Archives for category: Democrats for Education Reform

In an insightful article in the Washington City Paper, Rachel Cohen describes how the charter industry in the District of Columbia has organized campaigns to prevent any accountability, and has arranged that taxpayers fund their lobbying efforts, with the help of a few billionaires.

It takes money to persuade politicians to vote your way, and the charter industry has figured out how to get the public to foot the bill.

She writes:

Lobbyists mobilized quickly when they learned the D.C. Council would be proposing legislation to subject the city’s charter schools to freedom-of-information laws. The day before the bill was released in mid-March, charter leaders were armed with a list of talking points divided into two categories: “soft response” and “harder-edge messaging.”

The “soft response” included points like: “this bill cares more about paperwork than school performance” and “devoting schools’ resources to yet even more compliance will divert from more important student needs, such as mental health counseling.” The “harder-edge messaging” went further, charging the legislation with “bureaucracy-building and political playback masquerading as watchdogging.”

The legislation is intended to let parents, teachers, and journalists access more information about the schools’ internal operations, and it comes on the heels of a series of scandals that fomented public distrust. But the talking points encouraged charter advocates to tell their councilmembers that it’s insulting to suggest that the schools need additional oversight. “We resent the implication that the hundreds of community and parent volunteers who serve on charter schools’ boards are not putting students’ needs first,” the talking points read. “The real agenda that needs uncovering is the union strategy to force charter schools to behave exactly like the school district bureaucracy.”

This coordinated pushback didn’t come out of thin air. In fact, D.C. taxpayers might be surprised to learn they helped fund the lobbying themselves. Every year D.C. charter schools collectively funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars from their budgets to private organizations that then lobby government agencies against efforts to regulate the schools. Between 2011 and 2017, for example, local charters paid the DC Association of Chartered Public Schools, which calls itself “the collective voice of DC’s Chartered Public School Leaders,” more than $1.2 million in membership dues for its advocacy services, at a rate of $8 per student annually.

While most D.C. charters contribute to the Association, nearly all also pay $8 per student annually to a second group called Friends of Choice in Urban Schools, better known as FOCUS. Last year all but three charters kicked over FOCUS’ “voluntary student payments,” totaling more than $340,000…

For those who envision public-school politics as frazzled parents huddled in middle school gymnasiums, the world of D.C. charter advocacy might come as a strange sight. It’s a place where philanthropic money, revolving political doors, high-dollar galas, and a bevy of well heeled organizations have all been deployed to help charter schools shape their own regulations—or, more preferably, keep regulation away. Now, in the face of questions and community frustration, lawmakers are again under pressure to act. But if city leaders are going to bring newfound transparency to the charter world, they’re going to have to overcome a formidable influence machine with a long history of winning fights in D.C.

Cohen explains that the initial push for charter schools began with Newt Gingrich.

Many D.C. residents balked at Congress’ actions. When Clinton signed the School Reform Act into law in the spring of 1996, it was over the strong objection of D.C.’s non-voting Congressional delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, who protested Congress’ interference in the city’s local affairs.

Josephine Baker, board chair and executive director for the city’s charter authorizer, the DC Public Charter School Board, from 1996 through 2011, reflected on this process in her 2014 memoir: “The way [D.C. charters were established] left a terrible taste in the mouths of many life-long and civically engaged Washingtonians. It also represented a selling out of sorts to some community members who felt Republicans in Congress were acting as political imperialists.”

These misgivings over home rule did not stop charters from claiming legal independence, however. Professional advocates worked for years to convince the public and elected officials that D.C. lawmakers were legally unable to regulate their city’s charter sector if doing so conflicted in any way with the letter or spirit of Congress’ law. As Baker put it, “We used the charter law, deemed one of the best in the nation by the Center for Education Reform, as our shield.”

FOCUS, the charter advocacy group, has been the driving force behind these efforts. FOCUS was founded in 1996 by Malcolm Peabody, a Republican real estate developer who had strong political relationships in Congress and the local business community. A quarter-century earlier, Peabody helped pioneer the very idea of housing vouchers for low-income renters, when he served a stint under his brother, the governor of Massachusetts, and then later at HUD under President Richard Nixon. Peabody’s belief in vouchers for housing paved the way to supporting vouchers for schooling, but he understood the lack of political support for the concept in D.C., so limited FOCUS’ focus to charters.

