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Anti-Union Ads in Chicago Paid for By Hedge Funds, Billionaires

Ohanian Comment: Surprise. Surprise. Hedge funds involved in opposing Chicago teachers strike.

Enter Democrats for Education Reform in a 'search' on this site (actually, enter just 'Democrats for Education'--the search takes only 2 adjacent words, forgiving little a/to/for in between) and you'll get 80 or so hits.

I suggest you start with Who Gets to Speak About what schools need? Race to the Top and the Bill Gates Connection which appeared in Extra! the publication of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). For reasons of space, they left out the sidebar documenting how often the major media call on Democrats for Education Reform for soundbites of public education policy. The sidebar is important

  • Democrats for Education Reform, June 17, 2009 (Notable Quotes)

  • Democrats for Education Reform, June 17, 2009 (Notable Quotes)

  • Charles Barone, Democrats for Education Reform, 9/28/07 (Notable Quotes)

  • Democrats for Education Reform, 2010 (Notable Quotes)

  • More Than Just Schools: Rethinking the Demand for Educational Entrepreneurship (Atrocities, 2009-12-07)

  • Scholarly Investments (Atrocities, 2009-12-06)

  • Bipartisan [sic] coalition backs new school funding model (Atrocities, 2006-06-27)

  • Sharpton, education plan may tear union ties (Atrocities, 2008-06-12)

  • The Democratic Education Divide (Atrocities, 2008-08-25)

  • Campaign to Keep Schools Under Mayor’s Thumb (Atrocities, 2008-09-02)

  • New Yorkers Contesting Push by Bloomberg and Klein to Privatize Public Schools (Atrocities, 2009-05-26)

  • The Selling of School Reform (Atrocities, 2009-06-15)

  • Racing To The Top: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Issues Brief Series (Atrocities, 2009-06-17)

  • Obama Pushes States to Shift on Education (Atrocities, 2009-08-17)

  • Styling: the Charter School Look (Atrocities, 2009-12-14)

  • This $550 exec seat cost kids million (Atrocities, 2010-03-31)

  • Charter Schools’ New Cheerleaders: Financiers (Atrocities, 2010-05-10)

  • The Cuomo-Duffy ticket: pro-charter, pro-mayoral control, and one union blessing (Atrocities, 2010-05-26)

  • Attack of the hedge-fund managers (Atrocities, 2010-06-04)

  • Exotic Deals Put Denver Schools Deeper in Debt (Atrocities, 2010-08-06)

  • A Former Schools Chief Shapes Her Comeback (Atrocities, 2010-12-07)

  • Academics say $1M Newark school reform survey was inconclusive (Atrocities, 2011-12-30)

  • Smells Like School Spirit (Atrocities, 2011-07-01)

  • Bipartisan [sic] coalition backs new school funding model (In the News, 2006-06-27)

  • Data Sightings (Outrage of the Day, 2009-12-02)

  • The National Action Network Convention (Outrage of the Day, 2009-03-29)

  • Warning About the Democrats for Education Reform (Outrage of the Day, 2009-06-22)

  • Lots of Democrats Want Truckloads of Taxpayer Dollars to Go to Teach For America (Outrage of the Day, 2010-03-24)

  • David Obey Locks Horns with Obama in Budget Battle (Outrage of the Day, 2010-07-16)

  • NewSchools Summit 2010 – Speakers (Outrage of the Day, 2010-05-12)

  • Michelle Rhee, celebrity, goes national (Outrage of the Day, 2010-12-06)

  • Watch Again: Helping Teachers Improve Via Video (Outrage of the Day, 2010-12-26)

  • Tested (Outrage of the Day, 2011-03-08)

  • In Public School Efforts, a Common Background: Private Education (Outrage of the Day, 2011-04-18)

  • Bennet, Alexander, Mikulski Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Create Academies that Prepare Great Teachers and Principals (Outrage of the Day, 2011-06-23)

  • Matt Damon, Diane Ravitch, and scapegoating teachers (Outrage of the Day, 2011-08-06)

  • Why states should refuse Duncan’s NCLB waivers (Outrage of the Day, 2011-08-09)

  • Elmo isn’t Gramsci for kids and the mythical soft bigotry of low expectations (Outrage of the Day, 0000-00-00)

