Archives for category: Corporate Reform

Will Bunch, regular opinion writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, excoriates McKinsey in this column. 

He writes:

In the last few years, McKinsey & Co.’s image as a go-to high-paying job option for the Ivy League’s best and brightest has morphed into something uniquely dark and sinister, as outstanding journalism from the New York Times and others has shed a light on arguably the world’s most secretive company, which never reveals its client list.

Nonetheless, the various scandals swirling around McKinsey have largely registered under the radar screen before last week, when journalists from ProPublica, publishing in the Times, exposed McKinsey’s work on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Two important things to note: a) it was the administration of Barack Obama that hired McKinsey for this task in 2015 and b) ICE officials under the Trump administration, justifiably pilloried for their cruel treatment of migrants, actually thought some of McKinsey’s ideas were inhumane.

 

Nancy Bailey writes here about the long-term damage that corporate reformers (the Disruption movement) have inflicted on two generations of students.

If only students could sue them for ruining their schools! If only teachers could sue them for ruining their profession! If only the public could sue them to disruption their schools and communities!

She begins:

Frustrated by public schools? Look no further than the corporate education reformers and what they have done to public education.

Education Secretary DeVos and her corporate billionaire friends have been chipping away at the fabric of democratic public schools for over thirty years!

The problems we see in public schools today are largely a result of what they did to schools, the high-stakes testing and school closures, intentional defunding, ugly treatment of teachers, lack of support staff, segregated charter schools, vouchers that benefit the wealthy, Common Core State Standards, intrusive online data collection, and diminishing special education services.

Big business waged a battle on teachers and their schools years ago. The drive was to create a business model to profit from tax dollars. Now they want to blame teachers for their corporate-misguided blunders! It’s part of their plan to make schools so unpleasant, parents will have no choice but to leave.

Tom Ultican shares a delightful and very satisfying story of what happened in Denver, where voters chose three non-corporate reformers to fill out a majority of five on the district’s seven-member school board.

Denver has had a solid decade of corporate reform (or as I call it, Disruption) control.

Schools opened and closed; charter schools opened; students shuffled around.

Apparently, the voters decided that enough was enough.

The Disruption candidates were backed by billionaires Phillip Anschutz (the evangelical producer of “Waiting for ‘Superman'”) and Emma Bloomberg (daughter of billionaire Michael Bloomberg). Others of the usual suspects showed up to funnel money to the supporters of the “reform” status quo.

But the Disruption candidates lost. All three seats up for grabs were captured by supporters of stability and public schools.

The victory of 21-year-old Tay Anderson was the most dramatic:

The board of directors’ at-large seat is voted on by the entire city. There were three candidates vying for the at-large seat: Tay Anderson, Alexis Menocal Harrigan and Natela Alexandrovna Manuntseva. Anna DeWitt filed for the seat and raised some money but was not on the ballot. Manuntseva did not have enough resources or organizational support to compete. The race was essentially between Anderson and Harrigan.

Harrigan was the most politically connected of the nine school board candidates. A Denver Post biography noted,

“Menocal Harrigan currently works in advocacy for expanding computer science education. She previously was an education adviser to then-Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Denver City Council aide and a staff member for Sen. Michael Bennet, who helped launch DPS’s current reform agenda during his time as superintendent.”

Anderson’s biography on the other hand looks anything but formidable. The Denver Post reported,

“Anderson, a Manual High School graduate, ran unsuccessfully for the District 4 seat in 2017, when he was 18. He currently works as restorative practices coordinator at North High School.”

Tay is now 21-years-old.

Harrigan received large contributions from Colorado billionaire, Phillip Anschutz, and from a billionaire daughter living in New York Emma Bloomberg and from a billionaire Teach For America champion from Silicon Valley, Arthur Rock. In total, she had over $350,000 supporting her campaign. Three independent expenditure committees spent more than $190,000 dollars in her support including $127,000 from Students for Education Reform (SFER).

It should be noted that Phillip Anschutz has a billion-dollar foundation located in Denver and owns Walden Publishing. Walden Publishing  was behind the school privatization movies ‘Won’t Back Down’ and ‘Waiting for Superman.’

Surprisingly, Tay Anderson had more than $125,000 supporting his election including $40,000 from the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA). Committees that bundle many individual contributions are allowed to make large direct donations.

At-Large Votes

 

Tay Anderson was outspent by $350,000 to $125,000, but he won anyway.

Read the rest of the article.

It is a great reminder that the Resistance can win despite big money if it persists and persists and educates the public.

It is a new day in Denver.

Candidates for Public office endorsed by NPE Action won big. 

We didn’t give them money.

