The Battle in Seattle Against a Charter School Invasion


Originally published on The Progressive.

Charter schools and other market-based forms of “school choice” have been touted as ways to make education more responsive to “market demands.” But when you look at the latest attempt to force these schools onto the citizens of Washington state, you have to ask, “Just who is demanding these schools?”

Washington State has been pushing back against charter schools for a decade.

Three times, between 1996 and 2004, the state held ballot initiatives allowing charter schools in the state. Three times the voters said “No.”

In 2012, Bill Gates, Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, and other wealthy education “reformers” made a concerted effort on a fourth try to bring charter schools to the state. The public received a barrage of TV ads, forums, and mailers sponsored by organizations such as the League of Education Voters and Stand for Children, both of which are financially backedby Bill Gates.

Initiative 1240 passed 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent, only squeaking by despite the enormous financial advantage of the “Yes” campaign, which outspent the “No” campaign by a margin of 12 to 1.

Charter schools remain a controversial and unpopular concept in the state of Washington particularly in Seattle where over 60 percent of the voters were against the initiative.

After Initiative 1240 passed, a special commission was established to approve charter schools in the state. It is comprised of politically appointed members with no accountability to the general public with the ability to circumvent oversight by local school boards.

The commission recently approved the Green Dot charter chain, despite its checkered history. Green Dot has been faulted for poor test score results, loss of accreditation, low SAT scores, teachers cheating on student’s tests, poor teacher pay, high teacher turnover, student free speech violations, and misleading parents.

The Green Dot charter chain got its foothold in Seattle by subterfuge.

When community members in Southeast Seattle, a neighborhood of minority cultures and immigrants, found out a Green Dot middle school was part of a development plan there, citizen activists pushed back.

Former Seattle School Board member Sue Peters, who helped block Green Dot from receiving a zoning variance, told me in an interview: “Green Dot is violating the law. They have no legal right to make that request, yet someone in the City worked with Green Dot behind the scenes and granted them one waiver already and want to grant them another . . . So Green Dot is committing violation after violation.”

“Too often [charters] want rules and laws broken or special treatment that public schools are not granted,” she summed up. “And then they have the audacity to claim to make apples to apples comparisons with truly public schools.”

In May, 2017 Green Dot managed to push through a different zoning variance—this one to have “greater than allowed” building height for a high school—and, again, by operating under the radar and with the assistance of the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods division of Major Institutions and Schools.

When community advocates called attention to Green Dot requesting a second variance, the Seattle School Board unanimously passed a resolution that charter schools should not be afforded a variance because they are not considered public schools.

On the board of the company Homesight, which is the developer of the site in Southeast Seattle, is an executive from Impact Public Schools, which advocates for charter schools, Natalie Hester, who also serves on the board of the Washington State Charter Schools Association.

There were no representatives from Seattle Public School district on the board of the company.

With the variance for the high school successfully pushed through, but the variance for the middle school stymied by the school board’s resolution, Green Dot has decided to co-locate the high school with the junior high school.

Local citizens protested at the construction site.

And once again, the legality of charter schools is being challenged at the level of the State Supreme Court.

Seattle citizens voted three times against charter schools and there is no indication that opinions have changed. Only a select few backroom operators want the privatization of public schools in Seattle so the battle in Seattle continues.

Dora Taylor


OSPI State Superintendent Candidate Erin Jones’ list of donors: A who’s who of corporate ed reformers thanks to Stand for Children lobbyist Jim Kainber


In March of this year, my co-editor Carolyn Leith and I interviewed the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Candidate Erin Jones. In preparation for the interview we noticed several of her donors were pro-charter school individuals and organizations who Ms. Jones referred to as her “friends” during the interview.

As I wrote in an introduction to the conversation we had with OSPI candidate Erin Jones:

Ms. Jones largest donors so far include Teach for America, Inc. (TFA), the League of Education Voters (LEV) and Stand for Children (SFC) but at the time of the interview, Ms. Jones said she was not aware of who her donors were.

During the interview we questioned her about her donors and after the interview, Carolyn and I sent Erin Jones information on LEV, SFC and other Gates’ backed groups assuming her to be naïve about the corporate reform movement. Apparently, Ms. Jones chose to either ignore the information or felt it was to her advantage to accept the money and therefore the influence of these individuals and groups.

Since the interview, Erin Jones has hired  SFC lobbyist Jim Kainber to assist her with generating  campaign donations.

To follow is what we have collected as of the date of this posting of money flowing into Erin Jones’ campaign from people and groups who are spending millions of dollars on privatizing the public school system of Washington State.

A big thank you goes out to people who have been working behind the scenes, gathering the information that is published in this post.

You can peruse her list of campaign donors here.

To follow is a breakdown of some of her contributors:

Stand for Children (SFC)

For information on Stand for Children, see Stand for Children Stands for the Rich and the Powerful…, For or Against Children? , Bain Capital, Stand for Children and Initiative 1240 and Parents! Know the truth about Stand for Children.

SFC contributed $168K for mailers for the Erin Jones for OSPI campaign.

And speaking of SFC, check out another contributor to SFC, Howard Behar.

Behar has contributed about $41,000 to Stand for Children. He has also donated to individuals that seek to privatize our education system such as Washington State pro charter school representatives Steve Litzow, Chad Magendanz and Guy Palmbo.

He also contributed money to the No on 1098 campaign. Initiative 1098 was a push to establish an income tax in Washington State. Washington State has one of the most regressive state tax systems in the US relying solely on a sales tax to support all state and public services including schools.

Behar has donated $2,000 to Erin Jones campaign.

Another major contributor to Stand for Children is David Nierenberg who has donated a total of $60K over the last several years to Stand for Children and donated $6K to Erin Jones’ campaign.

Evelyn Rozner, married to Matt Griffin who is a big supporter of charter schools and Teach for America and tried to buy the Seattle school board, contributed $1K to Erin Jones’ campaign,  contributed $5,000 to Stand for Children.

 Tom Alberg

Alberg is a venture capitalist who is not into paying a state income tax, which would inevitably support public schools, contributed $800 to the Erin Jones’ campaign and $35K to Stand for Children.

He also contributed $25K to the anti income tax campaign No on 1098.

For those who have been following this blog for a while, an interesting note that Alberg is also on the Investment Committee of the Seattle Foundation.

The League of Education Voters (LEV) and the LEV PAC, the Education Voters Political Action fund

To learn more about LEV, see A Look Back at the League of Education Voters and The Charter School Bill 1240 and the 1%: An Analysis. LEV has been heavily financed by Bill Gates who has been spending millions on various campaigns to have charter schools established in Washington State.

LEV has been very supportive of Erin Jones, featuring her as a keynote speaker at one of their events in 2014 and then for a LEV fundraiser as a featured speaker this year in Seattle.

Jene Jones, a lobbyist for LEV, who’s name keeps popping up when researching supporters of Erin Jones, spoke in Olympia in favor of a bill that would have elaminated  levies which is a way for districts to raise money for public schools. This may have to do with the fact that charter schools, which are still unconstitutional in our state, cannot receive tax levy money.

Starve the beast, feed the monster.

The LEV PAC is endorsing many charter school proponents to serve in the Washington State House and Senate this year.

Kelly Munn, a Field Director with LEV, who Erin Jones considers one of her “friends”, contributed $250 to Jones’ campaign fund.

The Education Voters Political Action fund include contributors such as Christopher Larson, who contributed $20K, and Steve Sundquist, a former Seattle school board member and disciple of our former Broad Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson.

Christopher Larson also contributed to the YES on 1240 campaign with $10K to establish charter schools in Washington State. Larson has donated $2,000 to the Erin Jones campaign.

To see the correlation between Yes on 1240 contributors and Jones’ donors, you can peruse the Yes on 1240 pdc list.

Rena Holland

Clyde and Rena Holland contributed $4K to Jones. Holland is a developer who has contributed to Republicans in Washington State and those with a right wing agenda.  Holland provided Tim Heyman with enough cash to push forward an initiative that requires a 2/3 majority of votes in the State House and Senate rather than a simple majority to approve bills.

This makes it more difficult for schools to get approval for much needed state funding.

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER)

For more on DFER, see Democrats for Education Reform also known as DFER and The deets on DFER, Democrats for Education Reform.

As stated in The deets on DFER post:

The Democrats for Education Reform have initiated a shameless war on public education, even as they claim to support children, teachers, and schools.

Dan Grimm, who is on the Board of Advisors for DFER, hosted a fundraiser for Erin Jones at the Asian Pacific Center on October 3, 2016.

To see the list of contributors to DFER, check out their pdc file.

Ruth Libscomb

Ruth Lipscomb, a self-proclaimed “education activist”, made a $500 contribution to the Erin Jones’ campaign. Lipscomb also contributed $3K to DFER and $7,500 to LEV’s PAC, the Education Voters Political Action fund.

Jamie Lund

Jamie Lund, the Senior Policy Analyst with of the anti-union Freedom Foundation has contributed to Erin Jones’ campaign.

Amy Liu

Amy Liu sits on the board of Summit charter school. Liu has contributed to the Erin Jones campaign as well as Yes on I 1240 and DFER.

Rainier Prep charter school

Maggie O’Sullivan, who is the founding principal of Rainier Prep charter school, a charter school that Erin Jones testified in favor of, contributed $350 to Erin Jones’ campaign.

SOAR charter school

Thelma Jackson of SOAR charter school, contributed $250 to Erin Jones campaign.


David Yunger, a Vice President at Pearson, contributed $1,000 to the Erin Jones campaign and listed himself as an “entrepreneur”.

All these people, many who were contacted by Stand for Children’s Lobbyist Jim Kaimber requesting donations, want to see Erin Jones elected and the reason is clear. They see Jones as a way to gain entry and influence over education in Washington State.

Dora Taylor



Following the charter school cash in the Washington State Primary: The latest money scheme


UPDATE: Two mistakes have been corrected from the original post.

Voters for Washington Children spent $15,000 in digital ads AGAINST Luis Moscoso in the District 1 Senate race. In addition, Voters for Washington Children spent $10,000 AGAINST Branden Durst in the Legislative District 29, Representative race.

Our sincerest apologies to Luis Moscoso and Branden Durst.


Nowhere is the chasm between the hard reality of our political system and the American ideals of merit, choice, and freedom more on display than during an election cycle.

Money matters – a lot.

The challenge for large money donors is how to spend big on your candidate(s) without offending the voters you’re trying to persuade. Voters understand politics is a dirty game, but they still believe in the idea that democracy should work for everyone.

Big donors have come up with a practical two step solution to this problem:

  1. Keep the money moving through various PACs.
  2. When it’s time to spend the money, use independent expenditures to further mask the source.

Openly supporting charter schools is a still a risky position for many politicians in Washington State. Let’s take a look at how pro-charter PACs supported their preferred candidates through the use of a PAC with a different name and independent expenditures.

The Name Game

Between July and August of 2016, three PACs contributed $265,500 dollars to Voters for Washington Children. They were:

Stand for Children Washington PAC

7/14    $76,000

7/25    $10,000     

Total: $86,000

Washington Charters PAC

7/15   $70,000

7/25   $27,500

7/25   $10,000

8/03   $15,000    


Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) Washington PAC

7/14   $40,000

7/18   $  7,500

7/25   $10,000    


The Independent Expenditure Shell Game

Voters for Washington Children contracted with a group called RALLY in San Francisco to produce digital ads and mailers for the candidates Stand for Children, DFER, and Washington Charters PAC supported.

Never heard of RALLY?

Their clients include: Teach for America, Inc. (TFA), TFA-Bay Area, the Green Dot charter chain, National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), Students Matter (of the lawsuit Vergara v. California), and Act Now for Washington Students.

Remember the charter school ads that ran during Seahawks games last year? RALLY was behind them. They also bused kids to Olympia to testify for the charter bill and coordinated all of those heartfelt cards and letters sent to the state Legislature.

From RALLY’s website:

The Washington State Charter Schools Association, along with coalition members Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), Stand for Children, the League of Education Voters, and leaders from the business community, partnered with RALLY to find and drive a solution that saved the existing schools and reinstated the will of the voters. RALLY developed and managed a high-impact legislative advocacy campaign that forced legislators, especially elected Democrats, to confront the prospect of being held responsible for closing public schools that serve a racially and economically diverse student population – or taking action to support their constituents.

