Gary Rubinstein, once deeply embedded in the world of Teach for America, is a close observer of the world of top-Down, billionaire-funded corporate reform. In the past, he wrote open letters to leading reformers and some responded.

Lately, he has noticed an effort by reformers to rebrand themselves. Now, one of the leading practitioners of “reform” posted an article on the main reform website saying she does not want to be called a Reformer anymore. She rejects the label. But she disparages those who object to “Reform” as “stand patters.”

He writes:

The ‘reformers’ had a pretty good run. From about 2008 until just recently ‘reformers’ had their way. With Race To The Top they got states to invent complicated, though supposedly objective, ways to measure teacher quality by analyzing standardized test scores. Bill Gates funded many studies to show that this was working. But after ten years, it became clear that the ‘reformers’ didn’t really know much about improving education and maybe they didn’t deserve to have the steering wheel anymore.

But people don’t give up power easily. So they changed their strategy. They ditched the toxic Michelle Rhee — last I heard she was working for Miracle-Gro. They set up some propaganda websites, like The74, and got a new leader, Campbell Brown. Then Campbell Brown was out and not really replaced by anyone.

Not all ‘reformers’ agreed on all issues. Some liked vouchers and private schools, some didn’t. But what all ‘reformers’ had in common was the belief that the main obstacle to education improvement in this country is people, including the majority of teachers in this country, who are defenders of the ‘Status Quo’.

But the term ‘reformer’ was still out there and, to teachers especially, it means that someone who knows little to nothing about education who is making top-down decisions that will result in students learning less. So some ‘reformers,’ realizing that they had a tainted brand, began abandoning the term.

It seems the term “Reformer” has become toxic. But the money backing “reform” is so huge that it just keeps stumbling forward, certain about what other people should do, loaded with money and power, but without any examples of success.