Archives for category: Education Industry

Karen Wolfe is an activist for public education in Los Angeles. Here she responds to the news that Eli Broad and the Walton family plan to pour millions into increasing charter school enrollments in Los Angeles; their hope is to capture 50% of the children for the privately managed schools. Despite the fact that studies show that charters on average do not outperform as compared to public schools, despite the fact that twenty-five years of charters have produced no innovations (other than to go back to the 19th century way of doing things in the strictest manner possible), despite the numerous frauds and financial scandals associated with charters, Broad, Walton, and a few more billionaires want to destroy the public school system of Los Angeles to have their way. Public education belongs to the entire community; it is undemocratic to allow a handful of billionaires to take possession of half the children enrolled in the public schools and turn them over to franchise operators.

Karen Wolfe writes that the outcome depends on Steve Zimmer, the recently elected school board president, who has walked a fine line between supporting public schools and placating the privatizers (who spent $4 million trying to defeat him when he last ran for re-election):

The timing of this plan is no surprise at all. The powerful California charter lobby seems to be at their wits end after recent losses. Let’s assess.

The first big loss was Steve Zimmer’s election two years ago, despite their spending more than any previous school board race in US history, according to published reports at the time. Subsequently, the corporate privatizers have lost almost every time a vote has been put to the people.

Last year’s election of Tom Torlakson for California’s State Superintendent was seen as a referendum on corporate privatization–and we public school advocates won. California is one of the few states that resisted Race to the Top reforms.

The LA teacher’s union election also brought in leaders with a broader understanding of the fight for public schools. They still need to prove their mettle at building support among parents and student groups who seek an ally in improving our schools without selling them off. But the potential looks better than before. CTA, the state teachers union, remains a strong force in the state capitol, despite the charter lobby’s increasing presence.

The L.A. Mayor’s office is no longer carrying the water of the corporate privatizers either. New Mayor Eric Garcetti has resisted the repeated taunts of Broad and the other plutocrats to push their agenda. Garcetti is a distinct departure to his predecessor, the self-proclaimed “Education Mayor” Villaraigosa, who was trying to share the national charter stage with Bloomberg and Emanuel.

A notable exception is the election of disgraced PUC charter founder Ref Rodriguez to the school board, joining his charter cheerleader Monica Garcia. But now Steve Zimmer is board president and, if that position carries any weight, it might be making the charter lobby nervous. Often the swing vote in a split-down-the-middle board, Zimmer is now presiding over a new board that should give him more courage than he has previously displayed. His unwavering support of John Deasy and his support of almost every single charter school petition that came before the board have alienated many of Zimmer’s backers. We are anxious to see him prove himself to be the champion of our neighborhood schools that he recently proclaimed he was (in an AFT video posted on this blog).

This revelation that the charter groups have lost their patience and are announcing a public attack should be met with redoubled resistance. We have done the work to elect officials who will champion our public schools, even against wealthy special interests like the groups in this article. But the board needs to listen to community members and truly consider the supports that are necessary to enable our neighborhood schools to stand up to the threat of charters. We advocates need to know our school board is behind us as we fight for the very survival of our schools. I wrote this article for our local newspaper about what we need in Zimmer’s district, where I live, and have never heard from the school board about it.
http://argonautnews.com/power-to-speak-school-choice-whose-choice/.

There are advocates in other neighborhoods that have come up with similar plans and the board should solicit them. The point is that the board needs its public constituency or eventually no one will care who wins this policy debate.

Stanley Kurtz has a very interesting article at the conservative National Review, calling out Jeb Bush for pretending that he does not really support the Common Core standards and that he is in favor of local control. At the Republican debate last week, Jeb was questioned about his strong support for Common Core, and he equivocated, trying to leave the impression that he had no particular allegiance to Common Core. He said, “I don’t believe the federal government should be involved in the creation of standards, directly or indirectly, the creation of curriculum content. That is clearly a state responsibility.”

As Kurtz documents, Jeb has been one of the loudest cheerleaders for Common Core, even though federal involvement in its creation (requiring its adoption as a condition of eligibility for Race to the Top funding) and in directly subsidizing Common Core testing (PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessment) arguably violates federal law. Federal law explicitly bans any federal interference in curriculum and instruction, and no one can say with a straight face that CCSS has no connection to or influence on curriculum and instruction.

Kurtz is particularly good in describing the Orwellian language of “education reform,” in which reformers say the opposite of what they mean. Readers of this blog have long seen the way that “reformers” twist words to pretend that their corporate-model names and policies are “for the children” (like Students First, Students Matter, Children First, Democrats for Education Reform, Education Reform Now, Stand for Children, and other poll-tested obfuscations of reality).