To deliver our message, RALLY created a campaign that truly put parents and students front and center. We built, encouraged, and supported a strong grassroots advocacy team that made more than 1,000 calls per week to elected officials, flooded legislative offices with homemade postcards and letters, and brought hundreds of people to Olympia for multiple rallies to keep schools open. A statewide petition activated 20,000 new public charter supporters and created a backbone for a strategic digital effort that augmented the on-the-ground tactics.

Grassroots efforts were coupled with an aggressive paid media campaign designed to make it impossible for state leaders to ignore the plight of public charters. RALLY produced four television ads, which aired during Seattle Seahawks games and nightly newscasts. Additionally, voters in key swing districts around the state received a series of direct mail, robo-calls, and targeted earned media. Statewide, every major newspaper endorsed saving the schools and called on Democrats to stay true to their social justice roots. These tactics were combined with a PAC fundraising effort, a relentless online digital presence, and a robust social media strategy.

RALLY’s Independent Expenditure Ads and Mailings

How did the candidates supported by the pro-charter PACs do in the primary? Let’s take a look at the races where RALLY’s services were put to use:

Legislative District 29-State Representative Pos. 1

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 9.38.27 PM

David Sawyer, Democrat, Representative, 29th District

7/26   $10,000 for digital ads AGAINST Branden Durst, Democrat

7/27    $10,000 for digital ads

Total: $20,000

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.12.30 AM

Legislative District 1-State Senator

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 9.41.00 PM

Guy Palumbo, Democrat, State Senate, District 1

7/21   $10,925 for digital ads

7/23   $11,714.55 for mailing

7/26   $15,000 for digital ads AGAINST Luis Moscoso, Democrat

Total: 37,639.55

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.29.17 AM

Legislative District 5-State Senator

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 9.45.42 PM

Mark Mullet, Democrat, State Senate, District 5

7/21    $10,658.19  direct mail

7/23    $16,189.83  two mailings

7/26    $11,525.07  direct mail  

Total: $38,373.09

Legislative District 41-State Senator

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 9.48.20 PM

Stephen Litzow, Republican, District 41, Senate

7/22    $4,000  digital ads

7/25    $19,930.28  direct mail

7/26    $16,782.63  direct mail

Total: $40,712.91

Not to be forgotten, 0n 7/27 RALLY was contracted to produced $30,000 worth of digital ads for Steven Hobbs, Democrat, who ran for the Lieutenant Governor position during the primary. Hobbs ended up coming in fourth after Cyrus Habib, Marty McClendon, and Karen Fraser.


Besides the Lieutenant Governor’s race, every campaign where RALLY’s services were engaged resulted in one of Voters for Washington Children’s candidates advancing to the general election.

Seems like Stand for Children Washington PAC, Washington Charters PAC, and Democrats for Education Reform Washington PAC got a solid return on their investment.

-Carolyn Leith




An interview with Washington State Superintendent Candidate Erin Jones


erin jonesErin Jones is running for Washington State Superintendent to be in charge of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). According to the OSPI webpage, it is “the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 public education in Washington state”.

Presently, Ms. Jones is School Director for Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) in Tacoma. Erin Jones is NOT a public school district director as is implied by her in all of the information she provides to the public. AVID is a product sold to school districts that promises students will be able to achieve through self-discipline and focusing on the Common Core Standards. The work is done with hired tutors.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Erin Jones was a volunteer in a public school in North Philadelphia, a substitute in South Bend, IN, a private school teacher, an ELL instructor, a classroom teacher in English and French Immersion in Tacoma, an instructional coach and AVID tutor in Spokane, an assistant State Superintendent (working for the current superintendent, Randy Dorn), and now a school district director for AVID in Tacoma.

Ms. Jones received the (Michael) Millken Educator of the Year Award as an educator while teaching at a high school in Spokane, WA. Today, Milken is a leading figure in the education reform movement and is one of the founders of the nation’s largest cyber charter chain, K12.

For more on K12, which is in our state now under the Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) umbrella, see:

From Junk Bonds to Junk Schools: Cyber Schools Fleece Taxpayers for Phantom Students and Failing Grades

Cashing in on Kids: K12

Diane Ravitch: What is Legal Fraud?

Two years ago, Ms. Jones testified in favor of Rainier Prep charter school in front of the Charter School Commission and now says she regrets that action. Rainier Prep charter school is enrolling students for next year.

Ms. Jones largest donors so far include Teach for America, Inc. (TFA), the League of Education Voters and Stand for Children but at the time of the interview Ms. Jones said she was not aware of who her donors were.

Editor’s Note: The up-to-date list of donors can be found in the post OSPI State Superintendent Candidate Erin Jones’ list of donors: A who’s who of corporate ed reformers thanks to Stand for Children lobbyist Jim Kainber.

Ms. Jones attended the ultra-conservative Roanoke Conference but said during the interview she knew nothing about the conference until she arrived and found out who was attending. Ms. Jones said she went to hear the panel on education. The panel on education was titled “What strategies can work to save charter schools” featuring Chad Magendanz, Lisa MacFarlane with Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), the Chairman of Summit charter schools and Beth Sigall with the Eastside Education Network.

Jones received an endorsement from Jami Lund with the anti-union Freedom Foundation who wants to see teachers’ salaries decided by the state and, coincidentally (?) Erin Jones agrees with him.

Erin Jones states she’s against the amount of standardized testing and teaching to the test and yet sees no problem with the Common Core Standards.

Ms. Jones stated in the interview that Teach for America, Inc. (TFA) could be a credible substitute for districts that may have a teacher shortage and are better than substitute teachers although substitute teachers are required to be certified, but TFA, Inc. recruits have only five weeks of rudimentary training and a college degree in any subject. TFA, Inc. recruits are not certified.

Ms. Jones sat on the Parent’s Union’s board, but did not know who the funders were. The Parents Union was originally formed in Los Angeles by Steve Barr, founder of the Greendot charter school chain to promote charter schools and bust the teachers union.

Most recently she said that “teaching transgenderism” in school was not appropriate and that such instruction could cause students to “feel additional pressure to ‘choose an orientation’”, as if it were a choice, or as she later states, choosing a “lifestyle”.

Since then she has also tried to walk that statement back but it looks like the die has been cast. You can only fool some of the people some of the time.

Erin Jones is very adept at telling people what they want to hear.

With so much at stake and the pressure of Gates’ money that has been granted to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and Gates’ $2M grant to the Mary Walker School District to explore the option of expanding charter schools in our state, we need to be thoughtful about who we want to run our schools statewide.


Post Script:

From a reader’s comment:

According to the PDC, Jones has received a $1,000 contribution from a David Yunger. The PDC lists Yunger as an entrepreneur, but a LinkedIn search reveals that he is a VP for Pearson.


To follow are excerpts from the interview I had with Ms. Jones on Saturday, February 27, 2016. A transcript of the entire interview can be found here.

Carolyn Leith, my co-editor, and I spent an hour with Erin Jones, asking her questions on the following topics.

Teach for America, Inc.

Dora: The first (question) is about Teach for America. They’re your biggest contributor, your largest donor so far in your PDC file. Tell me what your thoughts are about Teach for America.

Erin: So, first of all, I didn’t even know who the donor was when he donated.  So he donated I think, I think it’s Sean, who donated?

…And he wasn’t somebody that I asked for a donation from. He donated as soon as my website went up. I used to know the original director of Teach for America, Lindsey Hill. So I knew her, or I know Lindsey and I have a student that was a Teach for America student, who now actually teaches, I just hired him this year in Tacoma. I’ve done some training for them. I don’t want them to take over.

Dora: As State Superintendent how would you feel about them (TFA recruits) teaching in public schools?

Erin: So, how would I feel about them teaching? I think that we, for right now, need to figure out some ways, whether it is Teach for America…I would prefer that we in district, figure out ways to recruit, whether it’s from Para-educators, whether it’s from our substitute teachers, we’re gonna have to address our teacher shortage somehow.

Dora: You believe there is really a teacher shortage?

Erin: I know in Tacoma there’s a teacher shortage, we still have five buildings right now that I know of, and I don’t know all of the buildings in Tacoma, because I just work in middle and high school, but we still have five buildings that have had subs. This year. All year. So there’s definitely a shortage of teachers. And sixty percent of our teachers are retirement age in Tacoma. So it’s gonna be an issue that we have to address.

Dora: Okay. Well, Teach for America (recruits are) trained basically to teach in charter schools, are you aware of that?

Erin: Well, they’re not though. They’re trained here…and I understand other places in the country…but I have worked with their training model, because one of my students that I’ve taught as a middle school kid who went to Whitworth, became Teach for America, and so they actually had me come in and teach Cultural Competence to them. And it wasn’t to teach in charter schools, they were to teach in, they were teaching in Federal Way, they were teaching in Seattle at the time.

Dora: Well, you understand that they have about five weeks of training before they go into basically high needs schools.

Erin: Yes.

Dora: You think that’s okay?

Erin: No, I don’t think that’s the best thing at all…I think people need to have years of training and being in buildings. I guess what I’m saying though, right now, in Tacoma I’m saying that subs who’ve had zero training who are teaching outside of their field, and going in for two and three weeks without any lesson plans… That also is not a good solution. So, my preference would be that we… So right now what we’re doing in Tacoma is that we’re actually training our subs over the summer. So, I led training this summer for substitute teachers…so that at least we’re sending people in, with more training than they’re getting. Most districts don’t have any training for subs, which I think is criminal.

About the League of Education Voters (LEV) and charter schools

Dora: The third person on your list of donors, another one of your larger donors, is Kelly Munn with the League of Education Voters. They also feature you on their blog occasionally. So, what are your thoughts on that organization?

Erin: So, I have done a lot of work…when I first went to OSPI after my last year in the classroom, I ran their Center for the Improvement of Student Learning … it used to be the family and community engagement arm of OSPI, but it was defunded. From that I met Kelly Munn for children and family engagement work. And so, I did a lot of speaking for them (LEV), especially with immigrant families, and particularly talking about the transition from middle school to high school, because that’s my expertise area. I taught middle school and I moved to high school, and at the time I had three kids that were middle school transitioning. So, that is my connection to them. I think they do really great work around community engagement, with a population that is not served well by PTA. Now, at the time that I was doing work with them at OSPI, charter schools was not part of their big push.

Dora: It has been for a long time.

Erin: Right, but… the part of the work that I did, had nothing to do with charter schools. It was all around transition, it was all around, how do we engage families who don’t speak English, or don’t feel like they connect with school. And so, Kelly Munn is, it’s ironic because she had an event, maybe about eight months ago, and one of the things she said is, “you know I love Erin.” “She doesn’t support our charter school work.” And it was funny, because she started out…the introduction of me, with the group by saying, “Erin and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, she doesn’t support charter schools, and yet I still think she wants what’s best for kids and teachers.” And that’s why I support Kelly. Now, I’ve been pretty vocal about being anti charter schools, so I have an email from her that I could show you, that she is pretty upset with me right now. Which I’m fine with. She knew from the beginning, I don’t support charter schools. And, she was clear about that in the very beginning.

About testifying for Rainier Prep charter school in 2014

Dora: Well, you were in front of the Charter School Commission in 2014.

Erin: Mmm. In front of their leadership team…

Dora: …where you spoke in support of Rainier Prep charter school.

Erin: Yes, in support of Maggie, yes…

Dora: No, you said you were in support of Rainier Prep.

Erin: Yes, who’s Maggie. Maggie is one of my principals.

Dora: Well okay, but it was a charter school, you were in front of the Charter School Commission.

Erin: Yes…

Dora: So, you’re against charter schools but…

Erin: And that’s probably the most unfortunate presentation. To be really honest with you. Maggie and I have talked about that, many times. She is one of probably the best principals that I worked with in Federal Way. Do you know Maggie O’Sullivan?

She hired me. Yeah, she was my principal at Wildwood Elementary too. One of my favorite principals. And I should not have done that. Because I realized, and at the time I wasn’t thinking about this work, and so it was just really supporting her and I feel really badly about that. I’ve told her, I love her as a principal, and I think she is going to do great work. The movement itself I don’t support. And it’s really unfortunate, that was a mistake for me. Politically that was a mistake that I made and it is really unfortunate and she and I have had many conversations since then, about that, and I felt like I was going to support a great friend, who took an entire year off, didn’t take a salary, to plan a school. And what I told her is I wish every principal had the opportunity to take a year, to plan a school, and, not have regulations…

Dora: It (Rainier Prep) could have been under the ALE umbrella.

