This reader comments on earlier posts about why some liberals dislike Common Core, even though they find allies with whom they disagree on other issues. Arne Duncan has tried to create a narrative in which only the Tea Party is opposed to Common Core, but he neglects to mention that leaders of major corporate interests, plus Jeb Bush and Michelle Rhee– support the Common Core. Reasons for favoring or opposing it are far more complex than Duncan acknowledges.

 

 

I have continuously run into progressive minded people who fear opposing Common Core because the Tea Party opposes Common Core. The fact that the Tea Party opposes Common Core is not a reason for a progressive/left/liberal to shy away from opposing it too. When the first stirrings of Tea Party sentiment occurred, I thought the movement could go left or right because there was something in the original protest that could have easily been embraced by the left – opposition to the Iraq war, opposition to the NSA type of surveillance already underway, opposition to an irrational tax code that favored the wealthy. But the movement was bought off by rightwing money, and rather quickly it ceased having genuine grass roots.

 

I too have no sympathy for the Tea Party, and I too favor the role of the federal government in regulating markets, providing for the health and safety of the citizenry, ensuring the protection of our common public spaces and enterprises, building national infrastructure, ensuring that our states remain fundamentally “united” by laws and values, and so on. But I also oppose the federal government when it abuses its power, or arrogates more power to itself than is constitutionally proper, or steps into matters that are fundamentally local in nature. Deciding how the country should respond to the Ukraine crisis is a federal matter. Deciding how and what teachers should teach in their local public schools is a local matter. Education policy is for school committees, local district and building administrators, the educators themselves, and the local unions to which they may belong. State government too has a key role to play in ensuring proper and adequate financing, in requiring licensure, and even, to a degree that is properly limited, in holding districts accountable for educational outcomes. But the federal government oversteps its boundaries, both historically and from a policy perspective, when it intervenes to the degree it has in altering the education landscape.

 

I am no activist for states’ rights, but I do recognize that a constitutional balance does exist between federal and state roles. Marriage, like education, is historically a matter left to state authority, and it should remain there, provided the states act within federal constitutional mandates – such as the equal protection clause. For a federal court to strike down a state law prohibiting gay marriage is not a federal intrusion into state authority. It is our federal constitution at play. The education of our children is uniquely local among our many social institutions, starting with the iconic little red school house. Other than the ridiculous Vergara trial taking place in California right now, there are no real constitutional impairments that occur from local and state control of the institution. The federal government’s interest in having an educated citizenry, and perhaps even its interest in having a citizenry prepared for the challenges of the 21st century, can be accomplished without the massive intrusion that we are seeing now. Indeed, what is saddest about the federal role in education is that the true underlying interests that are represented by our federal DOE and our president (for whom, like you, I voted) are corporate interests, not citizen interests. And so, like the Tea Party with whom I would otherwise never be a bedfellow, I oppose vigorously the role the federal government is playing through overreaching and unwise and politically motivated laws like NCLB and RTTT. There is nothing “core” about the “Common Core,” and even worse there is nothing “common” about it (in the sense that the “common” is something that is shared, public and open). I fundamentally do not trust the federal government in governing education in fifty states and setting goals for education at the district, building or classroom level. I know the analogy is silly, but education right now feels like the Crimea of American public policy.

 

 

This reader, a lawyer in Mine, asks important, thoughtful questions that go to the heart of the current debate over the future of education–from pre-kindergarten through graduate school. Is technology now promoting the demand for objective, measurable means and ends? Is the technological culture at odds with the humane goals of the Western intellectual tradition? Do we treasure only what can be measured? Or do we recognize that what we treasure most can seldom be quantified, unless it is money? Should we give up and let the corporate reformers place us and our children into “the market”? Or do we resist and fight for the value of every child, for the value of deep and reflective learning, and for the principles of democracy?

He writes:

I recently finished reading two books, Jacques Ellul’s The Technological Society and Neil Postman’s Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, both of which are rather depressing for those of us who seek intellectual quality in education.

According to both authors, we have moved into a technological culture that is driven by the unstoppable quest “efficiency” and the unwavering belief that a technique (including both methods of action and specific devices) exists that will provide “maximum efficiency” for any task. Modern, so-called “neo-classical”, economic theory is based on this very idea. (Although I agree with Noam Chomsky that “neo-classical” is neither new nor classical.) Not surprisingly then, the dogmas of neo-classcial economists are treated like the dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church during the Reformation. As Ellul notes, the problem is a sociological and cultural one, one that we cannot simply “correct” by modifying our attitudes or values. Only a radical change in society can really change our culture.