FOCUS insisted that charters should not be regulated and that the District had no authority to hold them accountable.

FOCUS’ lobbying efforts were enhanced by millions contributed by the Walton Family Foundation. Other players included Democrats for Education Reform, Education Reform Now, and City Bridge. Money was plentiful, and the goal was to make sure that charters remained unregulated and unaccountable. Cohen is surprised that many of the charter lobbyists never bother to register as lobbyists. They operate in a zone where laws do not apply.

Advocates for public schools have been underfunded and lack the infrastructure of the charter lobby.

Now a new battle is brewing. D.C. charter schools are not subject to public records laws. They are not transparent and zealously defend their lack of transparency. They claim that transparency equals bureaucracy, and they need freedom from oversight.

Imagine if any public school made such a ridiculous claim!

This past spring, Education Reform Now, DFER-DC’s affiliate, funded a text-message campaign against the proposed transparency bill, using the same internal talking points endorsed by FOCUS and the Association. “The D.C Council is considering legislation that would divert resources in quality public charter schools away from helping students achieve to completing onerous paperwork and bureaucracy,” one text read. Another encouraged recipients to click on a link, which provided them with a pre-drafted email to send to their local representatives opposing the legislation. “I am writing to express disappointment in your recently introduced bill to unfairly target public charter schools,” the form email read. “Our kids need teachers and resources not more legal burdens.” DFER-DC did not answer City Paper’s inquiries regarding how many residents received the texts.

At the June hearing some charter leaders made similar points against additional oversight.

“I see this Council and others moving in a direction that troubles me, treating public charter schools as public agencies,” testified Shannon Hodge, the executive director of Kingsman Academy, a charter located in Ward 6. “We are not public agencies and we are not intended to be.”

Royston Lyttle, an Eagle Academy principal, agreed. “We don’t need more bureaucracy and red tape.”

Interesting that the executive director of Kingsman Academy insists that her charter is “not a public agency.” She is right.

Any organization that receives public funds should be subject to public oversight. Clearly the charters are private schools that use their powerful friends to get public money.

No oversight, no transparency, no public funding.

In this fall’s school board elections in Cincinnati, one of the candidates will be a TFA alum who is trying again after almost being kicked out of the Democratic Party three years ago.

Ben Lindy is the director of Teach for America in Cincinnati. He attended elite suburban schools, then graduated from Yale College and Yale Law School. After he taught in rural North Carolina, he tried to start his  political career by running for state representative in Ohio. He was nearly censured and booted from the Democratic Party at that time when union officials discovered that he had written a law journal article that was anti-union and that was cited in a Supreme Court case to hurt the cause of collective bargaining. In that paper, he argued that collective bargaining agreements raise the performance of high-achieving students and lower the performance of “poorly achieving students.” On the face of it, this claim is absurd, first, because there are many different variables that affect student performance, especially in the state he studied, New Mexico, which has one of the highest child poverty rates in the nation. Consider also that the highest performing states in the nation–Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey–have strong teachers’ unions, while the lowest performing states in the nation (mainly in the South) do not.

The 2016 effort to oust him from the Democratic Party failed by 26-21. When he was questioned about this stance on organized labor, he claimed to be pro-union but claimed that he hadn’t give much though to union issues.

Lindy showed a lack of knowledge about some labor issues. When asked his stance on prevailing wage, he said: “This is an issue I’d like to know more about.”

“I’m not hearing how you’ve evolved,” said Pat Bruns, a committee member who sits on the state board of education.

Lindy is a prodigious fund-raiser, which is enough to recommend him to some party leaders.

But party leaders should check where Lindy’s campaign cash is coming from. If it is coming from “Democrats for Education Reform,” bear in mind that these are hedge fund managers who are anti-union and anti-public schools, who favor TFA and merit pay. If it is coming from “Leadership for Educational Equity,” that is TFA’s political arm, which is anti-union and pro-charter school.