Erin: It could have. No and I agree with that now. I realize that, I realized that afterwards. I talked to, also to the superintendent, why am I blanking of Highline, oh my gosh, Susan?

Dora: Susan Enfield

Erin: Yes, Susan Enfield. So Susan and I have talked about that over time too… probably the board could have taken that school…she loved Maggie, and the board probably should have taken that school and made it part of, and made it an alternative learning environment, and so Susan and I have had long words about that too because now it’s really tarnished Maggie’s reputation and even Highline, it’s put them in a complicated position.

About the donations given by Stand for Children, Don Nielson and Greendot charter schools

Dora: Okay, now you’ve got other supporters, you’ve got  Stand for Children, Green Dot, Don Nielsen…

Erin: They are people…

Dora: Yes.. I understand they are people…

Erin: But I have 400 some odd thousand contributors.

Dora: But the thing is that these people expect a return on their investment.

Erin: If, okay, if I’m gonna make $300,000, their little $200 or $300 or $1500, is not gonna buy…I didn’t ask for the money. People gave me money.

Dora: Well, would you give it back to them? Would you say, “You know what, I really don’t want to be, at all related to your group at this point. I think it would be better, if you just took the money back.”

Erin: So I guess, I guess what I would say is if I lived my life…I know what I stand for and I’ve been pretty clear verbally and in public about what I stand for, and there’s nobody that can buy me.  It’s just, there’s nobody that can buy who I’m gonna be and what I’m gonna stand for.

The Roanoke Conference

Dora: What about the Roanoke Conference? Did you attend that?

Erin: I did, yeah. So, and my whole purpose of attending is this is a non-partisan position. I need to hear from both sides. And actually I’ll be really honest, I was mortified by what I heard. So their whole conversation around education, I just went for one hour to hear their education panel. Because actually the organizer of Roanoke …was my former pastor’s son, out in Spokane. And he invited me to speak on the panel, and I said, “Well, you know, I’m not a Republican, and I don’t support charter schools.” So suddenly I wasn’t on the panel anymore. And I said well, I’d be interested in hearing though, what they had to say because, I was just curious…I was more mortified by what they had to say than I was before I arrived. And one of the pieces that I think people need to know, Chad Magendanz is really open about, “I’m going for vouchers.” And I’m glad I was sitting there, because, people could say, “oh, vouchers aren’t coming up.” But to hear him physically say it in front of a whole audience of people was, um, pretty profound and disturbing. So I did go.

So I used to train with the students and Teri Hickel was the director of that program in Federal Way. And she happened to be there, and so she invited me to sit with her, and I did. And I’ve been mentoring her student(s) through Federal Way for the last four years.

About the Common Core Standards

Dora: There was, on the Teachers United site…a couple of quotes that they attributed to you. One was on the Common Core Standards. You said, “As a teacher, I don’t think that Common Core necessarily will help or hurt us,” Jones said in an interview. “The content is fine, but really it’s all about the teaching. People are really panicking about Common Core. While I don’t think that Common Core is the right thing to panic about, it’s become a distraction.”

Erin: And I still believe that. I think that the test is a problem. So I think for me right now what I worry about, because I’m with teachers all the time, I’m worried about changing the standards yet again, in four years. I would prefer to have different standards right now, but I feel like right now the test is the thing that we’ve really got to worry about, and the test and the standards are two very different things in my mind. Standards are just a road map. They’re not curriculum, they’re not content, it’s the roadmap for, here are the different elements that you, that need to be covered in a year. At some point. The test is I think what’s putting undue pressure on teachers, and on students…When I’m called in to talk to third graders who are crying because they’re stressed out about a test…if we could take away the high stakes of testing, so that people don’t feel like we’re on this crazy path to “I’m gonna be evaluated by this”, and yeah, evaluation also shouldn’t be associated with testing, but I think the test is really for me, the biggest, the bigger problem than the standards. We need to have standards, at some level. Are Common Core the best? I don’t think they’re the best, but I think right now, where our focus needs to be is paring back the test, and making sure that it’s a usable tool for classroom teachers, and it gives them information to help them inform their practice.

Dora: Well the SBAC can’t be modified. It’s trademarked. It’s registered.

Erin: Well we don’t have to use it then. We don’t have to use it, then.

Dora: It’s kind of a gray area, right now.

About Gates money and OSPI

Dora: How do you feel about Randy Dorn and OSPI accepting money from Bill Gates?

Erin: So I think, Gates money is everywhere. And so I feel really conflicted about that. I think there are things Gates does that are good, and I think there are things Gates does that are bad. I don’t think it’s all around, Bill Gates is evil, but I think what’s dangerous about Gates is this assumption that because I’m rich, I know everything about education. He’s not an educator. I think, he does live in Washington State, so this notion that he could give money to the state is…but when it becomes such large sums that it now drives what’s happening, politically, that’s a problem.

Dora: If you ever can get ahold of one of their grant summaries, like we did for the Mary Walker School District, there are a lot of strings attached. He (Bill Gates) doesn’t just give money. He wants, what he expects is very clear, very clearly defined.

Erin: And I’m not sure, what did he recently give money for, besides Mary Walker?

Dora: He’s been giving millions to OSPI (over) the last several years.

Erin: I mean, I think that’s problematic, when there’s, there’s a person who’s giving millions, I think there’s an assumption then that there’s something he wants.

On McCleary and the funding of education

Dora: Another quote attributed to you on their (Teachers United) website about McCleary… “It’s important that we fund education at a higher level. Washington being 40th in the nation is to me criminal. But money is not our biggest issue. It’s how we spend the money we have and how we will support our teachers.”

So, do we have adequate funding here (in Washington State)?

Erin: No. We don’t. No. But what I guess what I’m saying though is untiI…I don’t think the legislature’s gonna move, to be really transparent, until, we actually value teachers, and that’s the, culturally, as an  American culture, that’s where I think our biggest problem is. I think we have a bunch of legislators, who think this is not an issue they need to deal with. Because they don’t see teachers as being really all that important. And that’s what I think we need to get to, is how do we value teachers and see them as the most important adults in the life of our children? And when we can see that… So, do we need funding? Heck yeah. But I don’t see the legislature really feeling any crisis or urgency until they actually see our profession as one that’s the greatest profession on the planet. And that’s really what I was trying to say with that.

About standardized testing

Carolyn: How could you restructure testing to help people gain some time during the day for less coverage the (class) material. So, instead of covering five chapters, we would be back to the normal two. …So those are things that you would be in control of.

Erin: Well, not exactly. The legislature’s more in control of that.

Carolyn: With the ESSA, roughly, you’re supposedly going to have more control if you’re the head of the OSPI.

Erin: Hopefully they will not have made those decisions until I get there. You know what I’m saying, because a lot of those decisions are being made right now, by the current state superintendent. And what I’m hoping is that they will all not be made. Every day there are new changes being made by OSPI. And so it remains to be seen what will be left open. But I guess my opinion as a classroom teacher, is, we’ve gotta pare back on the testing… In Tacoma took us 4-6 weeks on average to test kids. And so, for example, kids would take a test for two hours in the morning. Well, guess what, kids aren’t doing any work after that. So if I’m a second grader and I’ve been sittin’ at a computer for two hours, you are not getting any more learning outta me. So we’ve now lost that entire day. And so one of the things that I, I wanna talk about, is how do we pare that back.. My preference would be two days of testing a year. That would be my dream, my dream length: a pre-test in the fall, and a post test in the spring. And something that’s usable by teachers. I think what pains me right now, being at a district level, is the tests don’t even come back until kids are gone. And so what is the point? Right? So we’ve just spent 4-6 weeks testing, and you don’t even get that data back until after kids have gone home for the year. So what’s the point? …We’ve gotta have that honest conversation. What’s the point? What is the test for then? ‘Cause it’s not helping me as a teacher with the kids I have right now. And if I’m just getting those kids, what does that test even mean for me? As I get them for the next year. That is problematic.

About recess

Carolyn: So my ten year old has a question…She wants to know, what you’re going to do for recess.

Erin: Oh, yay. I love that question.

Carolyn: For actually kids getting recess… when it comes to recess, it doesn’t happen. So how are we going to do that for every kid?…So, in the state, so they all get recess, and we document it, and it if there’s a problem, we come to you, and what do you do?

Erin: So I think there are a couple things that I think about recess. Number one, I think it’s problematic how we’re instructing right now. So, we’re asking kids from early on to high school to sit for five to six hours a day. Which, just development…even for adults, it’s just, that’s criminal. We can’t, we as adults, know how to play that game. So we can play the game, but even if we’re asked to sit for four or five hours or two hours, we’re not listening, we’re checked out, right? And so, one of the things, I didn’t need to read research about this, I just needed to have my own children, is every ten to fifteen minutes, we need as teachers, to be getting kids up and moving. So I think that’s part of the problem, that we’re asking kids to sit all day. And so, you know what, they’re squirrelly now, right? If we are, we’re just squirrelly inside. We know how to hold it down really well. So I think part of the problem is that we are not moving kids around, enough. And so I learned that, as a French immersion teacher, my kids were dancing…I knew. Like every twelve minutes a bell would go off and if I hadn’t moved my kids, I was moving my students, and we were doing something physical. So I think that’s problem one. We need to talk about the importance of physical movement, and not keeping kids, sitting in a chair, for five hours. That’s just crazy-making. Problem two: they’ve gotta get outside. I mean it’s just, it has to happen. And really the younger the kids, probably the more times in a day they need to get outside. And so that needs to built into every system. And that’s something again, I don’t get to make those laws, but as the bully pulpit, this is stuff that’s important to me, because I watched my own kids. I have a son who’s ADD, he’s not ADHD. But he needed that, like just get up and move. He’s also dysgraphic. He can’t physically write. So imagine what it’s like for a kid like that, who can’t physically write, is now frustrated, ‘cause I have to sit here for six hours. I can’t do this well, and now you’ve got me stuck. And guess what, I’m staring out the window, ‘cause now I’m not engaged. And so I learned from my own kids, we need to be up and moving, and we need to create spaces for every kid to feel successful. And that’s what I want to talk about, as the state superintendent.

Carolyn: What would you say about withholding recess as a punishment?

Erin: Oh, it’s ridiculous. That is, that’s criminal. Because the very kids that we tend to withhold it from, are the very ones who need to move. And I believe the kids who get in trouble, right, are the kids who don’t do well sitting still. I, we’re over diagnosing ADHD, and ADD. And part of it is because we’re asking kids to sit still for so long. We wonder why they get fidgety. Well maybe that’s your sign that they need to be moving. But again as administrators, we need to give our teachers permission, and encourage them, get kids up and moving. This is how our brains learn.

Carolyn: I think there’s a problem though that teachers feel like they have so much pressure…to do all the curriculum, that they’re stuck in the middle… and they’re behind, and to do more work so the kids are sitting for an hour…and they’re second graders. And then they act up…and then they miss recess…

Erin: Exactly. And that’s criminal. And now you’re compounding the problem. I think the other reality is…um, we just know this as adults too… So, we’ve got all this curriculum to get through, right? That we have five pages we’re supposed to get through today. I’m just gonna push through. Have the kids learned any of that? No. ‘Cause they’ve just sat still, and they are taxed out. So maybe you got to page five, but nobody learned page five. Actually people stopped learning after about page three. And so really having those honest conversations about what, how does, how do we learn, as human beings, both as children and as adults?

Carolyn: How would you solve that problem though, ‘cause we are confined by the amount of money we have for teachers, by the length of the school day…So part of the problem I think with recess is people feel this pressure to cover the material, and we only pay for so much time, and so recess is lost…or eroded. Lunch is lost or eroded… So I think from the upper level, things need to be changed.

Erin: Right, and I think at the top, as the state leader, I need to model, and talk with…so I’m not in charge of building administrators, but you know what, the leader at the top models what superintendents do, and then that trickles down. And guess what? This is not a conversation that Randy Dorn is having. He’s not talking about this stuff. I think this is stuff that needs to be talked about. I think we need to have professors come and talk about the actual brain chemistry that happens when kids…I mean we’ve got all of it, right here at UW, we have folks who could talk with us about the fact that just covering material is not, it’s not doing us any good. It’s killing our kids, and we’re frustrated as teachers. ‘Cause we, we know our kids aren’t learning.

Submitted by Dora Taylor

Post Script:

We will be interviewing all of the candidates for State Superintendent.

Next up is Larry Seaquist.





