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Mark Gleason Turns ‘Dump the Losers’ into a Pseudoscience

December 16, 2014

Corporate Education Reform and Civil Rights

Philadelphia School Partnership and all corporate reformers present the privatization of public schools as "the next great civil rights movement". Some have even gone so far as to say that  opposition to corporate education reform is racist. To achieve this illusion, and advance their privatization agenda, they have cultivated leaders in the African-American community, some of whom actually fought for civil rights in the '60's and '70's.

Anyone who is familiar with the tragic legacy of the anti-colonial struggles of the last half of the 20th century will recognize this phenomenon. After World War II, the anti-colonial struggles successfully removed the European powers that had been colonizing their underdeveloped countries for a century. The corporate and financial colonial interests remained, however, placing some of the elite from the indigenous population in power. These leaders were allowed to accumulate vast wealth even as their societies sank into poverty and misery. Any leader who fought for self-determination of their country, or who challenged the access of international corporations to the natural resources and cheap labor of the former colony, such as Patrice Lumumba in the Democratic Republic of Congo in1961 or Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, were eliminated. As a result, the former colonies today are ruled by corrupt, repressive police states. (See the Netflix documentary Virunga to see how this tragedy continues in the Congo. Also see Ebola in Liberia: An Epidemic of Rumors to see how this legacy is impacting the world.)

In the same way, many of the civil rights leaders of the ‘60’s have made their peace with the 1% and promote a corporate education reform which undermines the civil rights gains of the ‘60’s. National leadership of groups like the National Urban League and NAACP have sold out for a price to the 1% and joined the promotion of the privatization of public schools. The Broad Foundation has trained urban superintendents, many from minority communities, to turn urban school districts over to private interests. (See “Who is Eli Broad and why is he trying to destroy public education?”)

This is what the Urban League has received from Gates over the last few years:

Gates Foundation Awarded Grants

Put other organizations, like BAEO, NAACP, AFT, etc., in the search window to see what they have received from the Gates Foundation.

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The PSP in the Historical Context of the State Takeover

In Philadelphia, a largely unknown role has been played by Black Alliance for Educational Options. It’s founder, former civil rights activist Howard Fuller, has been a promoter of vouchers and charters in low-income communities since  August 24, 2000. Among its funders are the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Institute for the Transformation of Learning, and the Walton Family Foundation. Fuller recently wrote a column in Education Week criticizing student protests against Teach for America.

The state takeover of the Philadelphia School District in 2001 grew out of a civil rights lawsuit in1998 in which the city of Philadelphia charged that Pennsylvania funding practices discriminated against non-white students. In retaliation, the legislature passed Act 46 that set up a School Reform Commission that eventually took over the School District in 2001. The city withdrew the lawsuit when it was given two of the five seats on the SRC. The architect of the Act 46 was Philadelphia Representative Dwight Evans who was chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

Both PA Representative Dwight Evans and PA Senator Anthony Williams are on the board of the Black Alliance for Education Options. On the BAEO website it says:

In Pennsylvania, the support and leadership of BAEO board members Representative Dwight Evans and Senator Anthony Williams were crucial to the creation, protection, and expansion of the tax credit and charter programs. They were also instrumental in passing the law that led to the state takeover of the School District of Philadelphia, which has led to an increase in quality educational options for poor families.

A detailed history of the right-wing support of BAEO can be found in the July, 2003 report by People for the American Way Foundation, Community Voice or Captive of the Right? The Black Alliance for Educational Options.

On page 11 of this report it says:

Pennsylvania State Representative Dwight Evans, a Democrat, introduced voucher and tuition tax credit legislation repeatedly since joining the legislature in 1980. Evans' 1997 voucher proposal would have provided $5,500 to studetns to "escape" failing schools and enroll in private schools at taxpayer expense.

It is in the historical context of the thirteen-year management of the Philadelphia School District by the state that the program of the Philadelphia School Partnership must be seen. (See The 2013-14 “Doomsday Budget” of the School District of Philadelphia: How Did It Come to This? ) One of the first actions by the state after the takeover was its attempt to turn over 45 struggling public schools to Edison, Inc. This failed due to stiff community resistance and the financial problems of Edison, but the corporate privatizers never gave up this goal. Even though school funding increased during the years of Governor Rendell, the School District was managed by Superintendent Arlene Ackerman who used much of the increased funding to start charters and Promise Academies. Ackerman was on the national board of the Broad Foundation—a major supporter of closing public schools and replacing them with charters. (See More About Broad in Philadelphia) She also introduced her Imagine 2014 plan whose fruits we are now reaping. The Philadelphia School Partnership was brought to Philadelphia by corporate philanthropies to implement this plan with no democratic transparency or responsibility to the Philadelphia public.

