Archives for category: Unions

Two years ago, Mother Jones published a lengthy and excellent article about the DeVos family, how they became billionaires, and how they turned Michigan into a “right to work” state.


They are “the new Kochs,” determined to crush the left, especially labor unions and public education.


“THE DEVOSES sit alongside the Kochs, the Bradleys, and the Coorses as founding families of the modern conservative movement. Since 1970, DeVos family members have invested at least $200 million in a host of right-wing causes—think tanks, media outlets, political committees, evangelical outfits, and a string of advocacy groups. They have helped fund nearly every prominent Republican running for national office and underwritten a laundry list of conservative campaigns on issues ranging from charter schools and vouchers to anti-gay-marriage and anti-tax ballot measures. “There’s not a Republican president or presidential candidate in the last 50 years who hasn’t known the DeVoses,” says Saul Anuzis, a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.


“Nowhere has the family made its presence felt as it has in Michigan, where it has given more than $44 million to the state party, GOP legislative committees, and Republican candidates since 1997. “It’s been a generational commitment,” Anuzis notes. “I can’t start to even think of who would’ve filled the void without the DeVoses there….”


Forbes ranks the DeVos family at #60 of the richest 400 families in America. They are noted for their generosity to Christian and conservative causes.


In selecting Betsy DeVos for the role of Education Secretary, Trump has chosen someone who looks on public schools with contempt. She will use her influence to harm public education and the teaching profession.


The corporate reform movement must be popping the champagne corks with the selection of Betsy DeVos as Trump’s Secretary of Education. Finally, a secretary who advocates for the elimination of public schools without embarrassment and who will fight unions and teacher tenure.


As it happens, Betsy DeVos and her husband are funders of Campbell Brown’s website The 74 (along with Walton, Broad, and Bloomberg). And Campbell Brown sits on the board of Betsy DeVos’s  American Federation for Children.


Campbell Brown has launched lawsuits to get teacher tenure declared unconstitutional (her suit in Minnesota was thrown out by the judge). She has fought the unions as protectors of “sexual predators.” DeVos doesn’t like public schools. Neither does Campbell Brown. They both like charters and vouchers.


What a small world!

When most people hear about Teach for America, they think of an organization that recruits bright young college students, gives them five weeks of training, then collects big bucks from school districts that hire the kids for a two-year gig.

What is not well known is that TFA has a political operation that trains its loyal recruits to get involved in elections, to run for local and state school boards or legislative seats or even higher office.

With its free-market orientation, TFA has become a major political player on the right, especially on education issues, where they advance school choice and undermine teacher professionalism and unions. Their goal is to capture political power for the privatization agenda.

Laura Chapman here presents her review of TFA’s political action arm, Leadership for Educational Excellence:

“Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) was founded in 2007 as a 501(c)4 spin-off of Teach for America. It offers coaching for Teach for America alumni or staff, and networking for TFA alumni who are interested in elected office and other leadership positions. Candidates for elected office receive support up to the legal limits for in-kind contributions, at no charge to the candidate. LEE offers political and policy fellowships for current and former TFA alums.

“LEE Foundation provides grants to conduct LEE educational events, sponsor internships and fellowships. It also commissions white papers and toolkits to guide dialogue with the general public and others in the education and policy arenas.

“On January 12, 2016, Marketwired reported that Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE), has a new program and “the first cohort of nine “Venture Fellows” who will push for expanded school choice, described as an effort by entrepreneurs to “end educational inequity.” Here are some briefs on the winners.

“Milagros Barsallo, and Veronica Palmer, RISE Colorado. The RISE website is a case study in non-disclosure of any activities other than fundraising and organizing “families” to lobby for choice in schools.

“Nicole Baker Fulgham, The Expectations Project, Nicole is also an Aspen Institute Education Fellow and Mind Trust Education Entrepreneur Fellow who regularly speaks at faith-based and education conferences. Christianity Today Magazine named her one of the 50 Women Leaders Influencing the Church and Culture (2012. The New Schools Venture Fund named her the Entrepreneur to Watch (2014).