So, when I look at the reformers, I have begun to see that they are the champions of the technological culture (technopoly) and are applying the values and tenets of that culture to our schools. (Which, as T.S. Elliot once remarked, are the repositories of our culture.) Since neo-classcial dogma teaches the rational inerrancy of the “the market” in determining the most efficient practices, then schools must be privatized. The market needs “objective measures” of school, teacher, and student performance. Since computers can manipulate data in an “objective” way, then we must structure our schools to function in accordance with computer-based evaluations of schools, students, and teachers. To do anything else is, by definition, irrational.

To defeat this, we must start to offer a different vision. A vision that puts humans and human development ahead of “efficiency” and “rationality”. That’s a tall order. For me, it requires returning to the basic values of the Western intellectual tradition, since our current cultural monster arose from the abuses of modern thought that displaced the ideas of the Enlightenment after the Industrial Revolution. I think we can do this, but it will a long, hard road.

I don’t often agree with Jay Greene because he is a proponent of school choice, especially vouchers. I disagree, as I see no benefit to giving public money to religious schools and tossing aside one of our important traditions, i.e., separation of church and state. Greene is chair of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, which is funded in part by the Walton Family Foundation, which commits its considerable resources to privatization of public education.

 

But Greene has been remarkably wise on his comments about the Common Core. His recent writings have echoed a theme that I first encountered when I read Yale sociologist James Scott’s Seeing Like a State. In this book, Scott explains and demonstrates the many disastrous errors committed by technocrats and central planners who thought that they could move around entire populations and reconstruct entire cities and landscapes by their grandiose plans. Scott shows how time and again these supersize plans have come to a disastrous end because they failed to take into consideration that people are not ants, not checkers on a checker board, not inanimate objects whose lives can be rearranged at the will of government planners. Worse, they never listen to the people on the ground who are tasked with making their plans work. What worked beautifully on the drawing board turned out to be a giant failure because people who “see like a state” are, frankly, out of touch with reality and with the real lives of real people. More often than not, the craftsmen on the ground have knowledge that is unknown and unappreciated and scorned by the central planners.

 

Greene’s recent posts (see here and here) point out that it is a gigantic mistake to aim for total victory. He notes that the planners of the Common Core standards thought they could engineer a coup: get the U.S. Department of Education on board, get their program funded by the nation’s largest foundation (and expect that most of the others would jump aboard), buy the support of almost every D.C. advocacy group, pay off the education organizations, persuade the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable to acclaim their efforts, and poof!–victory was assured! Dissent is brushed aside, critics are dismissed out of hand as “Tea Party” and “extremists.” Editorial boards endorse the Common Core, puff pieces are strategically placed in the media. Yet, it is not working. What went wrong?

 

Greene writes in the first post:

 

Ed reform has been going through a bad stretch lately. Currently dominant reform theories are the result of technocratic thinking. They seek to identify (and impose) “optimal” topics to be taught, ways to teach those subjects, methods for training teachers, strategies for evaluating and motivating teachers, etc… An army of economists or economist-wannabes have seized the reins of reform organizations with the hope that their next regression will tell everyone what to do to solve the mystery of improving schools. They pay little heed to history, which might alert them to the failure of past efforts similar to their brave new undertakings. And they are unfamiliar with basic lessons from political science on the dangers and failures of technocratic central planning.

 

In his second post, he explains why it is a mistake to seek total and complete victory, a complete reconstruction of people’s work and lives, and why such grandiose plans usually fail:

Technocrats are inclined to seek total and final victory. If science or the experts have shown something to be wrong, why should that wrong be allowed to continue anywhere? This produces a tendency to over-reach. Technocrats can’t tolerate the notion that a solution won’t cover everybody and improve things for everyone. If things are bad in Mississippi it just ruins their whole day.

