Archives for category: Broad Foundation

This is a fascinating post by Mercedes Schneider. You could call her a “follow the money” expert. She began wondering who was funding Education Post, the blog run by Peter Cunningham that celebrates corporate reform. Cunningham was assistant secretary for communications in the U.S. Department of Education, when Arne Duncan was Secretary of Education. We know from reports in the press that Education Post received $12 million from the Walton Family Foundation, the Eli Broad Foundation, and Michael Bloomberg. The press also noted “an anonymous donor.” Mercedes wondered about that anonymous donor, and she did some digging and found out who it is.


I won’t spoil the pleasure of reading this post. It reads like a detective story. Suffice it to say that almost everyone involved is deeply embedded in corporate reform, and most of the links in the web lead to the Obama administration and to the U.S. Department of Education. It seems clear that the latter was taken over by the corporate reform movement. The question is why. Why would a Democratic president front for the corporate takeover of public education?

Mercedes Schneider enjoyed the exchange between Jennifer Berkshire and Peter Cunningham. But she wondered who was funding Cunningham’s “Education Post.”


Read how she investigated the money flow.  It is a model of research and creative digging. She knew that money was coming from Walton, Broad, and Bloomberg. But guess who else funds Peter and his $12 million blog?

As I read the story in the New York Times about the overturning of the infamous Vergara decision, I realized that the article presented an opportunity for “close reading” and for critical thinking. Unlike the Common Core standards, which asks the reader to stick to the four corners of the text, I expect readers to draw upon their background knowledge to interpret the text, authors’ intentions, and missing information or context. In the end, however, we must recognized that it is a newspaper article, and space is limited. Nonetheless, what is written and what is omitted is left out matters, because the Times is a national newspaper, read by the public and the media, few of whom will ever read the decision or understand the background.



Why do philanthropists want to end teachers’ job protections? Why do billionaires like Eli Broad and the Walton family want to get rid of job protections? Did the plaintiffs prove that the children’s teachers were ineffective? Or did they just use test scores as “evidence”? Which states allow teachers to have due process rights? Which do not? Does the latter group of states–which have no job protections–have better schools than the former group? What is the Partnership for Educational Justice? What is its goal? Does a district attract better teachers when it does not have job protections? Why has recruitment of new teachers plummeted in recent years?


These are just a few questions that come to mind. What are yours?




Why is the media so excited about school choice and so indifferent to the defunding of public education?

How did telegenic Campbell Brown, with no experience or background in education, become the face of teacher-bashing, anti-union, anti-public school advocacy? Why is she obsessed with the idea that public schools (but not charter schools or voucher schools) are filled with sexual predators, who prey on “our children” (not hers, actually, because they don’t attend a public school)?


Who pays for the attacks on public education and teachers? The linked article digs deep and answers almost all these questions. I say “almost” because it does not explain why Campbell Brown is obsessed with sexual predators in the public schools.

Peter Greene made a discovery. He unraveled a secret that puzzled those who watch the career trajectories of Broad superintendents. Why did Briadie Superintendent John Covington leave the Kansas City school district that he promised to “save” before it was saved? He abruptly left, surprising many in Kansas City who thought he had made a commitment to stay.


Was it the higher salary for the leader of Michigan’s new Educational Achievement Authority? No.


Peter found the answer: Covington left Kansas City for the EAA because Eli Broad told him to.


When Eli calls, his disciples listen.


The EAA was supposed to be the proof point for Broad’s educational theories. No school board. Total control. It failed. Covington bailed out, amidst complaints about his expense account.


After more than a dozen years of “training” urban superintendents in his unaccredited program, Eli  has no successes. Yet he is pushing to take control of half the children in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Maybe he will put John Deasy in charge. No, wait, he tried that already.


Caveat emptor.


Let educators educate, not billionaires who think they know everything just because they are rich.

A few days ago, John Thompson wrote a post about the Broadie superintendents, referring both to the one in Oklahoma City and to a story in the New York Times about the new gun in town in Oakland, California.


Now comes this story from Oakland about the turmoil in the district as the Broadie superintendent goes into disruption mode, threatening to close schools, fire principals, and lay off teachers. Why? Those low test scores.


Seventeen principals have received warning letters that they may be removed or reassigned. A number of schools have learned that they may have to move for charter schools to “co-locate” onto their campuses and a large number of new teachers have just learned they will be fired at the end of June.