“The Expectations Project website is under construction but it says: “There are more than 300,000 places of worship across America compared with roughly 50,000 high-poverty public schools, struggling to meet student needs — a ratio of 6 to 1. “Imagine what might be possible if just a handful of people in each of these congregations took it on themselves to ensure the students in these schools had faithful advocates looking out for their best interests. We believe that the academic achievement gap in U.S. public education can be closed in our lifetimes, but only if people of faith open their hearts, roll up their sleeves, and get to work on behalf of students.”

“The Expectations Project website has a whisper link to WeWork Wonder Bread Factory, a co-working space in Washington DC. That link took me directly to a report titled: ”DR. JEFFRY WOODS ON THE RECENT INDY TEP CLERGY ROUNDTABLE” (June 2016). Dr. Jeffry Woods is described as “the Indianapolis Regional Director for The Expectations Project” a faith based organization that addresses inequities in public schools. Participants in the roundtable included: Mr. Jay Geshay – The Vice President of the United Way, Dr. David Hampton – Senior Pastor of Light of the World Christian Church (who also serves as the Deputy Mayor of Indianapolis), Pastor Richard A. Reynolds – Senior Pastor of New Revelation, and Mr. Earl Martin Phalen – Founder of Summer Advantage and Phalen Leadership Academies in Indianapolis. Mind Trust is major promoter of Teach for America and charter schools.

“Claire Blumenson, School Justice Project. Based in Washington DC provides legal counsel to and serves as an advocate for students ages 17-22 with special education needs who are involved in the DC justice system.

“Eric Leslie, Union Capital Boston. 
A mobile-based loyalty program for low-income families that provides social and financial service rewards (money, access to services) in exchange for their community involvement in schools, health centers, and civic programs.

“Frank McMillan, Lead organizer of New Jersey Together, a multi-faith coalition in northern New Jersey and an affiliate of The Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). IAF is the nation’s oldest and largest multi-faith organizing network dealing with issues in urban centers, including education,

“Richard Pelayo, and Jessica Stewart GO Public Schools. Based in Oakland but recruiting other districts in California to support private governance of schools—policy, practice, and culture—claiming to “promote excellence and equity for our students and families.”

“Amber Welsh, for Austin Kids First Action, a PAC that receives funds to position preferred charter-friendly candidates on the local school board.

“The challenges we face in education are as complex and diverse as our communities,” said LEE Executive Director Michael Buman. “The idea isn’t to find a single solution, but rather to assist LEE members in forging alliances and identifying community-driven solutions.”

“LEE fellows participate in an eleven-month boot camp suitable for executive directors, with intensive coaching, site visits, peer-to-peer networking, and other supports. The boot camp ends with an event where fellows seek capital by presenting their ventures to potential investors and partners.

“Here are excerpts about the board members of LEE from the website

“Mike Buman is the executive director of Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE). He was a partner in the New York office of the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

“Elisa Villanueva Beard became the sole chief executive officer of Teach For America in 2015, after serving as the co-CEO alongside Matthew Kramer for two years. Prior to her role as CEO, she led Teach For America’s field operations as the chief operating officer.

“Steuart Walton is one of the heirs to the Walton family fortune from Walmart. He is CEO of Game Composites, Ltd. He has worked for Walmart’s international division in the mergers and acquisitions group and serves on the board of the Walton Family Foundation.

“The following serve on both the Board of Directors of LEE and the LEE Foundation.

“Emma Bloomberg. The oldest daughter of New York City’s billionaire ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg. Emma was most recently chief of staff at the Robin Hood Foundation, a nonprofit that funds programs in the five boroughs of New York City.

“Arthur Rock. Principal of Arthur Rock & Co. a venture capital firm. He is also on the board of Teach For America and Children’s Scholarship Fund and an active funder of KIPP.