  • Why is George Bush Wading Into Denver's Education Debate on the Eve of Critical School Board Elections? (Outrage of the Day, 2011-10-24)

  • Who is missing from this lineup to evaluate Race to the Top? (Outrage of the Day, 2011-10-25)

  • Bill Gates Reviews Steven Brill (Outrage of the Day, 2011-09-09)

  • Cost doesn't spell success for Colorado schools using consultants to improve achievement (Outrage of the Day, 2012-02-19)

  • Steve Brill Headlines Ed Writer Conference: Who's Next --Jayson Blair? (Outrage of the Day, 2012-04-15)

  • 'Dump Duncan' motion & supporting speeches censored at NEA convention (Outrage of the Day, 2012-07-07)

  • In the City of Corporate Love and Beyond: The Boston Consulting Group, Gates, and the Filthy Rich (Outrage of the Day, 2012-05-18)

  • Who Loves Barbara Byrd-Bennett more--the American Federation of Teachers, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Harcourt School Publishers, or Juan-Claude Blizzard? (Outrage of the Day, 2012-08-27)

  • Analysis: Striking Chicago teachers take on national education reform (Outrage of the Day, 2012-09-10)

  • Thousands of Teachers Decapitated at Gates Headquarters (NCLB News 2010-12-02)

  • Sex Apps and Hegemony (NCLB News 2010-11-14)

  • Racing Where? (the DFER list) (NCLB Atrocities, 2009-12-14)

  • To Know NCLB Is to Like It, ETS Poll Finds (NCLB Atrocities, 2007-06-20)

  • Education - Schoolyard Quarrel (NCLB Atrocities, 2007-09-15)

  • Obama Picks Chicago's Schools Chief For Cabinet (NCLB Atrocities, 2008-12-16)

  • The Education Wars (NCLB Atrocities, 2009-03-23)

  • The Schoolhouse Flunks: Education Dept. Takes Symbolic Step To Reconstitute No Child Left Behind (NCLB Atrocities, 2009-06-23)

  • Schwarzenegger's plan would reshape education in California (NCLB Atrocities, 2009-08-21)

  • How Teachers Unions Lost the Media (NCLB Atrocities, 2009-10-01)

  • Race to the Top Education Grant Propels Reforms (NCLB Atrocities, 2009-11-04)

  • After Criticism, the Administration Is Praised for Final Rules on Education Grants (NCLB Atrocities, 2009-11-12)

  • A terrible idea (NCLB Atrocities, 2010-01-26)

  • The Faces of School Reform (NCLB Atrocities, 2010-01-29)

  • Delaware, Tennessee 'win' educational grants (NCLB Atrocities, 2010-03-30)

  • We Are In Deep Doo Doo (NCLB Atrocities, 2010-04-11)

  • Schools 4 $Sale: Inquire at U.S. DOE (NCLB Atrocities, 2010-05-18)

  • Taking Schools Into Their Own Hands (NCLB Atrocities, 2010-08-16)

  • Vermont Schools Study New Standards (NCLB Atrocities, 2010-09-14)

  • So this Reporter says to this Scientistâ€Â¦ (NCLB Atrocities, 2011-01-13)

  • Grading the Education Reformers (NCLB Atrocities, 2011-08-29)

  • Teacher Grading Off to Uneven Start Evaluation Systems Vary Widely by District, and Most Have Not Yet Reached Agreements With Unions on How to Do It (NCLB Atrocities, 2012-09-10)

  • Race to the Top (Cartoons, 2009-06-22)

  • Who gets to speaks about what schools need? Race to the Top and the Bill Gates Connection (Research That Counts, 2010-09-08)

  • Taking Off the Gloves (Research That Counts, 2010-12-09)

  • Free Market Think Tanks and the Marketing of Education Policy (Research That Counts, 2011-05-02)

  • The DeVos Family: Meet the Super-Wealthy Right-Wingers Working With the Religious Right to Kill Public Education (Research That Counts, 2011-05-07)

  • All the News that's Fit to Print and What the New York Times Leaves Out (Research That Counts, 2011-05-22)

  • How Online Learning Companies Bought America's Schools (Research That Counts, 2011-12-05)

  • The Myth of Charter Schools (Commentaries, 2010-10-25)

  • Teacher Professionalism: Pedagogy and Politics (Commentaries, 2010-11-27)

  • Why teacher bashing is dangerous (Commentaries, 2011-02-16)

