Teach for America has created a spin-off called Leaders for Educational Excellence that quietly trains and supports the ambitions of former TFA and their ascent to positions of power.

Teach for America, through LEE, hopes to take charge of the reins of power in many districts, states, and the halls of Congress.

TFA, of course, is a mainstay of the corporate reform movement, supplying the ill-trained recruits to the charter chains like Rocketship and gaining elective positions by espousing the slogans of “reform.”

Electoral work amounts to less than a third of LEE’s budget, its officials say, but it has nevertheless fueled popular accounts of the organization, mostly critical. Such accounts accuse the group of supporting candidates who espouse a particular “corporate” brand of education policy focused on expanding charter schools and test-based accountability.

Critics point to prominent TFA alumni and LEE members, such as Bill Ferguson, a state senator in Maryland, who sponsored legislation that included an iteration of the “parent trigger.” That policy permits parents to turn over the management of schools to outside operators.

LEE officials contest such depictions.

“We do not exist to propagate policy,” said Mr. Buman.

And Stephen Sawchuck’s article in Education Week adds:

The connection to TFA also appears to have given LEE-backed candidates access to an informal network that can fuel spending. Campaign-finance records from the Nevada state board races, for instance, turn up some of the same donors who have contributed to other endeavors affiliated with so-called “reform” priorities, including charter school expansion and teacher evaluations linked to student test scores.

Those contributors include Alan Fournier, who helps finance the New Jersey chapter of StudentsFirst, the advocacy group founded by former District of Columbia Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, and Charles Ledley, a donor to Democrats for Education Reform, a political action committee.

“There’s a strong network of people who are supportive of TFA alums, regardless of what their policy or visions are for the respective school systems,” Mr. Esteves said.

In essence, the issue boils down to one of self-selection: Even if LEE itself is politically neutral, it supports candidates who by definition must take policy stands. And those who reach out for its help may well favor a certain approach after being immersed in TFA’s philosophy, Mr. McGuinn of Drew University said.

It is doubtless sheer accident that TFA/LEE-supported candidates support charter schools, test-based evaluation, and the same policy prescriptions as Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst.

Hey, I live in Brooklyn. Anyone want to buy a world-famous bridge?