“Michael Park. A partner in McKinsey & Company’s New York office and leads the firm’s Strategy and Corporate Finance Practice for the U.S. Northeast. He helps lead McKinsey’s pro-bono work with Teach For America.

“LEE is the source of well-funded and sophisticated faux “grassroots” movements led by carefully trained entrepeneurs who intend to make public education into a private enterprise.”

Teacher Mark Weber, who blogs brilliantly as Jersey Jazzman, was invited to deliver the keynote address the New Jersey Education Association. He thought he might speak about charters or testing or teacher evaluation, but decided instead to talk about how the election of Donald Trump would affect teacher unions and the teaching profession and how teachers must help students who feel targeted by Trump’s divisive rhetoric.

He said that the battle to destroy unions would intensify:

“This union here, the New Jersey Education Association, will be one of the prime targets in the new anti-teachers union era. This union has stood strong for teachers and proudly used its political and other capital to advocate for the best interests of its members, which also – and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise – happens to be the best interests of this state’s students and their families.

“I am constantly amazed and appalled when people try to make the argument that somehow teacher work conditions and student learning conditions aren’t the same thing. Middle-class wages with decent benefits are necessary if we are to draw talented young people into the profession.

“Job protections, including tenure, are necessary to protect the interests of taxpayers and students, who count on teachers to serve as their advocates within the school system. Safe, clean, well-resourced schools make teaching an attractive profession, but they also lead to better learning outcomes for children.

“Teachers unions are the advocates for these necessary pre-conditions for student learning. Teachers unions are the political force that compels politicians to put necessary funds into public schools. Teachers unions are the groups who make the conditions of teaching better, ensuring that this nation will have a stable supply of educators for years to come.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that right now, public education hangs in the balance. Teacher workplace rights are in serious jeopardy. The ability of NJEA to protect the future of New Jersey’s outstanding public education system – by any measure, one of the finest in the world, in spite of this state’s recent abdication of its role to fully fund its schools – is under dire threat.

“There is only one course to take: we must organize. We must stand strong, we must stand together, and we must refuse to give into desperation. Our families, our colleagues, and our students have always counted on us when they needed us the most – we must not now, nor ever, stop fighting for them or yes, that’s right, for ourselves.”

Turning to the greatest threat from the campaign, Weber spoke about teachers’ duty to protect their students:

“No one should think for one second that our children have not been deeply, deeply affected by this outpouring of hatred. It is worst of all for any child who has been transformed into an “other” by the rhetoric that had infected this campaign.

“I fear for any child who shows up to school after the election wearing a hijab. I fear for any child who wears a hoodie and walks to school through a neighborhood that doesn’t include people who look like him. I fear for any child who is not conforming with our society’s preconceptions about gender. I fear for any child who was not born within our borders, yet who loves the promise of America as much as any of her native sons and daughters.

“The only thing that can ever hope to protect these children is the love of the adults in their lives who know better. If you know better, you can no longer sit on the sidelines. If you know better, but you stay silent, your silence will become violence.

“I pray that I am wrong about Donald Trump. I pray he will grow into his position. I pray he will find some measure of conscience, some level of decency, within himself and rise to the enormous task ahead of him.

“But even if he does, his campaign has emboldened dark forces within our democracy. We saw them in those ugly, violent rallies. We saw them when the so-called “alt-right” said and wrote unspeakably horrible words, spewed across our media and the Internet.

“Those forces will have absolutely no qualms about taking out all their anger and all their hatred on our children. We, my fellow teachers, are an integral part of those children’s defense.

“We can no longer tolerate racially biased classroom and disciplinary practices within our schools: the stakes have just become too high. We can no longer tolerate racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic language that, yes, sometimes, sadly, comes from our less-enlightened colleagues: the stakes are now too high. We cannot stand by and allow one kind of schooling to be foisted on one kind of student while another enjoys all the benefits of a truly meaningful education: the stakes are now too high.