Senator Anthony Williams has continued promoting the BAEO program. In 2010 he ran for Governor of Pennsylvania. His campaign, which centered on promoting vouchers and charter schools, was funded with $5 million from wealthy suburban philanthropists, hedge fund managers and other promoters of corporate education reform.

(See the beginning of Talking Back to Mark Gleason to see how the Corbett administration circumvented the opposition of Pennsylvania voters to vouchers and violated separation of church and state.)

Recently a pro-charter, anti-public school political organization has descended on Philadelphia. Philly School Choice has appeared to counter-protest rallies of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and to organize parents with children in charter schools to speak at SRC meetings in support of charter expansion. It does not reveal its funding sources, but it’s leader, Bob Bowden, is will known in right-wing libertarian, corporate privatization circles.

On August 30th, Bob Bowden interviewed Senator Anthony Williams, who is running for mayor of Philadelphia  in May, 2015 Democratic primary, about his education privation program:

State Senator Anthony Williams Discusses School Choice with Bob Bowden | Change the Game (video)

For insight into Bob Bowden’s political agenda, see:

Bob Bowden: What’s Next for School Choice – and New Media | Reason.com (video)

Also see: Hey Philly Parents! Another Fake “Parents Care” Site Arrives in Time to Pump Up Charter Schools | Philadelinquency 

 

Conclusion

Far from being the next civil rights movement, corporate education reform organizations like the Philadelphia School Partnership have been instrumental in bringing back a segregated school system. Already a number of charter schools in Philadelphia are ethnically isolated. Far from being progressive, PSP’s targeting of schools whose SPP is below 40%, in largely low-income neighborhoods, can only further decimate communities—as were those of the twenty-four schools which were closed last year.

It is important to remember that the seventeen “high-impact” schools cited by PSP have been artificially propped up with additional resources and supports, while the 214 public schools continue on a starvation program reminiscent of “The Hunger Games”. Those who cannot survive can then be handed over to charter companies. Mastery Charter has received almost $2 million from the Gates Foundation in the last few years.(Look on pages 1 and 3 of their Philadelphia grants.) Also see Philadelphia schools get $2.5 million from Gates Foundation.

At the education conference in the Spring of 2014 where Mark Gleason made his “dump the losers comment”, he was interviewed by several reporters and community members after the panel. (See Talking Back to Mark Gleason) When the issue of increasing school funding came up, Gleason was like a dog with a bone trying to pull such an idea out of the discussion.

When asked, “Why aren’t these schools fixed? Why don’t they get funds? Why don’t they get resources? Gleason replied, “Because it is not about funds. It’s not about resources. Do you know what happened at Bartram High School? Do you think that is a funding issue?”

When told that funding is an issue at Bartram because they took staff away that would intervene in those situations, Gleason replied,

When the staff was one hundred and fifty that school was more dangerous statistically than it is today.”  

This is not the first time that PSP or its representative has fabricated data to fit its argument. 

Mark Gleason does not want funding for public schools because successful public schools would defeat the agenda to privatize education. He is no different then right-wing legislators who say putting money into urban schools is a"black hole of waste of tax dollars."

The apparent success of the seventeen “high-impact” charters gives the lie to the claim that funding doesn’t matter for solving the problems of urban education. In fact, it proves that schools  can achieve—even those in low-income neighborhoods—given adequate funding which can pay for adequate resources, lower class sizes and full staffing. But, for corporate education reform this is a business model, not an education model. It cannot be applied equally to all schools because it is not profitable.

Imagine how the lives of this generation of children would be different if all the money, time, and resources being put into corporate education reform were instead put into fixing the public schools.

 This article was linked at Schools Matter

Update December 9th, 2016:

BAEO is heavily involved with the incoming Trump administration. They have endorsed Trump's nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.

School choice tops Trump's education agenda
AL.com - November 10, 2016
Trump picked Gerard Robinson, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, to be on his presidential transition team for education, according to multiple sources....Robinson served as Florida's education commissioner from 2011 to 2012, and has also served as Virginia's education secretary and as the president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options."

DeVos family – super-wealthy right-wingers working with the religious right to destroy public education
Alternet - November 24, 2016
A look at Betsy DeVos as a leader in corporate education reform - including her relationship with the Black Alliance for Educational Options 

Black Alliance for Educational Options Congratulates Betsy DeVos on Nomination for Education
BAEO - November, 2016 

 

Also see:

Why Have Some Civil Rights Groups Flipped on Standardized Testing?
Defend Public Education - August 9, 2015 

Community Voice or Captive of the Right? The Black Alliance for Educational Options
People for the American Way - July 2003
Be sure to read page 5 and 6 to see the ideiology of funders of BAEO.