Kurtz writes:

The story of the profoundly undemocratic process by which Common Core was adopted by the states doesn’t end there. A devastating account by The Washington Post’s Lyndsey Layton (hardly a Geroge Will-style conservative) lays it out. Federal carrots and sticks, along with massive infusions of Gates Foundation money, at a moment when state budgets were stressed to the breaking point by the financial crisis, stampeded more than forty states into adopting a completely untested reform, often sight unseen or before the standards themselves had been finalized.

A deliberative process that ought to have taken years was telescoped into months. In nearly every case, the change was made without a single vote by an elected lawmaker, much less a statewide public debate. And all the while, the Obama administration intentionally obscured the full extent of its pressure on the states.

Common Core proponents have concocted a fiction according to which this travesty of federalism and democracy was “state led,” using the fig leaf of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA), which helped to develop the plan. CCSSO is a private group, with no known grant of authority from any state. Likewise, NGA is a private group, and seems not to include all governors (the list of dues-paying members has not been made public, at least in previous years). None of this can begin to substitute for a truly “state led” process, which would change education standards via legislatures and governors, after full consultation with the public. The Obama administration has dismissed legitimate complaints about this process as a kind of conspiracy theory, yet its own liberal supporters have praised its tactics as a clever ruse to circumvent the constitutional, legal, and political barriers to a national curriculum.

I am sorry to say that Jeb Bush has been a leading supporter and cheerleader of this process from the start, often portraying what was in fact an illegitimate federal power-grab as a sterling example of local control.

In a co-authored 2011 opinion piece making “The Case for Common Educational Standards,” Bush and New York educator Joel Klein deny federal overreach and present the states as voluntarily enrolling in Common Core. They speak of two testing consortia “of the states,” without noting federal financing of these national consortia. Bush and Klein portray a program explicitly designed to create uniform national standards as embodying “the beauty of our federal system.” Day is night.

Kurtz goes on to show how Jeb worked with Obama and Duncan to maintain the fiction that Common Core was “state-led” and was the answer to our problems:

The Washington Post recently reported on Jeb’s appearance with Obama in March of 2011 to push the president’s education agenda. Bush’s alliance with the Obama administration on education policy was in fact broad and deep. They differed on school choice, yet were aligned on much else, Common Core above all.

Consider the following 2010 video of an appearance by Obama education secretary Arne Duncan at Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. Duncan goes on about how many states have adopted Common Core (between 7:10 and 9:50), while repeatedly denying federal responsibility for the change. The secretary doth protest too much, methinks.

After Duncan’s talk, he and Jeb jointly take questions from the audience. Here it becomes obvious that on education policy, Jeb sees himself as allied with Duncan and Obama — in opposition to local-control-loving conservatives (as well as liberal teachers’ unions). Jeb’s political solution to attacks on the Common Core is to “push the two groups who are not reform-minded further away from what I think is the mainstream.” (See video between 27:30 and 29:30.)

There are two errors in the account above. First, Jeb and Obama do not differ on school choice except for vouchers. It may be awkward for an author to admit in a conservative publication that the Obama administration has been all-in for charters and private management of schools. Duncan has been a cheerleader for privately-managed charters and Common Core. Indeed, the administration has not fought vouchers, even as they spread from state to state. Duncan has been strangely silent on the subject of vouchers. Nor has the Obama administration done anything to defend collective bargaining, other than lip service. On March 11, 2011, Jeb Bush, President Obama and Secretary Duncan were in Miami celebrating the successful turnaround of Miami Central High School, ignoring the thousands of protestors encircling the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker was enacting legislation to cripple the public sector unions (but not fire and police unions!).

The second error in Kurtz’s account is to assert that the teachers’ unions were against Common Core. Both the NEA and the AFT were early supporters of Common Core; neither has renounced the standards.

And there is another error in this claim: Bush touts his education accomplishments as Florida governor, and they were real. But Jeb raised a bottom-performing state to average, which is easier than moving from the middle of the pack to the top.

Many critics think that Jeb Bush’s education accomplishments are a sham. His A-F school grading system punishes the schools with the neediest children. His dramatic expansion of charters has created a corrupt industry of hucksters who open and close charters and take the money to the bank. He fought for vouchers, tried to amend the state constitution, but was rebuked at the polls on vouchers by a vote of 58-42. Florida has a lower graduation rate than Alabama. With “accomplishments” like this, he could destroy public education and ruin the nation.

