana, once so proud of its tradition of public schooling, is now the playground for privatization, for-profit charters, TFA, and entrepreneurs of all stripes.

Time for Hoosiers to wake up before the reformers sell off or give away the public sector.

Under the influence of wrong-headed economists, Bill Gates has publicly stated that teachers should not be paid more for experience or education because such things do not raise test scores. This is really a terrible set of ideas. I have never met a teacher who said that experience doesn’t matter. Every teacher I know says that he or she tried to improve every year, and that they didn’t reach their stride until five to seven years in the classroom. As for education, I don’t know how a master’s degree affects test scores, but I would think someone who believes in education would want more education and would find it valuable to study subjects and the issues of education in greater depth. The “philosophy,” if you can call it that, that everything should be decided by test scores or some other metric, is essentially anti-intellectual and detrimental to the larger goals of education.

A reader sent me this email about how the education philosophy of Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation is affecting the rest of the world, and not for the better:

You recently wrote: “I am puzzled by their funding of ‘astroturf’ groups of young teachers who insist that they don’t want any job protections, don’t want to be rewarded for their experience (of which they have little) or for any additional degrees, and certainly don’t want to be represented by a collective bargaining unit.”
I have an anecdote that may interest you. A few months ago, I was teaching in Saudi Arabia. The head of the program showed a video clip to all the teachers, about seventy of us. In the short video, Mr. Gates said that teaching experience and graduate degrees were not important for teaching performance. The director said he agreed with Gates after showing the video. By the way, the director has far less teaching experience and is far less educated than myself and many of the other teachers. Not only that, I was hired just a few months previously based on part on my extensive classroom experience. I am no longer working for that organization. The direstor made it clear that day and later that highly-educated and experienced instructors were not welcome. I will be starting-hopefully-a new position soon.
Bottom-line: Mr. Gates’s approach to education has had a pernicious impact both in the USA and abroad.

In an earlier post today, I wondered about the Boston Consulting Group. I knew this was a major management consulting organization, one of those companies that helps corporations do strategic planning. I knew that they advised the Philadelphia School Reform Commission to privatize a large number of its schools and gave the same advice to the planning committee for Memphis.

This bothers me because public schools are supposed to be instruments of the local community; they are supposed to be run along democratic principles, attuned to the needs and aspirations of their local community, employing professionals to carry out professional responsibilities on behalf of the community. But along come the hired guns to rearrange the schools of the community and give them to private corporations. I wondered, who are these guys? What is the source of their expert knowledge of public education?

A faithful reader did the research and she found an article that answers most of my questions. The post went up only hours ago! This reader, who posts anonymously, wasted no time.

I read the article. It is jaw-dropping. It deserves a post all to itself. It is not just about BCG. It is about Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, North Carolina, Delaware, and many other places where the corporate reformers are taking over public education for fun and profit. It’s about the close ties between BCG and KIPP.

Please read it. If only half of it is true, we are in deep trouble. If all of it is true…well, what can I say. Read it.

And this article details the influence of consultants in general and BCG in particular. You begin to understand why so much of the federal funding gets siphoned off by consultants, the biggest growth industry. One analysis concluded that 25-35 percent of federal funding for  School Improvement Grants went not to the schools but to consultants.

One thing that becomes clear is BCG’s interest in cutting costs. Another is in opening the path to for-profit corporations. Not much about any interest in education or learning or curriculum or teacher morale or such.

These guys should not be flying under the radar. Let them be known by what they advocate and what they do to our community schools.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has been around the block or two when it comes to corporate schooling, even though it profits from other consulting and includes as alumni Mitt Romney, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and hedge fund manager John Paulson. Along with Broad Foundation support, the consulting firm worked on Delaware’s Vision 2015 for a longer school day in 2007, designed a business plan for the North Carolina New Schools Project, and have left footprints  in Cleveland, Arizona, Seattle, Chicago, Memphis, and New Orleans. BCG, as Daniel Denvir has noticed, recommended “that New Orleans, which has decimated its teachers’ union and put most schools under charter control, create the exact same species of achievement networks in 2006” as the ones proposed for Philly.

“Since at least 2007, BCG has been working on linking teacher pay to student test scores and so-called academic achievement for the Dallas Independent School District. Under J. Puckett’s Texas office leadership, BCG has also struck a deal with Uplift Education, where Jeb Bush’s son, George P., sits on the board of directors.  Puckett and Phil Montgomery, Uplift’s founding member, both sit on the board of Commit, an IBM, Bank of America, Bank of One-funded school group. Puckett was also a player in the Exxon Mobile/Gates Foundation-hyped National Math and Science Initiative (page 27, PDF box).

“BCG heavily promotes online learning in K-12 and college. In “Unleashing the Potential of Technology in Education,” the consulting firm calls for an “aligned set of educational objectives, standards, curricula, assessments, interventions, and professional development,” all centered around online technology. Deeming charter schools the leaders of internet schooling, the “study’s” authors quote online profiteer and Democrat for Education Reform’s Tom Vander Ark, praises Rocketship for hiring low wage non-teachers, and thanks their senior advisor, Margaret Spelling, Bush’s U.S. Secretary of Education. The” report” also praises the conflict-of-interest-laden School of One in NYC and KIPP’s BetterLesson program.

Several people sent me a video of Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report skewering Corey Booker, the mayor of Newark, and Howard Fuller of Black Alliance for Educational Options as sell-outs for a rightwing agenda. See it here:

 I must say there was nothing in the video that surprised me. Back in the late 1990s, when I was involved in three different conservative organizations, there was a concerted effort to find and promote black advocates for choice. The leaders on the right wanted to promote charters as a boon to minorities and the poor. The pitch was, “We are saving poor kids from failing schools.” After all, they couldn’t very well go to state capitols and say, “Please pass charter legislation so that we can get government off our backs.” Or, “please pass charter legislation because we can’t get vouchers.”

So the strategists on the right devised a clever campaign that was irresistible to liberals and conservatives alike: Create privately-managed schools to save poor black and Hispanic kids. Republicans would like the privatization aspect and liberals would fall for the “save poor minorities” part.

It worked.



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