We gave them our valued Seal of Approval, demonstrating that they are the real deal, genuine supporters of public schools.

We also celebrate the apparent victory in Kentucky of Andy Bashear and the apparent defeat of Governor Matt Bevin, who mistreated teachers and sought Betsy DeVos’s approval. Kentucky has a charter law but no funding for charters.

And we congratulate the brave Democrats in Virginia, who won control of the legislature.

And salutations to the new school board members who won control of the Denver school board. Aloha   to Senator MIchael Bennett and other pseudo reformers.

November 5 was a great day for public schools and teachers!

Jan Resseger explains the history and context of the truly historic teachers’ strike in Chicago that recently ended. She explains it with clarity, as only Jan can do.

This was not a strike for higher salaries. The mayor offered a 16% increase before the strike began, and that is what the Chicago Teachers Union accepted.

This was a strike for students. This was a strike to reverse a quarter-century of disinvestment by Mayors Richard Daley and Rahm Emanuel.

This was a strike against 25 years of austerity in a booming city that had billions for developers but nothing for students and schools.

This was a strike against corporate reform, which starved the public schools for the benefit of charter schools.

This was a historic strike. To understand why, read this post.

 

Tom Ultican has been writing a series of brilliant studies of cities where the Destroy Public Education Movement is busily undermining and privatizing its public schools, usually because of an unwarranted admiration for the efficiency of market forces. In their unalloyed love of the market, the DPE forces ignore the fact that markets never create equality; instead, they have a few winners and a lot of losers. They forget that the American education ideal is equality of educational opportunity, not a vast sorting machine that leaves most children behind.

In this post, he analyzes the city of Dallas, where business leaders, in league with the city’s leading newspaper, are determined to privatize public schools.

The business leaders think they are innovative, but in fact they echo the same stale cliches as corporate reformers in other cities. The slogan of the moment is that Dallas (and apparently all of Texas) wants “a system of great schools,” not “a great school system.” When I came across this chestnut in Ultican’s article, I nearly spit out my coffee because I had heard the same words uttered by Joel Klein in New York City in 2003.  Is there a Corporate Reformer hymnal where they learn all the same phrases, then pretend they made them up themselves?

Ultican’s history of Dallas education in the crosshairs of the Privatization Movement is richly detailed, too much to summarize briefly. It involves the brief tenure of a Broadie who arrived with great fanfare, then departed without having accomplished any of his grand goals.

It is safe to predict that nothing positive will come of the money lavished by elites to privatize the schools. It hasn’t succeeded anywhere else, and it won’t succeed in Dallas. When they finish playing with the lives of Other People’s Children, they should all be horsewhipped, an old Texas tradition. That would be real Accountability.

 

Jan Resseger reviews Jeff Bryant’s article about the failure of the unaccredited Broad Academy and the meteoric rise of its graduates, whose primary qualification is their network. Being connected is more valuable, it turns out, than achieving results.

The most important thing to know about the Broad Academy is that its “graduates” are central to the Disruption Movement, that they specialize in closing schools, that they promote privatization, and that their big ventures (e.g., the Education Achievement Authority in Michigan) have collapsed in failure.

Cathy Frye worked for a Walton-funded front organization called the Arkansas Public School Resource Center, which really didn’t want to help public schools.

She has been spilling the beans in a series of posts. This is her latest. 

Her post contains links to her previous posts.

She begins:

The Arkansas Public School Resource Center touts itself as a “collaborative local partner” when describing how it excels in supporting rural traditional public schools and open-enrollment charter schools. 

APSRC, funded since 2008 by the Walton Family Foundation, describes the reason for its existence thusly:

The mission of the Arkansas Public School Resource Center is to support the improvement of public education by providing advocacy services on behalf of public schools with a special emphasis on charter schools and rural districts.

This is a blatant lie. 

Yes, APSRC will draft – and lobby for – legislation that will benefit the state’s open-enrollment charter schools. It also will sit idly by while Walton-backed legislation regarding private-school vouchers floats through the Legislature. I’ve watched APSRC do this twice, during the 2017 and 2019 legislative sessions. 

But this “nonprofit” organization does not represent – let alone advocate for- the 85 percent of the state’s rural traditional public schools that are paying $2,500 per year to be members of APSRC. 

Nor does APSRC “represent” Arkansas’ larger school districts that are spending thousands of dollars on “technical-assistance” contracts. 

So why do 85 percent of Arkansas’ traditional public school districts remain – or become – APSRC members? 

 

Jeff Bryant writes here about the billionaires who corrupted the school leadership pipeline. Chief among them, of course, is billionaire Eli Broad, who created an unaccredited training program as a fast track for urban superintendents.