But trying to fix everything, everywhere usually leads to fixing nothing anywhere — or sometimes to making things much worse. In the end the technocrat doesn’t seem as motivated by helping as many people as possible, as much as motivated by the unreasonable feeling of responsibility for “allowing” something bad to continue for someone. But addressing your inner angst about someone still suffering somewhere at the expense of making progress toward helping more people is egotistical. It isn’t about you. You are not the Master of the Universe who “allows” bad things to happen. You’re just a person trying to work with others to make progress….Even if you are a standards and test-based accountability person, you are better off not seeking total victory as the Common Core people have. Yes, some states had lousy standards. And yes, some tests were poorly designed or had low thresholds for passing. But trying to fix all standards and tests, everywhere, all at once is the wrong approach. Seeking this total victory has more fully mobilized the opponents of all standards and testing. In response to a more heavy-handed and top-down national effort, more previously un-involved people have flocked to the anti-testing side. Not only will these folks undermine effective implementation of Common Core, but in their counter-effort to roll back national standards, they will destroy much of what was good about state standards and tests. The whole idea of standards and test-based accountability is being undermined by the imprudent over-reach of Common Core.

 

Greene ends his second post with a sage observation that ought to be pinned to the wall in every government office, every executive suite of every foundation, and every advocacy group:

 

Whether your preferred policy solution is based on standards and accountability, parental choice, instructional reform, or something else, the better approach to reform is gradual and decentralized so that everyone can learn and adapt. Your reform strategy has to be consistent with the diverse, decentralized, and democratic country in which we live. You won’t fix everything for everyone right away, but you should avoid Great Leaps Forward. Seek partial victories because with the paradoxical logic of ed reform politics total victory ultimately leads to total defeat.

 

 

 

 

Reader Laura Chapman has done some research on the education entrepreneurs  now meeting in Scottsdale to learn more about how to profit from the public education industry. Note that tickets for the event ranged from $1,000-2,000. In addition, there were many sponsors. Whatever comes from this conference, it is a gold mine for its organizers:

 

I was also doing research on this. My direct quotes come from press releases and one extended interview with Michael Moe.

 

The sell-out crowd of about 2000 ed tech promoters meeting in Scottsdale, AZ have been promised this event is their “Davos” for understanding how big profits be made in the education business— K-12 and higher education—where investors put $650 million last year. This market is expected to grow rapidly around the CCSS, and with spillover effects from the federal “college and career” mantra. The pace of innovation in tech tools for some profitable “educational use” is said to be breathtaking.

 

Over 230 “disruptive education companies” will present their wares to “industry leaders and visionaries – educators, investors, philanthropists… with “some of the world’s most passionate and energetic players in the education innovation space…” The purpose is “to stimulate opinions, debate, fundraising, strategic alliances and overall community activism toward global enrichment.” (We know what counts as “enrichment” and who wants to gets rich).

 

The summit theme is the “American Dream” — “a global aspiration rooted in the conviction that opportunity is limitless and that education makes possible social mobility and prosperity.” For the participants, limitless prosperity means scaling ”education innovation globally” thereby driving “a higher return on education.”

 

The annual Summit is the brainchild of two people: Michael Moe, serial investor in ed-tech startups and Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University since 2002. Moe is a champion of charter and for-profit schools and CEO of a big pot of money for tech industry projects. Michael M. Crow is known as a ”transformational” leader in higher education eager to have the university be a model of savvy (and cash-producing) liaisons with business.

 

President Crow’s view of the Summit is clear: “Universities must become effective partners for global development. Only through the proliferation of networks —such as those the Summit helps to build—can transformation occur at the scale that is immediately needed in order to advance our global knowledge economy.”

 

Both Michaels, Moe and Crow, think that “immediate scaling up” means disrupting public education. According to one press release, the most “disruptive organizations” in education will be presenting at the Summit, including DonorsChoose, edX, Code.org, Minerva, Inkling along with five of Moe’s investments: Coursera, Curious.com, DreamBox Learning, General Assembly, and Knewton
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/2014-asugsv-summit-to-feature-gov-jeb-bush-earvin-magic-johnson-netflix-ceo-reed-hastings-and-more-than-225-game-changing-education-companies-250681841.html

 

The event is part of Arizona State University’s Education Innovation Network described as an “open innovation platform where entrepreneurs can find the resources to validate concepts, accelerate growth, and reach transformative scale” working with “the intellectual assets of ASU, the greater Phoenix public and private educational K-20 systems and investors of all types….”

 

In a 2011 interview, Moe (who seems to be connected at the hip to ASU’s president Crow) said that he hopes ASU will serve as a model for other universities, and as a hub of innovative activity. Moe heaps praise on Crow’s “bold leadership” of ASU and its “unique initiatives such as its partnership with Teach For America, which aspires to have a scale impact.” Not mentioned by Moe, and apparently ignored by ASU’s president, are the frauds perpetuated by Teach for America. See http://www.google.com/#q=teach+for+america+%2B+Fraud

 

Moe praises ASU’s president as a skilled and visionary manager of intellectual talent working in and on behalf of education. Crow’s bio shows that he lauded by free-marketers who want to see many more public universities function as service-providers for full-spectrum entrepreneurial activity and economic development. This agenda is not entirely new, but the trend is clearly against a tradition of academic freedom in scholarship, with the university nurturing a mental environment for basic research and many studies not tied to economic values.

