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Jeff Bernstein

New York's Secret Educational Policy Makers | Alan Singer - 0 views

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    "The Albany Times Union calls it a "shadow government" within the New York State Education Department. It is supported by $19 million in donations from wealthy individuals and foundations. The "Regents Research Fund" fellows are a private think tank embedded in the public education department that is defining education for New York's 3.1 million public school students. They frame policy, consult regularly with State Education Commissioner John King, and interact with state employees and officials, but they are not covered by the state's Public Officer's Law or ethics rules."
Jeff Bernstein

Letter to Governor Christie from the New Jersey Teacher He Screamed At - 0 views

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    "Dear Governor Christie,

    Yesterday I took the opportunity to come hear you speak on your campaign trail. I have never really heard you speak before except for sound bytes that I get on my computer. I don't have cable, I don't read newspapers. I don't have enough time. I am a public school teacher that works an average of 60 hours a week in my building. Yes, you can check with my principal. I run the after-school program along with my my classroom position. I do even more work when I am at home. For verification of this, just ask my children.

    I asked you one simple question yesterday. I wanted to know why you portray NJ Public Schools as failure factories. Apparently that question struck a nerve. When you swung around at me and raised your voice, asking me what I wanted, my first response "I want more money for my students." Notice, I did not ask for more money for me. I did not ask for my health benefits, my pension, a raise, my tenure, or even my contract that I have not had for nearly three years. "
Jeff Bernstein

Why Are Walmart Billionaires Bankrolling Phony School 'Reform' In LA? | Perspectives, W... - 0 views

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    "For years, Los Angeles has been ground zero in an intense debate about how to improve our nation's education system. What's less known is who is shaping that debate. Many of the biggest contributors to the so-called "school choice" movement - code words for privatizing our public education system - are billionaires who don't live in Southern California, but have gained significant influence in local school politics. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's recent contribution of $1 million to a political action committee created to influence next week's LAUSD school board elections is only the most recent example of the billionaire blitzkrieg.

    For more than a decade, however, one of the biggest of the billionaire interlopers has been the Walton family, heirs to the Walmart fortune, who have poured millions into a privatization-oriented, ideological campaign to make LA a laboratory for their ideas about treating schools like for-profit businesses, and treating parents, students and teachers like cogs in what they must think are education big-box retail stores."
Jeff Bernstein

Yes, Virginia, There Really IS a Billionaire Boys Club - Living in Dialogue - Education... - 0 views

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    The second largest school district in the nation, Los Angeles Unified, is in the midst of what must surely be the costliest school board race ever.

    This month we have seen report after report of billionaire donations rolling in, totaling almost $3 million. First we learned that Eli Broad and former Univision head Jerrold Perenchio had each pitched in $250,000. Then New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg dropped a cool million into the effort. Most recently, Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst lobby has added in their own quarter million.

    The billionaire's money is being spent to pay for what the usually staid Los Angeles Times calls "junk ads," and "serious exaggeration and distortion."

    The big concern among these "reformers," is apparently that the pace of charter school expansion might be slowed. They are also very focused on eliminating or weakening due process and seniority protections for teachers. And most of all, they want board members who will offer strong support to Superintendent John Deasy, a favorite of the Gates Foundation.
Jeff Bernstein

Inside ALEC's Education Task Force: Private Players Manipulating Public Education | Alt... - 0 views

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    "The author infiltrated ALEC's inner sanctum -- and what she saw was chilling."
Jeff Bernstein

What Happened to Public Education on Election Night? | Dissent Magazine - 0 views

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    "The rescue of public education must come from the grassroots, from a coalition led by parents and teachers. Such a movement has been taking shape gradually and gained visibility during the 2012 election cycle. The number of education-related campaigns has increased as ed reformers try to entrench their policies in law. In addition to the familiar battles over school funding, there are votes on charter schools, the content of teacher contracts, vouchers, and union rights (the four largest unions in the United States represent teachers and other public sector workers). Disregarded in the past, elections for school boards and superintendents have become major battles. This year's education votes were high-profile within individual states, fiercely fought, and outlandishly expensive; some attracted national attention. Public education supporters won some impressive victories and suffered several bitter disappointments. Here is a review of some pivotal votes, who supported what, and why"
Jeff Bernstein

