long-term corruption behind the school choice (voucher and charter
school) initiative is now being exposed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Viewed as the mecca for public school innovation and privatization,
it has been touted as a national model by the Cartel of corporate
education reformers who have provided the money to elect local,
county, and state-level elected officials and who have influenced
educational leaders throughout the city.
Michael Bonds, an African American former Milwaukee Public School
(MPS) Board President and former associate professor and chair of
educational policy and community studies at the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee is now allegedly exposed as a criminal. He sold his school
board office and thus our children, who are disproportionately of
color, to Universal Companies, a charter school organization, owned
by another African American, famed former R&B record producer,
Kenny Gamble, who transitioned from entertaining black adults and
children to financially exploiting them. Facing fiscal challenges,
despite being paid millions of dollars by MPS, he pulled up stakes in
the middle of a school year, leaving hundreds of students stranded.
was invited to bring his ‘charter school hustle’ to
Milwaukee by former MPS Superintendent, Dr. Gregory Thornton, who had
worked with him when he served as an area superintendent in
Philadelphia and later as superintendent of the Chester Upland School
District, which is near Philadelphia, before arriving in Milwaukee.
In the Chester Upland district, Thornton chartered so many schools
that he was unable to pay teachers and had to seek assistance from
the state of Pennsylvania to make payroll. Gamble also dipped his
beak in that trough with Thornton’s assistance.
is interesting and sad about this situation is that these so-called
African American educational leaders were selling the educational
futures of low-income black and other children among themselves for
professional and financial profit. Bonds, Gamble, and Thornton
presented themselves as advocates for the educational uplift of poor
children, especially those of color. Meanwhile, they established
relationships with the Cartel and its privatization allies: e.g.,
Teach for America, Chiefs for Change, the Broad Superintendents
Academy, and other education reform entities with the objective of
dismantling and monetizing K-12 public education for corporate
Thornton brought Gamble to Milwaukee, he introduced him to Bonds, the
perfect lackey to be used to aid him in setting up his charter school
scam. Bonds and his wife, also employed by MPS, had previously filed
for bankruptcy, and he was hungry and greedy for money, a situation
Gamble manipulated to his advantage.
his tenure as MPS School Board President and member, Bonds was often
rude and abrasive. He once told Amy Mizialko, President of the
Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, to “Go
while she was questioning school board policies in a public school
board meeting, which is her responsibility to do. It was not too long
after that encounter that Bonds abruptly resigned from the Board,
apparently feeling the pressure of the federal investigation into his
kickbacks from Universal Companies. He also retired early from
UW-Milwaukee where the spillover from the impending outrage likely
would have forced his termination.
he is presently cooperating with the Feds about a way to stay out of
jail, it is likely that other local leaders may be implicated in this
criminal operation — MPS employees, local clergy, individuals,
and others involved in the approval and running of charter schools.
the Milwaukee fiasco is just the latest in a long line of scandals
surrounding the school choice enterprise. Charter school corruption
has been rumored and/or documented in Trenton, New Jersey,
Washington, D.C., Baltimore County and City, Maryland, Columbus,
Ohio, Phoenix, Arizona, Atlanta, Georgia, Little Rock, Arkansas,
Denver, Colorado, and numerous other urban school districts across
the nation. These incidents have served as the educational fuel for
teachers to launch strikes and walkouts in Arizona, California,
Colorado, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.
years of suffering and negotiations, which left many teaches “being
the bacon in a bacon and egg breakfast,”
teachers are finding their voice. They have come to grips with the
facts that their salaries have been flat lined, while their
contributions to their health and pension benefits have dramatically
increased; that their class sizes have been enlarged; and that the
numbers of social workers, nurses, librarians, teacher assistants,
and other education support personnel have been substantially
reduced. The press has often ignored this rationale of the striking
teachers, focusing instead on their demands for salary increases.
wave of teacher strikes during the past two years has gotten the
attention of both Democratic and Republican governors who have
publicly promoted raises for teachers. Teachers who have long been a
key component of the Democratic base, and the 2020 Democratic
presidential candidates are now beginning to embrace the teachers’
public education agenda after previously having flirted with and/or
having avidly supported the school choice agenda. Teachers have
caused the would-be presidents to choose a side in the public school
v. school choice debate.
Pete Buttigieg earlier stated that charter schools are laboratories
for school innovation; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who had to be pushed by
the Massachusetts Teachers Association to support the ballot
referendum against charter school expansion, has now changed her
tune; and Sen. Cory Booker, who served as Betsy DeVos’s wingman
on charter and voucher school schemes for more than a decade, is now
touting himself as “…
the most pro-public education candidate” in the race. All
three are currently putting on their ‘teacher faces’
having come to understand that they have no chance of securing the
teacher vote otherwise.
indictment of Dr. Michael Bonds will cause teachers nationally to
drill down on the relationships that their school board members and
superintendents have with charter school and other private-sector
companies with whom they are discussing or have awarded contracts.
Milwaukee has been plagued by cozy and/or dishonest relationships
between school choice companies and individuals, its school board
members, and superintendents since the voucher legislation was passed
in March 1990 — from Supt. Bob Peterkin to Supt. Howard Fuller
and his subsequent disciples after he left (all of whom he had a hand
new MTEA, as are its counterparts throughout the nation, is getting
back to the nitty gritty of aggressively representing its members. It
was instrumental in electing a Democratic pro-public education
Governor, Tony Evers, after eight years of educational devastation by
his Republican predecessor, Gov. Scott Walker, a lead surrogate of
the Cartel. Walker passed the infamous Act 10, a frontal assault on
collective bargaining, during his eight year reign. Wisconsin
teachers are a bellwether of teacher power in the political arena,
and teachers will loom large in the 2020 presidential election.
women in the #Me Too movement, teachers have inadvertently created a
#Charter/Voucher School Too crusade which is revitalizing K-12 public
education. It appears that “times
for the Cartel’s attempts to dismantle it.