  • Who’s Bashing Teachers and Public Schools and What Can We Do About It? (Commentaries, 2011-03-30)

  • People of Interest to the U. S. Press Secretary (Commentaries, 2011-05-15)

  • Firing Line: The Grand Coalition Against Teachers (Commentaries, 2011-07-09)

  • School ‘Reform’: A Failing Grade (Commentaries, 2011-09-07)

  • Obama's neoliberal agenda for education (Commentaries, 2012-06-07)

  • Educators Have No Political Party
  • (Commentaries, 2012-08-28)

  • By David Dayen

    I wish I had known about this before the Chicago Teachers Union suspended their strike and returned to work, but it may shed some light on the timing of the suspension. At the least, it provides a little more context for what teachers unions have to deal with on the ground.

    Apparently th[is] anti-union ad played non-stop on television in Chicago throughout the strike. It's the product of Education Reform Now, a group that also sometimes goes by Democrats for Education Reform, depending on what pot of money they want to use. Formed in 2005, Education Reform Now has spent millions of dollars over the past few years, whether massaging public opinion or lobbying state legislatures or intervening in school board races.

    Education Reform Now spent $10 million in New York state over a two-year period, lobbying Albany for changes to state law on teacher evaluations. They plan to be active in next year̢۪s mayoral election. Former New York City school chancellor Joel Klein, who eventually made his way to work for Rupert Murdoch at News Corp, was the chairman of the Education Reform Now board. The group is closely affiliated with Students First, Michelle Rhee̢۪s lobbying and advocacy group.

    Take a look at some of the other members of the New York effort:

    Joel Klein isn̢۪t the only connection between Democrats for Education Reform and StudentsFirstNY. The Education Reform Now board includes some heavy-hitting charter school donors from the hedge fund world, including John Sabat of SAC Capital and Sidney Hawkins Gargiulo of Ziff Brothers Investments. Democrats for Education Reform was co-founded by John Petry of Columbus Capital Management, who also serves on the board of both that organization and Education Reform Now. All three board members are deeply involved in the Success Charter Network run by former City Councilmember Eva Moskowitz -- who herself will serve on the StudentsFirst board.

    In other words, a coterie of hedge fund managers, who have a vested interest in privatizing education through the charter schools they fund. The group got the Senate Majority Leader in New York to insert a provision into the budget allowing for for-profit charters in New York. It eventually got removed, but it's sure to be back. That's the whole enchilada.

    Education Reform Now doesn't disclose its donors, but we do know the other source of funding for the group: foundation money.

    Private foundations are playing a growing role in financing the nonprofit educational wings of several prominent K-12 advocacy groups, according to reviews of the foundations' grant records and annual tax filings.

    The efforts they underwrite run from the mundane—translating school district materials into Spanish, for instance—to activities deeply intertwined with policy, such as providing information to parents on topics like teacher evaluation and school choice.

    Since 2005, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated or pledged some $5.2 million in grants to Stand for Children̢۪s Leadership Center, including a two-year, $3.5 million grant in 2010 focused primarily on its teacher-quality work. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation provided $500,000 in startup costs to StudentsFirst and has funded Education Reform Now to the tune of $2 million since 2008.

    And beginning in 2010, the Walton Family Foundation has supported all three of those advocacy organizations, including $2.5 million for Stand for Children, $1 million to StudentsFirst, and $2.4 million to Education Reform Now, which is associated with the political action committee Democrats for Education Reform.

    The Walton Family Foundation is what you think, that's the foundation of the founders of Wal-Mart. Eli Broad is slowly buying up all of Los Angeles. The reputation of Bill and Melinda Gates proceed them. The Pershing Square Foundation, run by Pershing Square Capital Management CEO Bill Ackman, has also donated to Education Reform Now/Democrats for Education Reform. This site has much more on their donor network.

    This is a BIG money game. So when a teachers union, even one with a formidable war chest, challenges the prevailing ideology on education reform, they go up against hedge funds and billionaires who will attack and smear them. That̢۪s just a sampling of the pressure they face. They also have to contend with a biased media and a general culture tilted against them as well. Despite all that, parents supported the strike in Chicago. But there was going to be a time limit to that.

    I just think that needs to be part of the context of understanding this fight.

    — David Dayen<
    Firedog Lake blog





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