Greg Windle, writing for The Notebook in Philadelphia, writes here about polite corruption in bidding for public contracts on the Philadelphia School System, which is run by a Broadie, William Hite.

“In a dispute over a lucrative contract for principal coaching, a bidder [Joseph Merlino] has accused the District of ignoring its procurement procedures, as well as state and local bidding requirements.

“The company has filed a complaint in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas demanding the District and school board agree to follow their own contracting procedure in the future to avoid undermining public confidence in the integrity of the process…the District is preparing to argue that it has no obligation to follow state law or enter into competitive bidding when it awards contracts for professional services, despite promising to do so in its procedures sent to bidders.”

The contract was for training principals. The bidder who lost co,planned that his organization had a more experienced team and a lower bid than the bidder who won, which was The New Teacher Project. The decision was made by someone with informal ties to The New Teacher Project.

“Underlying this dispute is a concern over long-term outsourcing of this type of work, as well as a clash of philosophies over the best way to train teachers and principals in leadership. This clash pits those favoring more traditional means against others promoting a more “disruptive” approach that has been advocated by major national education players, including the Gates and Walton foundations, and the groups they fund, such as the New Teacher Project, which was awarded the contract….

“In a complaint sent to the District as a prelude to his court action, Merlino noted that the District’s deputy in the department that selected the New Teacher Project, out of nine who submitted bids, was on a two-year fellowship with School Systems Leaders, part of an informal network of organizations that grew out of Teach for America and includes the New Teacher Project. School Systems Leaders seeks to place Teach for America alumni in high-level administrative positions within public school districts….

“In his complaint, Merlino noted that the contract was awarded when Katie Schlesinger was a deputy in the office of Leadership Development & Evaluation, which managed the bidding process. At the time, she also had a fellowship through School Systems Leaders.

“School Systems Leaders and the New Teachers Project are both spinoffs of TFA, and both function by staffing rank-and-file positions with TFA corps members or alumni. And they both receive funding from the same venture capitalist firm – the NewSchools Venture Fund.”

One hand scratches the other.

This deal stinks.