Staff at Place@Prescott in West Oakland are fearful about what will happen to their elementary school if they lose their principal, Enomwoyi Booker, who is one of the principals who received a March 15 warning letter, according to a teacher at the school who spoke on condition of anonymity.


The teacher said the principal, who has been at Prescott for over a decade, “is building rapport with the community. She is popular with the staff and the community. We have spent years building a (community) core that comes together and helps out.”


“We’re fragile,” a poor school in a poor community, the teacher said. “We are partial to our leadership from the years of being deprived of materials. We (finally) get some money and some inkling of materials, and then they take the leadership away.”


“The district administration says one thing, but the next thing you know, they shut you down or throw schools together. We don’t know what’s really going on.”


The teacher said she did not want Prescott to have to share its campus with a charter school.


“If we have to share it with another school, that will kill it,” she said. “With all the gentrification that is going on (in West Oakland), we feel kind of threatened.”



Sixty teachers have been warned that they are on the list to be released without right of appeal.


Oakland has been under Broadie control for about 13 years. When does the transformation happen? How many children’s lives and adult careers will be ruined by Broad-trained disciples before this “reign of error” ends? When will common sense return in California? Must be wait for Eli Broad to move on to his next hobby or to another dimension?

John Thompson, historian and teacher in Oklahoma City, read Motoko Rich’s report in the New York Times on the travails of Antwan Wilson, the Broad-trained superintendent in Oakland, California, and thought of the negative reputation that these “Broadies” have acquired. What is a Broadie? It is someone, with or without an education background, who attended a series of weekend seminars sponsored by the Eli Broad Superintendents Academy. This “academy” has no accreditation. It focuses on management style, not education. The Broad Foundation picks people to learn its autocratic management style and places them in a district where Broad has influence and might even supplement the leader’s salary. Once placed, you may surround yourself with other Broadies to push decisions on unwilling teachers and principals who know more than you do about the local schools and students. The list of failed Broadies is long, including Mike Miles in Dallas, General Anthony Tata in Wake County, N.C., John Covington in Kansas City and Michigan’s Educational Achievement Authority.


Thompson was reminded of the Broadie who took charge of the Oklahoma City public schools and sowed racial antagonism and division when he read Rich’s article about Wilson and his problems.


He writes:


It would be easier to sympathize with Wilson’s feelings if Broad and the rest of the Billionaires Boys Club’s public relations teams didn’t have such a long and disgusting record of using racial taunts against those (regardless of our race) who disagree with them. More importantly, the Broadie’s pain is dwarfed by that of poor children of color who increasingly find themselves in “apartheid schools” after competition-driven reformers (illogically) try to use resegregation of schools as a method for undoing the damage done by Jim Crow.
As explained in my book, A Teacher’s Tale, I first encountered the Broad mentality in 2007 when Oklahoma City hired a Broad Academy graduate as superintendent. Hoping to get off to a good, collaborative start, I introduced myself to the mentor that the academy assigned to him. She was sitting with several of my old friends and civil rights allies, African-American women with decades of administrative experience that they also would have gladly shared with the rookie superintendent. The Broad Academy mentor wiped the smiles off our faces when her first words to me were, “Why don’t you in Oklahoma City teach our African-American boys to read?”
At first, I thought we could have better luck communicating with the new superintendent. He was a good enough sport to compete in my school’s “Buffalo Chip Throwing Championship.” (Dressed in a fine business suit, the superintendent finished second, behind me, but unlike the champion buffalo feces thrower, he wore a plastic glove.) The superintendent enjoyed talking with my students, but he never seemed comfortable listening to teenagers when they disagreed with his policies. In one such meeting, the superintendent explained that he wanted an aligned and paced curriculum where every class covered the same material at the same time, and where he could supervise classroom instruction by video, throughout the district, from his office. Afterwards, my students were blunt, saying that the superintendent had no idea of what he was rushing into….


Across the nation, Broad and other market-driven reformers are stepping up the use of mass school closures to defeat teachers, unions, and parents who oppose them. Even as the Billionaires Boys Club proclaims that their goal is a 21st century civil rights crusade, they impose a brutal policy where the highest-challenge students are crammed into the schools that were already the most segregated, under-resourced and low-performing. In other words, they sabotage the highest-challenge neighborhood schools in order to discredit educators in them who seek win-win school improvement policies.
The Broad Academy and their allies are thus willing to sacrifice the welfare of the most vulnerable children and to inflame racial tensions in order to defeat educators who disagree with them. Whether they do so in Oakland or Oklahoma City – in Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Denver, Washington D.C. or New Orleans – they are playing with fire. Whether we are talking about race, poverty, or special education, we must recognize the complexity of these issues and the need for nuanced conversations. As long as corporate reformers continue to vilify educators, complicated and interconnected problems will get worse. If Broad-trained superintendents had the knowledge about education that is necessary to improve schools, they would also understand why inflaming racial tensions is so dangerous.