Jeff Bryant has written an excellent in-depth investigative report on Jeb Bush’s boasts about the “Florida miracle.”

The alleged miracle is pure hogwash. The biggest beneficiaries are the profiteers and entrepreneurs who have opened 600 charter schools across the state.

As Jeff writes, Jeb got into the charter business to polish up his image after losing the 1994 race for governor. A defining moment occurred when asked in a debate what he would do for blacks, if he were elected. He answered, “Probably nothing.” When he learned about charter schools, he found the perfect vehicle to burnish his credentials in education and civil rights.

He worked hard to pass charter legislation, then opened the state’s first charter school in impoverished Liberty City in 1996. He still boasts about the school but forgets to add that it closed in 2008.

Bryant interviewed Florida State Senator Dwight Bullard, who represents the section of Miami that includes Liberty City.

Bullard denounced Bush’s A-F grading law “that perpetually traps schools serving the most struggling students with an “F” label, and opening up communities to unproven charter schools that compete with neighborhood schools for funding….

“According to Bullard, charter school expansion did more harm than good in Liberty City. As charter schools chipped away student population from the neighborhood schools, the local elementary school struggled to keep its enrollment up, and the middle school eventually closed as lower student populations drained the schools’ resources.

“In Bullard’s view, charter schools also help create an unhealthy revolving door, where kids cycle from public schools to charters, and then back into the public schools when charters close down. As schools open and close, the better-prepared students tend to find spots in other new charters, while the lowest performing kids get kicked back into struggling, underfunded public schools.”

Today, major charter chains dominate the Florida landscape, and most operate for profit.

“One person who has paid close attention to the spread of charter schools in Florida is Sue Legg. As a public school teacher, college professor and an administrator of state school assessment contracts at the University of Florida for over 30 years, Legg has had a ringside seat to the Florida charter school circus. In a series of reports produced for the Florida chapter of the League of Women Voters, Legg revealed the many ways charter schools in Florida spread political corruption and financial opportunism while doing little to improve the academic performance of their students.

“Her year-long 2014 study, conducted in 28 Florida counties, found a 20 percent closure rate for charters due to financial problems or poor academic performance — a closure rate that has now increased to over 40 percent. The charter schools studied generally did not perform better than public schools, and tended to be more racially segregated. A significant number of these charters operated for-profit and operated in church related facilities.

“In a phone conversation with Legg, she described how charter school expansions are being driven by a state legislature with numerous connections to the charter school industry. “States get around local control by using a statewide contract for charters,” she explained. And whenever a local board rejects a new charter school or threatens a charter school with closure, the school can appeal to the state. “The appeals process overturns about half of district denials of charter operation,” Legg contends.

“The conflicts of interest among charter schools and Florida state legislators was raised to national prominence by an article in Esquire written by Charlie Pierce. Pierce quoted from a 2013 Florida newspaper article:

“A growing number of lawmakers have personal ties to charter schools. Sen. John Legg [no relation to Sue Legg], who chairs the Senate Education Committee, is co-founder and business administrator of Dayspring Academy in Port Richey. Anne Corcoran, wife of future House Speaker Richard Corcoran, plans to open a classics-themed charter school in Pasco County. House Budget Chairman Seth McKeel is on the board of the McKeel Academy Schools in Polk County. In addition, the brother-in-law of House Education Appropriations Chairman Erik Fresen runs the state’s largest charter management firm, Academica Corp. And Sen. Anitere Flores, also of Miami, is the president of an Academica-managed charter college in Doral.”

Florida mainstream media have paid attention to the financial scandals and corruption in the charter sector. The Miami Herald’s Kathleen McGrory wrote an excellent series called “Cashing in on Kids.”

The Sun Sentinel has exposed scandal after scandal.

“In a more recent series of investigative articles, from 2014, the Sun Sentinel found, “Unchecked charter-school operators are exploiting South Florida’s public school system, collecting taxpayer dollars for schools that quickly shut down … virtually anyone can open or run a charter school and spend public education money with near impunity.”

“Examples cited in the series include a man who received $450,000 in tax dollars to open two new charter schools just months after his first one collapsed. The schools closed in seven weeks. Another example: A man with “a history of foreclosures, court-ordered payments, and bankruptcy received $100,000 to start a charter school.” It closed in two months.”

The charter industry in Florida is a textbook example of the squandering of taxpayer dollars to undermine public schools and satisfy private greed. It’s not about kids.

