The Broad Foundation and the unions

This is an except from a longer article on this blog originally published on February 24, 2013 and updated numerous times: Who is Eli Broad and why is he trying to destroy public education?

Above: New York City Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein, second right, hugs United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten after winning The Broad Prize Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007, in Washington. Eli Broad, left, and Bush's U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings look on. 
Diane Bondareff/The Broad Foundation/AP

See:  N.Y.C. Wins Prestigious Urban Education Award | Education Week


The Broad Foundation and the unions

The Broad Foundation Mission Statement states that one of its goals is the transformation of labor relations. The Broad Foundation is not anti-union. Rather, it seeks to transform unions into a form of company union. A company union is a union located within and run by a company or a national government, and the union bureaucracy is incorporated into the company’s management. This opens up the workforce to unfettered exploitation for profits of the owners. Many right-wing governments internationally use company unions to suppress worker struggles against low living standards. In 1935, during the labor struggles of the Depression, the National Labor Relations Act was passed which outlawed company unions in the United States.

Broad has found no shortage of former or current union leaders who are willing to be bought and join his venture philanthropy to foster labor/management “collaboration”. Former President of the Service Employees International Union, Andy Stern, is just the most visible on the board. In education, the Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN) fosters this collaboration.

Outgoing President of the United Teachers - Los Angeles Helen Bernstein was TURN's first head with a grant from the PEW Charitable Trust.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times on April 27, 1996:

With research assistance from UCLA and a $250,000 grant from a private foundation--the Pew Charitable Trust--Bernstein is to spend two years helping 21 union leaders increase their roles in restructuring their school districts.

 In the process, the organization--known as the Teacher Union Reform Network, or TURN--hopes to create models that other unions can follow.

 Teachers unions often have been wary of the latest wave of proposed reforms, which focus on transferring decision-making power to individual schools, because it complicates their struggle for consistent treatment.

We're trying to break through that," said Adam Urbanski, vice president of the American Federation of Teachers, who helped found the organization and is among those attending a two-day meeting that continues today at UCLA.

Leadership of TURN was taken over by current AFT Vice President Adam Urbanski, when he was head of the Rochester, New York local in1999. By 2001, TURN had formed a partnership with the Broad Foundation.  According to the Los Angeles Times, on April 5, 2001, Eli Broad announced his Foundation was donating $10 million to TURN to foster labor/management “collaboration”. In 2009, Broad invested $2 million in TURN, “a network of National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers locals”. (Broad's 2009 Annual Report, Page 15) (For more details about TURN's affiliation with corporate education reform see Schools Matter, "Paul Toner and the TURNcoats", July 24, 2012.)

In the early days of this collaboration, labor leaders joined leaders in politics, business and non-profit organizations in staffing the faculty at the Broad Superintendents Academy, training the future Broad Superintendents. According a 2002 Broad press release(Page 2) participants included:

• Rod Paige, U.S. Secretary of Education in the G.W. Bush Administration

• Henry Cisneros, Secretary of HUD in the first Clinton Administration and now CEO of American CityVista

• William Cox, Managing Director of Broad, School Evaluation Services

• Chris Cross, Senior Fellow, Center on Education Policy

• Chester E. Finn, Jr., President, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation

• Frances Hesselbein, Chairman, The Drucker Foundation

• Don McAdams, Founder, Center for Reform of School Systems

• Donald Nielsen, President, Hazelton Corporation, Chairman of the 2WAY Corporation

• Hugh B. Price, President and CEO, National Urban League

• Paul Ruiz, Principal Partner, Education Trust

• Adam Urbanski, Director of Teacher Union Reform Network

• Randi Weingarten, President, United Federation of Teachers.

• Superintendents from the Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, Houston, Long Beach, Memphis, New Orleans, Oakland, Rochester, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle school districts also addressed the Academy.

On November 8th and 9th, 2002, Randi Weingarten participated in a retreat at the Eli Broad's home which included corporate and education leaders. The Press Release said this about the Broad Foundation Summit:

"The recent launch of several initiatives incubated at previous retreats and the Foundation's increase in assets to $400 million prompted the Foundation to convene this strategic planning session. Previously, the Foundation hosted retreats in May of 1999 and February of 2000. The Broad Foundation's mission is to dramatically improve K-12 public education through better governance, management and labor relations. The Foundation's investments are designed to transform large urban school districts from lackluster bureaucracies into high-performing public enterprises."