Be informed before you vote.




Cory Booker has a long and well-documented record of disparaging public schools and enthusiastically supporting charters, even vouchers. Now, he says he will dedicate himself to public schools and stop privatization, as if he had not been one of the leading cheerleaders for both charters and vouchers for the past two decades.

Valerie Strauss wrote here about his deep ties over the years to Betsy DeVos. 

Booker began his advocacy for vouchers twenty years ago.

“In 1999, Booker was a member of the Municipal Council of Newark and worked with conservatives to form an organization that sought to create a voucher program and bring charter schools to New Jersey.”

He helped Dick and Betsy DeVos try to sell vouchers in Michigan in 2000. Fortunately, they were unsuccessful. As Jennifer Berkshire pointed out in her article about Booker’s help for the DeVos voucher campaign, the DeVos family spent millions, but the people of Michigan rejected vouchers by a vote of 69-31%.

When Booker ran for mayor of Newark in 2001, the DeVos family contributed $1,000 to his campaign. Cheapskates.

Veteran journalist Dale Russakoff wrote a book called The Prize about Cory Booker’s alliance with Republican Governor Chris Christie and their determination to turn Newark into the “New Orleans of the North” by privatizing as many public schools as possible. Booker was a favorite of Wall Street and philanthrocapitalists, and he and Christie persuaded Mark Zuckerberg to put up $100 million to spur privatization in Newark.

Regular readers of this blog have read the many posts by blogger Jersey Jazzman (Mark Weber) about the statistical legerdemain that Newark charters play, the cream-skimming they do to get the students they want and exclude those that might pull down their test scores..

If you open the link at NPE Action, you will see that Booker’s campaigns have drawn the campaign funding of the usual billionaires and Wall Street hedge funders who have done their best to undermine public education.

Booker was feted by rightwing think tanks like the Manhattan Institute and named a “champion of charters” by the National Alliance for Public [sic] Charter Schools in 2017.

But his support for vouchers was not long, long ago.

In 2012, he endorsed Governor Chris Christie’s voucher proposal.

In 2016, he addressed Betsy DeVos’s American Federation for Children to express his support for their mission of replacing public schools with charters and vouchers.

Due to his contempt for one of our most important public, democratic institutions, I cannot support Cory Booker.

If he is the Democratic candidate, which seems unlikely, I will hold my nose and vote for him, because any Democrat is better than Trump. Even Cory Booker.



Mitchell Robinson, professor of music education at Michigan State University, sends out a warning that Michael Bennett is pure Corporate Reformer. 

Robinson reminds us that Bennett has more in common with Secretary Betsy DeVos than he wants you to know.

Michael Bennet, US Senator from Colorado and presidential candidate, had what the pundits this morning are calling “a moment” at [the second] Democratic Debate on CNN. Let’s hope that moment ends immediately.

Ironically enough, Bennet’s big moment came as he waxed poetic about “America’s public schools”, a topic that has received a depressingly minuscule amount of attention. Because while Bennet can point to his experience as Superintendent of the Denver school system for 4 years, his record in that position could well serve as the trailer for a dystopian movie of the disastrous impact of the corporate education reform agenda on the public schools of one of America’s most vibrant urban centers.

In case you don’t know much about Bennet–and really, how could you?–here’s a little primer…

  • Like our current Secretary of Education, Sen. Bennet never attended a public school himself. He attended the posh St. Alban’s school as a child; “the kind of go-to prep program that serves a lot of DC’s political elite.”
  • Although he had no educational background in teaching, or experience in public schools, Bennet was appointed Superintendent of Denver’s schools from 2005-09, the position that launched his bid for US Senator. While in that position, Bennet was a huge charter school cheerleader
  • He was a proponent of “school co-location,” a practice in which charter schools are “located” in space within an existing public school building–and a practice that often creates damaging tensions in school communities.
  • Bennet also forced through a contentious teacher merit pay system that left veteran teachers feeling demeaned and devalued. This punishing strategy was drawn directly from the venture capitalist/investment manager playbook–which should come as no surprise given Bennet’s background as…you guessed it: a lawyer and investment manager. Bennet’s merit pay ploy also contributed to the lingering discontentment among Denver’s teaching force, leading to this year’s teacher strike in Denver.
  • Bennet also pursued an aggressive school closing campaign, with devastating results:

No decision was more controversial or fraught than the one to close Manual High School, a northeast Denver institution with a storied legacy that had struggled immensely in the preceding decade. Bennet was attacked for ignoring the community’s wishes and inadequately planning for what would happen to hundreds of displaced students, many of whom would never finish high school.

Bennet seems to have realized that his record as a pro-charter, anti-teacher corporate reformer may prove to become a drag on his candidacy for president, and has attempted to distance himself from the Trump/DeVos education agenda–such as it is–with a public statement criticizing the Secretary, calling her nomination “an insult to schoolchildren and their families, to teachers and principals, and to communities fighting to improve their public schools all across this country”.

Given the alignment of Bennet’s education policy positions with those of Ms. DeVos, this is an exceedingly narrow needle to try to thread:

  • both Bennet and DeVos are big supporters of charter schools, and enemies of teachers unions–Bennet was a disciple of hedge fund guru Phillip Anschutz, the founder of a billion dollar anti-education foundation and owner of the publishing company “behind the anti-teachers’ union movies ‘Won’t Back Down’ and ‘Waiting for ‘Superman’”–as a result, Denver now has more charter and “innovation” schools than traditional public schools
  • both Bennet and DeVos favor “school choice”, a policy that has been toxic in both DeVos’ home state of Michigan, and Bennet’s adopted state of Colorado
  • both Bennet and DeVos are ardent supporters of alternative certification programs, like Teach for America, that provide a “fast track” to the classroom for uncertified and unqualified applicants, and replace veteran teachers with short-term “edutourists”
  • both Bennet and DeVos are proponents of “portfolio school districts,” an approach to school organization and governance that’s proven to be a disaster in New Orleans and many other communities
  • both Bennet and DeVos have targeted teachers’ pension funds as a means of destabilizing school systems and hastening the glide path to privatization

Former Denver Board member Jeanne Kaplan started her own blog with a warning that Bennett and his successor Tom Boasberg had made minuscule progress academically, but had succeeded in inflicting maximum disruption on the children and public schools of Denver. Worse, Bennett engaged in risky financial investments that were damaging to the district’s finances.

She wrote:

Fifty seven charter schools (57), seventy five percent (75%) housed in taxpayer owned or leased facilities. Fifty two percent (52%) of taxpayer approved new schools money going to two Charter Management Organizations (CMOs). Forty percent (40%) of schools non-union. These are the outcomes Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg must be looking at when he repeatedly declares education reform is a success in Denver. He certainly can’t be looking at the academic outcomes.

My name is Jeannie Kaplan. I had the honor and privilege of serving on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education for 8 years, from 2005 through November 2013. Michael Bennet was superintendent, having been selected in June of 2005. Mr. Bennet served until January 2009 when he was selected to be the junior Senator from Colorado. His replacement was and continues to be Tom Boasberg, Michael’s childhood friend and former DPS Chief Operating Officer.

I believe today as I did when I first ran for the school board that public education is a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy. I am starting a blog to explore and hopefully shed some light on the complicated issues challenging public education today. I am going to be writing about my passion, public education, with a focus on Denver Public Schools. I will try to provide a voice for a side of this debate that is often overlooked by the main stream media.

Let us hope that Michael Bennett stays below 1% in the polls and fades away. He is not a spokesman for public schools. He is a spokesman for the corporate reformers who want to privatize public education.



Our blog poet wrote a poem about DFER (Democrats for Education Reform). DFER is a group of wealthy hedge fund managers who may or may not be Democrats, but who are committed to charter schools, test-based evaluation of teachers, high-stakes testing, merit pay, and Teach for America.