Bill Gates has spent $440M to push charter schools: Here is the list of recipients

Male Hand Holding Stack of Cash Over Clouds and Sky

Per a previous post titled, “Before you can fund the charter school, you have to fund an advocacy organization that can create a climate for the charter school to exist”, Bill Gates has been busy for several years funding established organizations or creating new ones to funnel cash into a push to establish charter schools in Washington State and around the country.

To follow is a list of organizations and schools that have received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The organizations and schools with figures shown in bold relate directly to charter school promotional activity in Seattle and surrounding areas. For the amounts given to all other recipients, go to Google docs.

Stand for Children: $9,000,000 +/- (I got tired of counting and recounting)

Aspire Charter Schools: $21M +/-

National Council of La Raza : $32M +/-

Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle (CPPS): $159,440 (per the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website , “Purpose: to develop a strategic plan for building a dynamic parent network that can embrace and catalyze change within Seattle Public Schools”, meaning integrating charter schools into Seattle, particularly in the minority communities.)

Charter School Growth Fund: $5M

University of Minnesota

New York Charter School Resource Center Inc

Chicago Charter School Foundation

Success Academy Charter School: $400,000

Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund

St. HOPE Academy

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Thomas B. Fordham Institute: $7M

New Schools Fund dba New Schools Venture Fund: $93M +New Schools Fund dba New Schools Venture Fund: $93M +/-

Progressive Policy Institute

University of Washington Foundation: $1,089,761 (Lot of papers and “studies” came out of the UW supporting charter schools. Also a Teach for America, Inc. training ground was set up in the School of Education.)

GreatSchools, Inc.: $9M +/

Perspectives Charter School

Noble Network of Charter Schools: $2M +/-

California Charter Schools Association: $6M +/-

NCB Capital Impact

Progress Analytics Institute

High Tech High Foundation

Keys to Improving Dayton Schools, Inc.

Cesar Chavez Public Policy Charter High School: $1.6M +/-

Pacific Charter School Development Inc.

Charter Schools Policy Institute: $200,000

Charter School Leadership Council: $800,000

Illinois Network Of Charter Schools: $1.4M +/-

Stanford University: $12M +/- (Charter school “studies” were produced here. Unfortunately for Gates, the most well known study Stanford produced, the CREDO Report, stated charter schools were either the same or lower performing than public schools.)

RAND Corporation: $7.5M +/-

National Alliance For Public Charter Schools: $12.5M +/-

Green Dot Public Schools: $9,675,588 (One  was approved for Seattle.)

KIPP, Inc charter schools.: $10,000,000 (KIPP charter schools were touted by state legislators as the best thing since sliced bread. Sad day for them, they’re not and none were approved for Washington State.)

Institute for Research and Reform in Education Inc.: $11M +/-

Marquette University

Aspira Inc of Illinois

Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools: $670,000 +/-

Charter Fund Inc dba Charter School Growth Fund: $57.5M +/-

California Charter Schools Association: $6.5M +/-

New Schools for New Orleans Inc: $8.6M +/-

Houston Area Urban League Inc

District of Columbia College Access Program

Newark Charter School Fund, Inc.: $3,595,070

National Association Of Charter School Authorizers: $15M +/-

Trustees of Dartmouth College

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Texas Charter School Association: $1.6M

FSG, Inc.

New York City Charter School Center: $4.7M +/-

Friendship Public Charter School

New Visions for Public Schools, Inc: $73.5M +/-

School District of Philadelphia

Denver School of Science and Technology Inc

The Arizona Charter Schools Association: $200,000

New York Charter Schools Association Inc: $204,988

Partners for Developing Futures Inc.

Mastery Charter High School

Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools: $650,000

League of Education Voters (LEV) Foundation: $2,586,378

Colorado Education Initiative

Black Alliance for Educational Options Inc.

100 Black Men of America, Inc.

Colorado League of Charter Schools: $818,471

The Boston Educational Development Foundation, Inc.

E.L. Haynes Public Charter School

The King Center Charter School

Rocketship Education: $200,000

Georgia Charter Schools Association Inc.: $250,000

Jumoke Academy Inc

Denver Public Schools: $4,001,999 (The Seattle Public School board members took a trip to Denver a few years ago to visit charter schools. They came back with rave reviews about KIPP charter schools.)

Hartford Public Schools

Spring Branch Independent School District

Achievement First Inc.

Philadelphia Schools Project

Boston Private Industry Council Inc

American Federation Of Teachers Educational Foundation: $10M The AFT had Bill Gates as their main speaker when their convention was in Seattle.

Harvard University: $33.6M +/- (Lots of papers and “studies” favorable to charter schools were produced at Harvard for Eli Broad and Bill Gates.This number is based on grants tagged for K12 education and doesn’t include community grants)

Washington State Charter Schools Association: $10.5M +/-

Mississippi First Inc.

CHIME Institute

Seneca Family of Agencies

Summit Public Schools: $8,000,000

Spokane School District #81: $525,000 

Children’s First Fund, The Chicago Public School Foundation

LEAP Innovations

East Lake Foundation, Inc.

New Schools for Chicago

Low Income Investment Fund

Fund for Public Schools Inc

Friends of Breakthrough Schools

Puget Sound Educational Service District: $27.5M +/- (See CCER, the Road Map Project and the loss of student privacy)

Franklin-McKinley School District


The list above does not include Teach for America which Bill Gates granted $2.5M to open an office in Seattle and the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) that came to town with their dog and pony show bashing teachers and trying to make way for Teach for America. Bill Gates has granted that group $12M+/- between 2009 and 2013.

Also see The Fordham Institute and the National Council on Teacher Quality: Manipulating Teacher Layoffs (& Union-Busting?).

It is also interesting to note that the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) recently received $1,743,064.

For the list with all of the numbers see Google docs. The list was put together by a Parents Across America Portland member using information provided at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Awarded Grants website.

So, if Gates paid his fair share of taxes in our state rather than be the man behind the curtain, would it help us fund public schools adequately?

My guess is “YES!”.

Dora Taylor

Post Script:

Check out Mercedes Schneider’s post to find additional expenditures made by Bill Gates pertaining to charter schools:

Who Does Gates Fund for “General Operating Support”?


The Charter School Bill 1240 and the 1%: An Analysis

1040 web

If only they had channeled all of the money represented above into our public schools in Seattle rather than into financing the corporate takeover of our educational system, we would have full time librarians, nurses, career counselors, enough teaching assistants to handle the increased load of data collection that is to occur as well as alleviate our crowded classrooms. There would be field trips, after school enrichment programs in all of our schools, books, fully equipped science labs, a well rounded after school sports program, civics classes, sewing classes, cooking classes (remember those?), drama, art in art rooms rather than art on a cart…the list continues and I know there are parents reading this post who can add other programs and resources that we have lost over the years due to a lack of adequate funding of our schools.

Now the venture/vulture capitalists, and anyone who wants to make an easy buck, are swarming our state. First these corporateers (new word) suck us dry by refusing to pay a state income tax  and companies like Boeing receive unbelievable tax breaks through the extortion tactic of threatening to leave our state, cripple the unions and then turn around and “invest”, with a minor percentage of their earnings, in political campaigns, clearing the way for the privatization of our schools through charter schools, Common Core lesson plans, textbooks, lots of tests and of course, computers with all of the software that is needed for a child in preschool to take a test to make sure they can move on to kindergarten. All of this is what they think is best for the rest of us if they care at all. They do expect a return on their investment, as Eli Broad has stated before, and they have full intentions of getting it, not through the satisfaction of knowing that our children will receive a well rounded education with an ability to think in a creative and critical manner. No, that’s for students in private schools, for their kids. What they will receive in return are millions of dollars from the United States Department of Education through hefty grants and our taxes for tests, test analysis, data collection, lessons, computer software, online course with one teacher managing 40 to 50 students and highly paid CEO’s of charter schools (they used to be called school principals).

Our children are their guinea pigs with personal information being collected on them from preschool to well beyond high school…and we’re paying for it.

Our own Wayne Au and Joseph Ferrare recently published a study titled Sponsors of Policy: A Network Analysis of Wealthy Elites, their Affiliated Philanthropies, and Charter School Reform in Washington State.

To follow are excerpts from the article that was published in Teachers College Record.

Sponsors of Policy: A Network Analysis of Wealthy Elites, their Affiliated Philanthropies, and Charter School Reform in Washington State.


To paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald, today’s plutocrats are not like you and I; nor do they resemble the politicians we elect. Even when they assume the authority to set public policies, they are, I fear, not sackable. (Bosworth, 2011, p. 386)

With the backing of both major political parties, billionaire philanthropists, venture capitalists, business leaders, and a growing network of nonprofit organizations and research centers, charter school policy has evolved into a major component of the current education reform movement in the United States (Fabricant & Fine, 2012; Rawls, 2013). As of 2012, all but nine U.S. states allowed charter schools (National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, 2013), and in one of those nine, Washington State, charter school legislation was passed by popular vote in November 2012 (Reed, 2012).

Washington State has a substantive and unique history with regard to charter school reform. The state allows for popular votes on whether or not various initiatives, measures, or referenda (put on the ballot by petition) become law; since 1996, there have been four opportunities for voters to decide if charter schools would be allowed in the state. Washington State voters have affirmed opposition to charter schools three times: In 1996, 54% opposed charters; in 2000, 51.8% opposed charters; and in 2004, 58.3% opposed charters (Corcoran & Stoddard, 2011). In the November 2012 election, however, voters in Washington approved Initiative 1240 (I-1240) by 50.69%, or 41,682 votes (Reed, 2012), legalizing charter schools in the state.

Given that charter school policy in Washington State has been decided by popular vote, the Yes On 1240 WA Coalition for Public Charter Schools’ (hereafter, Yes On 1240) campaign provided an opportunity to understand the influence of a specific collection of policy actors on the adoption of state-level education policy. The Yes On 1240 campaign played a role in the passage of I-1240 as the campaign directed its resources in an attempt to shift the public, political discourse in favor of the passage of the charter school initiative in Washington State. Indeed, the important role of the Yes On 1240 campaign is highlighted by the fact that, as of election day, November 6, 2012, the campaign had received $10.9 million in donations (Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, 2012a), at the time making it the third largest amount spent on an initiative campaign in state history (Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, 2012d). Thus, the campaign to legalize charter schools by popular vote in Washington State provided a unique opportunity to gain insight into the significant relationships between policy actors and state-level education policy adoption.


Functionally, the immediate origins of I-1240 can be traced to January 2012, when two companion charter school bills were introduced into the Washington State house and senate (Rosenthal, 2012). Among other details, these bills set a specific number of charter schools to be authorized over 5 years, established three charter school authorizers, established “transformational zone districts” allowing for state takeover of low-performing schools, and included a parent–teacher charter conversion trigger that would allow a majority of teachers or parents to petition to convert an existing public school into a charter school (Westbrook, 2012). Under state Democratic leadership, these bills were killed in committee, a move that provoked severe criticism from the local media (Seattle Times Editorial Board, 2012).

After the original bills were killed in the Washington State legislature, charter advocates then drafted I-1240, which was filed with the state by the League of Education Voters (LEV) chief of staff, Tania de Sa Campos (League of Education Voters, 2012; Sa Campos, 2012). Similar to the legislative bills introduced earlier in 2012, I-1240 contained provisions to establish 40 charter schools over 5 years, establish two charter authorizers (local school boards or an appointed state-level charter school commission), set up appointed charter school boards for charter oversight, and allow a parent–teacher charter conversion trigger, among other details (Sa Campos, 2012). With $2.26 million in donations—mostly from Bill Gates Jr.,’s Bezos family, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer (also a LEV board member), and Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen— enough signatures were collected by paid signature gatherers to successfully put I-1240 on the Fall 2012 Washington ballot (Callaghan, 2012).

I-1240 supporters Stand for Children™, LEV, Partnership for Learning, and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) came together to cofound and coordinate Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools (Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools, 2012a), taking public responsibility for directing the Yes On 1240 campaign (Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools, 2012b), as evidenced by their providing in-kind donations to the campaign (Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, 2012c). As such, these organizations provided leadership in coordinating every aspect of the campaign—managing financial activities; on-the-ground field organization; press releases; TV, web, and radio advertising; messaging; and making public presentations, among other activities (Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, 2012b). As of election day, November 6, 2012, the Yes On 1240 campaign had received $10.9 million in donations (Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, 2012a). At the time of the election, the $10.9 million spent to support charter school reform via the Yes On 1240 campaign represents the third largest amount spent on an initiative campaign in Washington State history (Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, 2012d). The Yes On 1240 campaign used these millions for phone banks, direct mail, on-the-ground field organization, and signs, and they were able to devote over $5 million specifically for web, radio, and television advertising (Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, 2012b).

