Search results for: "jonah edelman"

Randi Weingarten and Jonah Edelman co-wrote an article in today’s Los Angeles Times, standing strong against vouchers.

I still remember Jonah Edelman as the guy who bragged at the Aspen Ideas Festival that he had crushed the teachers’ union in Chicago by buying up all the best lobbyists and raising the bar for a strike to 75% of the membership. I remember that he went to Massachusetts and threatened a referendum unless the unions capitulated to his demands. Stand for Children was showered with millions by the Gates Foundation and other promoters of the corporate reform agenda. Edelman strongly supports charter schools, even though they promote racial segregation.

In the middle of a strong article against vouchers, this paragraph was dropped in:

We believe taxpayer money should support schools that are accountable to voters, open to all, nondenominational and transparent about students’ progress. Such schools — district and charter public schools — are part of what unites us as a country.

It is public schools that unites us as a country, not charter schools. We have seen a steady parade of scandals, frauds, abuses, waste of taxpayer dollars, exclusion of children with special needs, from the charter sector.

Charter schools should be subject to democratic control (an elected school board), should be financially transparent, and should have the same requirements for teachers as public schools. They should be required to accept all children who apply, in the order of their application. They should not be allowed to exclude ELLs and children with disabilities.

Charter schools exist to bust unions and undermine public schools. They are a form of privatization. They should not be put into the same boat as public schools because they are not public schools.

Here is one of those blog battles that are very informative.


Awhile back, a group of civil rights organizations came out in favor of retaining annual testing as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (NCLB). A smaller group issued another statement critical of parents who opt their children out of annual standardized testing.


Marc Tucker wrote a post saying that annual tests have harmed poor minority students, and they should reconsider their position. He was criticized strongly by Kati Haycock of Education Trust and Jonah Edelman of Stand for Children, who support annual testing.


In this post, Tucker responds to Haycock and Edelman. All of the links are embedded in his post, including the link to civil rights leaders who disagree with the organizational statement.


He says there is no evidence for their assertions and urges them to base their critique on facts, not attacks.


As you read this debate, be sure to read the statement by Seattle teacher and activist Jesse Hagopian and the board of the Network for Public Education, critiquing annual testing. The Seattle chapter of the NAACP opposes annual standardized testing.


You might also want to see Mercedes Schneider’s overview of this debate, in which she points out Haycock’s failure to cite any evidence.



An earlier post today came from an educator who said he resigned from ASCD to protest its invitation to Jonah Edelman to speak at the annual convention. It appeared on Fred Klonsky’s blog. The writer was angry because he shared many of Stand for Children’s original principles and was stunned by its anti-teacher activities in Illinois and elsewhere.

Jonah Edelman is no longer listed as a speaker at the ASCD convention.

A few days ago, the Chicago Teachers Union voted overwhelmingly to strike.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Just a year ago, Jonah Edelman of Stand for Children boasted at the Aspen Ideas Festival how he had outsmarted the teachers’ union. He described how he had shaped legislation not only to cut back teachers’ job protections but to prevent the Chicago union from ever striking. He told the nation’s elite, ‘if it could happen in Illinois, it could happen anywhere.” Stand for Children was once a grassroots group but has now become one of the active leaders in the corporate reform campaign to advance privatization and bring teachers to heel.

Speaking to a gathering of the nation’s elite at Aspen, Edelman offered a template to beat back public employees in other states. Armed with millions of dollars supplied by wealthy financiers, he hired  the top lobbyists in Illinois and won favor with the top politicians. He shaped legislation to use test scores for evaluating teachers, to strip due process rights from teachers, and to assure that teachers lost whatever job protections they had. In his clever and quiet campaign behind the scenes, he even managed to split the state teachers’ unions.

His biggest victory consisted of isolating the Chicago Teachers Union and imposing arequirement that it could not strike without the approval of 75% of its members. Edelman gleefully told the assorted corporate reformers, charter sponsors, and equity investors in his audience how he had skillfully outfoxed the teachers, leaving them powerless. He was certain that the CTU would never be able to get a vote of 75% of its members. It would never be possible.