The New York Times today has an article about the new Broad-trained superintendent in Oakland, California. Antwan Wilson was recruited from Denver, which has been under control by corporate reformers for over a decade. Oakland has been under control by Broad superintendents since 2003. The article describes Wilson’s plans to “transform” Oakland by merging the application process for charter schools and public schools. The Broad superintendents have been promising transformative results for more than a decade. Years ago, Oakland was seen as an ideal petri dish for corporate reform because it was under state control, with no meddlesome school board. Now it has a school board again, and the promises continue. There is always next year.


The article gives an overview of the trajectory of Broad-trained superintendents. It is not a pretty picture.


Broad-trained superintendents currently run districts in two dozen communities, including Boston, Broward County, Fla., and Philadelphia. They have lasted an average of four and three-quarter years, delivering incremental academic progress at best. Like others in the field, they have run up against the complexities of trying to improve schools bedeviled by poverty, racial disparities, unequal funding and contentious local politics.


Some prominent academy alumni have resigned after tumultuous terms. Mike Miles, the Dallas schools superintendent, quit last June after just three years, during which he battled teachers over new evaluation criteria and performance-based pay.


In Los Angeles, John Deasy stepped down as superintendent in the fall of 2014 after a turbulent tenure in which he testified against teachers’ unions during a landmark trial involving tenure and job protections, and presided over a botched rollout of a $1.3 billion plan to give all students iPads. That same year, John Covington abruptly resigned as chancellor of a state-operated district for the lowest performing schools in Detroit. Two years earlier, Jean-Claude Brizard resigned from the Chicago Public Schools after 17 months on the job and a bruising teachers’ strike.


Still, Mr. Broad said his money is well spent. “When I look at how many students are educated in public school systems where our alumni are and have worked,” he wrote in an email, “there is no question that this has been a worthwhile investment.”


Oakland is the kind of place where philanthropists hope to make a difference. Here, across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco, close to three-quarters of the 37,000 students in district-run schools come from low-income families. About 30 percent of the students are African-Americans, and more than 40 percent are Latino.


Why Mr. Broad is satisfied is not at all clear. There is an even longer list of failed superintendencies than is listed here, and in some cases Broadies were run out of town by the local citizenry. In Wake County, a Broadie was put in charge of resegregation the district after the Tea Party won control of the school board; when the majority was ousted in the next school board election, the superintendent left with them.


There is no doubt that Eli Broad “hopes to make a difference” in Oakland, as he does wherever he invests. But someone should remind him that Broad-trained superintendents have controlled the districts for more than a dozen years. When should we start seeing the “difference” that they have made?



The LA School Report has long been a partisan supporter of charters, Deasy, Broad, and all other parts of the privatization agenda. Under a new editor, the LA School Report became a neutral source. Now that editor has announced he is leaving because the LA School Report has merged with Campbell Brown’s “The 74.” The publication was founded by Jamie Alter Lynton, sister of major ed reformer Jonathan Alter and wife of Sony executive Michael Lynton. With the Broad Foundation funding education coverage at the Los Angeles Times and “The 74” controlling the editorial views of the LA School Report, there will be a dearth of unbiased reporting in the city. This happens at the same time that Eli Broad proposes to take control of half the children in the city’s public schools. When we lose the free press, our democracy is in trouble.




From a long string of messages, beginning with an email written by Steve Zimmer, President of the LAUSD school board:


On 2/1/16 12:14 AM, Zimmer, Steven wrote:

I am deeply saddened, angered and concerned.

As you know, we have often disagreed and sometimes vigorously. But through it all, you have maintained a commitment to the integrity of your profession and of the School Report. Under your leadership, the blog regained credibility and became an important element of the public’s understanding of public education in Los Angeles. It is no small thing that you gained my trust and confidence even though I knew Ms. Linton still wrote the checks that funded the publication. Our interpersonal trust, which you never once betrayed, is a testimony to your skills but more so to your person.

Much more important, you approach this work with the dignity and weight our kids, their families and their dreams demand. You always were careful to respect the teaching profession and the 80,000 public employees who put kids first every day in this district. This is not a game to you and the serious lens you applied to every story strengthened confidence in a publication that was, under Mr. Russo, little more than an amplifier for the orthodox corporate reform movement.