Leading up to election day, Partnership for Learning (2012), in conjunction with researchers from the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), published their report, Examining Charters: How Public Charter Schools Can Work in Washington State (Lake, Gross, & Maas, 2012), which made several explicit references to I-1240 as a good charter school law. Further, CRPE founder and charter school advocate, Paul Hill, was prominently featured in a Yes On 1240 television advertisement advocating for the passage of I-1240 (Yes On 1240, 2012b). In November 2012, citizens of Washington State voted to approve I-1240 by 50.69%, or 41,682 votes out of just over 3,020,000 total cast (Reed, 2012).


In this section we present the findings of our network analysis in two phases. First, through two tables, we present data on cash and in-kind contributions to the Yes On 1240 campaign and funding relationships between campaign donors, affiliated philanthropies, and organizational campaign supporters (Tables 1 and 2). Second, we visualize these relationships through a simple directed graph that traces the flows of sponsorship (material and symbolic) among policy actors (Figure 1).


 Several important findings arise when we analyze the contributions to the Yes On 1240 campaign.

Table 1: Yes On I-1240 Campaign Cash and In-kind Contributions of $50k and More

Yes On 1240 Donor

Donation Amount


Bill Gates Jr. – Microsoft cofounder and current chairman



Alice Walton – heiress; daughter of Walmart founder, Sam Walton



Vulcan Inc. – founded by Paul Allen, Microsoft cofounder



Nicolas Hanauer – venture capitalist



Mike Bezos – father of founder Jeff Bezos



Jackie Bezos – mother of founder Jeff Bezos



Connie Ballmer – wife of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer



Anne Dinning – managing director D.E. Shaw Investments



Michael Wolf – Yahoo! Inc. board of directors



Katherine Binder – EMFCO Holdings chairwoman



Eli Broad – real estate mogul



Benjamin Slivka – formerly Microsoft; DreamBox Learning cofounder



Reed Hastings – Netflix cofounder and CEO



Microsoft Corporation



Gabe Newell – formerly Microsoft; Valve Corporation cofounder



Doris Fisher – Gap Inc. cofounder



Kemper Holdings LLC – local Puget Sound developer



CSG Channels



Education Reform Now



Bruce McCaw –McCaw Cellular founder



Jolene McCaw – spouse of Bruce McCaw


Source: Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (2012a)

Table 1 highlights that $10.65 million in total, or almost 98% of the $10.9 million raised for the Yes On 1240 campaign, was funded by 21 individuals and organizations who each donated more than $50,000 to the campaign (Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, 2012a).

Notably, Bill Gates Jr. is the biggest contributor ($3M) to the campaign, nearly doubling the next biggest contributions coming from Walmart heiress Alice Walton ($1.7M) and Vulcan Inc. ($1.6M),2 Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen’s company. As a more general finding, these amounts indicate that a number of select wealthy individuals with no immediate connection to Washington State (e.g., Eli Broad and Alice Walton) demonstrated a vested interest in charter school policy in the state. Another finding that emerges from the data is that wealthy individuals who are connected to the technology sector also demonstrated a vested interest in promoting charter school policy in Washington State (12 of the top 21 contributors to Yes On 1240 are strongly connected to the technology sector). Additionally, as might be expected given the interconnectedness of any sector of industry, several of these individuals have historical and industry-related connections to Microsoft Inc. and Microsoft Inc. cofounder and chairman, Bill Gates Jr.

It is also of value to highlight the $50,000.00 donation to the Yes On 1240 campaign from Education Reform Now Advocacy Committee because it illustrates the tightly woven interconnectedness of organizations and funding structures associated with education policy reform advocacy. New York State tax records from 2006 explicitly indicate that Education Reform Now, Inc., Education Reform Now Advocacy Committee, and DFER all share officers, personnel, office space, and paymasters (Libby, 2012). Tax records from 2007 further indicate that Education Reform Now Inc. and Education Reform Now Advocacy Committee share these same resources (New York State Office of the Attorney General, 2013). Thus, it is difficult to determine where DFER, Education Reform Now Inc., and Education Reform Now Advocacy Committee begin and end individually because, in essence, they represent a financially intertwined cluster of three organizations that seem to operate as a single organization with overlapping staff and resources. Consequently, even though tax records do not allow us to fully understand the exact relationship, the $50,000.00 donation to the Yes On 1240 campaign from Education Reform Now Advocacy Committee is functionally also a donation from Education Reform Now Inc. and DFER.


As discussed above, four organizations, LEV, DFER, Stand for Children, and Partnership for Learning, publicly claimed credit for leading and coordinating the Yes On 1240 WA Coalition for Public Charter Schools (Yes On 1240, 2012a). An analysis of the in-kind donations to the Yes On 1240 campaign (that is, donations of labor or other services that are given cash value and added to the campaign donation total) supports this claim: Those four organizations predominate the in-kind donations database and are the only organizations listing “staff time” as donated in kind to the campaign (Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, 2012c). Further, as a university-based research center, they cannot be listed as having provided in-kind donations (or any donations) directly to a political campaign in the state. Because of their active role in providing direct, nonmonetary support for the Yes On 1240 campaign vis-à-vis being highlighted prominently in a campaign video (Yes On 1240, 2012b) and authoring a research report explicitly in support of I-1240 (Lake et al., 2012), we have included the CRPE here as a “connected organization” for their symbolic contribution to the campaign through the lending of their expertise.


Cross referencing information gathered from the Google search engine, philanthropy websites, and available tax records (Foundation Center, 2013) produced the following 11 foundations directly connected to major donors to the Yes On 1240 campaign (in alphabetical order): Apex Foundation (formerly the Bruce & Jolene McCaw Foundation), Bezos Family Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Corabelle Lumps Foundation (formerly the Anne Dinning and Michael Wolf Foundation), the Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund (connected through the Connie and Steve Ballmer advised Biel Fund),3 Lochland Foundation (Katherine Binder, cofounder, officer, and contributor), The Walton Family Foundation, and Wissner-Slivka Foundation. Using foundation databases, foundation reports, available tax records, organizational websites, and institutional reports, we then looked for whether or not these foundations provided funding to the Yes On 1240 campaign-related organizations.

Table 2: Philanthropic Support for Yes On 1240 Connected Organizations




Center on Reinventing Public Education


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


The Walton Family Foundation


The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation

Education Reform Now (Democrats for Education Reform)


The Walton Family Foundation


The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation


Doris & Donald Fisher Fund


Corabelle Lumps Foundation


Bezos Family Foundation

League of Education Voters


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Lochland Foundation


Bezos Family Foundation


Apex Foundation

Partnership for Learning


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Stand for Children™


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


The Walton Family Foundation


Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund


Bezos Family Foundation


Wissner-Slivka Foundation


Lochland Foundation


Apex Foundation

(Sources: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2013; Foundation Center, 2013; Libby, 2012; New York State Office of the Attorney General, 2013; Stand for Children, 2013; University of Washington Bothell Office of Research, 2013; University of Washington Bothell Office of Sponsored Programs, 2013)

As Table 2 indicates, the philanthropic foundations connected to major contributors to the Yes On 1240 campaign provided a range of support directly to three of the four campaign-coordinating organizations and the CRPE: the Apex Foundation’s $1,000.00 contributions to each LEV and Stand for Children were the smallest, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s total contribution of $9,000,000.00 to Stand for Children was the largest. Further, while DFER received no direct philanthropic support, its sister organization Education Reform Now received ample support from campaign-connected philanthropies, and, as detailed above, the overlap of resources between the cluster of Education Reform Now Inc., Education Reform Now Advocacy, and DFER, is very fluid. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the most prominent here, haven given over $27 million total to Yes On 1240 campaign-connected organizations across multiple years, grants, and contracts. The Walton Foundation is second-most prominent, having contributed $6.48 million to campaign-connected organizations, followed by the Broad Foundation at $2.99 million in support for campaign-connected organizations. There is a precipitous drop in total support after these three, potentially indicating smaller amounts of financial support originating from smaller foundations (e.g., Lochland Foundation or the Bezos Family Foundation). Regardless of the amount, foundation support of the organizations directly involved in the Yes On 1240 campaign is indicative of ideological alignment around specific education reforms (in this case, charter schools) between funders and grantees/contractors.

Sponsorship also buys “credit by association” (Brandt, 1998, p. 167) for the sponsors of policy, and this credit by association is a form of symbolic sponsorship. In the present study, the wealthy individuals and affiliated foundations are credited with being a driving force for education reform within specific discourses of creating quality schools for low-income children (see, e.g., Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools, 2012c). For instance, because the Yes On 1240 campaign was driven mainly through the material sponsorship of local nonprofit community organizations as well as the symbolic sponsorship of a local research center, wealthy individuals and their foundations are credited for being associated with what appears to be a grassroots movement for education change. Thus, instead of appearing to be a campaign largely driven by the material sponsorship of millionaire and billionaire donors and their affiliated philanthropies (which in reality it was), the Yes On 1240 campaign appears to have the symbolic sponsorship of broad-based, grassroots, community support.

However, as Barkan (2012) explained, what appears to be grassroots symbolic sponsorship can actually be coming from “Astroturf” organizations:

 When an outside organization hires and pays for staff and vote solicitors and then “donates” their work to a candidate, the work looks like grassroots organizing but isn’t. It is “[A]stroturfing”—a term the late U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen is believed to have coined in 1985. Astroturfing is political activity designed to appear unsolicited, autonomous, and community-rooted without actually being so. (p. 53) 

By lending their support to the education reform agenda of the philanthropies through their own symbolic sponsorship of I-1240, pro-charter, nonprofit organizations and the educational research center fundamentally aid these wealthy elite and their affiliated foundations in legitimating charter schools within public discourse, and this helps to garner the support for charter schools from various groups within Washington State.

Further, our analysis here finds the symbolic sponsorship provided through credit by association serves the wealthy and their foundations in three concrete ways. First it reflects directly back into the public sphere and contributes to the creation of a public image of goodness and caring for others. Second, the credit by association serves to strengthen the network of sponsorship because the presence of prominent, well-connected, and important business people and philanthropists draws others into the network, thereby solidifying the strength and influence of the network of sponsorship. Third, credit by association is a form of symbolic sponsorship that functionally enables the superwealthy to influence policy through raw financial power, but to do so through the shield provided by the symbolic power offered by foundations and local organizations.


Given the passage of I-1240, our findings and analysis raise serious concerns regarding the disproportionate power of super wealthy individuals and their related philanthropic organizations relative to public education policy and the democratic decision-making process of individual voters. In the case of the most recent Washington State charter school Initiative 1240, it is clear to us that these wealthy individuals wielded an inordinate amount of power well beyond that of the average person in the state of Washington. Further, the power of these wealthy individuals extended largely from their vast resources and not because of any expertise on the subject of public education reform (Bosworth, 2011). As such, the passage of I-1240 in Washington State raises concerns that billionaires and their philanthropies have become what Karier (1972) referred to as a virtual “fourth branch of government” that is able to carry its reform agenda and ideology forward into fully realized education policy through sheer force of material and symbolic sponsorship, but with little public accountability.

The combination of vast wealth and strong influence over education policy creates an economic and political tension because, as Scott (2009) explained, “Wealth that comes largely from favorable public policies is now directed into mostly tax-exempt foundations, where trustees and philanthropists directly shape public policy for the poor, without the public deliberative process that might have been invoked over school reform policies were that money in the public coffers” (p. 128). The latter portion of this point is particularly salient to our findings here, for as Ravitch (2010) reminded us:

These foundations, no matter how worthy and high-minded, are after all, not public agencies. They are not subject to public oversight or review, as a public agency would be. They have taken it upon themselves to reform public education, perhaps in ways that would never survive the scrutiny of voters in any district or state. If voters don’t like the foundations’ reform agenda, they can’t vote them out of office. The foundations demand that public schools and teachers be held accountable for performance, but they themselves are accountable to no one. If their plans fail, no sanctions are levied against them. They are bastions of unaccountable power. (p. 200)

Given the disproportionate power outlined in our analysis and network (Figure 1), we are concerned with what appears to be a lack of a mechanism for public accountability for these wealthy individuals, their affiliated philanthropies, and their agenda for education reform.

