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Est. April 5, 2002
October 05, 2017 - Issue 714

The Cartel’s Dismantling
Public Education
‘Badass Teachers’

"Eli Broad, the Cartel of corporate education
reformers’ minister of education has been
engaged in a long term dismantling of public
education with a systematic substitution of
traditional and corporate charter schools in
small, medium, and large urban school
districts from coast to coast."

Political Updates: Eli Broad’s new school board majority is in the Los Angeles Unified School District is secretly devising a plan to force and/or buy out Dr. Michelle King, whose contract was extended by the predecessor board shortly before the Broad majority took office.

Broad-funded Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ed Gillespie continues to gain ground against the Democrat in the November 2017 race.

Eli Broad, the Cartel of corporate education reformers’ minister of education has been engaged in a long term dismantling of public education with a systematic substitution of traditional and corporate charter schools in small, medium, and large urban school districts from coast to coast. He has developed a seven point agenda for taking them over (see Figure 1).

His vision is that he can redesign K-12 public education into a corporate entity and use it as a profit center for his private-sector colleagues. And they have contributed billions of dollars toward that end. In exchange, his Broad Superintendents Academy (BSA) alumni, who have dutifully endeavored to implement his seven principles: demonizing teachers and unions; eliminating union jobs; declare that the school districts that they head are failing entities; expanding the number of corporate charters; promoting high stakes testing and harsh teacher evaluations; refuting poverty and neighborhood violence as impacting education outcomes; and aggressively closing public schools and turning them into corporate charters.

Figure 2 provides a representative sample of Broad superintendents who are adhering to their benefactor’s dictates. What is instructive is that they have

headed or are heading some of the country’s largest school districts which are charged to educate disproportionate numbers of low-income, predominantly African American and Hispanic children. These schools are also under-funded and are placing tremendous pressure on teachers to adhere to stringent guidelines. For example, Dr. Fredrick McDowell, who was hired as Trenton, New Jersey’s third Broad superintendent in a row in May 2017, has issued directives to teachers and all union personnel to: limit parent(s)’ and community members’ visits to school classrooms; impose a teacher and staff dress code; abolish teacher and staff ability to take half-day leaves; and rigidly enforce teacher absence, attendance, and tardiness policies coupled with the administration’s intent to dock employee pay for violations. These efforts are calculated to intimidate teachers and staff and to encourage the retirements of the most senior personnel as a way to reduce district overhead and redirect it to outside vendors.

Broad’s BSA graduates have also mentored other school administrators under their charge, thus rapidly increasing his influence throughout the nation. During its nearly two decades of existence, the BSA has produced more than 500 Broad-trained and/or inspired public school superintendents who are heading school districts from California to New Jersey. In several districts, Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Los Angeles, California; Trenton and Newark New Jersey; Chicago, Illinois; New Orleans, Louisiana; Kansas City, Missouri; Rochester, New York; Detroit and Lansing, Michigan; Cleveland, Ohio; and a host of others have hired two to three Broad superintendents in succession allowing for a continuation and escalation of Broad policies.

In order to ensure that BSA candidates have an advantage in their applications for school superintendencies, Eli Broad has likewise facilitated funding for a major search firm (see Figure 3).

Proact often assembles a final list of superintendent candidates that is comprised of all or nearly all BSA disciples, almost guaranteeing that the individual selected will be a ‘Broadie.’ In Trenton and Baltimore, the last four finalists have all been from the BSA. This is further evidence of the scope of the Broad initiative that is seizing control of the pipeline to the major superintendents’ positions.

Emboldened by these successes, in 2015, Broad publicly proclaimed that he would convert fifty percent of the schools into corporate charters by 2023. As shown in Figure 4, he has assembled a billionaire team of his Cartel associates, the usual suspects and some new public faces.

The money available to advance this school privatization scheme appears to be infinite as corporations seek new markets for profits in this period of mergers and private-sector failures. Figure 5 is an indication of the zeal that Broad and the Cartel are spreading their money around.

They are deploying numerous surrogates to carry their message. Figure 5 shows that Teach for America (TFA), America’s premier producer of private-sector, anti-union oriented teachers, has been a major recipient of the Cartel’s generous assistance. The Gap clothier, who targets millennials, as does TFA, was an early backer of TFA after its founder, Wendy Kopp, graduated from Princeton in 1989 and formed Teach for America. Recently, she has founded Teach for All which is taking her organization globally. TFA also serves as a primary staffing agency for Broad-controlled school districts.

After starting with a literally all-white group of novice, Ivy league alumni, Teach for America has diversified its teacher corps as complaints emerged that it was running a plantation whereby middle- and upper-class white students were sent into inner-city, low-wealth urban schools with no teaching background which was excused because they were allegedly smart, and were only given five to six weeks of training and were virtually illiterate in social and cultural competence for the minority populations they were serving. Today’s TFA applicants are drawn from a wider pool, including historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Dr. Leslie Fenwick, Dean of Howard University’s School of Education, has labeled all of them “...Anthropology and Communication Majors Masquerading as Teachers.” Some dissident former TFA teachers have largely agreed with this assessment (see Figure 6).

Additionally, Broad and the Cartel have created national African American and Hispanic pro-school choice groups to market their program to the primary groups they focus upon (see Figure 7). Dr. Howard Fuller and Julio Fuentes, who fronted the establishment of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and the Hispanic Council for Reform and Education Options (CREO), respectively, have been at the forefront of school choice advocacy for twenty years. Their sole financial sponsorship is derived from Cartel corporations and foundations that pay for forums; annual meetings (including parent transportation, food, and lodging); a bevy of conservative minority and majority corporate and civic leaders; elected officials; and appointed education bureaucrats at every level of government.

Against this school privatization Goliath is the insurgent Badass Teachers (BAT) caucuses of the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) who have been taking the fight for public education to the streets against Eli Broad and the Cartel (see Figure 8).

BAT is willing to engage in the necessary in-your-face, hand-to-hand combat that is essential to winning this epic battle. Already structured in more than thirty of the fifty states, BAT is positioned to counter Broad and the Cartel at every turn. Moreover, it has numbers superior to those of its private-sector funded opponents. This may be the best hope for public education to prevail.

Being locally anchored, Badass Teachers are closest to the parents and community leaders that are being wooed by the Cartel. Therefore, it has opportunities to immediately confront the privatization strategies as they are rolled out. Currently the chief union targets are state and local NEA and AFT affiliates in those states that rank in the top twenty of NEA/AFT combined membership: California, New Jersey, Illinois, and Massachusetts.

Broad and the Cartel have already made deep inroads into union membership in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Tennessee via employing Broad superintendents to close schools; ramp up teacher evaluation and high-stakes testing; and eliminate tenure which is gaining traction in North Carolina after the passage of new voucher and charter school legislation. BAT may be the best hope for stopping the privatization blitzkrieg against the public schools. Local affiliates have flexibility that its state and national parent associations do not have. The latter units have to accommodate intricate political and policy issues that BAT does not. Thus, BAT needs to be supported and upgraded in its endeavors.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell. 




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