Public School Supporters Meet With Governor Dean and Randi Weingarten at the DNC | K-12... - 0 views

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    "While at the DNC, I was lucky enough to be invited to a small gathering of public education supporters with Governor Dean and Randi Weingarten, who heads the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). I'm a tremendous fan of Governor Dean - in fact, I was a Deaniac before there was a netroots. I still think he's fantastic on so many issues close to the hearts of progressives. And I love the "50-state strategy." In fact, had I not had a second awakening as an engaged citizen and activist, inspired by Governor Dean's work, I probably wouldn't have been at the DNC at all. I'm grateful that he took the time to speak with us. Here's my recollection of what took place at the meeting."
Jeff Bernstein

New York Education Commission - a pointless exercise? « @ the chalk face - 0 views

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    I recently attended the New NY Education Commission (Who came up with that name?) meeting in Buffalo. For those of you outside of the Empire State, this commission pretty much summarizes the current state of education reform across the country: the real stakeholders,students, parents and teachers, have little voice in the dialogue. This commission was started by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo because of his misleading and false statement that New York is 38th in educational results.  The Commission is stacked with corporate and charter school types, with a few university leaders.  No teachers, no students.   Randi Weingarten, AFT President, is a member of this commission, but was not in attendance at the Buffalo meeting.
Jeff Bernstein

Randi Weingarten calls for 'new approach to unionism' and support for Obama - The Answe... - 0 views

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    American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is calling today for a new brand of unionism that focuses not only on helping members but also the communities in which they work and live.

    The union's annual convention starts today in Detroit, where more than than 3,000 delegates have gathered at a time when teachers and their unions have come under attack from school reformers.

    Though teachers have been unhappy with many of President Obama's education initiatives, Weingarten's speech urges members to support him in the November election because he shares many of the same values as union members. As for GOP candidate Mitt Romney, she says, "His idea of education reform is vouchers, which study after study has shown do not improve achievement." The two candidates, she said, "couldn't be more different."

    The convention will also be addressed by Vice President Biden, education historian Diane Ravitch and others.

    Here is Weingarten's convention speech as prepared for delivery:
Jeff Bernstein

Unions Contract Out to PR Firms That Work for Anti-Worker Groups - Working In These Times - 0 views

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    SKDKnickerbocker (SKD) is one of the top firms providing outside assistance to labor coalitions while raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars for work to undermine organized labor, particularly teachers unions. Led by Anita Dunn, a former White House communications director and current Democratic Party advisor, SKD has spearheaded state-based campaigns for Students First, the anti-teacher's union charter and school privatization group founded by former Chancellor of DC Public Schools Michelle Rhee.
Jeff Bernstein

Jersey Jazzman: The Problems With Chris Cerf: A Summary - 0 views

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    Tomorrow, ACTING NJ Education Commissioner Cerf will finally have his long-overdue confirmation hearing. In anticipation, I've put out a good deal of reporting this week about Cerf's career and his reign at the NJDOE.

    For me, it all comes down to three things (click through each link for all the details):
Jeff Bernstein

Michigan Plan to Defund Public Education « Diane Ravitch's blog - 0 views

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    Governor Snyder wants to reshape the state's school finance system so that public money "follows the child," instead of just automatically going to public schools. This is part of the rightwing agenda to defund public education, cloaked in alluring terminology. The governor has created a panel to figure out how to make this happen.
Jeff Bernstein

Millions flow to Beaver County-based PA Cyber School's spinoffs - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - 0 views

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    The Beaver County-based Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, which was searched by federal agents Thursday, pays tens of millions of dollars a year to a network of nonprofit and for-profit companies run by former executives of the state's largest online public school.

    The relationships between the school and those businesses were a concern to former Gov. Ed Rendell's administration, which late in its tenure asked PA Cyber for better accounting of its payments to spin-off entities. Gov. Tom Corbett's Department of Education, though, opted early on to let the relationships continue without heightened accountability.