It is about privatization and profit. Don’t be hoaxed.

D.L. Paulson is a reader who has commented before on the entrepreneurs who are investing in privatization and disruption in public education. Here he comments again on GSV (Global Silicon Valley), a leading edge investment company in the education sector.

GSV is a syndicate of financial/investment companies. GSV Advisors is where some of the trouble lies, at least in terms of conflict of interest and self-dealing. The management team invests personally in charter schools which in turn buy the products of its other portfolio companies. GSV (Advisors or Capital, it’s not altogether clear) also supports edsurge.com, which serves as a faux-journalistic voice for this “reform” movement. And all this goes on while GSV Advisors dispenses its advice to its “sister company”, GSV Capital, which makes the big investments, including the bad ones in Coursera and Chegg. (The jury is still out on U2 and Declara.)

GSV Advisors operates in a way that probably makes its management team rich—and possibly at the expense of GSV Capital, because of the personal investments mentioned earlier. Why GSV Capital stockholders put up with this situation is baffling, because this publicly-traded company has never performed very well. It has made up for its bad decisions in the education market by smarter decisions with companies like Twitter and Dropbox. Apparently GSV’s very smart management team can’t quite grasp why its expertise in one area, growing high tech companies, doesn’t carry over to student learning. Nevertheless, its poor decisions in education substantially worsen the condition of our schools, because of all the propagandizing, “disruptive technologies”, and siphoning of taxpayer money.

You should look at this page which shows the management team for GSV Capital:

http://gsvcap.com/management/

Notice anything? It’s hard to miss: no women, no color, not a hint of educational experience. Yet this small group, *unelected* and cloistered in a corporate boardroom, is making hugely important decisions about the education of our youth. Americans need to be aware of what’s happening here. We *all* need to rise up and reclaim our schools before it’s too late. And we need to understand this goes way beyond the false notions of “choice” and “student performance”. It’s not the government that’s doing something wrong here; it’s the corporations that are meddling where they don’t belong. Please, let’s not allow a 19th century-type oligopoly to destroy public education in America. It would be worse than railroads and oil; it would mean a diminished future for our children, our communities, our nation.

Idaho has its own member if the Billionaire Boys Ckub, the guys who want to privatize public schools, use online learning to decrease the need for flesh-and-blood teachers, and undermine the teaching profession.

A reader, Mary Ollie, writes:

“Idaho Education News is funded by the Albertson Foundation so its reputation as an “independent” news outlet is questionable. IEN reprinted this news release/advertisement from Bluum. Absent of course is any mention of details about KIPP or Terry Ryan (who came from Ohio to oversee Idaho’s charter school expansion)

“A look at the foundation’s 990’s shows contributions to Idaho Business for Education, the Idaho Freedom Foundation, and the Friedman school choice group. In addition, there are substantial funds provided to charter schools. Blogs by the foundation director have made support for charter schools and TFA very clear.
http://www.idahoednews.org/news/wanted-education-entrepreneur/#.VbuVgPlVikp This along with “Rural Opportunities” (better titled rural opportunities for investors) will be the death of rural public schools.

“Unfortunately Idahoans see very little of this because the mainstream media does not dig. In fact, the Statesman has been driving traffic to the foundation’s online “news” by providing links on its page. Often articles written by IEN reporters are printed without any disclaimer.

“That’s how they roll! And Idahoans are asleep.”

Susan Ochshorn of The ECE Policy Wirks notes an insidious trend: entrepreneurs have discovered Hart and Risley’s vocabulary gap between children who live in poverty and those who live in professional families.

“Reducing the gap of 30 million words between low- and high-income children has approached the level of national obsession. The Clinton Foundation got on board with its initiative Too Small to Fail. So did the University of Chicago medical school, which created a website to support the ongoing conversation.

Efforts reached a fevered pitch in the fall of 2014. The White House Office on Science and Technology, the Urban Institute, Too Small to Fail, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services hosted a forum for policymakers, researchers, and early childhood advocates to discuss the gap–a matter, some might argue, of national security.”

It was only a matter of time until the “education industrial complex” began to produce new technologies to sell.

But before you buy the latest software or apps, writes Ochshorn, consider a better alternative.

She writes:

“Just today, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, the authors of ‘How Babies Talk’, and two of the nation’s foremost experts on language acquisition, published an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News. Our efforts are missing the mark, they say. Filling little ones’ brains with 30 million words is not the right approach. How we communicate is key, in that intimate sphere of adult and child:

“We must promote warm and caring relationships in which adults don’t just talk to children, but instead engage in a back-and-forth interaction. When parents keep the conversation going, rather than simply trying to get their children to hear as many words as possible, they are preparing their children for later language and school success.