Guess what? Jonah Edelman was wrong. Nearly 90% of the members of CTU voted to authorize a strike to protest Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s policies of more work for no more pay, privatization of public education, and increased class sizes. To be exact, 89,73% of the CTU voted to authorize a strike, 1.82% voted “no,” and 91.55% of members cast a vote.

Sorry, Jonah. You don’t know what mass action means. You have no idea what happens when working people organize and mobilize and stand together against the powerful financiers and politicians that you now represent.

Karen Lewis showed that the teachers of Chicago stand together against mayoral authoritarianism. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has demanded that they teach longer hours without additional pay; he has allowed class sizes to rise; he has dealt contemptuously with teachers; he has made clear his preference for privatization.

There’s more of this story yet to unfold, and we will keep watch. But for now,the important lesson is that the teachers of Chicago showed Jonah Edelman that the money gathered from hedge fund managers and other equity financiers can’t buy them.

Now the only remaining mystery is how the son of a legendary civil rights leader, Marian Wright Edelman, became an acorn that fell so very far from the tree.


Betsy DeVos founded and funded the American Federation for Children, which advocates for vouchers.

AFC issued this statement today:

AFC Statement on Weingarten-Edelman Op-Ed

The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, released the following statement in response to the Los Angeles Times op-ed from Randi Weingarten and Jonah Edelman.

Statement from Kevin P. Chavous, founding board member and executive counsel for the American Federation for Children:

Today’s op-ed by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, and Stand for Children President Jonah Edelman is a disservice to millions of parents and children across the nation who want nothing more than equal access to a quality education.

The op-ed is full of hyberbole and outright inaccuracies.

First, the headline is rich with irony. It is school choice–directly empowering parents to choose the best educational environment for their child–that is the most democratic of ideas. Rather than undermining public schools, choice helps public schools by virtue of having to compete with other options. Only among the K-12 establishment would competition be considered undermining public schools.

Second, the Administration’s FY 2018 budget proposal does not “siphon billions of dollars from public schools to fund private and religious school vouchers.” It is not “diverting $1 billion into voucher programs.” These are completely false statements. The Administration’s budget proposes $1.4 billion for school choice–$1.15 billion of which is for public school choice. Moreover, all but $250 million of these proposed resources would remain in public schools.

Third, the op-ed states “facts show that where vouchers have been into practice on a meaningful scale, they hurt student learning.” The op-ed also cites a recently released study of first year data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences saying it “adds to a growing body of education research that concludes vouchers may harm rather help student achievement.” These too are completely false statements.

Leaving aside the obvious fact that parents themselves have chosen to participate in private school choice programs, the body of research on these programs proves they work for children fortunate enough to participate.

Prior to the IES report, there have been 15 empirical studies examining academic outcomes for students participating in private school choice using random assignment, the “gold standard” of defensible social science:

• 10 found improved test scores for school choice participants
• 3 found no significant effect for school choice participants
• 2 found negative impact in the early years of study for school choice participants

21 studies examined school choice and how it impacts academic outcomes in public schools:

• 20 found that school choice improved public school academic outcomes
• 1 found no significant effect on academic outcomes from school choice

Finally, the School Superintendents Association “research” into states with existing tax credit scholarship programs and how some “donors have been able to make a profit off the backs of taxpayers and ultimately kids.” Perhaps Weingarten and Edelman are unaware of how tax credit scholarship programs work. Corporate and individual donors pay state taxes. They make a contribution to a local non-profit that provides scholarships for eligible children to attend a private school of their parents choice. They get a tax credit, they don’t make a profit. Parents and children across the nation would be fortunate indeed if the Administration and Congress were to adopt a federal tax credit because it would facilitate access to a quality education for another 1 million students–most of whom will graduate and go on to college as the body of research into these programs clearly demonstrates.

