"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Michelle Rhee And the Venture-Philanthropic Conspiracy

conspiracy, noun, pl. -cies.
1. the act of conspiring; secret planning to do something unlawful or wrong.

From American Prospect's Tapped:


An ongoing mystery in the D.C. teachers' contract negotiations has been exactly which private philanthropies have promised schools chancellor Michelle Rhee millions of dollars to fund her aggressive proposed merit pay plan. . . .

. . . .A FOIA request for Rhee's schedule, made by the Washington City Paper, now confirms what many edu-wonks have long guessed: that Bill Gates and real-estate mogul Eli Broad are likely behind the D.C. reform plan. Rhee met with the Gates Foundation 10 times since June 2007, and with the Broad foundation 11 times. She also had 8 contacts with the New Schools Venture Fund, which supports public charter schools such as the KIPP network, as well as the for-profit Edison schools. And sure to be controversial in Democratic D.C., Rhee also met multiple times with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, run by a Reagan administration vet, and with the Walton Family Foundation, the Wal-Mart family's charity, which has focused on school "accountability" efforts.

None of this is particularly surprising, considering Rhee's history as the founder of the New Teacher Project, an entrepreneurial, union-skeptic organization supported by some of these same philanthropies. But the City Paper's digging serves as a reminder of the ideological commitments of those who are supporting Rhee's reform efforts.

Please do check out the impressive list from Washington City Paper, which should be applauded for doing the work of journalists, while the corporate test company, the Washington Post, remains one of those outfits in secret meetings with the Queeen of Pain:

Calendar Clout: At least two dozen contacts since June 2007

Key Rendezvous: With chairman Don Graham at DCPS headquarters on April 9, 2007

The Skinny: The titan of city journalism has given Rhee its unalloyed editorial support since before her appointment was even announced. Rhee’s schedule shows at least a half-dozen contacts with Jo-Ann Armao, the chief writer of local editorials, or the editorial board at large. That’s in addition to lunches with columnists Colby King and William Raspberry. She’s certainly no stranger to Graham; she scheduled a meeting with him, also a Federal City Council honcho, in her office last April. The Post Co.’s philanthropic arm, the Philip L. Graham Fund, hasn’t particularly focused on education, but it did donate $100,000 to New Leaders for New Schools and $150,000 to Venture Philanthropy Partners in 2007.

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