Lee Fang is one of our most extraordinary investigative journalists. He is one of the few who has looked behind the rhetoric of the privatization movement that calls itself a “reform” movement. Unfortunately, the goal of “reform” is to dismantle the public sector and turn it over to entrepreneurs. In 2011, Fang wrote a blockbuster exposé about the online industry and its ties to politicians.

In this article, Lee Fang describes Ted Mitchell, who has been nominated to serve as Undersecretary of Education, the second most powerful spot in the U.S. Department of Education.

Mitchell is chief executive officer of the NewSchools Venture Fund, which promotes and funds charter schools and for-profit ventures.

Fang writes:

“As head of the NewSchools Venture Fund, Mitchell oversees investments in education technology start-ups. In July, Zynga, the creators of FarmVille, provided $1 million to Mitchell’s group to boost education gaming companies. Mitchell’s NewSchool Venture Fund also reportedly partners with Pearson, the education mega-corporation that owns a number of testing and test-book companies, along with one prominent for-profit virtual charter school, Connections Academy.

“Jeff Bryant, a senior fellow with the Campaign for America’s Future, says it seems likely that Mitichell will “advocate for more federal promotion of online learning, ‘blended’ models of instruction, ‘adaptive learning’ systems, and public-private partnerships involving education technology.”

“Mitchell did not respond to TheNation.com’s request for comment.

“His ethics disclosure form shows that he was paid $735,300 for his role at NewSchools, which is organized as a non-profit. In recent years, he has served or is currently serving as a director to New Leaders, Khan Academy, California Education Partners, Teach Channel, ConnectED, Hameetman Foundation, the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, Silicon Schools, Children Now, Bellwether Partners, Pivot Learning Partners, EnCorps Teacher Training Program, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and the Green DOT Public Schools.

“In addition, Mitchell serves as an adviser to Salmon River Capital, a venture capital firm that specializes in education companies. Mitchell sits on the board of Parchment, an academic transcript start-up that is among Salmon River Capital’s portfolio.

“Salmon River Capital helped create one of the biggest names in for-profit secondary education, Capella University. “As a foundational investor and director, [Salmon River Capital’s] Josh Lewis made invaluable contributions to Capella’s success. From leading our landmark financing in 2000, when Capella was a $10 million business operating in a difficult environment, through a successful 2006 IPO and beyond, he proved a great partner who kept every commitment he made,” reads a statement from Steve Shank, founder of Capella.”

In sum, the fox has been put in charge of the henhouse.