“And we can not, we will not, we will refuse to allow politicians to use the alleged “failures” of our urban students to deprive them of adequate funding; to deprive them of a broad, rich curriculum; to deprive them of experienced teachers who look like their students; to deprive them of beautiful, healthy, well-resourced school facilities; and to deprive them of lives outside of school that are free of economic injustice and racial hatred.

“The stakes are too damn high….

“Our civil liberties have been under assault since 9-11; now, they are in even greater peril. And on Tuesday our world may well have become far more dangerous. If there is another leader of a democratic country who has said that he is fine with the use of nuclear weapons, I don’t know who he is.

“I pray I am wrong, but when I rationally consider the future, everything tells me that our students may well soon be living in a world that is less prosperous, less healthy, less free, and less safe.

“They will need us more than ever. They will be hungry and scared and stressed. They will be confused, because, even as we preach to them the importance of self-sacrifice and modesty, this country rewards too many who have lived lives of gluttony and arrogance.

“We must be there for them. We must never stop fighting for them. We must never stop believing in them.”

EduShyster (aka Jennifer Berkshire, a resident of Massachusetts) explains here how a coalition of parents, teachers, students, and civil rights activists defeated Question 2.

Question 2 was a measure on the ballot to expand the number of charter schools in the state by 12 every year, indefinitely. Opponents of the measure said it would drain money from the existing public schools, which enroll 96% of the children in the state. Advocates said it would not. Advocates claimed that they were fighting for opportunity for poor kids to escape failing public schools. Opponents didn’t buy it.

Support for Question 2 came mostly from out-of-state people of great wealth. These people, such as the Waltons and Michael Bloomberg, put up at least $26 million to advocate for more charters. I thought the charter advocates had put up $22 million, but Jonathan Pelto reported yesterday that they had actually spent $26 million. The opposition raised about $12 million, mostly from teachers’ unions and individual small contributions by teachers and parents.

For a billionaire to drop $2 million into a ballot issue in Massachusetts or anywhere else would be akin to one of us sending a dollar to the March of Dimes. They won’t miss it. At some point, however, if they keep losing, they might get bored and find a different hobby.

The election was a battle royal over the future of public education in Massachusetts, and large numbers of people mobilized to save their public schools. Support among black voters was the same as among white voters.

Question 2 was defeated by a vote of 62% to 38%. It was a knock-out punch for the billionaires and the many financiers whose names were hidden from public view because of arcane campaign finance laws that enable “dark money” to be spent without identifying its source.

Berkshire writes:

I could give you a long list of reasons why Question 2 went down in flames. It was a complicated policy question that should never have made it onto the ballot. Yes on 2, despite outspending the ‘no’ camp 2-1 couldn’t find a message that worked, and was never able to counter the single argument that most resonated with voters against charter schools: they take money away from public schools and the kids who attend them. #NoOn2 also tapped into genuinely viral energy. The coalition extended well beyond the teachers unions that funded it, growing to include members of all kinds of unions, as well as social justice and civil rights groups, who fanned out across the state every weekend. By election day, the sprawling network of mostly volunteer canvassers had made contact with more than 1.5 million voters.

Question 2 had not only unprecedented funding, it had the support of the Governor and the state’s Secretary of Education, James Peyser, who is a longtime advocate for charters and a member of the board of Families for Excellent Schools, the same organization that bundled money in New York and elsewhere to push for charters.

Berkshire writes that when people who had no particular interest in charters or public schools began to see who was behind Question 2, she realized that Question 2 was in big trouble:

Do you know why hating on the Yankees is such a popular pastime in Massachusetts? Because they’re regarded as rich, entitled assholes from New York. Which is why the decision to rely so heavily on well, rich, entitled assholes from New York to fund the Yes on 2 campaign puzzles one so. By the final tally before the election, Families for Excellent Schools, reduced to serving as a conduit for the offerings of rich Wall Street-ers, had gifted more than $17 million to the cause. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, meanwhile, kicked in an additional $250,000 on top of the $240,000 he contributed back in August. To average voters, unfamiliar with the reform trope of the billionaire changemaker, the outsized role being played by rich New Yorkers was utterly incomprehensible. It’s not enough to field the richest baseball team money can buy, now they want our schools too?