“I’ll take that—along with economic security, paid family leave, high-quality child care, flexibility in the workplace, and a big reduction in the child poverty rate. It seems to me that all of the above would go a long way toward promoting those “positive experiences with language and reading, in a safe, nonjudgmental environment.”

Reader D.L. Paulson is not impressed with the entrepreneurial strategy of profiting from public education funding:

The track record of GSV Capital, in terms of educational investments, is not very good. Perhaps its biggest dud: Coursera. But that’s the corporate wing. There are also “personal investments” by GSC Advisors (http://gsvadvisors.com/about/personal-investments/). Besides the obvious conflict of interest with this investment strategy—which should be no surprise for anyone following Deborah Quazzo’s career—it’s striking how poorly most of the companies are doing. If not for Japanese-like keiretsu (for example, a GSV-funded company called Clever partnering with other GSV companies), most would falter. It’s like a 1999 tech bubble waiting to pop. Or worse, GSV is fleecing investors with a pyramid scheme, complete with its own market research firm and cheerleading press (edsurge.com, also GSV funded).

For more on this, see http://hackeducation.com/2015/02/05/whos-investing-in-ed-tech and Mercedes Schneider’s Chronicle of Echoes.

All investment talk aside, it’s sad to think that GSV compares its corporate mission to the American revolution (see http://gsvadvisors.com/wordpress/wp-content/themes/gsvadvisors/American%20Revolution%202.0.pdf). There is no lack of irony here. The extraction of profits from public schools is not democratic. It’s the reverse. It’s more control by corporations and less control by individuals over their own lives. It’s meant to replace the human endeavors of teaching and learning with machines, solely for the purpose of efficiency and maximizing profit. “Reform” is just a pretense to pull in more investors. (When your fund under-performs, it helps to fall back on some notion of social responsibility.) GSV’s mission is totally antithetical to freedom and self-fulfillment, two key ideas behind the real American Revolution.

Please read the following sentence from http://www.tealsk12.org/staging/wp-content/uploads/formidable/The-New-Role-of-Business-in-Global-Education_Final_1.8.2014.pdf. And before you read the sentence, know that the report comes from a kindred spirit of GSV Advisors. The subtitle is, “How companies can create shared value by improving education while driving shareholder returns”. The authors swoon over these companies, saying:

“They are transforming the education pipeline by reimagining education as a dynamic ecosystem in which companies are fully engaged from cradle to career.”

Cradle to career? That should make us shudder.

GSV Advisors is leading the movement to bring investors into public education and to create new companies to profit from public education funding. GSV stands for Global Silicon Valley.

Who are they, you might wonder? Here are their leaders. Note how much they know about investing and building equity. Note how little experience they have as education professionals (none).

 

Here is what I previously described as a “field guide to the education industry,” produced by GSV.

 

Here are some of the partnerships they have underwritten.

 

The founder of GSV is Deborah Quazzo. She is also on the boards of KIPP, Teach for America, and other “reform” (privatization) groups. Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her to the Chicago Board of Education in 2013 to replace billionaire Penny Pritzker. However, in early 2015, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the public schools had tripled their spending on companies where Quazzo had a financial interest (she said she recused herself from votes on those contracts). Demands for her resignation forced her to resign in June 2015.

 

In the movement to privatize public education, GSV is a national leader.

 

Jennifer Berkshire recently spend ten days in New Orleans, where she attended a research conference about the changes in the schools since Hurricane Katrina, and met with a number of local African-American activists who are disenchanted with the reforms.

These are her reflections, on the gains and losses.

She doesn’t get into the convoluted debate about whether test scores went up. She thinks the data wars are hard to decipher because people are using different standards and benchmarks. In any event, if the scores did go up, there are other issues that may be even more important than test scores.

The parents and advocates she interviewed were all former enthusiasts for the charter revolution.

Part of the “reform” was the wholesale firing of some 7,000 teachers, most of whom were black, who formed the backbone of the city’s middle class. That hurt.

One parent complained that the all-choice system actually disempowered parents. If she complained, she risked being asked to leave the charter school. The schools have more autonomy, but parents have less power.

Berkshire says the charter sector is now consolidating, with chains taking over most of the stand-alone charters, and with the successful charters defined as those that produce the highest scores. Innovation is hard to find. What is common practice is long days, tough discipline, testing, and “no excuses.” One parent lamented that the charter sector thinks that parents and children are problems, not patrons of the schools.