 

Moe was also impressed with Crow’s recent success in recruiting faculty in education, specifically “a highly regarded head of research from Vanderbilt.” I have not been able to determine who that person is, but since 2006 Vanderbilt’s research in education has been devoted to teacher pay-for-performance, aided by a $10 million USDE grant in addition to a relationship with Mathematica on a five-year, $7.9 million study on the same topic. Well-designed experimental studies, including some by Vanderbilt researchers, have shown that such schemes have no significant and uniform influence on student test scores, even if the bonus is up to $15,000 !! USDE poured $600 million into similar grants to market this idea through “research.”
see https://my.vanderbilt.edu/performanceincentives/about-us/ also http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/education/tif.asp
The study with the $15,000 bonus is at http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED518378.pdf

 

In addition, Moe sees the state of Arizona leading the way, not only as an early adopter of charter schools but as home state of the University of Phoenix, the world’s largest for-profit, along with Grand Canyon University, and Universal Technical Institute. All three are widely known centers of fraud in recruiting and “educating” students. Moe ignores that inconvenient truth. See:
http://www.google.com/#q=fraud+university+of+phoenix http://www.google.com/#q=fraud+%2BGrand+Canyon http://www.google.com/#q=fraud+%2B+Universal+Technical+Institute.

 

Finally, in praising ASU, Arizona, and the Phoenix area as the milieu for the Summit, Moe notes the presence of corporate giants such as INTEL and Honeywell and innovators such as First Solar. Again, no mention of the multi-year class action lawsuit filed by investors in First Solar. See http://www.google.com/#q=First+Solar+%3D+Lawsuits

 

Here are some hints from Moe on where education innovations will go in the near term. 1. Investors will be drawn to the iphone, apps, and related networks as a learning platform for K-12 with adaptive technology for individualized learning similar to recommendation systems of Amazon and Netflix. 2. Teacher training and tools for the CCSS are “a sweet spot.” 3. In higher education, more “partnerships” of universities with online corporations offering courseware and social learning. More at http://higheredmanagement.net/2011/01/13/asus-education-innovation-network-an-interview-with-michael-moe/

 

Education Week reports that inBloom is going out of business.

The company was started with a grant of $100 million from the Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, to gather confidential student data and store it on an electronic “cloud.”

The technology for collection and storage of student data belonged to Wireless Generation, a subsidiary of Amplify, run by Joel Klein and owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Parental objections were strong wherever inBloom planned to gather data.

The last state to sever ties with inBloom was New York, where the Legislature barred the State Education Department from sharing data with inBlooom.

See this story in the New York Times and you will understand why parents got angry. InBloom would have collected 400 data points about students: “But some of the details seemed so intimate — including family relationships (“foster parent” or “father’s significant other”) and reasons for enrollment changes (“withdrawn due to illness” or “leaving school as a victim of a serious violent incident”) — that parents objected, saying that they did not want that kind of information about their children transferred to a third-party vendor.”

The national leader of the fight was Leonie Haimson, leader of a New York City-based group called Class Size Matters, who testified across the nation and alerted parents to the possible breach of their children’s confidential data.

A reader from the Netherlands noticed  the recent post by Mario Waissbluth in Chile. Waissbuth said that Chileans were looking to the Netherlands as a possible model as Chile tries to extricate itself from decades of privatization. The privatization was launched by the dictator Pinochet, whose advisors admired the libertarian ideas of Milton Friedman.

 

Our reader from the Netherlands commented:

 

In The Netherlands, the situation has changed in the past 15 years. It used to be the case that about 60% of all schools were privately owned. The umbrella term for these schools was, and is, ‘Bijzonder Onderwijs” and this includes all schools on a religious basis (either Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim or any other denomination) as well as schools with a special educational denomination (such as Montessori, Jenaplan, Dalton, Democratic etc.). The remaining 40% of schools used to be governmental, i.e. really ‘public’.

All of these schools were (and still are) paid for by public money. Parents are asked a small yearly fee (about 25 to 100 dollars) in order for a number of extracurricular activities.