Take away the hyperbole and inaccuracies, what Randi Weingarten and Jonah Edelman truly oppose is giving parents, especially low-income parents, the ability to choose something other than their neighborhood traditional public school. While some of these neighborhood schools may be terrific schools, many are clearly not, which is why millions seek other options. The teachers’ unions oppose choice in education–period. The fact that organizations like Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform prefer to stand with the teachers’ unions rather than standing with the 3.5 million children in charter schools and private choice programs, and the millions more who desperately want access to better options, speaks volumes.

In an earlier post, I described how Michelle Rhee’s Students First collects “members” whenever anyone unwittingly signs a petition at for a “kittens and puppies” cause or when they agree that they respect teachers. This is deceptive advertising. It turns out that Jonah Edelman’s Stand for Children also benefited by misleading people who signed heart-warming petitions at

Never doubt that citizens can make a difference. In response to protests and petitions, will no longer be collecting signatures for Rhee or Edelman because their organizations are anti-union. claims to be a progressive website, not just a free-market platform for anything. As a progressive website, it was subject to growing criticism for enabling groups like Students First and Stand for Children to promote their agenda of privatization and union-busting.

And don’t doubt for a minute that one person can make a difference. Aaron Krager communicated directly with and wrote a blistering critique of their actions. Krager wrote: can hide behind Stand for Children’s focus group tested mission statement all it wants. It doesn’t stop the truth from existing. Stand for Children wants to privatize education, pick and choose the students who receive it, take away the rights of the people working in the schools, and allow corporate funders to dictate education policy. It simply does not fall in line with’s own policies. Saying so denies the truth and merely aligns Change with the one percent that already benefit at our expense.

Just because a group claims to be working for “the civil rights issue of our era” does not mean it’s true. Now, even Mitt Romney says that his agenda of vouchers, charters and privatization is a civil rights agenda. It is not. Stand for Children claims on its website to be working on behalf of better education by promoting its anti-union, privatization campaign. That is not a civil rights agenda. Michelle Rhee is promoting charters, vouchers, and privatization while encouraging rightwing governors to strip teachers of any right to due process and collective bargaining. These are not progressive groups. They work hand-in-glove with those who want to roll back the New Deal. They work not for children but for the powerful elites who like privatization.


A READER SENDS THIS WARNING: is still collecting sigs for the group. Their petitions remain. The only thing they have agreed to is to stop offering them paid promotion of their petitions. Please read the HufPo article more closely and you’ll see this is so. They have already gained over a million sigs through these automatic ads.

Bottom line: Don’t sign any petitions on until you feel certain that you are not automatically registered as a “member” of Students First or Stand for Children without your knowledge.

Karen Lewis is the inspiration for today’s teacher’s strikes.

She is one of a kind.

She is a hero, a woman of courage, character, integrity, intellect, and steel.

The Chicago Teachers Union just released this video tribute to Karen.

Karen is a product of the Chicago Public Schools. She went to elite Ivy League colleges, first to Mount Holyoke, then transferred to Dartmouth College, where she was the only African American female in the class of 1974.

Karen returned to Chicago and became a chemistry teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, where she taught for 22 years.

In 2010, an upstart group of unionists called the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) ousted the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union and elected Karen Lewis as its president. The new leadership cut its own salaries and began building relationships with community organizations and parents.

The city’s political and financial elite rewrote state law in hopes of preventing the union from striking. Assisted by Jonah Edelman of the turncoat “Stand for Children,” the city’s financial elite hired the state’s top lobbyists (so that none would be available to help the union), raised millions of dollars (outspending the unions), and passed a state law saying that teachers could not strike unless they had the approval of 75% of their members. They thought this was an impossible threshold. Jonah Edelman, seated alongside James Schine Crown, one of Chicago’s wealthiest financiers, boasted of their feat at the Aspen Institute in 2011. Surrounded by their union-hating peers from other cities at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Edelman said “If It Could Happen Here, It Could Happen Anywhere,” meaning that with enough financial and political clout, unions could be crushed. (The event was transcribed by Parents Across America and blogger Fred Klonsky copied the video before the Aspen Institute took it down). Edelman subsequently apologized for his candid remarks, but Stand for Children has continued to act as a proxy for philanthrocapitalists. (The Aspen video and Edelman’s apology is here on Fred Klonsky’s blog).