The Yes on 2 team insisted that the public schools would not lose any money if there were more charters, but school committees called out their lie:

By October it was clear that the Question 2 ship was beginning to list. The original claim, debuted in a massive ad buy during the Olympics, that expanding charter schools would actually increase funding for public education, had failed to resonate with voters, and so it was off to the next argument. It turned out that charter schools didn’t *drain* or *siphon* money away from district schools as team #NoOn2 kept insisting—and here was a press release about a study to prove it. But once again, Question 2’s proponents, including editorial page editors at the Boston Globe, which ran a prominent *no draining, no siphoning* editorial, ran into the buzzsaw of a whole bunch of people all over the state who actually knew stuff.

Those school committees, which just would not stop passing resolutions against the ballot question, could tell you exactly how much money their city or town was spending on charter schools. The Mayor of Northampton, which is about as far from Boston as you can get, pointed out that his town spends more to send kids to the specialized charter schools favored by affluent parents—a subspecies never mentioned during the campaign—than on an entire elementary school. Meanwhile, cities that are already home to the largest number of charters and would be most affected by the passage of Question 2, began tallying how much charters were already costing them. Lowell, for example, has seen a drastic spike in its charter school bill and now spends more than $16 million on a parallel school system, money that’s being diverted away from *extras,* like paving the roads in Mill City. The charter waitlist in Lowell, by the way, is dwarfed by the number of kids waiting to get into district schools.

The privatization movement lost in both Massachusetts and Georgia, where Governor Deal wanted to change the state constitution to allow the state to take over low-performing schools and give them to charter organizations. The lesson is that it is cheaper and easier to make campaign contributions to elect pro-charter candidates to state boards and state legislatures than to take a risk on a popular vote. In the case of Georgia, Governor Deal could not eliminate local control without changing the state constitution. And the voters said no, by a vote of 60-40.

Read the article. The defeat of Question 2 proves that big money can be beaten when citizens are informed, organized, and prepared to defend their public schools against privatization.

This just happened in Los Angeles: Educators at four LAUSD public schools turned away money from the two billionaire backers of privatization. Broad and Walton are offering funding to these schools at the same time that their charters are diverting hundreds of millions of dollars from the district’s public schools.

For immediate release
Media Contact:
Anna Bakalis
UTLA Communications Director

UTLA Educators Overwhelmingly Vote Against Broad-Walmart Grant Funding

Los Angeles, CA – This week, educators at four LAUSD schools voted to reject grant money from “Great Public Schools Now,” the public face of a group backed by the California Charter School Association and bankrolled by billionaires Eli Broad and the Waltons of Walmart.

Educators say that this is a PR stunt, not a genuine effort to fund schools in need and are calling on the District to uphold the vote by not accepting the grant money from GPSN, in any way. These four schools are within the targeted 10 areas for Broad-Walmart funding.

The vote was 98% in favor of rejecting the money; ballot counts at Drew Middle School, Pacoima Middle School, San Fernando High School, and Gompers Middle School were, respectively, 35 to 1, 58 to 0, 72 to 0, and 22 to 3.

Jared Dozal, who voted against his school receiving Broad-Walmart money, is a math and computer science teacher at San Fernando High School. He says this is a distraction from real, lasting efforts for sustainable funding for all public schools.

“We know that some will see this as an opportunity missed for funding, but the amount offered is peanuts for the billionaires behind this effort,” Dozal said. “We won’t let this distract us from saving our schools from a corporate takeover, paid for by the people who only want to destroy public education.”

Dozal said the grant’s offer of “up to” $250,000 per year for three years is insulting, considering the amount of money siphoned from public schools to subsidize rampant charter school growth.

