Earlier today, I posted an article criticizing Michigan’s floundering and unaccountable charter schools, based on a report by Education Trust Midwest. I have long known EdTrust as a DC-based organization heavily funded by the Gates Foundation as a cheerleader for high-stakes Testing as the remedy for low test scores of black and brown children. Last night, I saw a tweet that referenced the PIE Network, a collection of 70 corporate education reform groups spread across the nation, all committed to the testing and privatization network. There in Michigan was Education Trust Midwest. Check it and seee which groups in your state are part of this insidious network.

In a comment posted earlier on the blog, Nancy Flanagan, a veteran teacher and blogger, offers reasons not to trust EdTrust on the topic of charter schools.

She writes:

“I once was on the dias with Amber Arellano for a panel discussion on improving MI schools. The setting was an event for Oakland County school boards. Oakland County is Michigan’s richest county, and most of its public school districts are well-regarded, among the top-scoring districts in the state. The audience was elected school board members for these PUBLIC school districts, people who were presumably focused on improving the educational offerings and succcesses in the districts they represented.

“And what did Amber Arellano, Education Trust Midwest’s glamorous and charismatic CEO want to talk about? Charter schools and increasing choice. She framed her remarks by noting the number of failed charters in nearby Detroit. Left unsaid, but hanging in the air: Charters in Oakland County wouldn’t fail, because, well… let’s just say that the student populations would be different. Oakland County kids would benefit from an array of boutique charters for students’ individual passions and interests. Oakland County charters would be managed by innovative educators.

“That was her message. I was stunned. Wasn’t this audience dedicated to preserving public education?? Evidently not, as she was surrounded, after the program, by would-be innovators and entrepreneurs, wanting her advice on how to capitalize on MI’s charter laws.

“Her chief talking point is reflected in the report: You, too, can start a charter, but to sustain it, you must generate “good data.”

“This is the next logical step in Michigan’s utterly failed charter movement (driven by terrible legislation): First, we attract families to charters in areas (like Detroit) where public schools are in intense poverty and have been mismanaged by the state. The low-hanging fruit. Then, we go after the school districts that aren’t in trouble, while pointing fingers at the charters (and charter operators) who are taking on the most troubled kids. We can do better, we tell them.

“The purpose of this report is to spread the charter movement into solidly performing public districts who have thus far resisted the lure of the boutique charter, by once again contrasting (mostly white) children of privilege with children in struggling, underfunded schools in our poorest cities and rural areas.”