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

Friday, March 08, 2013

Stacking Boards: Seating the "Reform Majority"

Guest Post by John Harris Loflin of the Education-Community Action Team, Indianapolis

 National agenda to seat "reform majority" school boards in key cities 

“Lead the effort to seat ‘reform majority’ school boards in several key cities.” 
~ Democrats for Education Reform, “A Year of Impact” 2012 DfER accomplishment

It looks like the January 7, 2013 Stand for Children (SfC) “celebration” for their 3 endorsed IPS school board commissioners (Arnold, Cosby, and Hannon) is one more of many this national lobbyist group conducts. 

SfC also “celebrated” the August 2012 election of 4 of the 7 candidates they endorsed in the Memphis, TN school board race. Two from the newly selected board are SfC members and 2 appointees were directly supported by SfC due to their alignment with SfC’s “core values.” 
According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal reporter Jane Roberts, SfC raised more than $300,000: $200,000 from a single out-of-town source and including $30,000 from local sources. SfC spent $154,000 on the seven school board races, including $60,000 in direct mail. The bigger expense ($90,000) was for training and dispatching hundreds of students that SfC paid $10/hour for a door-to-door campaign. 

Memphis reporter John Branston (The City Magazine) in his article “Stand for Something” pointed out that although the various media were confused as how to describe the SfC organization, he noted the, “One thing we [the Memphis media] agreed on is that Stand For Children is unusually well funded and spent more than $150,000 on the school board races, which is a huge amount.” 

SfC and DfER franchises are electing school boards elsewhere 
Evidently what happened in Memphis and Indianapolis is part of the national SfC/DfER organization efforts to control local school boards via national agendas to seat "reform majority" school boards in key cities--especially in places where they know they have the political support or can and will win via lots and lots of cash. 

A review of other school board races, past and present, will help show what happened with IPS is not special and just another school district SfC’s/DfER’s national offices are trying to run. 

SfC helped elect 19 school board members
TN (Memphis and Nashville) 
CO (Denver) 
OR (Portland, Reynolds, Salem-Keizer, Lane County, Hillsboro, Central Coast) 
WA (Issaquah, Tacoma) 
TX (Houston) 

Denver During the November 8, 2011 election, candidates vied for the 3 of 7 Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education seats. National attention was paid to the race. Campaign contributions were said to be some of the most significant in DPS history. An ad hoc group of 3 candidates (Haynes, Rowe, and Carson) made up an unofficial “pro-reform” slate backing privatization. Many contributions to the group came from oil/gas industries and investment bankers--causing speculation that Denver's “high rollers” were pushing a market direction for DPS.

Haynes raised $230,037 ($31,000 from SfC). The 4 opponents of Haynes combined raised only $27,532. Rowe raised $196,845 ($15,477 from SfC). Her opponent Emily Sirota raised $87.293. Carson (who lost) raised $177,440. Winner Arturo Jimenez, raised $68,073. This is a lot of money just to win a school board seat! 

Oregon On Tuesday May 18, 2011, 21 SfC-endorsed school board members in Hillsboro, Medford, Eugene, Reynolds, Portland Public, and other districts were elected. 

Indiana SfC Oregon gave IPS Commissioner Cosby $15, 451. DfER’s Indiana “franchise” gave her $43, 867. DfER Indiana gave Commissioner Hannon $5,542. Besides the IPS candidates, SfC endorsed Dr. Bennett for state superintendent. See IPS candidate’s financial reports: Indianapolis Public School 

Colorado For the November 2012 state of Colorado Board of Education race, SfC supported Angelika Schroeder, who easily won. 

Louisiana As was the case with IPS Commissioners Hannon and Cosby, outside cash flooded the Orleans Parrish race. Though 5 other board seats were also open, the contest in District 3 stands out. More than $110,000 in campaign funds were raised by winner Ms. Usdin from education activists living out of state who favor market-based reforms. Former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and Boykin Curry, a New York City hedge-fund manager gave. Fundraising on behalf of Usdin dwarfs rivals Mr. Bonin ($24,000) and Ms. Royal ($5,500).

SfC endorsed 5 candidates for the 2012 state of Louisiana School Board race. 

Arizona Last November, SfC endorsed candidates won 2 seats on Roosevelt School District School Board and 2 seats on the Murphy School District School Board. Both districts are in Phoenix. 

Nationally, DfER backed 3 board candidates: Caitlin Hannon for IPS, Bill Ponder for San Diego Schools, and Sarah Usdin Orleans LA Parrish Schools. Ponder lost. 

“Certain members of the Indianapolis Board of School Commissioners were strategically placed there by the powers that be to weaken Indianapolis Public Schools and prime it for takeover.” 
~ Diane Ravitch, “The corporate takeover of Indianapolis Public Schools” 

Articles of support: Money and outside district groups such as SfC, StudentsFirst, DfER, Education Reform Now, and the Gates, Walton and Broad Foundations are controlling local school board elections and policies. 

Foundation Cash Boosts Education Advocacy Groups: Money underwrites activities that often touch on sensitive areas of policy. Go to www.vorcreatex.com. Look for “Education” under Misc. or click here:  Foundation Cash.

New Advocacy Groups Shaking Up Education Field: Their sway over policy and politics appears to be growing, especially at the state and local levels. 

Billionaire donors drive anti-teacher pro-testing education reform agenda 

The corporate takeover of Indianapolis Public Schools 

How to Buy a School Board Race 3000 Miles Away: Why would California multi-millionaires be interested in a school board race in the small city of Perth Amboy, NJ? 

© 2013 Education-Community Action Team 

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