Archives for category: Wall of Shame


The Tennessee House of Representatives passed a hotly debated voucher bill by one vote after the deciding vote, Jason Zachary of Knoxville, was promised that his district would not get vouchers.

Isn’t it a curious commentary on the appeal of vouchers that the issue was decided by pledging that the decider would NOT get them? Vouchers in this bill would be limited to Nashville and Shelby County (Memphis). Just fine for black children, but not for Rep. Zachary’s District.

Thanks, Jason Zachary, for your profile in cowardice. If you thought it was a great idea, why not include Knoxville?

For cowardice, I place Rep. Jason Zachary on this blog’s Wall of Shame, along with the rest of his shameless and craven Republican colleagues who voted to undermine public schools in Nashville and Shelby County, endorsing a program known to harm children’s academic achievement.


I received a complaint about the wording of the title accompanying the post by Leonie Haimson. Leonie’s post was titled: “Leonie Haimson: Warning! The New York City Department of Education Is Infested with Broadies, TFA!”

Mike Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute (and Foundation) [net assets: $44 million] was offended by the title. He asked me not to refer to people as “bugs,” because an “infestation” of Broadies and TFA implies bugs. I wrote the title, not Leonie. I have been writing snappy titles ever since I worked as an editorial assistant at the now-defunct Democratic Socialist magazine called “The New Leader” in the early 1960s (where it was always “Five Minutes to Midnight” somewhere in the world.)

So out of deference to Mike’s wishes, I want to make clear that people who are Broadies and TFA are definitely not bugs.

The term “infestation” usually refers either to pests or parasites. But not always.

They might be zombies. There is such a thing as a “zombie infestation,” like when a whole lot of people trained by Eli Broad or Wendy Kopp (neither of whom was ever a teacher) arrive to kill your school and scatter the children. I googled and found that “zombie apocalypse” and “zombie infestation” are interchangeable. There are numerous references to “zombie-infested” as an adjective and “zombie infestation” as a noun. The zombies are trained to eat your public school and give the facilities to private management.

Do you have another word that fits with “infestation”?

Whatever you call them, anyone who makes a living by closing public schools belongs on the blog’s Wall of Shame. I’m adding the Broad Foundation and TFA.

All over the nation, Walton money is flowing into state and local elections to help candidates who will privatize public schools.

Now, as I reported previously, and as Mercedes Schneider writes about here, the Waltons are spreading their wings and buying “grassroots” support (doesn’t the purchase of support mean it is not grassroots?). As Mercedes puts it, just “sell the idea” and “leave the funding to us.”

But the Waltons are not merely funding advocates and research and media. They are actively intervening and interfering into the democratic process (as Putin did in 2016 in our presidential election), sinking the hopes of home-grown candidates who can’t match their funding. Putin did it by stealth and social media, the Waltons do their dirty work in the open, using the sheer force of money.

The Waltons as a family are hereby enrolled on this blog’s Wall of Shame, for their persistent attack on democracy and the electoral process, which should be determined by the voters, uninfluenced by billionaires from out of state.

They are meddling with elections in hopes of electing state and local school boards, mayors, governors, and members of Congress who will share their dream of opening more charter schools and eliminating teachers’ unions. They have poured millions into charter referenda in Massachusetts and Washington State, as well as statewide elections in California.

The latest example: Chicago, where none of the Waltons live.

With major financial help from the billionaire heirs of the Arkansas-based Walmart fortune, the PACs related to the Illinois Network of Charter Schools are aiming to become a political force in the upcoming Chicago mayoral and aldermanic campaigns.

The children and grandchildren of Helen and Sam Walton, founders of the Walton Family Foundation and Walmart, are donors to the nonprofit Illinois Network of Charter Schools and its two allied political action committees, either from the family foundation or individual contributions, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis revealed…

Members of the Walton family, one of the wealthiest in the U.S., are active nationally in bankrolling pro-charter organizations, causes and candidates supporting school choice.

Chicago is home to 122 charter schools with about 60,000 students, Broy said.

The publicly funded, privately operated charter school movement in Chicago may be at a crossroads, fighting to not lose political ground and retain enrollments in a period of slowing growth.

A charter school champion, the anti-public union Gov. Bruce Rauner lost his re-election bid; another supporter, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is stepping down, and the race to replace him is wide open, with the powerful Chicago Teachers Union backing Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Let us celebrate every time a Walton-funded candidate loses, because democracy should not be for sale to the highest bidder.