The Dream DFERed (with apologies o Langston Hughes)

What happens to a dream DFERed?
Does it disrupt
Like a test in a school?
Or fester like a Common Core–
Or techy tool?
Does it stink like stale pee?
Or rust and fade away-
like Michelle Rhee?
Maybe it just doubles down
like a billionaire
Or does it drown?

The biggest battle in the fight against privatization has been to persuade the Democratic Party that it had been hoaxed by Republicans into adopting the Republican agenda. According to this article in The Washington Post, Democratic support for charter schools has evaporated, at least among the candidates.

The title of the article is “Democrats abandon charter schools as ‘reform’ agenda falls from favor.” No one has more egg on their faces than the editorial board of the Washington Post, which loves charter schools and defends them at every turn.

Until 1993, Democrats supported equity and federal funding for public schools, while Republicans supported choice, testing, competition, and accountability.

Then Bill Clinton embraced charter schools, testing, standards, and accountability. Then came NCLB and it was endorsed by Ted Kennedy and the entire Democratic Party.

Then the Obama Race to the Top gave total support to the Bush NCLB approach of charters, testing, and harsh accountability, and Arne Duncan spent seven years parroting the Republican line that the best way to improve schools was to get tough on teachers, make tests harder, and open more charter schools.

According to the Washington Post, the Democratic love affair with charters is over. 

The steady drumbeat of scandals and the vivid advocacy of Betsy DeVos have killed the Democrats’ charter love. 

Suddenly, the Democratic candidates for president  seem to have realized that school choice is a Republican issue. Supporting the public schools that nearly 90% of all students attend is a Democratic issue.

This is awkward for Democrats like Governor Jared Polis of Governor and Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, all fans of charters.

Democrats have long backed charter schools as a politically safe way to give kids at low-performing schools more options. Many supported merit pay for the best teachers and holding schools accountable for test scores.

The presidential contest is proof that’s no longer the case.

If the candidates say anything about charter schools, it’s negative. Education initiatives boosted by the Bush and Obama administrations are nowhere to be found in candidate platforms.

Instead, the Democratic candidates are pitching billions of dollars in new federal spending for schools and higher pay for teachers, with few of the strings attached that marked the Obama-era approach to education.

It adds up to a sea change in Democratic thinking on education, back to a more traditional Democratic approach emphasizing funding for education and support for teachers and local schools. Mostly gone is the assumption that teachers and schools are not doing enough to serve low-performing children and that government must tighten requirements and impose consequences if results do not improve.

As a senator, Joe Biden said private school vouchers might help improve public schools. As vice president, he was atop an administration that made support for charter schools a requirement to access federal grant funding. But when asked about charters — privately run, publicly funded schools — during a recent forum with the American Federation of Teachers, Biden sounded a negative note.

“The bottom line is it siphons off money for our public schools, which are already in enough trouble,” he said….

Bernie Sanders thus far is the only candidate to call for an end to federal funding of charter schools. The safe position for Democrats is to oppose “for-profit” charters, while ignoring the fact that many “nonprofit charters” are operated by for-profit management corporations.

The story continues:

It’s an unsettling development for advocates of the structural changes that have fallen out of favor, and a sharp turn from where many Democrats were just a few years ago. Former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had pushed a bipartisan drive for accountability, and charter schools were the answer for Democrats who opposed private school vouchers but wanted to offer other options to children — often children of color from low-income families — assigned to low-performing schools. They were important to some civil rights leaders and became a central plank in the drive for school accountability….

The American Federation of Teachers has been hosting candidate forums throughout the country, inviting contenders to spend a day with teachers and then answering questions town hall-style.

At the town hall with Biden last month, AFT President Randi Weingarten was so warm and complimentary that it left some with the impression she was laying the groundwork for an endorsement.

“Vice President Joe Biden was our north star in the last administration,” she said. “We didn’t always get along with the Obama administration positions on education, but we had a go-to guy who always listened to us.” She added: “He’s with us because he is us.”

During the Obama administration, the National Education Association was so angry it called forEducation Secretary Arne Duncan to resign, and the other big teachers union, the AFT, came close…

The shift underway has Democrats who support charter schools and related policies nervous. Democrats for Education Reform is circulating results of a poll that show support for charter schools is higher among African American Democrats than whites. But overall, the poll found just 37 percent of Democratic primary voters have a favorable view of charters.