Senator Williams ran for Mayor of Philadelphia in the May, 2015 primary. He spoke to the website Change the Game on August 30, 2014 about his anti-public school, anti-union, “choice” agenda.
State Senator Anthony Williams Discusses School Choice with Bob Bowden

The interviewer, Bob Bowden, is a right-wing libertarian as can be seen from this interview on Reason TV on August 17, 2011.

Bob Bowdon: What's Next for School Choice - and New Media 

Bob Bowden's ideiology has it's roots in the privatization theories of Milton Friedman.

Fifty Years Later. In Detroit the End of Brown: Separate and Unequal
educarenow - December 17, 2014
How state takeovers and school closings are increasing segregation. 

Congressional probe of Wisconsin school voucher program sought
The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post - December 19, 2015
The BAEO has been at the forefront of promoting vouchers in Wisconsin. 

The First Year
National Geographic - January 2015
More proof that the practice of closing schools based on standardized test scores is an attack on low-income communities to advance a privatization agenda.

No More Surprises
educarenow | December 26, 2014
Proof that there is nothing original about the agenda of PSP and the SRC.

What the NY Post left out: how Sharpton was persuaded to ally himself with Joel Klein & stay mum on term limits 
NYC Public School Parents | January 4, 2015

GOP bill would make failing public schools charters
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - January 7, 2015
ALEC and BAEO at work. 

Blackstone Group's Stephen Schwarman says more money won't improve public education
International Business Times - January 23, 2015
There is nothing original about Mark Gleason's contention that lack of funding for public schools doesn't matter. 

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Is the 'new' education philanthropy good for schools? Examining foundation-funded school reform
American Enterprise Institute
 - February 5, 2015

This is video of a four hour panel at the American Enterprise Institure. Howard Fuller of Black Alliance for Educational Opportunit  is on the second panel (Starts at 1:52:19). Notable quote (1:55:45): “We (BAEO) wouldn’t exist without John Walton and this is one of the reasons I love that man." His remarks are very revealing about how disconnected these people are from what is the reality in public schools and from the impact of what they are doing. Fuller seems totally unaware that he is working for the same political forces that have been underfunding schools for decades and the money BAEO receives from them comes from the low wage exploitation of Walmart workers.

For an article about the panel see: Talking to the Choir: AEI panels discuss their attack on public educaiton
Defend Public Education!
 - April 2, 2015

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Williams' backers invest $250K in independent effort
Philadelphia Newsworks - February 2, 2015  

PACs with charter school ties enter mayoral race fray
Philadelphia Inquirer - February 4, 2015
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Philadelphia Inquirer - February 4, 2015
Who should new charters serve? Critics and hopefuls make their cases
Philadelphia Public School Notebook - February 4, 2015
The proposed new charters will increase class segregation of education in Philadelphia.
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School district questions math of pro-charter group
Philadelphia Inquirer - February 5, 2015
More and more people on catching on to the Philadelphia School Partnership's pseudoscientific methods. 
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School district defends director's prominent political role
Philadelphia Daily News - February 8, 2015
The Philadelphia School District sees no conflict of interest in one of its officials being paid to be government affairs director and lobby for corporate ed interests at the same time. 
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Dave Davies off mic: PSP-related political committee gives to Williams' campaign.
Philadelphia Public School Notebook - Februrary 9, 2014 

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SRC feels heat for adding five charters
Philadelphia Inquirer - February 20, 2015 
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Turned down charter providers can make case before state appeals board
February 20, 2015
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Williams proposes plan for Phila. schools 
Philadelphia Inquirer - March 5, 2015
Williams wants the Philadelphia School Partnership to help fund the schools.
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Tony Williams finds it 'curious' that he's considered 'the charter-school guy'
Philadelphia Neworks - March 5, 2015
The corporate reform people depend on people not paying attention. They blatantly lie because they think people don’t know the truth. Interesting how he also does his “What about them" routine. He sounds like a kid who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

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Pa's school-spending gap widest in nation
Philadelphia Inquirer -  March 13, 2015
After years of trying to starve the public schools to advance a privatization agenda, Arne Duncan and city and school officials want to seperate themselves from the catastrophe they have created. 

