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Sun Oct 12, 2014, 09:47 PM

Figuring out which "grassroots" education groups are fake.

I crossposted this in General Discussion also, so give a rec there if you can.

It is so easy to be fooled. There are groups like the Parents Revolution aka the Parents Union that sound so authentic. But in reality they were started by charter school companies.

There is the group Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). They are a leading group in the movement to privatize education.

The Washington Post had a good article up today.

How to spot a fake ‘grassroots’ education reform group

Take Educators 4 Excellence as an example. On their website, they tout that they began as “two teachers” and wanted to give teachers a voice in a system that imposed changes from the top down, and now they are growing into 10 of 1000s of teachers in multiple states. What don’t they mention? That they are funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is not really a surprise because: a) Gates has been funding a lot of similar efforts, and, b) their “pledge” includes evaluating teachers by value-added testing models (something Gates really, really likes) and supporting “choice” which is reform jargon for charter schools (something hedge fund managers really, REALLY like). The group was central in the not-entirely-successful #supportthecore social media campaign, and former Connecticut legislator Jonathan Pelto writes here about more of their rather miraculous funding.

....The Washington Post recently ran a story about the founding of Education Post which claims to be a new source of information about topics in education that will avoid the supposed rancor in current public conversations. To her credit, reporter Lyndsey Layton did report that it is funded by the Broad Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Walton Family Foundation and is headed by the former communications director for Arne Duncan, so we have some heads up as to how that “reporting” on “what works” will tilt.

She mentions a group that sounds so grassrootsy, called Students for Education Reform.

Who is funding the group and for how much? This is readily known for SFER, thankfully. According to this article from The Nation, SFER has gotten a hefty infusion of at least some of $1.6 million from Education Reform Now, the non-PAC wing of Democrats for Education Reform, in 2010. ERN’s 2010 990 IRS form is available for your pleasure here, and the relevant page is 21. Keep in mind, SFER was barely a year old in 2010, and it was already being infused with cash from Education Reform Now. Not bad work for a pair of sophomores even if they are in Princeton.

It will help readers to know more about Education Reform Now and the affiliated political action committee, Democrats for Education Reform. ERN operates as a 501c3 organization, and DFER helps spread campaign cash. While ERN claims to be non-partisan and DFER claims to be an organization of Democrats, both groups are essentially joined together around the familiar causes of charter school expansion, mass high stakes testing and evaluating teachers based upon controversial and statistically invalid value-added measures of effectiveness. DFER was founded in part by hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson, and the main purpose of the PAC is to influence Democratic politicians to support charter schools and high stakes testing. Education Reform Now receives annual donations from the Walton Family Foundation, getting $1.1 million in 2011 and more than $2.8 million in 2013. DFER takes in a diverse range of donors, all from the privatization end of the reform spectrum. According to this graphic assembled by the Alliance for Quality Education, DFER’s money and political alliances include the Koch brothers, conservative financier Rex Sinquefield, Rupert Murdoch, The Walton Family Foundation, and the American Federation for Children, which is a charter supporting organization.

Education "reform" also known as the corporatising of education or the privatization of education, is truly big big business.

Public schools and their teachers have no money to fight back.

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