Some like-minded Democrats are working on something they call the Kids New Deal, hoping to find a candidate to support it. The centerpiece of the proposal is to make children a “protected class” under the law, which would make it easier for them to file lawsuits challenging, for instance, tenure for teachers, on the grounds that it hurts children.

“The goal here is to outflank the teachers unions from the left and not from the right,” said Ben Austin, a longtime education restructuring advocate.

DFER is the hedge fund managers group created to persuade Democrats to act like Republicans and support privatization. It offered big money for candidates who swallowed their line. DFER was condemned by the state Democratic Party in both California and Colorado as a front for Wall Street and corporate interests.

 Ben Austin is one of California’s most aggressive charter school proponents, having run the faux Parent Revolution, whose goal was to convert public schools to charter schools. He spent millions of dollars from Gates, Waltons, and other billionaires, but converted only one or two public schools. If he is behind the “Kids New Deal,”’it is probably another billionaire-funded privatization vehicle.

The great news in this article is that those who have warned Democrats to return to their roots and stop acting like Republicans have won the debate.


ProPublica reports on its investigation of the funding and mission of Teach for America, in which it discovered that TFA is an arm of the charter movement, which aims to replace public schools with non-union private charter school.

This is an eye-popping article, an exemplar of investigative reporting.

It begins:

When the Walton Family Foundation announced in 2013 that it was donating $20 million to Teach For America to recruit and train nearly 4,000 teachers for low-income schools, its press release did not reveal the unusual terms for the grant.

Documents obtained by ProPublica show that the foundation, a staunch supporter of school choice and Teach For America’s largest private funder, was paying $4,000 for every teacher placed in a traditional public school — and $6,000 for every one placed in a charter school. The two-year grantwas directed at nine cities where charter schools were sprouting up, including New Orleans; Memphis, Tennessee; and Los Angeles.

Here are some things you will see documented in this article.

TFA is one of the richest nonprofits in the nation.

TFA has received huge gifts from the anti-union, anti-public school Walton Family Foundation.

TFA supplies a large supply of teachers for non-union charter schools.

TFA has used its resources to help its alumni attain positions of power, as state and local superintendents and as state and local school board members, where they advocate for charter schools and TFA. In Colorado, a TFA alum Michael Johnston is running for U.S. Senate and has received huge campaign contributions from allies of TFA and DFER (Democrats for Education Reform).

Read the article to understand the nexus of power that ties TFA to the Waltons and the privatization movement.

To understand how deeply connected TFA is to rightwing politics, note that a member of its national board of trustees is former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, who promoted the DeVos agenda of charters and vouchers while in office. Haslam is a billionaire.

The two outside members of the board of TFA’s political arm, Leadership for Educational Equity (sic) are billionaires Emma Bloomberg and Arthur Rock.

NBC News ran a story about how Democratic candidates are turning against charter schools. The reasons, says NBC, is DeVos and unions.

The safe position for Democrats is to say that he or she opposes for-profit charter schools.

Bernie Sanders went further by echoing the national NAACP and Black Lives Matter’s call for a national moratorium on new charters.

In the story, everyone plays their expected part. Mike Petrilli, authorizer of Ohio charters, claims that only his team (the DeVos choice team) really cares about “improving education” by privatizing it and handing it over to entrepreneurs. Shavar Jeffries of the hedge fund managers’ DFER says, “Bernie Sanders apparently thinks he, in Vermont, knows better than low-income African American and Hispanic families in their cities about what’s best for their children,” because Sanders called for a moratorium on new charters. Apparently the hedge fund managers and billionaires who support DFER understand the needs of low-income African American and Hispanic families better than anyone else.

The points that never appear in the news story are, one, that charters have not delivered on their promises. On average, they are no better than public schools and many are far worse. And two, because most charters are deregulated and unsupervised, they have experienced many scandals and embezzlements, like the most recent one, in which charter operators in California were indicted for stealing more than $50 million. The unacknowledged fact is that no community has ever voted to privatize their public schools.