Reed Hastings, billionaire founder of Netflix, hates public schools. He wants to eliminate school boards and replace them with corporate management. He has spent more than $100 million promoting charter schools.

“Hastings’ lavish spending has raised concerns among critics who worry that the sort of technologies and efficiencies he used to build his Silicon Valley empire and is now applying to education might not work for the nation’s schoolchildren.

These concerns were raised in 2014, when Hastings, at a California Charter Schools Association meeting, asserted that public schools are hobbled by having elected schoolboards.

“Let’s think large-scale,” says Brett Bymaster, a Silicon Valley electrical engineer who broke the story about Hastings’ school board comments on his blog about Rocketship, a charter school chain supported by Hastings. “You have someone who is contributing millions and millions of dollars to local and statewide political races and who was the former president of the state school board — whose stated goal is to end democracy in education. That is deeply disturbing.”

When Hastings served as chair of the California State Board of Education, he opposed bilingual education, leading Democratic legislators to block his reappointment. While on The State Board, he led the charge to remove any limits on the number of charters in the state and to limit regulation or accountability.

“The fact that California Charter Academy, one of the country’s largest charter school operators, collapsed and left 6,000 California students without a school during his board tenure, did little to sway Hastings’ enthusiasm for publicly financed yet privately run schools. Along with helping to fund the Rocketship and Aspire charter programs, he’s served on the boards of the California Charter Schools Association and the KIPP Foundation, the largest network of charter schools in the country. And much of Hastings’ school reform efforts have focused on technological solutions. He helped launch NewSchools Venture Fund, which has invested $250 million in education entrepreneurs and “ed tech” products. He’s also been a major backer of DreamBox Learning, which develops the math software used in Rocketship schools, and the Khan Academy, an online teaching video clearinghouse.

“But so far, the outcomes of many of these ed tech ventures have been mixed. Khan Academy has been criticized for including fundamental math errors in some of its instructional videos. And while DreamBox once championed a Harvard University study that found that use of its math software was associated with test achievement gains in grades three through five, the study itself noted it could not be ruled out that the gains were “due to student motivation or teacher effectiveness, rather than to the availability of the software.” What’s more, the user data collected by programs developed at Khan Academy, DreamBox and other companies are fueling concerns over student privacy.

“More broadly, education experts are worried about the impact of minimally staffed, call center-like computer learning labs on the nation’s students and teachers, especially as this approach becomes more commonplace in the name of cost savings and innovation. (In a 2012 Washington Post article, former Rocketship CEO John Danner noted that “Rocketeers” could eventually spend 50 percent of their school day in front of computers.)”…

“When Netflix became the first major U.S. company to offer unlimited paid family leave for both male and female employees, it was criticized for extending the policy only to its white-collar employees, not blue-collar workers in charge of customer service and DVDs. And while Microsoft has required that many of its contractors and vendors provide their workers with sick days and vacation time and Google has demanded that its shuttle bus contractors pay better wages, so far Netflix has ignored calls for improved working conditions for its contract workers, says Derecka Mehrens, co-founder of Silicon Valley Rising, a campaign to raise pay and create affordable housing for low-wage workers in the tech industry.

“Mehrens sees a similar class bias in Hastings’ approach to public education. “We see profound consequences, both political and economic, when technology industry leaders take action from a position of privilege and isolation from the very communities they desire to help,” she says. “When tech industry leaders like Reed Hastings call for an elimination of school boards or for more privatization of public schools, they block low-income people from using the one instrument that the powerful can’t ignore – their vote.”

“Hastings’ end goal for California appears to be the near-total replacement of traditional public schools with charter schools. In his 2014 speech where he discussed abolishing elected school boards, Hastings pointed to New Orleans – whose school system was largely taken over by the State of Louisiana after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and converted to the country’s first predominantly charter public school system – as a model:

“So what we have to do is to work with school districts to grow steadily, and the work ahead is really hard because we’re at eight percent of students [in charters] in California, whereas in New Orleans they’re at 90 percent, so we have a lot of catchup to do… So what we have to do is continue to grow and grow… It’s going to take 20-30 years to get to 90 percent of charter kids.”

For his contempt for public schools and his determination to remove democratic governance of education, I hereby place Reed Hastings on this blog’s Wall of Shame.