Needless to say, the elites were shocked when Karen Lewis and her team called for authorization to strike and won the support of more than 90% of the union’s membership.

In 2012, the union struck for 10 days and won important concessions, including protections for teachers laid off when Rahm Emanuel closed schools, prevention of merit pay (which she knew has failed everywhere), and changes in the teacher evaluation system. The union had carefully built relationships with parents and communities, and the strike received broad public support.

In 2014, Karen Lewis was urged to challenge Rahm Emanuel in the 2015 mayoral election. She set up an exploratory committee, and early polls showed she was likely to win. But in the fall of 2014, Karen was afflicted with a cancerous brain tumor. She was 61 years old. She stepped down as president of the CTU. She is cared for by her devoted husband, John Lewis, who was a physical education teacher in the Chicago Public Schools.

Karen Lewis exemplified courage, fearlessness, Resistance, leadership, and concern for teachers and children.

Every teacher who took the bold step of striking to improve the conditions of teaching and learning in their school  stands on the shoulders of Karen Lewis. Every teacher and parent who wears Red for Ed is in the debt of this great woman.

She is our hero. She should be the hero of everyone who cares about the rights of children and the eventual triumph of the common good.

Watch here to see Karen Lewis before her illness, speaking at the first annual conference of the Network for Public Education in Austin Texas on March 1, 2024. Her speech was preceded by that of John Kuhn, superintendent of a school district in Texas. Karen starts speaking about the 14-minute mark. Both are worth watching.

I interviewed Karen Lewis at the second annual conference of the Network for Public Education in Chicago in 2015. You can see it here. 

And this is my account of how I met Karen for the first time and why I love her.

She inspires me every day. I miss her very much.





















Once upon a time, long ago, a man named Jonah Edelman founded a group called Stand for Children. Edelman had instant credibility because he was the son of civil rights leader Marion Wright Edelman.

Somewhere, somehow, around 2009, Stand for Children decided to change its focus. So it became a grantee of the Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation,  and an advocate for charter schools, high-stakes testing and test-based teacher evaluation. Gates and other billionaires gave millions to Stand to act as a pass-through.

Stand was active in Illinois, fighting against the Chicago Teachers Union. It funded pro-charter candidates in local elections such as Nashville. It was active in Massachusetts, trying to pass a referendum in 2016 to lift the state limit on charter school expansion. That referendum failed.

But, reports U Mass professor Maurice Cunningham, the money people in Massachusetts shut off the spigot, and Stand for Children is leaving, perhaps for another assignment.

Cunningham is a specialist in tracking Dark Money and the ways that the elites are undermining democracy.

What we learn from this tale is that there is no “reform movement.” It has no grassroots. It is a phenomenon of wealthy elites trying to buy public policy.




Only Bill Gates knows how many millions he has poured into getting charters authorized and funded by the state in Washington State. There have been four referendums, the last one in 2012, which passed by about one percent, over the opposition of civil rights groups, unions, and PTAs. Gates and friends (Jeff Bezos’ parents, Waltons, and assorted billionaires) outspent the grassroots groups by several multiples, and at last Gates got charters past the voters. Then the Washington State Supreme Court said that charters are not public schools as defined in the state constitution, so Gates’s friends, led by Jonah Edelman and Stand for Children of Oregon, funded an effort to defeat the naughty justices at the next election. Happily, they were re-elected.

But Gates would not give up. He went to the Legislature and persuaded his friends to fund the charters with lottery money. The Governor Jay Inslee dared not stand up to the richest man in the state, and he neither signed nor vetoed the legislation, allowing it to become law.