    The amount of public money that flows to PA Cyber, and then out through its spinoffs, has grown dramatically as the school's enrollment has surged to around 11,300 students statewide.
Jeff Bernstein

Jersey Jazzman: Virtual Cronies - 0 views

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    What the articles fail to document, however, are the contributions made by members of K12's board of directors. K12's chairman until very recently was Andrew Tisch, of the famous New York Tisch family. Reports are that Tisch just stepped down as chairman just a few weeks ago, but still appears to still serve on the board. He also appears to have been very well-compensated for his position, receiving both stock and options grants from the company.

    Why does this matter?

    Because Andrew Tisch and his family are Newark Mayor Cory Booker's biggest financial supporters.
Jeff Bernstein

Capitol Confidential » Video: Scenes from evaluation disclosure debate - 0 views

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    Courtesy Kyle Hughes of NYSNYS, here's a montage of footage from the debates over Gov. Andrew Cuomo's bill codifying the release of teachers evaluations
Jeff Bernstein

How a Small Group of Big Business Interests and Billionaires are Hijacking New York Sta... - 0 views

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    This report takes a closer look at the powerful forces behind the Committee and their playbook for "saving" New York. The Committee's backers are primarily big business interests, billionaires, and other leading lights of New York State's "one percent." They played a key role in crashing New York's economy through their own style of gambling, won billions in government bailouts, but now insist on "fiscal responsibility" for the rest of the state. Though the Committee frames its agenda as altruistic and public-minded, its backers stand to profit substantially from the policies for which it advocates. These policy payoffs include not just casino gambling legalization, but pension reform, new and continued corporate tax loopholes, and favorable development policies.
Jeff Bernstein

Reacting to Criticism, Cuomo Adds to His Education Commission - SchoolBook - 0 views

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    Seeking to address complaints about the makeup of his new education reform commission, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has added five additional members to the panel in advance of its first meeting later this month.

    The new appointees include a parent advocate from Rochester, a newly elected school board member from the Adirondacks and a district superintendent from Central New York - three constituencies that the governor was criticized for not including on the panel when he announced it in April.

    The commission, which is being led by the former Citigroup chairman Richard D. Parsons, has also gained two more well-known names from Wall Street: Sanford I. Weill, another former Citigroup chairman, and Stanley F. Druckenmiller, a billionaire hedge fund manager.
Jeff Bernstein

Foiled Again: An Inside Look At Joel Klein's War Against Public Schools And Teacher Uni... - 0 views

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    Over a year ago, the UFT submitted a Freedom of Information request for emails between Joel Klein and other top DoE brass, on the one hand, and the leaders of the New York City Charter School Center, the New York Charter School Association, Democrats for Education Reform and other leading supporters of corporate education reform. As it does with FOIL requests that do not suit their purposes, the DoE stonewalled the request. (Take note of the contrast with the DoE's eagerness to release the Teacher Data Reports.) Last month, the UFT went to court, arguing that the DoE's continual delays amounted to constructive denial of the FOIL law. Facing the inevitable, last Friday the DoE began to release the emails, sending several hundred to the UFT and the news media. Another 15,000 emails are still to come, so keep your eyes peeled on this one.
    Here are some of the highlights of the emails just released.
Jeff Bernstein

NY-8 Hopeful Hakeem Jeffries To StudentsFirstNY: Get Your $ Out Of My Election | New Yo... - 0 views

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    When it comes to outside groups dumping money into the race to succeed outgoing Rep. Ed Towns, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries says, "Thanks, but no thanks" -- even if their spending is meant to bolster his chances of victory.

    More specifically, the campaign says of spending by education advocacy group StudentsFirstNY, "We did not seek it, do not want it and will win without it."
Jeff Bernstein

Charter school rally brings out deep tensions within the sector | GothamSchools - 0 views

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    A large public rally to support the city's charter school sector this afternoon is expected to draw thousands of people, but the event is also notable for who won't be there.

    Organizers say the rally is meant as a show of political might to mayoral candidates, whose support for the sector is unlikely to rival Mayor Bloomberg's.

    But in a sign of what sources say is a widening rift within the sector, two major groups that support charter schools have declined to participate, and large numbers of independent charter school operators are sitting the rally out. Many say they believe the event's leadership and timing reflect a larger truth about the future of the sector: that it is promising for schools that are part of large networks and less so for independent charter schools.
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