It is clear that philanthropies have a growing effect on public education policy (Reckhow, 2013), and our paper suggests the need for further study of the formation of state-level education reforms, as well as the study of the increasingly complex relationships among wealthy individuals, their respective philanthropies, and the networks of sponsorship they utilize to influence public education policy at all levels. Our network-analytic approach to examining this issue in Washington State can provide a foundation for additional studies into the ways these networks are altering the landscape of education policy in the United States and beyond. Finally, considering the lack of public accountability for the wealthy individuals and their respective philanthropies influencing public education reform, our paper further suggests the need for a targeted, critical discussion about how to integrate an accountability mechanism through which members of the public can scrutinize the policy agendas of private individuals and organizations that seek to directly intervene in the system of public education.

To read the results of this study in full, go to Teachers College Record.

Posted by Dora Taylor

Legislative Action Alert: Grading schools, closing schools and converting them into charter schools: SB5328 and SB5329


This is a one item agenda, grading schools, then transforming the schools with the lowest test scores into charter schools or closing them and providing the option of…a charter school or a public school outside of the student’s neighborhood. If you don’t understand the devastation that starts with high stakes testing and ends with school closings, check out the recent weekly update, The Weekly Update: Eli Broad’s how-to guide on closing schools and disaster capitalism up close and personal.

Stand for Children, with their bought and paid for representative State Senator Steve Litzow, and the League of Education Voters have pushed through two bills in the Washington State Senate and they are now headed for the State house.

Senate Bill 5328 grades schools based on student test scores.

Senate Bill 5329 then proposes to take the schools with the lowest test scores and “transform” them based on the Race to the Top turnaround model that is not fully described in the bill that was sponsored by Litzow.

This is the “transformation” model that is referred to in the bill but not clearly stated by Litzow; from the Department of Education’s website:

      • Turnaround model: Replace the principal and rehire no more than 50% of the staff, and grant the principal sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/time and budgeting) to fully implement a comprehensive approach to substantially improve student outcomes.
      • Restart model: Convert a school or close and reopen it under a charter school operator, a charter management organization, or an education management organization that has been selected through a rigorous review process.
      • School closure: Close a school and enroll the students who attended that school in other schools in the district that are higher achieving.
      • Transformation model: Implement each of the following strategies: (1) replace the principal and take steps to increase teacher and school leader effectiveness; (2) institute comprehensive instructional reforms; (3) increase learning time and create community-oriented schools; and (4) provide operational flexibility and sustained support.

That’s what Litzow & Co. want for our students. Litzow lives on Mercer Island with many of the 1% and will never see a “transformation model” in his neighborhood, but as we have seen time and time again, what’s best for the rest of us doesn’t work for the leaders and shills of the ed reform movement.

It doesn’t work for anyone else either as we have seen this idea unfold around the country with horrific results.

Please call you representative, e-mail them or meet them in person and let them know what you think of these bills.

There are Town Halls coming up this weekend and that would also be a great time to have a few words with your representative.

By the way, these bill cost money and even though Litzow’s paramount duty is to ensure adequate funding for our schools, he is instead pushing bills with untold costs if you consider the expense of the transformation model.

There is a petition online to remind representatives like Senators Tom and Liztow that they were elected with the understanding that they would represent the rest of us, not just the wealthy few.

Dora Taylor

The Weekly Update: Milken is ready to milk us in WA State, Louisiana wants to test the toddlers, some awesome school teachers and much, much more

The Weekly Update for the news and views you might have missed.

Bill Gates and the Waltons have had their way with Washington State.

With ads running continuously on TV channels for the last three weeks up to November 6th, Bill Gates and the Waltons finally got their way with us….unless there is a legal challenge regarding the state’s constitutional demand for oversight by OSPI.

Stay tuned.

The passage of I 1240 due to the financial backing of Stand for Children, Bill Gates, the Waltons and few other of the 1 percenters with the aid of the League of Education Voters, has opened the floodgates for the greedy.

As Diane Ravitch describes in her blog post:

K12 Says: Elections Present New Business Opportunities

Soon after the elections, the mega-corporation K12 convened a conference call with investors to boast about the opening of new markets for virtual charters in Georgia and Washington State.

K12 is the company founded by the Milken brothers to sell online schooling for-profit.

It is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Its CEO, Ron Packard, has a background at McKinsey and Goldman Sachs. Last year, he was paid $5 million.

The academic results of its schools are poor. The National Education Policy Center reviewed K12 and found that its students fare poorly in relation to test scores and graduation rates. The NCAA won’t accept credits from one of its online schools. The New York Times wrote a blistering critique of K12.

But K12, like some other charter operators, makes campaign contributions (as it did in Georgia), and the politicians care more about those contributions than about the children of their state.

Remember Michael Milken of the milk ’em brothers?

From Wikipedia:

Michael Milkin

Michael Robert Milken (born July 4, 1946) is an American ex-con business magnate, financier, and philanthropist noted for his role in the development of the market for high-yield bonds (also called “junk bonds”) during the 1970s and 1980s, for his 1990 guilty plea to felony charges for violating US securities laws, and for his funding of medical research.

Milken was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and securities fraud in 1989 as the result of an insider trading investigation. After a plea bargain, he pled guilty to six securities and reporting violations but was never convicted of racketeering or insider trading. Milken was sentenced to ten years in prison and permanently barred from the securities industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission. After the presiding judge reduced his sentence for cooperating with testimony against his former colleagues and good behavior, he was released after less than two years.

His critics cited him as the epitome of Wall Street greed during the 1980s, and nicknamed him the “Junk Bond King”. 

And now he’s ready to milk us.

While the rich get richer off of our taxes, the rest of us lose ground.

Over 100,000 Local Teaching Jobs Have Been Lost In The Last Year

One major cause of the unemployment crisis. Ongoing cuts at the state and local level.

According to the latest BLS report local education jobs dropped by 14 in the last month, and over the last year, the number is down by over 100K, from 7.9 million in June 2011 to 7.8 million.

To view the table, go to Business Insider.

A new website sprung up last week called Charter Watch Washington.

This is the introduction of the website:

An $11 million political campaign by a small group of wealthy individuals, many from out-of-state, placed charter schools on the ballot in Washington this year and promoted it with television ads.

After rejecting charters three times already in the past 16 years, I-1240 appears to have passed in Washington this November by a razor-thin margin of 50-49%.

I-1240 is an extremely flawed and alarming (and unconstitutional) proposal, full of troubling loopholes and opportunities for private enterprises to profit from public funds and no genuine public oversight. It also allows for a simple majority of 51 percent of parents or teachers to stage a takeover of an existing school and convert it into a charter — with no recourse for the remaining 49% of parents or teachers who may oppose this “conversion.”

Clearly charter schools remain a divisive, controversial and unpopular concept in Washington State.

The election may be over, but our concerns have not gone away.

Keep an eye on it.

And speaking of charters, Edusyster, has coined yet another phabulous phrase, “achievement gaptivists” in this post:

Is Segregation the New Black?

Deborah Kenny, founder of Harlem Village Academies.

Today’s topic: student racial demographics at some of Boston’s finest charter academies of excellence and innovation.

School name                               Total student enrollment                   # of white students

Roxbury Prep Charter School               244                                                    0

Bridge Boston Charter School              74                                                       1

Smith Leadership Academy                  202                                                    1      

Edward Brooke Charter School 2         167                                                    2

Codman Academy Charter                   149                                                     3

City on a Hill Charter Public School      291                                                 4

Dorchester Collegiate Academy           110                                                    5

Edward Brook Charter School               470                                                  6

Boston Renaissance Charter               1,027                                                 12

MATCH Charter Public School              473                                                  12

Boston Preparatory Charter                  359                                                  15

To read this article in full, go to Edushyster.

For more on Deborah Kenny and her experiment on little black children, see:

Another “Miracle School” Debunked: Harlem Village Academies

Other states faired better than Washington in terms of education in the last election. David Sarota describes three victories in his article:

Phony school “reform” agenda takes a beating

The media barely noticed, but voters in three states rejected the profit-driven fraud that is education “reform”

If your only source of news about American education came from docu-propaganda like “Waiting for Superman,” Hollywood politi-schlock like “Won’t Back Down” and elite-focused national news outlets in Washington, D.C., and New York City, you might think that the so-called education “reform” (read: privatization) movement was a spontaneous grass-roots uprising of good-old-fashioned heartlanders generating ever more mass support throughout the country. You would have no reason to believe it was a top-down, corporate-driven coalition of conservative coastal elites trying to both generally undermine organized labor and specifically wring private profit out of public schools, and you would similarly have no reason to believe it was anything but wildly popular in an America clamoring for a better education system.

In other words, you would be utterly misinformed — especially after last week’s explosive election results in three key states.

In Colorado, the out-of-state, corporate-funded group Stand for Children, which previously made national headlines bragging about its corrupt legislative deal making, backed a campaign to hand the state Legislature to pro-privatization Republicans, specifically by trying to defeat Democratic legislators who have stood on the side of public education. Though the group and its affiliated anti-union, pro-privatization allies have become accustomed to getting their way in this state, 2012 saw them handily defeated, as the targeted Democrats won election, giving their party full control of the statehouse.

In Indiana, the results were even more explicit. There, as the Indianapolis Star reports, Superintendent for Public Instruction Tony Bennett became “the darling of the reform movement” by “enthusiastically implement(ing) such major reforms as the nation’s most expansive private school voucher program; greater accountability measures for schools that led to the unprecedented state takeover of six schools last year; an expansion of charter schools; and an evaluation system for teachers that bases their raises, at least in part, on student test scores.” For waging such a scorched-earth campaign against teachers and public education, Bennett was rewarded with a whopping $1.3 million in campaign contributions, much of which came from out of state. According to Stateline, Bennett was underwritten by “some of the biggest supporters of education reform in the country, including Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, billionaire financier Eli Broad and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg,” and NPR reports that he also received big donations from private corporations that stood to profit off his school takeover policies.

Ultimately, he was able to grossly outspend his underfinanced opponent, local educator Glenda Ritz, by more than $1 million. Yet, in the conservative union-averse state of Indiana, he was nonetheless booted out of office in what the Star called “the Election Night shocker.” That was thanks not to some brilliantly vague personality campaign by Ritz, but to a substantive, laser-focused assault on Bennett’s corporate-driven privatization agenda. As the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported, she “attack(ed) Bennett for his school and district accountability system, voucher program and use of student testing data for teacher evaluations”; “criticiz(ed) Bennett’s policies as funneling taxpayer dollars to private companies”; and slammed Bennett’s corporate donors — all while she “advocated returning local control to districts, ending the current administration’s focus on standardized testing and spending more on early childhood education”; and pushed to “provide more support for low-performing schools instead of threatening them with sanctions.”

A skeptic might say that crushing defeats in Colorado and Indiana are just a coincidence, and no proof of any transpartisan, national trend in support of public education and against the forces trying to destroy our schools. But then came ultraconservative Idaho. Even more historically hostile to unions than even Colorado and Indiana (and that’s saying a lot), Idaho delivered perhaps the most humiliating blow to the education “reform” movement in recent memory.

Back in 2011, Republicans in the crimson-red state’s Legislature rammed through a slate of laws that would have limited teachers’ collective bargaining rights, tied teacher pay to standardized test results, raised class sizes and replaced teachers with computers in schools (the latter a $180 million boondoggle to the high tech industry without any substantive proof that it would actually improve student achievement). The legislative initiative was led by State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna, a former Bush administration official whose own election campaign had been financed by firms who stood to make money off his policy agenda.

For its radicalism, the Idaho effort attracted national headlines and billing as a possible model for other states. In response, grass-roots opponents scraped together enough signatures to put veto referendums on the 2012 ballots.

According to EdWeek, the ensuing campaign was fueled by a flood of anonymous out-of-state money laundered through a group called Education Voters of Idaho. Anonymous, that is, until a lawsuit forced the group to disclose its donation list, which (not surprisingly) “included $200,000 from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and $250,000 from Joe Scott, an heir to Albertsons, a grocery-store chain.” Also backing the measures was ultraconservative Idaho businessman Frank VanderSloot who “put $1.4 million of support behind the propositions.” And yet, despite all the money to ratify corporate “reformers’” education agenda, voters overwhelmingly backed the vetoes.

Inveighing against a political culture that too often demonizes teachers, the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board said the election results were a clear message about the education “reform” movement’s overall anti-teacher agenda.

To read this article in full, go to Salon.

How far will people go to make a buck?