When civilrights groups sued, because the charter schools were back to the public trough, the Supreme Court decided not to alienate the multibillionaire Gates again, and they decided to let the charters have lottery money.

Voila! Gates had charters and public money to pay for them.

But oh no, they are struggling, despite the fact that Gates handed out millions more to lure charter operators to open schools.

The Charter-friendly Seattle Times reports:

Two charter schools — one in Kent and another in Tacoma — will shut down at the end of this academic year, bringing the total number of closures to four since the publicly funded but privately run schools first opened in Washington state five years ago.

The board of directors for Green Dot Public Schools voted Thursday to shut down the two schools, which they oversee: Excel Public Charter School in Kent and Destiny Middle School in Tacoma. The Washington State Charter Association, in a news release, attributed the closures to dwindling enrollment.

The news comes five months after Soar Academy in Tacoma announced that it would close at the end of this school year. The school cited financial constraints.

“Both of these schools (in Kent and Tacoma) experienced significant struggles tied closely to low student enrollment and related operational challenges,” the charter-schools group said in its release.

The Kent and Tacoma schools received a charter, or contract, from the state to enroll up to 600 students. But enrollment data from Green Dot show the Kent campus reached a peak enrollment of  188 as of October 2018. In Tacoma, Destiny reached a peak enrollment of 281 during the 2017-18 school year but tumbled to 162 students as of October.

Across Washington, a dozen charter schools enroll about 3,300 students — a fraction of the 1.1 million students enrolled in public schools statewide.

Figure it out. What did Gates and spend? How many millions to ensure that 3,300 students could attend charters?

When CREDO evaluated the tiny number of charters, it concluded that on average they were no better or worse than public schools.

The findings of this study show that on average, charter students in Washington State experience annual growth in reading and math that is on par with the educational gains of their matched peers who enroll in the traditional public schools (TPS) the charter school students would otherwise have attended. 

Laura Chapman, retired arts educator and diligent researcher, has created a partial portrait of the privatization movement.

My guess is that the privatization movement consists of a small but significant number of billionaires and several hundred of their lackeys, shills, and front groups. As you will see, it is almost impossible to tell the Republicans from the Democrats.

Laura writes:

I have been building some spreadsheets on who is funding what. There are so many interconnected initiatives that Jeb Bush and friends are part of.

For example. Bush’s projects are connected with another big reform outfit: Partners for Innovation in Education (PIE) an outfit with at least 180 affiliates (in my spreadsheet) all connected to many others and all seeking national, state, and large metro area policies that favor charter school expansion (marketed as innovative), along with Teach for America (mostly on the job training), and active interference with teacher union contracts.

The PIE website still includes a guide for “Rabble Rousers” who were given quidance on how to work on legislated policy changes to favor charters, TFA and privatizers and how to enlist active support from civic and business organizations. It is a guide for lobbying and controlling narratives about education in the press.

The 47-page PIE Rabble Rousers handbook (2010 funded by the Joyce Foundation) includes this statement about the process of changing state policy:

“Most of the groups we spoke with (about shaping state polcies) declined to involve educators on their governing boards; if they did so, those groups do not make up a majority of the governing board. The rationale was clear enough: if the goal is to be a voice for the public’s interest, educator involvement confuses that message. As one group leader explained: “Educators already have the overwhelming voice in our state capital through their various associations. If we brought the interest lobby to our meetings, our discussion would get rutted in the same issues that already complicate the public debate. Our goal is to have a conversation that looks at the issues differently, considering only the students without the adult agendas.” An even blunter explanation was: “We tell our teacher associations that when they invite our leaders to vote on their boards, we will include union representation on ours (p. 32).”

Since that 2010 publication, PIE has shifted its strategy to include carefully selected educators. Most are working in charter schools or they have been willing to be indoctrinated into PIE’s agenda. Indocrination is the correct word.