In 2005 the Broad Foundation made a $1 million grant to help the United Federation of Teachers in New York City, at that time headed by Randi Weingarten, to open two union-run charter schools in Brooklyn, the first such schools in the country. In October, 2012, it was announced these schools are in academic and enrollment trouble and will probably close at the end of the school year. This became another opportunity for another round of teacher bashing by the right-wing media. (Note: This column is written by Micah Lasher, executive director of StudentsFirstNY.)

On September 18, 2007, the Broad Foundation awarded New York City public schools the Broad Prize for Urban Education. Joining Eli Broad on stage at the ceremony were U.S. Secretary of Education in the Bush administration Margaret Spellings, New York City Education Chancellor Joel Klein, and Randi Weingarten, President of the United Federation of Teachers.

In its 2009 Annual Report (Page 10), the Broad Foundation said,

“Teacher unions have always been a formidable voice in public education. We decided at the onset of our work to invest in smart, progressive labor leaders like Randi Weingarten, head of the United Federation of Teachers in New York City for more than a decade and now president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). We partnered with Weingarten to fund two union-run charter schools in Brooklyn and to fund New York City’s first incentive-based compensation program for schools, as well as the AFT’s Innovation Fund. We had previously helped advance pay for performance programs in Denver and Houston, but we were particularly encouraged to see New York City embrace the plan.” (See the picture in the 2008 Broad Foundation Annual Report, page 14 and a featured Weingarten quote on page 15.)

On the same page (Page 10) of the 2009 Annual Report the Report boasted of being one of the earliest funders of Teach For America stating “our investment in this innovative teaching corps has grown to more than $41 million.” The same page also says, “Since 2000, our CMO (charter management organization) investments have swelled to nearly $100 million, creating 54,474 charter seats in 16 cities. We provided early start-up capital for charter operators like KIPP, Aspire, Green Dot and Uncommon Schools. They have since become the models for other CMOs to emulate.”

In April, 2009, the AFT teamed with four venture philanthropies: the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation—to create the Innovation Fund. The private-foundation contributions, in addition to the AFT's down payment of $1 million, brought the fund's total to $2.8 million. Weingarten said its funds were made available for local affiliates to "incubate promising ideas to improve schools."

In an April 28, 2009 article, Education Week’s Teacher Beat described the purpose of the Innovation Fund this way:

“Both Weingarten and the foundation folks spoke a lot about the importance of working together and collaboration...Both she and Adam Urbanski, the president of the Rochester, N.Y., affiliate who will serve as the fund's executive director, were quick to minimize the fact that AFT's education-reform objectives haven't always been in line with those of the private foundations. (Broad and Gates, for instance, were said to be primed to offer financial support behind D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee's two-tiered pay proposal, although as far as I know, neither foundation ever confirmed that on the record.)”

On June 3, 2010, at their union leader’s urging, the Washington D.C. Teachers Union ratified a contract with the Washington D.C. School District, headed by Chancellor Michelle Rhee, which included performance pay linked to test score growth, and a weakening of seniority and tenure. Union President George Parker called the ratification of the contract “a great day for teachers and students.” On November 10, 2010, Parker was voted out of office by the union rank-and-file. On May 20, 2011, Michelle Rhee announced that Parker was joining her corporate reform organization StudentsFirst. Rhee had resigned as Chancellor of Washington D.C. schools on October 13, 2010, and started StudentsFirst soon after. Rhee’s Deputy Chancellor and chief negotiator of the 2010 teachers’ contract, Kaya Henderson, replaced her. Henderson recently announced the proposed closing of 20 schools due to “under enrollment”.

On July 8th, 2010, Randi Weingarten welcomed Bill Gates as the keynote speaker at the national AFT convention. Subsequently, in April 17th, 2012, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $2 million to five of the AFT’s TURN regional networks through the Consortium for Educational Change, “an Illinois-based network of teacher unions, school districts, and professional organizations that work to make school systems more collaborative, high-performing organizations.” Of the grant, Mary Jane Morris, executive director of CEC said, “There is clear evidence that policies and programs that truly impact teaching effectiveness result when teacher unions and management collaborate as equal partners. Each stakeholder brings a unique understanding and knowledge-base that must be considered.”

On June 7, 2012 the Chicago Teachers Union was holding a strike authoirzation vote. (90 percent of the teachers' union, and 98 percent of those voting called for a strike.) Randi Weingarten flew into Chicago the same day, not to support the teachers, but to attend the Clinton Global Initiative Conference. She participated on a panel with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to praise him for his Chicago Infrastructure Trust. Speaking on the panel, she supported the neoliberal agenda of labor and management collaboration which historically has been to the advantage of capital against labor. Weingarten left town without speaking to the teachers. She did join the picket line near the end of the strike. (It has not been disclosed if she was there to support the CTU or to end the strike.)