For example, according to LAUSD’s own numbers, Gompers Middle School has $1.4 million less in its budget than 2013. Since school budgets are in large part determined by enrollment, the rapid expansion of charter school growth has clearly impacted the middle school.

In the zip code that Gompers is in, and in the nearby zip codes, there are 21 charter schools. Thirteen of these are the largest corporate charters, including Green Dot, Alliance, Aspire and Kipp. The Waltons of Walmart have contributed generously to these four corporate charters, and Eli Broad alone has contributed more than $75 million over the last few years. In fact, in the June 2015 GPSN plan, Broad and Walton say they will be raising $135 million more for these charter school operators.

Getting the funding and resources our students need requires meaningful and sustainable initiatives. To that end, members of United Teachers Los Angeles join with parents and community members to address issues like school site improvements and student safety, enriched curriculum that includes funding for arts, music and ethnic studies as well as fully staffed schools with full-time nurses, librarians and counselors.

UTLA is also working to pass Prop. 55 on next week’s ballot, pursuing long-term funding solutions in Sacramento, and supporting efforts such as the Make It Fair campaign to close corporate property tax loopholes.

At the elections next week, Virginians will be faced with a proposal to write its so-called “right-to-work” laws into the state constitution.

Even conservative newspapers say this is a bad idea.

This is from an editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

This newspaper has always supported Virginia’s right-to-work law — and we continue to do so. The law, which prohibits making union membership a condition of employment, is good for the commonwealth’s economy and helpful in keeping a proper balance between unions and employers.

But not every good law deserves to be raised to the level of constitutional writ. A speed limit of 25 mph is a good idea. We can think of no more worthy cause than saving children’s lives. But writing that speed limit into the Virginia Constitution would be foolish and wrongheaded.

Constitutions create frameworks for governance. They lay down a set of rules by which all other rules should be established: Bills for appropriating money shall originate in the House of Representatives, the president may veto legislation, Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, the governor shall be elected to one four-year term, and so forth. They are not supposed to be cluttered up with detailed compendiums of what government allows and forbids. That is what the legal code is for.

This is the principal reason Virginians should reject the proposed amendment. There also is a secondary reason.

Virginia law does more than forbid requiring someone to join a union in order to get or hold a job. The Code of Virginia also forbids making employment conditional upon non-membership in a union. In other words, it is against the law for a company either to force you to join a union, or to force you not to.

This is a properly neutral stance. Yet the proposed amendment includes only the former provision from the Code of Virginia, not the latter. In short: While the state code is neutral, the amendment is tilted against union membership.

It is one thing for individuals and companies to take sides in the tug-of-war between workers and employers. The government should not — and it most definitely should not inscribe its partiality in its own foundational documents. That Virginia Republicans have sought to mar the state’s Constitution with what is, at bottom, a political stunt ought to be a mark of enduring shame.

Rebecca Mead writes in The New Yorker that the presidential campaign has almost entirely overlooked K-12 education. The subject never came up in the presidential debates (nor did climate change).

She writes:

Unsurprisingly, the candidates differ as much on their approach to education as they do on virtually every other issue, as the Washington Post outlined in a helpful analysis earlier this month. In September, Donald Trump delivered a speech at the Cleveland Arts and Sciences Academy, a charter school in Cleveland, Ohio, in which he offered his vision, though not before delivering an extended peroration about the perfidies of his Democratic opponent—e-mail, Iraq, the Clinton Foundation—unrelated to educational concerns. When he did get around to his own proposals, he spoke of expanding existing school-choice programs, promising that in a Trump Administration twenty billion dollars of federal education funds would be reassigned to provide a block grant enabling the eleven million students living in poverty to attend the private or public school of their parents’ choice. “Competition always does it,” he said. “The weak fall out and the strong get better. It is an amazing thing.” He advocated merit pay for teachers, stated his opposition to Common Core, and spoke in favor of charter schools and against teachers’ unions. “It’s time for our country to start thinking big and correct once again,” he declared, thereby failing to meet the second-grade Common Core standard 2.1.E. (“Use adjectives and adverbs, and choose between them depending on what is to be modified.”)

