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

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Arnold's Henchwoman Defends Race to the Top, CA Reforms - And Padding Her Own Pockets!

A few days ago, the Mercury News (CA) printed a story, "Governor's ties to charter schools driving Race to the Top goals?" that outlined how the various pro-charter reformers, including Eli Broad and his pals at the NewSchools Venture Fund, had aided and influenced the Governator's education agenda. Well, the story certainly infuriated Margaret Fortune, whom Arnold appointed as his director of the Governor's Initiative to Turn Around Failing Schools back in 2008 (with a cushy $100,000 salary). Fortune responded to the Mercury's previous article about Arnold's reform agenda with this opinion piece, "Bass sells out kids in favor of teacher unions," which bashes the much more reasonable legislation proposed by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, legislation the Governator has promised to terminate if it reaches his desk. Fortune and her boss, the Milton Friedman-loving, Ronald Reagan-admiring Governor, strongly prefer the bill of Gloria Romero, the same woman who has pushed uber-choice proposals, charter school legislation, and the "trigger provision" that would greatly help charter school chains in their hostile takeover of public education. Fortune's piece begins like this:

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass' feet are so firmly planted on the wrong side of school reform that it makes me wonder what on earth could make the first black woman leader of the California Assembly turn a blind eye to the plight of minority children in public schools. The sad answer: Her Democratic caucus' loyalty to unions.

The state of public education could not be any more desperate for black children. I, too, am a black woman, and I sit on the California State University board of trustees with Karen Bass. We know that 81 percent of California's black seniors graduate high school ineligible to apply to a state college, and yet Karen Bass finds herself stuck leading a chorus of cynics deriding President Barack Obama's $4.3 billion Race to the Top education reform challenge.

While it's hardly surprising that one of Arnold's appointees (a "Democrat," nonetheless) opposes anyone favoring (or listening to) the unions, what really caught my attention was Fortune's other activities, which are mentioned at the bottom of her essay:
MARGARET FORTUNE is a member of the California State University board of trustees and president of Fortune School of Education, a nonprofit charter school operator. She wrote this article for the Mercury News.
Hardly surprising to see the pro-charter crowd coming out in favor of Duncan/Obama's Race to Nowhere. Mrs. Fortune doesn't just work for CSU and Fortune School of Education (formerly known as Project Pipeline) - she also was the Superintendent of Kevin Johnson's St. HOPE Public Schools (and also appeared at the 2005 NSVF summit - the connections are endless!).
Oh, but here's where Mrs. Fortune really lives up to her family's surname: in addition to working for the Terminator (of public schools), Margaret other job as a "program director" and President/CEO for Project Pipeline, a non-profit alternative licensing program founded by her husband. She pulled in 75k for a measly 18 hours of work per week for her advice, and really started raking in the dough once she was promoted to bosslady in June of '08($12,500 for her work as President/CEO between 6/1/08 and 7/30/08 - not too shabby, eh?). Rex Fortune, her husband and the Executive Director, made a cushy $129,726 in the same year; her son, Rex Fortune III is also a "coordinator" for the non-profit, pulling in a steady 75k (all info pulled from their most recent 990 tax forms). These figures have steadily climbed over the past few years.
A cool 100k from the Governator and a family income around $300,000 from their non-profit alternative track licensing program, which is sure to benefit from the rapid expansion of charter schools. NO WONDER this woman loves Race to the Top and Romero's pro-charter/pro-choice bill! Cha-ching!


  1. Anonymous1:34 PM

    To the best of my knowledge, Rex Fortune is Margaret Fortune's father. Also, please don't forget that for awhile Ms. Fortune also ran St. HOPE Public Schools (charter schools) for Kevin Johnson.

  2. MisFortune has never been a fovorite of mine. All that concern for children just masks a prusuit of the almightly dollar. Every step up the "education reform" ladder has meant a huge pay raise for her. All without spending anytime in the classroom and aminimum of time spent in day to day adminsistration. She didn't remain at the helm of St. HOPE Public Schools long. Someone as determined as she is to make money off children saw that Kevin Johnson was not the wagon to hitch her star to--too many skeletons in the closet and a bad habit of micro-managing without any management skills. Your assesment of her is right-on. I believe however, that Rex Fortune is her father, not her husband. He is a former superintendent of schools in West Sacramento.

  3. Kenneth Libby8:49 PM

    The 990 tax form for Project Pipeline says Margaret and Rex are married.
    Thanks for the info about Margaret's role at KJ's charter school. I wonder if she knew anything about KJ's actions...
    Thanks for the comment.

  4. Anonymous1:11 AM

    Klenox, anonymous,
    The 990 tax form for Project Pipeline claims Rex and Margaret are married. However, it seems like you both have more experience with the pair - maybe there's an error or some other bit of confusion.
    Thanks for the comments.

  5. Anonymous5:41 PM

    Rex Fortune is married to Margaret Fortune. Their daughter is her mother's name sake also named Margaret.