An article in Reuters, right after the 2012 AFT convention reelected Weingarten to a third term, began: “In the maelstrom of criticism surrounding America's unionized public school teachers, the woman running the second-largest educator union says time has come to collaborate on public school reform rather than resist.”  "U.S. teacher union boss bends to school reform winds", Reuters, July 31, 2012

The Chicago teachers' strike in September, 2012, to which the AFT gave tepid financial and verbal support (not rallying locals nationally to support the CTU), ended on September 19th, 2012. On September 22nd, Weingarten joined Secretary of Education Duncan, who was on a bus tour through the Midwest to promote Race to the Top as part of the President Obama's reelection campaign.

On the tour she joined Gayle Manchin, wife of West Virginia U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, on a panel to discuss “how to build public-private partnerships to support educational improvement as the path to a brighter future.” Weingarten had praised this program as an example of business/labor collarboration at the Clinton Global Initiative conference. The state-run McDowell County, West Virginia school system and the AFT had created the philanthropy organization "Reconnecting McDowell” in 2011 to foster “collaboration between business, government and nonprofit organizations to establish programs that address the challenges faced by this community.”  The AFT has given the fund millions of dollars from the dues of the AFT rank-and-file to this corporate organization. The AFT is now teaming with Teach for America and businesses in McDowell County to build low income teacher housing for low income teachers.

On November 17th, 2012, Weingarten teamed with New Jersey Education Secretary Chris Cerf (Broad Academy Class of 2004) to successfully promote the ratification of a contract for Newark teachers that included merit pay based on performance (including high-stakes test scores). On December 13, 2012, theNew Jersey Education Law Center announced it had found that Eli Broad was offering a $430,000 grant to New Jersey contingent on the reelection of Governor Chris Christie. Terms of the grant include a requirement that the number of charters be increased by 50%, requiring that all public announcements of the program by the state have to be cleared with the Broad Foundation, and it contained a lengthy provision about making documents, files, and records associated with the grant the property of the Foundation. New Jersey bloggers speculated that Broad’s real concern was the keeping Cerf as the New Jersey Secretary of Education. 

On December 13th, 2012, Weingarten held a press conference with Bill Clinton and Obama’s housing secretary Shaun Donovan to announce the AFT would invest $1 billion from the NYC teachers pension fund for Hurricane Sandy relief for the NYC area. NYC Mayor Bloomburg criticized the investment because taxpayers would have to bail out the pension fund if the gamble failed. 
One month later the U.S. Congress allocated $50.5 billion dollars for Hurricane Sandy relief.

Weingarten had explained her belief in this use of teacher pension funds in infrastructure projects around the country at the June 19th, 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Conference. She has never explained what gives her the right to use the pensions of millions of teachers for this purpose.

On January 29, 2013, Weingarten was interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered. She continued her campaign for a teacher’s “Bar Exam”. This year long campaign is an endorsement of the corporate education reformers campaign against teachers that says the problem with schools is “bad teachers” and tenure. Arne Duncan and New York Governor Cuomo have been aggressively supporting this proposal. Weingarten did this NPR interview at the same time as New York City teachers are in a battle against an unfair and flawed teacher evaluation system which Cuomo was threatening to impose through drastic cuts in state funding for NYC public schools if not agreed to or dictatorially imposing the teacher evaluation system outright.

On March 11, 2009, in an article in the NYC education website Gotham News, in the article "Eli Broad describes close ties to Klein, Weingarten, Duncan", Broad described his education philosophy and his collaboration with Klein, Weingarten, and Duncan. The article did not state that Weingarten’s relationship with Broad dates back to at least 2002.

Also see:

Which Side Are You On?
July 14, 2014 

Tallking to the Choir: AEI panels discuss their attack on public education
Defend Public Education - April 2, 2015

Turning Collaboration Into a Bad Word
Defend Public Education - April 12. 2015

Randi Weingarten - Sleight of Hand Artist - Part 1
Defend Public Education - April 19, 2015

Randi Weingarten - Sleight of Hand Artist - Part 2
Defend Public Education - April 22, 2015

Eli Broad and the Clintons
Defend Public Education - October 1, 2015 

 Links to articles about Eli Broad