This article by Tom Ultican tells the sordid story of rich elites who have cynically decided to destroy public education in San Antonio.

They have cumulatively raised at least $200 million to attract charter operators to San Antonio, a figure which includes funding by the U.S. Department of Education and local plutocrats. The lead figure is a very wealthy woman named Victoria Rico, who sits on the boards of multiple charter chains. Rico and her friends have decided to re-engineer and privatize public education in San Antonio. Rico is working closely with Dan Patrick, the State’s lieutenant governor, who loves vouchers, hates public schools, and was the Rush Limbaugh of Texas before winning election to the State Senate.

Was there a vote taken in San Antonio? No. Was the public asked whether they wanted to abandon public education? Of course not. The titans don’t believe in democracy. They know what’s best for other people’s children.

They have hired a superintendent, Pedro Martinez, who was “trained” by the unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy, which encourages school closures, privatization, and top-down management. Martinez has worked in school districts but was never a teacher or a principal and apparently knows nothing about pedagogy. Martinez is a member of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change, which promotes privatization and technology in the classroom. He is also a big fan of the faux Relay “Graduate School of Education,” which specializes in charter teachers training new teachers for charter schools and has no professors or research programs.

As a native Texan, this whole deal made me physically ill. It stinks to high heaven. Everyone facilitating this private takeover of public schools should be ashamed of themselves.

They are not “doing it for the children.” They are doing it for their own egos. There are more failing charter schools than failing public schools. What right do they have to destroy the public schools of San Antonio? Who elected them? They have won plaudits from Betsy DeVos, the Koch brothers, and ALEC. They should be held accountable for their assault on democracy. I noticed that the Texas philanthropist Charles Butt refused to participate in this unholy cabal; he prefers to invest his fortune in supporting public schools.

I take this opportunity to name Victoria Rico, Pedro Martinez, and all their rightwing enablers to the Wall of Shame.

Jeb Bush has been promoting school choice and disparaging public s hoops for years. Betsy DeVos was a member of the board of his Foundation for Excellence in Education until Trump chose her as Secretary of Education.

Jeb Bush invented the nutty notion of giving a letter grade to schools.

Jeb Bush zealously believes in high-stakes standardized testing and VAM. In Jeb’s Odel, Testing and letter grades are mechanisms to promote privatization.

Who funds his foundation?

See the list here.

The biggest donors in 2017 were Gates, Bloomberg, and Walton, each having given Jeb more than $1 Million for his privatization campaigns.

Guess who they are?

You don’t need three guesses.

A clue to the right answer: they are not actually married to one another.

They are members of this blog’s Wall of Shame.

Read Steven Singer to find out if you are right.

Arthur Goldstein reports here that Mark Janus, who sold out unionized workers by lending his name to a Supreme Court case against unions, has left his public-sector job to work for the conservative public policy think tank that funded the case. For the speed with which he sold out, and for his eagerness to harm working people, Mark Janus is hereby added to the blog’s “Wall of Shame.”

“Mark Janus, who lent his name to the anti-union lawsuit to screw American working people, has scored a really cool gig with a right-wing think tank. This should be a lesson to us all. It really pays to be the first one to sell out your brothers and sisters nationwide. You collect your union-negotiated retirement benefits, get some cool job sitting around an office somewhere, and you don’t really have to do anything ever again. Was this a deal he made in advance? I don’t see why not.

“So Janus has really paid off for Janus. It’s only the rest of us who will suffer. You see, if you actually study history, you find that Americans do better when they are unionized, not occasionally, not sometimes, but always. You find that unionized workers make more money than non-unionized workers, and you find that non-unionized workers make more money too when union flourishes.

“You will also find that union has been rolled back since Reagan was President. This is part of a concerted anti-union program in the United States and it’s sorely reduced the number of unionized workers. Now when government boasts of job creation it’s often as not jobs that pay minimum wage and come without health insurance or any benefits whatsoever. In fact, many crappy fast food jobs make you sign disclaimers that you won’t jump ship for other crappy fast food jobs. This removes the possibility of the competition that Republicans argue will improve the economy.

“We are a selfish country, and we choose to be that way even when we are screwing ourselves. We have a national news network that caters to the needs of the uber-rich. It’s somehow managed to persuade a great swath of the country that they too might be uber-rich one of these days, and that they therefore must support rules that expand the rights of the uber-rich.