Clinton has a long-standing commitment to educational issues; as First Lady of Arkansas, in 1983, she headed a committee to improve academic achievement among the state’s public-school students. She has declared the intention of “preparing, supporting, and paying every child’s teacher as if the future of our country is in their hands,” and has given some suggestions as to how that estimable goal would be accomplished. She has said that she will provide funding to increase the teaching of computer science; she has also pledged to fund the rebuilding of school infrastructure, and to address the so-called school-to-prison pipeline, whereby African-American and minority students are disproportionately subject to overly punitive disciplinary policies, often involving law enforcement, within the schools they attend; she would fund interventions in social and emotional learning, to the tune of two billion dollars.

Clinton has left us all guessing about charter schools, but she has a balancing act: She needs money to run her campaign (think DFER), and she needs to satisfy the her strong supporters, the teachers’ unions, whose very existence is put at risk by the growth of the non-union charter industry (more than 90% of charter schools are non-union).

But of this we can be sure: Trump is 100% aligned with the far-right that hates public schools and unions. He loves charter schools and vouchers. He thinks he will “get rid” of the Common Core, but he doesn’t know that the president does not have the power to do so. His surrogate Carl Paladino of Buffalo, New York, said that Trump would not put an educator in charge of the Department of Education. The Trump campaign seems to look at public education as a cancerous growth on American society.

A vote for Trump is a vote to cripple and perhaps abandon public education.

A vote for Clinton is a vote for a candidate who has some good ideas and who knows that Obama’s education policies have been unsuccessful. Many think she will continue the status quo, but count me as one who expects that she will look for ways to improve public schools, not destroy them.

David Sirota and a team of investigative reporters have discovered that the pension funds of teachers in Massachusetts are being tapped by Wall Street financiers to underwrite Question 2, which will authorize an expansion of non-union charter schools. Unions are spending millions of dollars to defend the public schools of Massachusetts against privatization. Meanwhile, their own pension funds are financing the campaign to increase privatization.

“When Massachusetts public school teachers pay into their pension fund each month, they may not realize where the money goes. Wall Street titans are using some of the profits from managing that money to finance an education ballot initiative that many teachers say will harm traditional public schools.

“An International Business Times/MapLight investigation has found that executives at eight financial firms with contracts to manage Massachusetts state pension assets have bypassed anti-corruption rules and funneled at least $778,000 to groups backing Question 2, which would expand the number of charter schools in the state. Millions more dollars have flowed from the executives to nonprofit groups supporting the charter school movement in the lead-up to the November vote. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, himself a former financial executive, is leading the fight to increase the number of publicly funded, privately run charter schools in Massachusetts — and he appoints trustees to the board that directs state pension investments….

“This report is the latest in an IBT/MapLight series examining how anti-corruption laws are circumvented or unenforced. The cash flowing to the Massachusetts school initiative spotlights more than just a fight over education policy: It exemplifies one of the ways in which the securities and investment industry can get around a federal rule that was designed to restrict financial executives from giving campaign cash to governors with the power to influence state pension business.

“In the case of Massachusetts, since the federal rule does not cover money donated to governors’ policy initiatives, executives banned from donating directly to Gov. Baker are able to give to a constellation of groups that are pushing his pet cause — and that in some cases are advised by Baker’s political associates. Meanwhile, Baker’s appointees at the state pension board are permitted to continue delivering investment deals and fees to those same donors’ firms.”

The city of Chicago averted a teachers’ strike, but charter teachers at the city’s largest chain–UNO–may go on strike.

This is richly ironic, because one of the central goals of the charter industry is to kill teachers’ unions.

93% of charters are non-union. The Walton family of union-haters has promised to spend $1 billion on new charters in the next five years.

Juan Rangel, founder of UNO, resigned in 2013 after revelations of nepotism, conflicts of interest, etc.

Keep your eye on Chicago.