In Oakland, CA, for example, the bait for PIE’s program has been a two-year “fellowship” with $1000 for the first year, and $2000 for the second year for attendance at two-hour meetings twice monthly plus readings and research. (I could not determine if the “year” was a calendar year nine month school year). In a series of tasks, the Oakland Fellows were given preferred data about their union to think about, along with model language for changes.

There are similar programs in multiple metro areas and states, with teachers working as if hired hands of PIE, token payments or emblems of prestige by virtue of becoming “fellows” or “ambassadors.”

Here is a list of organizations and financial supporters of “teacher voice” in the PIE Network–all recruiting teachers to advocate for policies favoring TFA, charters, and dismantlying unions and more under the banner of “innovation.”

Advance Illinois “Every Student World Ready”; Chalk Board Project; Ed Allies (Minnesota); Educators for High Standards; Go Public Schools (Oakland CA); Hope Street Group (multiple states); National Network of Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY, nominated by governors of states and celebrated by the Council of Chief State School Officers); Rodel Foundation of Delaware; State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE, Tennessee); Stand for Children Louisiana; Teach Strong (National, with one year “ambassadors” who lobby politicians), Educators for Excellence (in Boston, Chicago, Connecticut, Los Angeles , Minnesota, New York); Teach Plus (in California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts); and Texas Aspires.

PIE Board members are powerbrokers. Many are veterans of reformy projects to undermine public education through draconian standard-setting, exemptions for and expansions of charter schools, and killing collective bargaining by teachers.
1. Derrell Bradford, Executive VP of 50CAN, recruits state executive directors, fellows, and YouCAN advocates; known for leadership of legislated tenure reform in New Jersey.
2. Rachael Canter, Executive Dir. and co-founder of Mississippi First. Two years Teach for America; successfully lobbied for Mississippi Charter Schools Act of 2013.
3. Jonah Edelman, co-founder and CEO of Stand for Children Leadership Center and Stand For Children with affiliates in 11 states (Edelman is son of civil rights activist and lawyer Marian Wright Edelman). A political scholar (Ph.D Oxford, Yale) with deep family connections to the Democratic Party. SFC works for privatization with major funding from the Gates and Walton foundations among others. Major promoter of Read-by-Grade-Three policy.
4. Chris Korsmo, CEO of the League of Education Voters, backed by The Broad Foundation and supporters of projects to undermine teacher unions.
5. Scott Laband, President of Colorado Succeeds, coalition of business executives for corporate friendly education, including school policies that subsidize workforce preparation.
6. Patricia Levesque, CEO Foundation for Excellence. Was Jeb Bush’s Chief of Staff for education promoting corporate friendly education, six years as Staff Director for education policy in the Florida.
7. Lillian M. Lowery, Ed.D. V.P. of Ed Trust’s PreK-12 Policy, Research, and Practice, former state superintendent of schools in Maryland and state secretary of education in Delaware.
8. Nina Rees, President and CEO of National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, first Deputy Under Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education.
9. Aimee Rogstad Guidera, former president and CEO of the Gates-funded Data Quality Campaign for enganced surveillance of K-12 school and “teacher of record” performance, with a variant tracking workforce outcomes of pre-K to post-seconfary workforce outcomes.
10. Evan Stone, Co-CEO and Co-Founder in 2010 of Educators for Excellence. Yale University thesis on No Child Left Behind in urban school systems, Master degree in teaching, Pace University.
11. Suzanne Kubach, Executive Dir. PIE Network. Appointed to California State Board of Education, former Chair of Los Angeles Charter School Board. Ph.D. in Education Policy, University of Southern California.
12. Tim Taylor, co-founder and Executive Dir. America Succeeds, founder of Colorado Succeeds, seeking corporate friendly policies.
13. Jamie Woodson, Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), Former legislative leader for expansion of Tennessee’s public charter schools. J.D., the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

And that is just for starters. What “innovative policies” are being marketed in your state, by whom, and why?