I thank you for your service and your efforts to bring a measure of objectivity to a press corps that now seems more intent on making news in public education than on reporting it. You do not deserve to be treated this way. Our students, their families, their teachers and their school communities deserve better.

Lastly, I ask you to consider not walking away. We cannot give up on objective coverage and analysis of public education in Los Angeles and across the country. It is no accident that Campbell Brown is coming to join Eli Broad in the effort to dismantle LAUSD and eviscerate democratically elected school boards and public sector unions across the nation. Now that the Los Angeles Times education coverage is funded by Broad, Wasserman, and Baxter and that the School Report will now be controlled by Brown and her funders, truth itself as it relates to public education in Los Angeles will be filtered through an orthodox reform lens at every turn. After the Times editorial leadership essentially told me that agenda was as important as accuracy in their coverage of the Board and of the district, I knew we were in a different place. Tonight, I understand that even more.

But being in a place and accepting that place are two different things. I hope you will engage with me and others who care about the future of public education and the future of journalism as we try to figure out what to do next. You and I both know this is way too important to do nothing.

Thank you again, my friend.


From: Michael Janofsky []
Sent: Sunday, January 31, 2016 11:01 PM
To: Zimmer, Steven; Haber, Shannon; Jones, Barbara A.; Holmquist, David (OGC); Ref Rodriguez; Aman, Aixle; Alex Caputo Pearl; Jason Mandell; Vladovic, Richard; Ratliff, Monica; Vizcarra, Claudia; Pollard-Terry, Gayle; Blanca Gallegos; Wells, Frank; Alberto Retana; Sara Mooney;; Ama Nyamekye; Dan Chang; Vanessa Romo; Naush Boghossian; John Deasy; Mckenna, George; Garcia, Monica (Board Member); Schmerelson, Scott M.; Crain, Jefferson; Manny Rivera; Catherine Suitor; Maria Brenes; Glenn Gritzner; Jenny Hontz
Subject: A change at LA School Report

I apologize for the mass email, but it’s the best way to inform all of you a bit of news.

After 2 1/2 years as managing editor, I am no longer working for LA School Report. Its founder has merged it with reform-minded Campbell Brown’s The 74, a change that was related to me only a few days ago. As part of the new arrangement, I learned I was removed as editor, with LA School Report and The 74 installing a replacement.

In my time as editor, I’ve worked closely with many of you, and I want to say how much I’ve appreciated your professionalism, your collegiality and your willingness to help us understand contentious, controversial and complicated issues affecting LA Unified. As an editor and occasional writer who has worked only for news organizations that favor neither one side of an issue or the other, I always tried my best to steer LA School Report down the middle, keeping it as fair and neutral as possible. I know some of you might disagree, but I am proud of the work we did.

I’m especially indebted to those who were always eager to respond to our questions in a timely manner and to help us understand the issues more deeply. Thank you.

I’ve learned a great deal from all of you, and I thank you for that, as well.

I wish all of you the best.

Michael Janofsky

The Los Angeles Times has a love affair with the privatization of public schools; it is wild about the idea of outsourcing control of students and funding to private management. Just a few days ago, the LAUSD surprised everyone by voting 7-0 to reject billionaire Eli Broad’s plan to take control of half the students in the district by putting them in charters. It sounded a little fishy because even the board’s charter faction voted against Eli’s power grab.


Now we see the game is still on. Eli’s front-group called Great Schools Now is staffing up.


Today the Los Angeles Times published an editorial in support of the Broad plan that was breathtaking for its audacity. It echoed the charter lobby’s contention that any resistance to their drive for power was divisive. The editorial proposed that the district’s new superintendent should ask for a place at the charter lobby’s table so she could help shape their plans for a takeover. Say what?


What arrogance! What happened to the democratic process? Has Eli already purchased the district? Is Superintendent Michelle King his employee?


Here are some good comments by public school activists in LA.


Karen Wolfe warns King to stay away and reminds Eli that he is a citizen with one vote only. He should go to board meetings like everyone else with an idea.


She writes:


“In its ongoing effort to convince the city that a huge public entity should be handed over to a private group of titans, the LA Times now suggests inviting the public official to the table to give the effort some credibility. This is the superintendent, who was appointed by the democratically elected board, to lead the public entity the titans seek to control.


“As Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis has said, “You can’t have a seat at the table when you’re on the menu.”