Then came the neolib overhaul. All school boards were privatized, which is merely a legal construction by which private non-profit foundations took over the former public schools. Now all Dutch primary, secondary or tertiary schools are part of some private Foundation of Union. They are not marketed, and don’t have shareholders. They receive about 8000 dollar of public money for each subscribed student. School boards can do with that money what they like, within very, very wide limitations. The ‘freedom of education’ has turned into an increased freedom for school boards, and a decreased freedom for teachers (who have to obey the boards’ working orders) and limited freedom for parents (who can send their children to a limited number of schools).

The neolib privatization overhaul was sold to the Dutch public by the usual pretexts: ‘more quality for a lower price’. As the sceptics expected, the result turned out exactly the other way. The public expenses have more than doubled in 13 years time (the cumulative inflation being less than 30%), salaries for non-teaching staff have increased hugely, as have their number. Teaching staff, however, receive lower pay, and both teaching hours and class size have increased. PISA comparisons show that results have steadily decreased, compared to similar countries, as have the qualifications of newly arrived teachers.

I find it a bit ironic that Chile would consider The Netherlands an example in order to fight segregation. The neolib overhaul and the government-forced ‘concurrency’ between schools has resulted in dramatic segregation in urban areas. The percentage of either ‘black schools’ and ‘white schools’ has increased from 25% to 75% in only two decades, and is still growing.

I used to be proud of Dutch education. That was when I started my career as a teacher, and researcher. At present, I see very little in my country’s education system or policy that can make me proud. And I certainly would not recommend it as an example to other nations.

If you live in Colorado and care about the future of our society, join this group of students, educators, and citizens, meeting on May 1.

Join the fight to reclaim our schools for learning and resist the corporate takeover.

RAVE: Re-igniting Association Values for Educators

BY PEGGY ROBERTSON

Welcome to RAVE. The RAVE caucus in Colorado has been created in a determined effort to unify Colorado through education and action as we reclaim and improve our public schools. We are parents, students, teachers, AFT members, NEA members and citizens of Colorado. We speak truth to action and we are clear in our goals to take down corporate education reform and bring authentic teaching and learning back to Colorado’s public schools. We recognize that federal mandates designed to privatize public education, along with corporate money and corporate ideology, have become the guiding forces within our public schools and many organizations that profess to support public schools. We, the citizens of Colorado, can reclaim our public schools as we organize as one and move forward with integrity and with students at the forefront.

To find out more about RAVE join us for our first meeting. We will meet at Yard House in Lone Tree on May 1st at 5:30 p.m. RSVP for the event here: RAVE May 1st Meeting and join us on FB here. See you soon!

Starting today, the nation’s leading entrepreneurs will gather for their annual conference at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, to exchange ideas about the ongoing monetization, privatization, innovation, and profits in the education “industry.” This summit was originally organized by Michael Moe, who has for years predicted that the education sector could be monetized. He was right. His company—GSV stands for Global Silicon Valley–says on its website: “Our founders have spent the past two decades focused on the Megatrends that are disrupting the $4 trillion global education market along with the innovators who are transforming the industry.”

Some of the sponsors: Pearson, the Gates Foundation, Microsoft, McGraw-Hill, Cengage, amazon, Scholastic, etc.

The speakers’ list reads like a who’s who of the privatization movement, which it is.

Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, billionaire heiress to the Hyatt fortune, former member of the board of Chicago public schools; Jeb Bush, Chris Cerf, Cami Anderson, Reed Hastings, Margaret Spellings, Tom Vander Ark, Kaya Henderson, James Shelton, Jonathan Hage, and many more in the business of education reform.

Stephanie Simon wrote about this GSV annual conference here for politico.com:

“ED TECH’S ‘DAVOS’ STARTS TODAY: Hundreds of ed tech investors and entrepreneurs will rendezvous in Scottsdale, Ariz., this week for the Education Innovation Summit. The massive meet-and-greet will surely be lively, as business is booming. The ed tech market has been on a sustained boom the past several years, with no signs of a slowdown: Capital flows into companies serving the K-12 and higher education markets jumped to $650 million last year – nearly double the $331 million invested in those spheres in 2009.

–”You’re seeing people who can invest money anywhere” turn to ed tech, said Michael Moe, co-founder of GSV Capital, a sister company to GSV Advisors. The rapid growth of companies such as Coursera, Edmodo and Knewton “attracts the big players,” Moe said, who see an opportunity for big profit. And the Common Core is helping the cause: The standards are making ed tech more attractive because entrepreneurs can now tailor their product to a single set of academic guidelines. Several notable investment deals have closed in the past month alone.

