A regular reader, Laura H. Chapmam, curriculum consultant in the arts, asks: Who speaks for teachers? And, who is paid to appear to speak for teachers?

Chapman writes:

A collective teacher voice has depended on unions. The billionaires are recruiting teachers who are not friendly to unions, with the blessing of PR firms that USDE put in charge of helping states and districts comply with RttT requirements, including pay-for-performance.

The PR initiative, funded at $43 million, is dubbed the Reform Support Network (RSN). A 2012 publication from the PR writers working for RSN suggested that districts enlist teacher SWAT teams to head off criticism of the draconian federal requirements, in addition, a recent publication (May, 2014) offers states and districts over 35 other “messaging” strategies.

One of the “other” strategies is enlisting “teacher voice groups.” A “teacher voice group” is RSNs name for a non-union advocacy collective that depends on funding from private foundations favoring pay-for-performance.

Five voice groups are mentioned by name.

All have received major funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Teach Plus ($9.5 million), Center for Teacher Quality ($6.3 million), Hope Street Group ($4.7 million), Educators for Excellence ($3.9 million), and Teachers United ($942, 000). Other foundations are supporting these groups.

For example, Teach Plus receives “partner” grants from eight other foundations (including the Broad, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Joyce) and several major investment firms.

These groups are building out, state-by-state, in an effort to control conversations about “what teachers want. They are amplifiers of the wishes of the billionaires who fund them.

One of the major subcontracts for the USDE marketing campaign for $6.3 million, went to Education First. The founding partner is Jennifer Vranek, a former advocacy expert with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She and others working for Education First helped a number of states apply for the RttT competition. They have fashioned PR campaigns for the Common Core State Standards in many states. The firm’s website includes a sample of its communication and advocacy services: “Outreach and public-engagement strategies and activities; strategic communications planning; reports, white papers and articles designed to synthesize, explain and persuade; development of communications tools, including marketing materials, web copy, press releases, and social media content.”

All this is just more evidence that the question is not just about who speaks for teachers, but who pays teachers to be spokespersons for union-hating billionaires, and why do these teachers have so little respect for due-process rights, including contracts that are not entirely dependent on the pathology of testing promoted in federal and state policies?