Ellen Lubic wrote the following article:
Another Coffin Nail in Public Education…if Eli Broad Can Get Away With It


As we continue to see, the highly biased LA Times is under the thrall of Eli Broad and his cohorts to take over public education in Los Angeles and convert it to free market profiteering. Almost daily, the Times runs what is loosely called journalism, lauding charter schools, and defaming public schools, They add a disclosure announcement at the end of these articles admitting they are paid for by Broad and the non profits like United Way where he calls all the shots.
Here is the operant paragraph of Sunday’s editorial from the LA Times, which is paid for by Eli Broad and his claque of pretenders (see their full disclosure which appears repeatedly with most of the education issues on which they report). It is all about the new Broad-concieved 501c3 Great Public Schools Now, a permutation of Eli’s leaked plan to take over all of LAUSD.
“A better move would be to call on Great Public Schools Now to provide a place at the table for the district’s new superintendent, Michelle King, to participate in the planning process. If the new nonprofit organization hopes to overcome resistance in the community, it needs to be more open about its planning and it needs to open the process to public discussion — after all, whether charter schools or not, these are all public schools.”
“The Times receives funding for its digital initiative, Education Matters, from the California Endowment, the Wasserman Foundation and the Baxter Family Foundation. The California Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Los Angeles administer grants from the Broad Foundation to support this effort. Under terms of the grants, The Times retains complete control over editorial content.”
What a pile of manure…the only way these charter schools are public, is that We the People, we the public, we the taxpayers, are forced to pay for them…with NO oversight by the public, the government, or the school system. This is an amazing scam concocted by the Bonfire of the Vanities guys to use public funding for public schools while transferring students to privatized charter schools, all for their own profit. Rupert Murdoch and Eli Broad have openly written about this, and they and their billionaire buddies are gathered in their kingdoms, cackling at their success in fooling the public.
Now we read in their controlled corporate media, the LA Times, that Broad and Company wants the new Superintendent of LAUSD, Michelle King, to sit at their golden table as a participant with his hit squad, to charterize and privatize the rest of LAUSD…or at least for now, up to 50% more charters which take away from public education. Their fantasy seems to be that Michelle King will now work for them and be a subject to Myrna Castrejon…and of course Eli Broad.
It is shocking to see that Broad lawyers and PR firms now use as their mouthpiece, this hard core, non educator, lobbyist for CCSA who spent her time twisting arms in Sacramento who now thinks she is on the same level as the new Superintendent of LAUSD.
As to Myrna Castrejon, a political hit woman who works for charter schools, here is her Times dossier.
“The organization driving a controversial effort to vastly expand charter schools in Los Angeles has selected one of the state’s most visible charter school advocates as its first executive director.
Myrna Castrejon, 50, is leaving her position as a lobbyist and strategist for the California Charter Schools Association to lead Great Public Schools Now, a nonprofit organization established to carry out the charter expansion strategy, which was first developed by billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad and his foundation.
In her new position, Castrejon will become the face of an initiative that is stoking tumult among educators and push-back from the Los Angeles Unified School District. An early proposal called for raising $490 million to enroll half of the district’s students in charter schools over the next eight years.
Castrejon, senior vice president of government affairs for the charter association, begins her new role Feb. 22. She said a key priority will be reaching out to leaders of the nation’s second largest school district who, just two days ago, publicly opposed the plan developed by the Broad Foundation.
L.A. Unified Supt. Michelle King on Thursday echoed concerns raised by the school board, saying she does not support any initiatives that propose to “take over” the district by encouraging students to enroll in charters.”
How many of the California legislators are under the influence of Broad and his endless cash? We know for a fact that the former mayor of LA, Anthony Villaraigosa, who is now preparing to run for Governor, is prime among these sellouts to the big money. He is so close to Eli and John Deasy, he can taste them.
Have we lost all control of American society and democracy to Broad his band of oligarchs? How can they form a new 501c3 and think it will be the vehicle to infiltrate the school district and usurp it totally, from Superintendent to BoE to every classroom and every piece of LAUSD real estate?
The arrogance and sheer chutzpah of this power grab is mind boggling.
The real public living in the community better wake up to this irreversible loss of public schools and must take to the streets to preserve what is left. California already has more charter schools than any other state in the Union, and Los Angeles has the most of any city in the nation. Yet university reports show that the preponderance of these charters do no better than public schools in educating students, and a large group does far worse…all the while making big bucks using ill prepared teachers who flee their charges quickly.