More for Pros, from Stephanie Simon: http://politico.pro/1pmsymu

An editorial in the Glens Falls (NY) Post-Journal deplores Governor Andrew Cuomo’s disastrous policies, which are stripping rural public schools of resources and driving them into economic calamity.

 

Governor Cuomo is not just balancing the state budget on the backs of poor school children, the editorial says, he is literally standing on their backs in his reach for the presidency.

 

So eager is he to preserve his reputation as a fiscal conservative that he has denied rural schools the funding they need to provide a decent education to its children.

 

To meet Cuomo’s demands, class sizes have increased, schools have closed, teachers have been laid off, the middle school band was eliminated, foreign language classes were cut, and the Glens Falls district still can’t balance its budget.

 

We know that Governor Cuomo loves testing and loves the Common Core, but neither of these initiatives will compensate for the damage that his policies are doing to the children in upstate New York.

 

In the latest state budget, Governor Cuomo became a champion of the billionaires’ charter schools, which enroll 3% of the children in the state. What about the children in impoverished rural districts? Don’t they count? Governor Cuomo also found it in his heart to eliminate a tax on the banks, removing a source of revenue that could have been used to replenish the coffers of rural schools.

 

Let’s face it. Our governor, who once declared himself the “students’ lobbyist,” is the lobbyist for Wall Street. He doesn’t care about public education. He doesn’t realize that the children in school today are the future of our state. It’s all about him and his campaign contributors.

 

 

 

Alan Singer gets credit for one of the most creative headlines of the year. He calls his article “The Dishonorable Andrew Cuomo Meets the Hedge Fund / Charter School Zombies.”

Governor Cuomo has indeed dishonored his office by selling out the public schools, which enroll the vast majority of children in New York State, and paying court to his campaign contributors who love charter schools, which enroll 3% of the children.

Singer refers to the Camp Philos meeting in the Adirondacks, where Governor Cuomo will host a group of other cheerleaders for privatized charter schools.

The meeting is sponsored by a hedge-fund back group called “Education Reform Now.” What they mean by “education reform” is hand over your community public school NOW to a corporation that will pay outrageous executive salaries and will keep out the students with the highest needs and boast about its test scores.

Who will join Governor Cuomo to promote the strangulation of public education?

As Singer writes:

According to the online agenda, break-out sessions include discussions on “The Next Big Thing: Groundbreaking Approaches to Teacher Preparation,” “Up, Down, and Sideways: Building an Effective School Reform Coalition,” ” Tight-Loose Options for Ensuring All Kids Have Access to a Great Education,” and “Collaborative Models for Changing State and Local Teacher Policies.” But really only one topic will be discussed – How to promote and profit from the privatization of public education in the United States.

Education Reform Now (ERN) is a non-profit advocacy group that lobbies state and federal public officials to support charter schools and tougher teacher evaluations and tenure requirements. In Washington state it supported a successful effort to lift the state ban on charter schools. While ERN claims to be left-leaning, in New Jersey it has been allied with Governor Chris Christie in efforts to weaken the teachers union, increase the number of years before teachers are eligible for tenure, and to evaluate teacher based on student performance on high-stakes standardized assessments.

It is no surprise that Cuomo, who has presidential ambitions, is lending his name to the retreat. Education Reform Now has donated $65,000 to Cuomo’s campaign chest since 2010 through a series of political action committee. Members of the ERN Board of Directors and founders of its “unofficially” affiliated political action committee, Democrats for Education Reform, also give individual contributions to Cuomo. They include John Petry, a board member for ERN, co-founder of DFER, founder and manager of Sessa Capital, and co-chair of New York City’s Success Academy Charter Schools. Other ERN/DFER deep pocket hedge fund operators who help bankroll Cuomo are Joel Greenblatt, founder of Gotham Capital and co-chair of the Success Academy network and Whitney Tilson, founder and managing partner of Kase Capital Management. A DFER representative described the retreat as an “opportunity for elected officials, advocacy leaders, and philanthropists to come together to discuss policy and political ideas to reform education.”

The board of directors of Education Reform Now reads like a list of the royalty of the hedge fund world, Singer writes. Quite a coup for a man with Presidential ambitions to gather so many of the super-rich in one location.

No wonder people refer to Andrew Cuomo as “Governor 1%.” He knows where his priorities lie. No, it is not with the children.

 

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