You have never seen the name Whitney Tilson on my blog
before now. Tilson is a hedge fund manager who is a major supporter
of KIPP, Teach for America, and Democrats for Education Reform. I
have heard that he has written unpleasant things about me, like
calling me a union shill. I avoid mentioning him as I see no value
in personalizing issues and I try not to become engaged in ad
To my surprise, Tilson reached out to let me
know that he had written
a devastating critique of the online charter corporation
called K12. As a financier, he knows more about the business than I
could ever fathom. He wanted to let me know that we are in accord
that K12 delivers a poor quality of education.
I was glad to see a leader of this movement trying to clean out the Augean stables.
Also, I was gratified by his conciliatory action in writing me.
We have exchanged a few emails. At some point, we may meet. I have
never called him any names. Perhaps he will now stop questioning my
motives and recognize that I write with as much sincerity as he
does. He knows–perhaps he always knew–that I am financially
independent and had no reason to sell myself to the unions or
I support teachers’ unions, because I believe that
teachers need a collective voice, just as other groups
in society do (think: Chamber of Commerce,
AMA, ABA, DFER, Etc) I support unions, although I have never
belonged to one, because they protect the rights of working people
and help poor people enter the middle class. I believe the attacks
on unions—and their diminishing numbers— have contributed to
the growing income inequality in this country and the shrinking
It is good to tone down the rhetoric. But I will not
waver in my belief that public education, democratically
controlled, is a pillar of a democratic society.
Nor will I compromise my conviction that those entering the education
profession must be well prepared for the hard work of their chosen
Nor will I abandon my opposition to the widespread
assumption that test scores are the best and only way–or even an
accurate way–to measure students, teachers, or schools.
Nor will I be persuaded that schools alone can end poverty, no matter what
their scores. Schools are part of the solution, but much more is
needed, meaning social and economic change. We will see where this
goes. I appreciate Tilson’s offer to reason together. I am all for
that. What he wrote about K12 is devastating. Everyone should read