Ignored in the celebratory accounts, she says, is the large number of young people who are not in school and the persistence of poverty and youth violence:

The challenge for architects and advocates of the reform effort here is that, expanded even slightly beyond these narrow metrics, the case that life is improving for the children of New Orleans gets much harder to make. Child poverty stands at 39%, a figure that’s unchanged since Katrina, even though the city is now home to tens of thousands fewer children. Inequality is the second highest in the country, on par with Zambia. And violent crime remains a persistent plague here.

“The measure of the work has to be about how it changes the life outcomes of our children,” says OPEN’s Deirdre Johnson Burel. “If my baby isn’t alive, it doesn’t matter what he got on his ACT. If he’s been divorced from his reality and has no idea who he is, what does it mean that he’s on a college campus, lost and confused?”

Then there are the huge number of young people in New Orleans between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither in school or working. The recent Measure of America study, conducted by the Social Science Research Council, found that the greater New Orleans/Metarie region is home to more than 26,000 so-called “opportunity youth. The youngest would have been just six when the overhaul of the school system began.

But even this number fails to convey the sheer number of young people here who have left the city’s schools, and are in one of the fast-expanding alternative programs, or are in work-training programs to prepare them for jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry. Added together, the number of students who’ve dropped out of the New Orleans’ schools begins to creep up uncomfortably close to the 43,000 students who are still in them.

Berkshire’s account should be read alongside the inevitable stories about the “New Orleans’ Miracle.” The question is: a “miracle” for whom?

Mercedes Schneider did some digging into Teach for America’s budget and promotional activities on Capitol Hill and discovered some fascinating facts.

She writes:

“According to its 2013 990, TFA’s end-of-year total assets were $494 million, with $73.5 million of its 2013 revenue designated as “government grants” and $31.6 million of its 2013 revenue earmarked as “service fees revenue….

“For eight hours of work per week, TFA chair Wendy Kopp drew a 2013 salary of $176,657. Co-CEOs Matt Kramer and Elisa Villanueva Beard drew salaries of $381,946 for 42 hrs/wk (Kramer) and $342,134 for 40 hrs/wk (Beard).

“TFA began as a Peace Corps-like temp agency that sends college graduates outside of the field of teaching into classrooms for usually two years. However, by 2001, TFA had established a second goal: To move former TFA corps members into positions of influence in education, business, and politics in order to solidify and expand TFA’s influence over public education.”

Schneider says that TFA charges districts up to $9,000 to place one of their inexperienced temps. “TFA really needs those temp fees. After all, it takes almost a million dollars a year to just pay Kopp, Kramer and Beard for their combined 90 hrs/wk ($900,737), and they are not the only TFA board members pulling a salary. Eight others work 40 or 41 hrs/wk and have salaries ranging from $190,638 to $282,759….

“But TFA has other needs, as well. Consider, for instance, the need for TFA to establish its presence on Capitol Hill. Now, according to its 2013 tax form, TFA only spent $595,870 on lobbying that year. However, if TFA pays interns to gain experience on Capitol Hill, it isn’t really lobbying– it’s just putting talented TFA alumni to work:

One of Schneider’s most fascinating discoveries is that TFA is seeking a new Government Affairs director, I.e., lobbyist.

And here is the kicker: a requirement for the job of lobbyist is SEVEN YEARS EXPERIENCE.

Isn’t that interesting?

TFA tells the world that a “great” teacher doesn’t need experience. It tells college seniors that they can change the “trajectory” of children’s lives if they commit to teach in the neediest schools, starting the September after graduating college.

Just five weeks of “institute,” no real teaching experience necessary.

Yet when TFA hires lobbyists, it requires seven years experience!

Is the job of lobbyist so much harder and so much more valuable than that of teacher?

Mitchell Robinson read Schneider’s post and raised some interesting questions:

*What does it say about your organization’s values when you require 7 years of experience for a lobbying position and require zero years of experience for teachers in charge of classrooms full of young children?

*What does it mean when your organization charges resource-strapped school districts up to $9000 per year in “service fees” for each recruit placed, while private and public universities charge nothing when their graduates get hired for the same positions?

*What does it say about your “non-profit” organization’s values when your top 3 executives are paid $381,946 (Co-CEO Matt Kramer) $342,134 (Elisa Villanueva Beard), and $176,657 (Wendy Kopp), while you attack public schools, teachers and unions for their “greed”?

Yes, curious contradictions.

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