Bryant has collected stories about how superintendents who passed through the Broad program hire other graduates of the program and do business with others who are part of their network. The ethical breaches are numerous. The self-dealing and the stench of corruption is powerful.

Bryant begins with the story of a phone call from Eli Broad to one of his graduates:

It’s rare when goings-on in Kansas City schools make national headlines, but in 2011 the New York Times reported on the sudden departure of the district’s superintendent John Covington, who resigned unexpectedly with only a 30-day notice. Covington, who had promised to “transform” the long-troubled district, “looked like a silver bullet” for all the district’s woes, according to the Los Angeles Times. He had, in a little more than two years, quickly set about remaking the district’s administrative staff, closing nearly half the schools, revamping curriculum, and firing teachers while hiring Teach for America recruits.

The story of Covington’s sudden departure caught the attention of coastal papers no doubt because it perpetuated a common media narrative about hard-charging school leaders becoming victims of school districts’ supposed resistance to change and the notoriously short tenures of superintendents.

Although there may be some truth to that narrative, the main reason Covington left Kansas City was not because he was pushed out by job stress or an obstinate resistance. He left because a rich man offered him a job.

Following the reporting by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times about Covington’s unexpected resignation, news emerged from the Kansas City Star that days after he resigned, he took a position as the first chancellor of the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan, a new state agency that, according to Michigan Radio, sought “radical” leadership to oversee low-performing schools in Detroit.

But at the time of Covington’s departure, it seemed no outlet could have described the exact circumstances under which he was lured away. That would come out years later in the Kansas City Star where reporter Joe Robertson described a conversation with Covington in which he admitted that squabbles with board members “had nothing to do” with his departure. What caused Covington’s exit, Robertson reported, was “a phone call from Spain.”

That call, Covington told Robertson, was what led to Covington’s departure from Kansas City—because it brought a message from billionaire philanthropist and major charter school booster Eli Broad. “John,” Broad reportedly said, “I need you to go to Detroit.”

It wasn’t the first time Covington, who was a 2008 graduate of a prestigious training academy funded through Broad’s foundation (the Broad Center), had come into contact with the billionaire’s name and clout. Broad was also the most significant private funder of the new Michigan program he summoned Covington to oversee, providing more than $6 million in funding from 2011 to 2013, according to the Detroit Free Press.

But Covington’s story is more than a single instance of a school leader doing a billionaire’s bidding. It sheds light on how decades of a school reform movement, financed by Broad and other philanthropists and embraced by politicians and policymakers of all political stripes, have shaped school leadership nationwide.

Charter advocates and funders—such as Broad, Bill Gates, some members of the Walton Family Foundation, John Chubb, and others who fought strongly for schools to adopt the management practices of private businesses—helped put into place a school leadership network whose members are very accomplished in advancing their own careers and the interests of private businesses while they rankle school boards, parents, and teachers.

Covington’s tenure at the Education Achievement Authority in Michigan was a disaster, and the EAA itself was a disaster that has been closed down.

Bryant compares the Broad superintendents to a cartel.

The actions of these leaders are often disruptive to communities, as school board members chafe at having their work undermined, teachers feel increasingly removed from decision making, and local citizens grow anxious at seeing their taxpayer dollars increasingly redirected out of schools and classrooms and into businesses whose products and services are of questionable value.

In fact, Broad superintendents have a very poor track record. They excel at disruption and alienating parents and teachers by their autocratic style. Despite their boasts, they don’t know how to improve education. They are not even skilled at management.

What they do best is advance themselves and make lucrative connections with related businesses owned by Broadie cronies.

Bill Phillis, retired deputy superintendent of schools for the state of Ohio, finds it hard to believe that a state legislature would seize control of a school district and remove its elected school board from office. When did Republicans become diehard enemies of local control? It has become clear that the state has no ideas about how to help low-scoring districts. None.

He writes:

Never thought this would happen in America
 
The state is in the process of replacing elected school board members in Youngstown. The electors in Youngstown elected board members. These board members will be replaced via the HB 70 process.
 
The Youngstown Board of Education has not been in control of the district for several years. State control of the district has not resulted in improvement. Therefore, elected board members are being removed from office because the state’s improvement process has failed. Sounds logical.
 
Youngstown board members have not been convicted of any crimes which would be cause for removal from office. Their hands have been tied by HB 70.
 
Congress and some state legislatures across the nation have not demonstrated a stellar performance. Should those elected officials be replaced by some convoluted appointment process?
 
How can Ohio legislators and the Governor allow this despicable process to come to fruition? HB 70 was enacted in less than 24 hours with no public input. The legislature could repeal HB 70 in less than 24 hours.