Democrats have had a hard time shedding the legacy of Obama and Duncan.

BetsyDeVos reminds them that school choice is a Republican Policy, not a Democratic one.

Thank you, Betsy DeVos!


This is good news!

The House Appropriations Committee issued its budget report. Betsy DeVos requested an increase for the federal Charter Schools Program, from $440 million a year to $500 million. But the education appropriations subcommittee cut the appropriation to $400 million. This is a program that is riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse, as the Department of Education’s own Inspector General pointed out in the past, and as the Network for Public Education pointed out in its recent report called “Asleep at the Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Recklessly Takes Taxpayers and Students for a Ride.”

Thank you to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), chairperson of the education appropriations subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. She is a deeply knowledgeable member of Congress who is committed to equity and works tirelessly to meet the needs of the American people for well-funded public schools

The NPE report found that one-third of the charter school funded by the federal government either never opened or closed soon after opening, costing taxpayers close to $1 billion in wasted funds.

Here is the report of the House Appropriations Committee. It increased the funding of well-respected programs that DeVos and Trump wanted to slash or kill, while cutting back on the Charter Schools Program (start reading at page 182).

Just in the last year, Secretary DeVos gave $116 million to a single charter chain, IDEA, which intends to flood the small El Paso district with charters; and she gave a grant of $86 million to KIPP. This concentration of funds in the hands of corporate charter chains was certainly not the intent of the program, which was meant to spur start-ups and innovation, not to enlarge established charter chains. KIPP, in particular, is amply funded by the Walton Family Foundation and a dozen other major foundations. It is hard to understand why this wealthy and powerful charter chain needs federal aid.

Charles Barone, the policy director of DFER (the hedge fund managers’ organization that pretends to be Democrats), expressed disappointment!

The Democratic state parties in California and Colorado have denounced DFER as a corporate front that should drop the word “Democrat” from its title.

Real Democrats support public schools, democratically governed and open to all, not corporate charter chains or private management.

By the way, the NPE report had no external funding. It was produced by the research of our brilliant staff and written by Carol Burris and Jeff Bryant.



The Ohio Democratic Party, aware that some Democrats have supported the privatization agenda in the past, took a strong stand supporting public schools. The resolution specifically rejects the privatization lobbying of ALEC, the Thomas Fordham Institute, Democrats for Education Reform, and TFA.

If every state Democratic Party passed similar resolutions, the candidates would be forced to be equally resolute in support of public schools.

Ohio Democratic Party

Resolution 2019-04 

Opposing School Privatization


WHEREAS, over 600 traditional public school districts in Ohio serve more than 1.8 million students; and

WHEREAS, the state of Ohio has the constitutional responsibility to secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools; and

WHEREAS, adequate and equitable funding is required to fulfill the state’s constitutional responsibility to Ohio’s school children; and

WHEREAS, students deserve a quality early childhood and K-12 education, certified teachers who have a voice in the policies which affect their schools, a rich curriculum that prepares students for college, careers, and meaningful participation as citizens; and

WHEREAS, the public school privatization agenda, which includes state takeovers, charter schools, voucher schemes, and a high-stakes test-and-punish philosophy, relies on destructive policies that harm students and blame educators that has proven to be ineffective at bringing efficiency and cost savings to our schools; and

WHEREAS, education profiteers dedicated to the public school privatization agenda and anti-educator initiatives also fund organizations entrenched in their movement to replace district schools with charter and private schools, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Thomas Fordham Institute, Chiefs for Change, Teach for America (TFA) and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER); and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Ohio Democratic Party rejects the public school privatization movement and opposes making Ohio’s public schools private or becoming segregated again through the lobbying and campaigning efforts of affiliated organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Thomas Fordham Institute, Chiefs for Change, Teach for America (TFA) and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER); and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Ohio Democratic Party reaffirms its commitment to free accessible public school districts which are adequately and equitably funded to guarantee a comparable education for ALL children.

Adopted April 30, 2019