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

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Hedge Fund-Backed Reformers Dumping $50k into Buffalo Race

It's hardly a secret that Democrats for Education Reform, which is closely tied to Education Reform Now, is funded largely by hedge fund millionaires looking to eliminate teacher unions and expand the pay-for-test-score penal pedagogy while privatizing education via charter schools. They've pushed the merit-pay bill in Colorado, lamented the defeat of SB6 in Florida, and are not training their sights on a closer-to-home target, the Buffalo public schools. From The Buffalo News:

Reformers pumping money into school board race

New York City group backs charter schools

NEWS EDUCATION REPORTE

A national education reform group based in New York City is pouring more than $50,000 into Buffalo's Board of Education elections this year.

Education Reform Now has identified three candidates it believes would support its agenda, which includes increasing the number of charter schools and linking teacher compensation to performance.

The group's financial support appears likely to eclipse the money spent by the other two key players in the race, the Buffalo Teachers Federation and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. Each of those groups estimated they would be spending about $10,000 this year, although final tallies will not be publicly disclosed for several weeks.

Joe Williams, the executive director of Education Reform Now, said the nonprofit has been involved with a number of legislative issues at the state level, including efforts to lift the cap on charter schools.

The group has sent out slick, full-color postcards to support three candidates: Philip Lomax in the West District, whose children attend a charter school; Jason McCarthy in the North District, who is vocal in his support of charters; and Kinzer Pointer in the Ferry District, who is the coordinator of parent and community service at Enterprise Charter School.

This year's race in Buffalo marks the first time the group has gotten involved in a local school board race in New York State. The state's dire financial situation is forcing school districts to make tough financial decisions, Williams said.

"It's forcing a lot of reform issues," he said. "This is the time it's got to be a really robust discussion. This may be our last chance to save public education. This is an important opportunity to try to push a progressive education agenda."

The group, which is closely tied to Democrats for Education Reform, has a number of individual backers who have asked not to be named until the group is required to disclose the information to the Internal Revenue Service, Williams said. Education Reform Now also has been active recently in Colorado, Rhode Island, New Jersey and other states.

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Joe Williams can claim to be implementing a "progressive education agenda" makes him the educational equivalent of Iraq's Minister of Information, Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf.

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