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

Monday, March 08, 2010

How to Buy a Candidate: Gloria Romero for CA Superintendent of Public Instruction


It's no secret that CA State Senator Gloria Romero (and Chair of the Senate Education Committee in CA) is a major fan of charter schools, competition, and Race to the Top. She's either written or supported a variety of school choice bills, pro-charter legislation, and she never hesitates to bash public education. Her webpage claims she wrote the Parent Trigger legislation, but the reality is she was just the mouthpiece of a movement spearheaded by the various charter school organizations backed, of course, by the philanthrocapitalists looking to push their education agenda. Romero is currently running for Superintendent of Public Instruction, one of the top education positions in the state of California. Below is a list of her funders (pulled from here; h/t to David Cohen on Twitter for bringing this to my attention):
Donald Fisher - 4/3/2009 - $6,500
Doris Fisher - 4/9/2009 - $6,500
Reed Hastings - 6/24/2009 - $6,500
Ana F. Ponce, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, Principal - 6/15/2009 - $250
Sean E. Peake, VP of Insurance CA Charter Schools Association - 6/15/2009 - $100
Lisa Berlanga, GM of CA Charter Schools Association - 6/15/2009 - $100
Peter H. Hanley, Director of Oakland Charter Schools - 6/15/2009 - $100
Myrna Castejon, SVP School Development, CA Charter School Association - 6/15/2009 - $100
Diane S. Tavenner, Executive Director of Summit Preparatory Charter HS - 6/15/2009 - $100
William Ouchi, UCLA Professor (Business Management, not education) - 6/20/2009 - $1,000
Orbach, Huff & Suarez LLP (involved in K12 construction litigation) - 6/20/2009 - $1,000
Joseph Castillo, Contractor for Premier West Contractors (involved in K12 education construction) - 6/20/2009 - $500
Javan Nabili, GKK Works Inc (involved in K12 construction) - 6/20/2009 - $500
Friends of Monica Garcia 2009 (Garcia is on the LAUSD Board) - 6/30/2009 - $1,000
Steinberg for Senate 2010 (Steinberg is State Senate Pro Tem) - 6/30/2009 - $3,900
Education Management LLC (large post-secondary for-profit education provider) - 6/30/2009 - $3,000
Association of American Publishers, Inc PAC - 6/30/2009 - $1,000
Edythe Broad (listed as "homemaker")- 6/30/2009 - $6,500
Edythe Broad - 6/30/2009 - $6,500 (*update 8:41 PST 3/8/10: I think this may be an error - not sure you can make 2 donations of this size in one year, but there are also 2 different transaction numbers for them)
EdVoice for the Kids PAC - 6/30/2009 - $6,500
Lawrence Stupeski - 6/30/2009 - $6,500
Gregory Penner, Investor at Madrone Capital Partners - 6/30/2009 - $6,500
Eli Broad - 6/30/2009 - $500
Eli Broad - 6/30/2009 - $500
Roger Lowenstein, LA Leadership Academy charter school - 6/18/2009 - $1,000
Marco Petruzzi, Green Dot Public Schools - 6/29/2009 - $250
Branche Jones, VP CA Charter School Association - 5/27/2009 - $600
Lawrence Stupski - 8/19/2009 - $6,500
Joyce Stupski - 8/19/2009 - $6,500
Elizabeth Fisher - 8/19/2009 - $6,500
Joyce Stupski - 8/19/2009 - $6,500
Donald Fisher - 8/19/2009 - $6,500
Robert Fisher - 8/19/2009 - $6,500
John Fisher - 8/19/2009 - $6,500
Doris Fisher - 8/19/2009 - $6,500
William Fisher (Manzanita Capital) - 9/18/2009 - $6,500
Disney Worldwide Services Inc - 9/21/2009 - $1,000
Vanir Construction Management, Inc. (involved in K12 construction management) - 10/13/2009 - $6,500
Michael Piscal (ICEF) - 10/20/2009 - $500
HMC Architects (involved in K12 construction) - 10/20/2009 - $5,000
Richard Riordan - 11/20/2009 - $6,500
Christopher Crane, President of Eduleap (fiance for Christian schools in Africa) - 12/18/2009 - $6,500
Majestic Realty Co - 12/31/2009 - $6,000
Majestic Realty Co - 12/31/2009 - $500
Majestic Realty Co - 12/31/2009 - $6,500 [These three may be $6,500 total, not $13,000]
Kent Valley (of Majestic Realty Co) - 12/31/2009 - $2,000
David Wheeler (of Majestic Realty Co) - 12/31/2009 - $1,000
Whitney Tilson - 9/14/2009 - $250
Charles Ledley (Cornwall Captial) - 9/14/2009 - $1,000
Marcia Aaron (KIPP LA schools) - 9/14/2009 - $500
John Petry (Gotham Capital) - 9/14/2009 - $250
Alex Johnson (ConCann) - 9/21/2009 - $100
John Petry (Gotham Capital) - 10/14/2009 - $250
Joe Williams (DFER) - 9/8/2009 - $250
You can see the full rundown of Gloria's piggybank here. She reported $334,299.34 in contributions in 2009. $143,000 of that came from high-rollers donating the maximum $6,500; the total of the above contributions total $171,100. It should be noted that some labor unions have donated to Romero, but the majority of her funding comes from philanthropists pushing charter schools, construction companies, and even some NYC hedge fund managers.
The typical offenders show up on her list: much of the Fisher Family, Eli and Edythe, EdVoice, and even Whitney Tilson cut a $250 check despite being very busy with his near-fraud shenanigans and his STOP THE PRESSES!!! e-mail blasts.

By the way, how many of the above contributors would stand to gain from the potential expansion of charter schools and associated construction/legal fees?

At least one of Romero's competitors has presented a very different education agenda.

California, let me introduce you to Leonard Martin. He's pushing for a revamp of California's school financing system (including a 2% tax on California's wealthiest citizens and a repeal of at least some, if not all, of Proposition 13); he's opposed to privatization and restructuring of schools; urges CA to make all schools safe for children; opposes the use of standardized testing; supports bilingual education; opposes politicians taking over schools; does not approve of military recruitment in public schools; and opposes commercialization of public schools.

Leonard needed 10,000 signatures by February 25, 2010. He did not reach this threshold, which means he had to pay $3,000 to get on the state ballot (the funds are due this Friday). 3K is a lot of money - unless you have philanthrocapitalists, hedge fund managers, or construction companies showering you with their gifts. You can donate to Leonard's campaign here.

Be sure to check out Leonard's website. Sure - he doesn't have an education background, but his platform treats children and educators with respect, and he stands opposed to the privatization agenda of Romero and her opulent backers. This man certainly deserves our support.

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