Is Louisiana Getting Ready to Test Toddlers?

Is this child ready to be tested?

Louisiana, which has become the national laboratory for bringing business-minded accountability to education—an effort that has come to full flower in New Orleans where charter schools educate close to 90 percent of its students—is turning its accountability lens onto publicly funded preschools and the education of its youngest children.

In a move that worries some early childhood experts, Louisiana’s new Early Childhood Education Act is set to make major changes in the way publicly funded preschool programs are managed and evaluated. The aim of the law, also known as Act 3, is to improve the quality of early childhood education, which educators agree is key to ensuring later academic success; currently, close to 50 percent of children entering kindergarten in Louisiana are unprepared.

To do so, the Louisiana Department of Education is developing an outcomes-based rating system, including letter grades–much like the grading system it uses for K-12 schools–which will reward high-performing programs and “intervene” in under-performing ones.

While Louisiana’s preschool grading system includes the accountability components of the federal government’s Race-to-the-Top contest, Louisiana did not apply for the latest round of funding. Part of the reason Act 3 has early childhood experts worried is that it omits what they consider the best elements of RTTT, including requirements related to process improvement and raising the qualifications of early childhood educators. These requirements, the state said, were too onerous.

Indeed, at a time when standards-and-testing regimes are coming to kindergarten classrooms, and even some programs for four year olds, around the country, education experts fear that Louisiana’s Act 3 marks an escalation of the trend. They say the law could lead to developmentally inappropriate efforts to teach children below age four how to read, standardized tests for toddlers, as well as a test-prep approach to preschool curriculum.

Ya think?

To read this article in full, go to Andrea Gabor’s blog.

Now for some good news.

Great teachers in New York City

The good news is that there are great and dedicated teachers throughout this country. Here are three of them.

The introduction:

You can go to Teaching Social Issues in Elementary School and view the videos in full of each teacher

Highly recommended.

Dora Taylor



And for good reason – 83% of charter schools perform no better, or perform worse than genuinely public schools.

(Source: Stanford University CREDO Report, 2009, the most comprehensive study of charter schools to date.)

Yet, a small group of wealthy individuals & political lobbyists – a number of them from outside Washington State – still want to push charters on our state.

They paid $3 million to get this controversial idea on the ballot this November, hiring professional signature gatherers — not volunteers — and they continue to pour large amounts of money into the campaign. To date, they have spent over $8 million.

Clearly the push to bring charter schools to our state is NOT a grassroots effort.



Bill Gates

Co-Chair, The Gates Foundation,

Chairman & co-founder of Microsoft, Inc.

Resident of Washington

Contribution to I-1240: $3.053 million

Alice Walton

Wal-Mart heiress, daughter of Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, Inc.

Resident of Arkansas

Contribution to I-1240: $1.7 million

Reed Hastings

CEO of Netflix, Inc., California,

Member of national strategy board for Rocketship Education, Inc. (a charter school company)

Recent member of Microsoft, Inc. board of directors

Investor & member of board of directors, DreamBox Online Learning

Resident of California

Contribution to I-1240:  $100,000

Paul Allen

Chairman of Vulcan, Inc. Co-founder of Microsoft, Inc.

Resident of Washington

Contribution to I-1240:  $100,000

Connie Ballmer

Married to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Member of advisory board, Stand for Children, Inc., Washington

Resident of Washington

Contribution to I-1240: $500,000 [Updated from original amount of $100,000]

Nick Hanauer

Venture capitalist

Resident of Washington

Contribution to I-1240:  $1 million

Eli Broad

Venture philanthropist / financier

Resident of California

Contribution to I-1240:  $100,000 [Updated]

Anne Dinning

Managing Director

D.E. Shaw & Co. Investment Management

Co-founder of Turnaround for Children

Resident of New York

Contribution to I-1240:  $250,000

Michael Wolf (married to Anne Dinning)

Co-founder of Turnaround for Children

Resident of New York

Investment in I-1240: $250,000

Mike & Jackie Bezos

Parents of Amazon, Inc. founder Jeff Bezos

Investment in I-1240: $750,000

Shannon Campion

Executive Director-Stand for Children, Washington

An Oregon-based national political lobbying operation bankrolled by the Gates Foundation (see here, here and here).  (Here Stand for Children’s CEO boast about its lobbying and union-busting tactics: Jonah Edelman Spills the Oligarchs’ Blueprint for Crushing the Teaching Profession)


Concerned parents, teachers, Democrats and voters, including: the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, El Centro de la Raza, Parents Across America, Seattle, Spokane and Tri-Cities chapters, Washington State PTA, the Washington Educations Association, American Federation of Teachers, Washington, Parents and Friends for Tacoma Public Schools, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, Tacoma School Board, Riverview School Board, Renton School Board, Eatonville School Board, Evergreen School Board, Franklin Pierce School Board, Goldendale School Board, Onion Creek School Board, Seattle Public School Board, Seattle Public School superintendent Jose Banda, 1st District Democrats, 5th District Democrats, 10th District Democrats, 11th District Democrats, 21st District Democrats, 22nd District Democrats, 23rd District Democrats, 27th District Democrats, 32nd District Democrats, 33rd District Democrats, 34th District Democrats, 36th District Democrats, 37th District Democrats, 39th District Democrats, 40th District Democrats, 41st District Democrats, 43rd District Democrats, 45th District Democrats, 46th District Democrats, 48th District Democrats, King County Democrats, Pierce County Democrats, Lewis County Democrats, Skagit County Democrats, Mason Country Democrats, Whatcom Country Democrats. (For a complete list, see: No on I-1240 and People for Our Public Schools.)

VOTE NO on I-1240



-sue p.


Well-funded charter-school initiative has nearly enough signatures to make ballot, Brian Rosenthal, Seattle Times

Bill Gates, other billionaires funding charter effort in Washington state, Valerie Strauss, N.Y. Times

Bill Gates & the Daughter of Walmart Founder Sam Walton Donate Big Bucks

Big Money Pushing for Wash. Charter Schools; Gates out in Front

Pro-Charter Forces Now over $8M

Charter School Scandals

No on I-1240

People for Our Public Schools

This post has been updated to reflect the additional funds and contributors that were added after initial publication. The final total of private funding for the Yes on I-1240 initiative reached around $11 million, outspending the NO on I-1240 campaigns by 10-1. — sue p.

The inconvenient truth about charter school Initiative 1240

Initiative 1240, which is a resolution to set up charter schools in the state of Washington,

circumvents our State Constitution because it would set up an alternative state school system not under the supervision of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Randy Dorn, Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction, July 2012

Bill Gates and the Walmart Walton’s are waging a campaign against democracy and public education and for the privatization of our schools through the tool of Initiative 1240. Bill Gates, the Walton’s and others from the “business community” in our state, have financially backed a campaign to get enough signatures for Initiative 1240 to be on the ballot in November and now are financing the push for the votes through faux roots organizations such as Stand for Children and the League of Education Voters.

For a description of what charter schools are and what they aren’t, see What is a charter school? which is posted on this blog.

The Money

The only part of a charter school that is “public” is the funding.

The emphasis that the ed reformers in the state of Washington place on charter schools is the fact that they would be considered “non-profits”. A non-profit does not have to pay taxes. Most non-profit charter schools are run by for-profit charter management companies (CMO’s), sometimes referred to as education management companies (EMO’s). There is a provision for EMO’s/CMO’s in this initiative.

The reason for the use of CMO’s/EMO’s is that a charter school board of directors is appointed and many of these individuals do not have any experience in education or in running a school on a day-to-day basis so the charter school will hire a CMO or an EMO to operate the school, doing what a school staff would normally do including coordination of transportation, the buying of goods and services and the physical maintenance of the school building. I know it seems unnecessary to have this sort of set up for a school but this is typical for charter schools.

Ed reformers also like to say that charter schools would not be taking money away from established public schools. There is a per student amount of money that is evenly distributed so that each student has, for example, $5,000 in financial resources that follows that student to any public school. Because students have varying degrees of needs, the school will pool all of the resources brought by each student and then use it on an as-needed basis. For example, a special needs student might require additional staff, specific equipment, desks or chairs, even additional electrical requirements. The cost of meeting that student’s needs might exceed the allowance provided by the school district. That is where the pool of money comes in. Another student might need little more than a standard desk, chair, textbooks and no additional resources beyond what might be considered the standard requirements for participating in school. Then with the shared resources, the school is able to draw on that pool of money to meet the needs of all students including the special needs student. For examples of how public schools have taken on the financial burden while charter schools have siphoned off funds, see Special needs kids staying in traditional schools.

What we have seen happen around the country is that charter schools will counsel out or just not take in students who might require additional funding to participate in the classroom usually because of the higher cost. Then, because of what is termed “skimming”, the students with additional requirements end up in the public schools. After a while, there is a higher percentage of special needs students in the public school’s population, making it increasingly difficult to provide for all students.

In terms of the big picture, charter schools do draw off resources that would otherwise be shared to offer all students equity in their education. And then, where does that extra money go? Many times it finds its way into the pockets of the CEO’s of these charter schools and to the management companies associated with those schools. By the way, most charter schools like to call what would be a principal a “CEO” instead. Kind of gives you that nice warm and cozy feeling, doesn’t it?

According to the fiscal impact report of Initiative 1240, the projected implementation costs are estimated to be $3,090,700 over five fiscal years.

In addition to the $3M, “School districts that choose to become authorizers of charter schools will incur costs to solicit and review applications, contract with charter school boards, monitor and oversee their authorized charter schools, and annually report to the Board.”

“Authorizers of charter schools may receive an oversight fee. The fee is to be set by the Board and must be calculated as a percentage of state operating funding allocated to the charter school, but may not exceed 4 percent of the charter school’s annual funding.”

By the way, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for the state of Washington would be responsible for funneling the public funds into the charter schools and yet would not have any oversight on how those funds are used. That in itself is unconstitutional in our state.

That leads us to:

Washington State Constitution, Article 3, Section 22

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction shall supervise all matters pertaining to public schools.

This includes but is not limited to supervising all public schools which have been organized into school districts controlled by elected school boards prior to drafting the State Constitution in 1889.

According to our state constitution, a charter school would kind of be a public school. A charter school can call itself a public school to receive funding but according to the state constitution, all public schools are to receive public oversight through the office of OSPI and a publicly elected local school board. According to this initiative, there would be charter schools that would not fall under the oversight of publicly elected school board representatives but instead by a privately appointed board of directors created by the charter school as well as a Charter School Commission made up of nine politically appointed members, three appointed by the Governor, three by the Speaker of the House and three by the President of the State Senate. One of these appointed board members is to be a parent of a Washington state public school student. Not much skin in that game.

The one qualification for the position as a member of the Washington Charter School Commission is that the board member “must be committed to charter schools”, basically pledging their allegiance to the privatization of our schools.

This is where the Washington State PTA (WSPTA) and this initiative part ways. In a surprising turn of events, the WSPTA voted not to support Initiative 1240 because the initiative did not meet the WSPTA’s “criteria for local oversight.”

More layers of bureaucracy

The next layer of bureaucracy would be the “Charter School Authorizers” who are appointed by the State Board of Education. These “authorizers” would have a six year contract to review and approve applications made to create a charter school.

Interesting hitch to this aspect of Initiative 1240 is that an authorizer may delegate their responsibilities to a third party, either an employee or a contractor. So at that point, an authorizer could be a contractor who benefits from a particular charter franchise being approved. It also removes the process of authorizing charter schools one step further out of the public eye.

These authorizers would have the following responsibilities and authority:

“(d) Ongoing charter school oversight and evaluation; and (e) Charter renewal decision making.”

At this point, we might or might not know who the authorizer is or their motives, and would have no influence in terms of evaluating their experience or past performance and yet this “entity” would basically have full control of a charter school in terms of oversight and renewal of the charter contract. That’s a lot to ask for in terms of blind faith on the part of the tax paying public.

Collective bargaining

Any bargaining unit or units established by the charter school must be separate from other bargaining units in the school districts, educational service districts or institutions of higher education. Each charter school is a separate employer from the school district.

That means that the teachers and non-teaching staff in a charter school would have no protections that are granted to union employees in public schools in terms of healthcare, working hours, additional responsibilities, the length of the school day and pay. All of that would be at the discretion of the charter school board of directors, another nice, warm and cozy term used to describe the governing body of a charter school.

Other interesting details about this initiative

“An authorizer may not restrict the number of students a charter school may enroll.” There is no limit in terms of school size or class size.