“Of course, that’s not the only way you manipulate the public. You manage them through racism and xenophobia. You make them terrified of Muslims. You make a big thing out of not allowing them entrance to the United States, unless they come from countries with which you do business, in which case they’re fine. You then ignore all terrorist acts committed by white people, because if you demonize white people there goes your base. How are we gonna Make America Great Again if we contend the characters on Leave It to Beaver were terrorists?

“It isn’t easy to get people to act against their self-interest. Fox couldn’t exist, for example, if American hadn’t done away with The Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to present both sides of an issue, rather than simply spout right-wing propaganda. But we’re way down that road now, and it will take a sea change to turn back.

“Janus contended he had to leave his First Amendment rights at the door when he went to work. In reality, unions have separate political funds. I contribute to one. Even though I sometimes disagree with UFT endorsements, I want union to be able to fight things like the Constitutional Convention. Now that we’re in an actual existential crisis, I want union to be able to fight even more…….”

Parents and teachers in Arizona gathered over 100,000 signatures to force a referendum on the unlimited expansion of vouchers. The Koch brothers and the DeVos family are pushing for vouchers, and they sent in their top legal team to try to stop the referendum. They are terrified of democracy.

They fought the referendum in court and they lost. The parents and teachers won. The referendum was going forward.

Now they have a new trick up their sleeve. The masters of dark money will get the legislature to repeal the original bill and re-enact it, so as to block the referendum. The SOS Arizona team will have to start all over, by gathering signatures for a new referendum and hiring lawyers to defend the referendum.

The Koch brothers and the DeVos family are hereby added to the blog’s Wall of Shame. They hate public schools and they hate democracy.

Please send a contribution to SOS Arizona to help them continue the fight for public schools!

This came in today from SOS Arizona:

Just when we thought we were safe…They’re at it again. Within 2 weeks of the Arizona Supreme Court’s dismissal of the dark-money lawsuit brought against SOSAZ, the Legislature is preparing to repeal Prop 305 entirely or replace it with another ESA expansion bill

From the moment we turned in 111,540 signatures last summer, voucher supporters have been scheming to “bait and switch.” Especially since polls have indicated that Prop 305 will likely be defeated if voters have their say. Voters know that vouchers hurt our schools, our kids, and our state.

Bottom line–the state with the WORST funding for schools should be the LAST state to divert public funds to private schools.

How can you help ensure that Prop 305 will get to the ballot so we can defeat the voucher expansion once and for all?

  • Call Governor Ducey’s office at 602-542-4331 and say you oppose any voucher expansion replacement bill;
  • Contact your representatives and senator now to let them know any replacement bill is unacceptable. Hint: here is how they voted on the original voucher expansion bill last year.
  • Sign the SOSAZ Pledge to Vote No on Prop 305, and ask 10 of your friends to do the same;
  • Talk to 10 friends, family, neighbors and colleagues. Our passionate volunteers are our biggest allies. Help us get the word out!

Our work to protect our volunteers’ hard work and signatures does not come cheap. Please help us meet our bills with a one-time or recurring donation today.

Thank you for all you do!

Beth Lewis

Chair, Save Our Schools Arizona PAC

Stuart Egan, NBCT high school English teacher in North Carolina, describes what happened when he and his wife learned that the child she was carrying had Down Syndrome. They were advised that abortion was an option, even though it is not an option in their state, where it is illegal. They didn’t want an abortion. Now, they have a beloved son, Malcolm.

Egan will not judge those who made other choices. “I also will never carry a child in a womb. Neither will Donald Trump, Mike Pence, or all of the other “men” who stand to gain from their positions of power.”

But he is outraged by those who defend the rights of the unborn and take away the rights of children after they are born.

Betsy DeVos has decided to withdraw federal guidelines that protects Malcolm’s rights in school.

Egan takes it personally.

He has written a beautiful essay expressing his personal outrage.

“It seems that many of the politicians and policy makers like DeVos who claim to be hardline “pro-lifers” are helping to privatize the very institutions that are giving “life” to many individuals. And they are doing it in the name of free-markets, where people are supposed to be able to choose what they want hoping that the “market” controls prices and quality.

“How ironic that many politicians who proclaim to be “pro-life” become “pro-choice” when it pertains to those who are already born.”

Betsy DeVos has earned her place on this blog’s Wall of Shame. As a Jew, I cannot Judge her religious views. As a human being, I judge her cruel. Uncaring. Indifferent to those in need. Mean.