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In cash-strapped School District, a hidden treasure trove of books
Philadelphia Inquirer - March 17, 2015 
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Ties between Williams' campaigns and charter school propoents run deep 
Philly Voice - March 20, 2015
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Tony Williams Is Finally Starting to Own School Choice
Philadelphia Magazine - March 25, 2015 
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Independent group backing Williams for Philly mayor starts $500,000 ad campaign
Philadelphia Newsworks - March 27, 2015
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AEI's Self-Analysis of Why CorpEd Is a Loser
Schools Matter - April 1, 2015
On the second AEI panel, BAEO founder Howard Fuller says, "“We (BAEO) wouldn’t exist without John Walton and this is one of the reasons I love that man."  (1:55:45 in AEI video in this link)

Mayor hopeful Williams' hallmark law most widely used by his supporters
Philadelphia Inquirer - April 3, 2015 

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Dwight Evans, coalition of African American leaders, endorse Kenney
Philadelphia Inquirer - April 6, 2015

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Dwight Evans - Political Phoenix
Philadelphia Daily News - April 13, 2015
Dwight Evans is also on the Board of BAEO and has sponsored the state takeover of the Philadelphia School District, promoted charters, and tax credits for private and sectarian schools. For his role in the dispute with Broad Superintendent Arlene Ackerman see More About Broad in Philadelphia.


Lawmakers consider bill to expand funding for private education tuition
abc27 News - April 16, 2015 
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Demonizing Teachers, Privatizing Schools: The Big Lies and Big Plans Behind the Atlanta School Cheating Scandal
The Black Agenda Report - April 22, 2015
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Williams super PAC boosts spending
Philadelphia Newsworks - April 28, 2015
"In the wake of a couple of polls showing former City Councilman Jim Kenney leading in Philadelphia's Democratic mayoral primary, the super PAC backing state Sen. Tony Williams has boosted its spending on television ads to nearly $800,000 a week."

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Hedgepapers No. 11 - High Frequency Hucksters
Hedge Clippers - April 29, 2015
A detailed study of the corporate reform interests backing Anthony Williams.  

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Divide and Conquer - The Philadelphia Story
M
ay 4, 2015

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Common Sense in Philadelphia

Defend Public Education - May 21, 2015 

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How Jim Kenney Defied Racial Math and Posted the Biggest Mayoral Primary Win in Modern Philly History
Philadelphia Magazine - Mary 24, 2015
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How Kevin Johnson Destroyed a Black Mayors Group to Promote His Brand
Deadspin | May 28, 2015 
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Mayor-elect Kenney has made Rep. Dwight Evans Transition Team Co-Chair
Phiadelphia Inquirer - November 3, 2015 
For Dwight Evans history see  Corporate Education Reform and Civil Rights on this website. 
Dwight Evans is not currently on the board of BAEO. 
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SB 432 and the Dissolving of Louisiana's Recovery School District (RSD)
deutch29 - May 12, 2016
Mercedes Schneider sees the Walton Foundation footprint is the dissolving of  RSD and Howard Fuller is part of it. 

Wells Fargo Sponsorship of Black Lives Matter Panel Draws Scorn
The Intercept - May 27, 2016 

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Secret Emails Show Kevin Johnson Spying On, Attempting to Bankrupt Enemies
Deadspin - July 26, 2016
Newly disclosed emails show Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (and Michelle Rehee's husband) took the National Conference of Black Mayors into bankruptcy because they supported public schools.  

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Breaking News: @NAACP calls for national moratorium on charters
Making Inequity - July 29, 2016
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Black School Choice Group Pushes Back on NAACP Charter School Moratorium
Education Week - August 9, 2016
BAEO is not happy about the NAACP's call for a moratorium on charters. 

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Why the Black Lives Matter movement has to take on charter schools
The Hechinger Report - August 10, 2016
Includes a debate between public school supporter Julian Velasques Heilig and charter school supporter Howard Fuller. 
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Pa. senator says HBO's John Oliver 'went too far' with charter school rant
Philadelphia Inquirer - August 25, 2016 

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10 Reasons Why the NAACP Is Absolutely Right About a National Moratorium on Charter Schools
Alternet - August 29, 2016 

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Sole bidder [Dwight Evans] for Philly's pre-K contract has political ties to Kenney
City and State PA - September 2, 2016 

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Trump Selects Two People for his education transition team
deutsch29 - September 19, 2016
Gerard Robinson, who was head of BAEO for several years, has jointed the Trump campaign.  

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Civil Rights Groups Challenge Charter Schools Despite Charter Efforts to Recruit Minority Politicians and Celebrities to their Cause
Huffington Post - October 6, 2016 
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Statement Regarding the NAACP's Resolution on a Moratorium on Charter Schools
NAACP - October 15, 2016 

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School choice tops Trump's education agenda
AL.com - November 10, 2016
Trump picked Gerard Robinson, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, to be on his presidential transition team for education, according to multiple sources....Robinson served as Florida's education commissioner from 2011 to 2012, and has also served as Virginia's education secretary and as the president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options."

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Super PACs and school reform
The Notebook - December 19, 2016
Some history about Betsy DeVos's involvement with promoting corporate ed reform in Pennsylvania (with Anthony Williams being an egar accomplice. 

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A Democrat Against Democracy
Jacobin - May 4, 2017
The neoliberal legacy of Dwight Evans.