Also, according to the initiative, “Charter schools are not subject to and are exempt from all other state statutes  and rules applicable to school districts and school district boards of directors”. This means that not only can decisions be made by the charter school board of directors that are outside the practices of a public school but the parents would have no immediate legal recourse if they believed that their child had been wrongfully expelled or treated unfairly. The parent cannot take the issue to the local publicly elected school board for relief or the superintendent. Many times parents who sign their students up for a charter school are required to sign a contract or letter of understanding that states the parent is aware of the legal ramifications of their child attending such a school and basically that there is no legal recourse for them.

Other inconvenient truths

Here’s the list:

  • Initiative 1240 states that the law would “Allow a maximum of up to forty public charter schools to be established over a five-year period as independently managed public schools operated only by qualified nonprofit organizations approved by the state;”

With pressure from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and President Obama to raise the cap on the number of charter schools in states, there is no guarantee that the cap of 40 charter schools would not be raised. This could happen through state legislation as is has occurred in several states.

  • Initiative 1240 would “Require that teachers in public charter schools be held to the same certification requirements as teachers in other public schools;” which doesn’t mean anything any longer now that Teach for America, Inc. (TFA, Inc.) is allowed to staff our schools with kids just out of college with 5 weeks of “training”.
  • “Require that public charter schools be free and open to all students just like traditional public schools are, and that students be selected by lottery to ensure fairness if more students apply than a school can accommodate;”

Ah yes, the famous lottery. First of all, a lottery creates a false sense that the school is highly desirable when it is simply pure marketing hype. See Diane Ravitch’s post How Charters Compete.

There is nothing fair about a lottery. Our progressive alternatives schools in Seattle are very popular and all students are able to participate. There is sometimes a waiting list for these schools but ultimately all students are able to register. No lottery is necessary.

  • According to Initiative 1240, a charter school can “Enter into contracts with any school district, educational service district, or other public or private entity for the provision of real property, equipment, goods, supplies, and services, including educational instructional services and including for the management and operation of the charter school…”

This could lead to corruption and cronyism. A public school district reviews contracts and all schools have to abide by the choice of vendors and contractors that the district approves. There are yearly public audits done on insuring that contracts are above board. Yes, I know there was Pottergate in Seattle, but heads did roll including our Broad-trained superintendent’s…right out of town.

  • The initiative states that one of the powers of the charter school board of directors is that they can “Rent, lease, purchase, or own real property.”

This is interesting because school property is usually owned by the school district. In Seattle some school space is leased but most is owned. Some school property is held if it is not being used or sold. So does that mean that a charter school can buy property using public funds and then own it privately? Based on the wording of this initiative, that does seem to be the case.

  • “Charter schools are not subject to and are exempt from all other state statutes and rules applicable to school districts and school district boards of directors…Charter schools are exempt from all school district policies except policies made applicable in the school’s charter contract.”

This is where the rubber meets the road in terms of one of the main differences between a public school and a charter school.  There are no protections  for a student, the student’s family or school staff as usually found within a public school system.

Between being exempt from state statutes and regulations and with no public oversight, you have a private school using tax dollars to run a school and even turn a profit. Oh and right, because the charter school is a “non-profit”, the school does not have to pay taxes. Sweet deal if you ask me.

  • “Conversion schools”. This language has been slipped into Initiative 1240 but it has a powerful and highly destructive meaning. In states where charter schools are legal, a charter school enterprise can go into an existing school and convert it into a charter school.  This is part of the failed Race to the Top (RTTT) policy and is termed a “school turnaround”. If a school is deemed “failing”, the school can either be closed permanently, of half the staff discharged, or the principal fired or it can be turned into a charter school. This is a legal way for charter schools to proliferate in school districts as has happened in Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit and New York City.
  • “In the case of an application to establish a conversion charter school, the applicant must also demonstrate support for the proposed conversion by a petition signed by a majority of teachers assigned to the school or a petition signed by a majority of parents of students in the school.”

This is the parent trigger that Ben Austin in concert with the Greendot charter franchise used to attempt the takeover of a public school in Los Angeles. After gathering enough signatures through questionable means, many parents said that they had been tricked into signing the petition, Ben Austin and his crew tried to convert a public school into a Greendot charter school.  See Ben Austin and His Parent Trigger, Now in Seattle and Ben Austin’s Antics, Continued.

We do not want this in Seattle or in our state.

  • At a minimum, the performance framework must include indicators, measures, and metrics for: (a) Student academic proficiency; (b) Student academic growth; (c) Achievement gaps in both proficiency and growth between major student subgroups;”

This is why charter schools” skim” the best and counsel out the rest. There is an agreed upon standard that is established that the charter school is to meet to remain open and that standard is measured by test scores. If the test scores do not meet the standard, the charter may not renewed. This is not the way a public school should operate, potentially closing at a moment’s notice, something that happens on a regular basis with charter schools. This is also why most charter schools become testing camps that put standardized lesson plans in the hands of the teachers with prepared materials and tests that follow the lesson plan in a factory like fashion. Just how “innovative” is that idea?

Unfortunately the way Initiative 1240 is written, these charter schools would be able to run for five years before being reviewed and even at that time, might just receive a slap on the wrist but be allowed to continue with their charter.

Here’s that language in the bill:

NEW SECTION. Sec. 219. CHARTER CONTRACTS–RENEWAL. (1) A charter contract may be renewed by the authorizer, at the request of the charter school, for successive five-year terms, although the authorizer may vary the term based on the performance, demonstrated capacities, and particular circumstances of a charter school and may grant renewal with specific conditions for necessary improvements to a charter school.

  • NEW SECTION. Sec. 224. YEARS OF SERVICE. Years of service in a charter school by certificated instructional staff shall be included in the years of service calculation for purposes of the statewide salary allocation schedule under RCW 28A.150.410. This section does not require a charter school to pay a particular salary to its staff while the staff is employed by the charter school.

Typically charter schools do not hire unionized teachers. They are basically free to hire whoever they want for their teaching staff. This is where Teach for America, Inc. comes in. TFA, Inc. provides inexpensive labor to these charter schools. But, according to Initiative 1240, the charter schools would still receive the amount of salary paid by a public school commensurate with years of service and yet pay their own teachers at whatever salary they choose to.

What is ironic about this is that the corporate reformers and their shills repeatedly say that experience doesn’t matter when it comes to the quality of teaching and yet they will take the money that would be based on seniority and then use it as they please.

  • And just to make it clear that teachers will not be part of a teacher’s union with its’ protections and benefits, it is reiterated  later on in the initiative:

NEW SECTION. Sec. 307. A new section is added to chapter 41.56 RCW to read as follows:

In addition to the entities listed in RCW 41.56.020, this chapter applies to any charter school established under chapter 28A.— RCW (the new chapter created in section 401 of this act). Any bargaining unit or units established at the charter school must be limited to employees working in the charter school and must be separate from other bargaining units in school districts, educational service districts, or institutions of higher education. Any charter school established under chapter 28A.— RCW (the new chapter created in section 401 of this act) is a separate employer from any school district, including the school district in which it is located.

From what I have examined, the only part of a charter school that is a public school, according to this initiative, is the use of tax payer funds.


Post Script: September 23, 2012

I received this comment from a mother-in-law of a teacher working in a charter school. This clearly outlines all that is wrong with privatizing our schools:

My daughter-in-law is a charter school teach in Tucson Arizona – as it was the only job she could get as public schools are closing and they are laying off public teachers due to lack of funding. She get paid only $9 an hour – she is expected to work 10 or so hours( with no overtime) – clean her classroom (as the Owner of the Charter school does no want to hire a janitor – “too expensive”) AND Charter School teachers are not covered by a Union. The woman who owns the school owns 6 others – and is quite weathly – THIS IS A BUSINESS MONEY MAKING endeavor — AND they take precious financial resources from the “regular” Public Schools. Vote NO on this Initiative!!

For articles and studies as they pertain to this post, see:

Southern Poverty Law Center: Special Education in New Orleans Public Schools,

Charters ‘nix 23%’ of kids

What happens when charter schools close?

Charter School Industry Running Amok in Florida with Taxpayer Dollars

Regarding EMO’s and CMO’s, the League of Education Voters white paper:

Subcontracting Public Education

And this video

Parent Says Child Rejected From Harlem Success Academy

The Chicago teachers strike, Rahm Emmanuel, Stand for Children, the Gates Foundation, DFER, the Tea Party, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan

So what do all of these folks have in common?

Listen up Seattle.

The Chicago Teachers Union is currently on the front lines of a fight to defend public education. On one side the 30,000 members of the CTU have called for a contract that includes fair compensation, meaningful job security for qualified teachers, smaller class sizes and a better school day with Art, Music, World Language and appropriate staffing levels to help our neediest students.

On the other side, the Chicago Board of Education—which is managed by out of town reformers and Broad Foundation hires with little or no Chicago public school experience—has pushed to add two weeks to the school year and 85 minutes to the school day, eliminate pay increases for seniority, evaluate teachers based on student test scores, and slash many other rights.

Teachers, parents and community supporters in Chicago have fought valiantly—marching, filling auditoriums at hearings and parent meetings, even occupying a school and taking over a school board meeting. Most recently, 98 percent of our members voted to authorize a strike. But now we find ourselves facing new opponents—national education privatizers, backed by some of the nation’s wealthiest people. They are running radio ads, increasing press attacks, and mounting a PR campaign to discredit the CTU and the benefits of public education.

For the full video on Edelman and his patting on the back rhetoric about Stand for Children breaking the back of the teachers’ union, go to Stand for Children Stands for the Rich and the Powerful…

And from Mike Klonsky’s blog, Romney, Ryan Support Rahm.

Post Script:

It seems so far that the best source for information on the Chicago teachers’ strike is at Substance News.

Bain Capital, Stand for Children and Initiative 1240

Birds of a feather and all, Stand for Children, which is about the takeover of our public schools, has not only received donations from members of Bain Capital but the Managing Director at Bain Capital is on the Board of Directors for Stand for Children. Oh what a web…

Stand for Children is also behind Initiative 1240 in our state which is an illegal maneuver to privatize our public schools by setting up charter schools with no local or state oversight by a public entity. See the article Why Initiative 1240 is Unconstitutional by David Spring.

To get a better understanding of the history of Stand for Children, check out an article published in Rethinking Schools, For or Against Children?
For an article that begins to connect the dots between ALEC, Bain Capital and Stand for Children, see:

Bain Capital has received a lot of negative press lately from President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign as it’s the corporation once run by current Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

As it turns out Romney made a killing from his time as CEO of Bain, but he was far from a job creator. Through his work thousands of people lost their jobs. The corporation uses a “Corporate Reform” model that looks a lot like the current model being used by billionaire-backed Astroturf groups claiming it will fix schools.

 Bain’s a private equity firm that specialized in “leveraged buyouts.” According to

Leveraged buyouts, which are what private equity firms do, load companies with debt, extract value for middlemen, and displace workers.

The company profits off of lowering the standard of living for workers It cuts middle-class jobs and funnels wealth upwards, much like the way education is being done in Chicago.

In Chicago, during a claimed fiscal crisis the Chicago Board of Education hired more middle management at six figure salaries fired large swaths of experienced and therefore pricy labor, replaced them with neophytes who stay on the job just long enough to be utterly burned out. This may be a way to make unscrupulous stockholders happy, but it’s no way to run a school system.

One instance where the connection was crystal clear was a school run under Bain outside of Salt Lake City, Utah where students died due to cuts to services.

This is not a coincidence; companies like Corporate Reformer Bain Capital have a shared ideology with Corporate Education Reformers likeStand for Children. One might ask why a Corporate Reform model would be employed in public policy. Well, most of the policy proposals Stand For Children supports are lifted right out of the ALEC playbook.

ALEC, is of course the American Legislative Exchange Commission, which is described as a “collaboration between multinational corporations and conservative state legislators.” Bain itself was so impressed with the parallel approach to corporate education reform that it gave $1 million dollars to Stand for Children in Massachusetts.

That $1 million in revenue could have been used to maybe lay off less teachers but instead it was used to fund an organization whose goal is to further destabilize the schools in America. What’s the end game of Bain, and for that matter Stand for Children? They are creating a race to the bottom. They want a steady supply of new teaching recruits each year who get paid peanuts and are too afraid to speak up for themselves and the children they serve.

This is not how we give America’s children the schools they deserve.

Dora Taylor