Some teachers and public school advocates have heard about Educators 4 Excellence, aka E4E. For those that haven’t, you probably will as the organization continues to expand across the country.
Calling themselves Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), they claim to speak for teachers – although most E4E organizers don’t have more than a year or so of teaching experience – and what little actual teaching experience they have is usually the result of a short stint with Teach for America.
But the New York-based Educators 4 Excellence, originally created in 2010 using funds from the Gates Foundation, managed to pull in over $7.4 million from the corporate education reform industry in their first two years of operation.
Among the “teacher advocacy group’s” major funders is Education Reform Now, another corporate funded advocacy group that spends its money promoting charter schools and an end to tenure and “seniority-based layoff.”
In 2010 Education Reform Now ran a rather infamous television commercial in New York State that included a “parent” saying, “Stop listening to the teachers union.”
E4E’s fundraising has reportedly skyrocketed since 2012 allowing them to expand, including into Connecticut.
The Gates Foundation alone dropped another $3,000,695 into E4E’s coffers in July 2013.
Here in Connecticut…
When Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy took to the microphone on April 17, 2015 to announce that he was dropping the word “interim” from Dianna Wentzell’s title as “interim” Commissioner of Education, Educators 4 Excellence was quick to announce their support for the Common Core and Common Core testing aficionado writing,
“Dr. Roberge-Wentzell…was a critical member of [former Education] Commissioner Pryor’s team, which worked to secure funding for struggling schools where resources are needed most….We look forward to working with her in the years ahead…”
The reference that Wentzell deserved to be appointed Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education because she was a “critical member of Commissioner Pryor’s team,” the co-founder of the Achievement First, Inc. Charter School Management Company, reveals a lot about Educators 4 Excellence’s mission and purpose. Public funding for charter schools skyrocketed as a result of Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor’s policies over the last three years, with Pryor’s charter school management company receiving the lions’ share of the money.
With co-CEOs each enjoying compensation packages in excess of $150,000, Educators 4 Excellence explains their reason for existence by saying,
“For far too long, education policy has been created without a critical voice at the table – the voice of classroom teachers. Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization, is changing this dynamic by placing the voices of teachers at the forefront of the conversations that shape our classrooms and careers.”
Educators for Excellence now has chapters in Connecticut, Chicago, Los Angeles and Minnesota and the have pledged to expand even further.
According to their “official” version of events, Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) began,
“As a group of New York teachers who wanted to change the top-down approach to policy-making, which largely alienated teachers like us from crucial decisions that shaped our classrooms and careers.”
Their propaganda fails to explain that their initial funding came in November 2010 when the Gates Foundation funneled $160,000 through Stand for Children, a multi-million dollar corporate education front group to set up “Educators 4 Excellence.”
According to the grant announcement, the Gates Foundation explained that the group was being funded to, “build an authentic, alternate teacher voice.”
Stand for Children is a leading player in the “education reform” movement, with a special focus on moving corporate funds into political campaigns in order to reward candidates who support their cause and punish those who aren’t on the school privatization bandwagon.
Jonah Edelman, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Stand for Children, says the organization now has eleven state affiliates (AZ, CO, IL, IN, LA, MA, OK, OR, TN, TX, and WA).
According to Edelman’s biography,
“Jonah’s personal stand for children began during college, when he taught a six year-old bilingual child to read.”
Like a number of his fellow corporate education reform industry elite, Edelman graduated from Yale University (Class of ‘92) and attended Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship.
If that wasn’t enough for the financiers of the education reform frenzy, the Chairperson of Stand for Children’s Board of Directors is Emma Bloomberg, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s daughter.
When Bridgeport Connecticut Mayor Bill Finch engaged in his failed attempt to do away with Bridgeport’s democratically elected board of education and replace it with one that he would appoint, a coalition of corporate education reform groups and corporate elite, including Mayor Mike Bloomberg, dropped in enough campaign donations to make it the most expensive charter revision campaign in Connecticut history.
In Connecticut, Educators 4 Excellence use a New York public relations firm, the same PR firm that collected much of the money in the failed Bridgeport campaign and has been used by a number of other education reform groups in Connecticut to engage in advertising in favor of Malloy’s education reform initiative.
A Connecticut E4E press release out last summer by the New York firm opened with, “Teachers, Joined by Bridgeport Superintendent Rabinowitz, Call for Needed, Pro-Student Improvements in Professional Development at E4E Roll-out Event.”
The press release went on to read,
June 11, 2014 (Bridgeport, CT) — Educators 4 Excellence, a national teacher-led organization that seeks to elevate the voices of teachers in education policy discussions, formally launched its new chapter in Connecticut Wednesday with a kick-off event in Bridgeport and a call for sweeping changes to existing professional development. This major policy proposal, written by a team of working Bridgeport public school classroom teachers, proposes a number of changes to this pressing issue. These include increasing the opportunities for teachers to weigh in on and even lead professional development topics and personalizing the experience so that trainings better meet the needs of schools and individuals. The full proposal can be seen HERE.”
The press release adds,
“Over the past several months, a team of nine E4E-CT Bridgeport members has been developing recommendations to improve the quality of their professional development. The recommendations, which they released Wednesday, seek to inject the ideas of actual classroom teachers into the policy changes the Superintendent is currently considering.”
The release conveniently made no mention of E4E’s funders or whether any of the advocacy group’s money was spent developing or lobbying for their “teacher led changes.”
This year Educators 4 Excellence is ramping up their Connecticut presence.
The corporate education reform industry group recently advertised for a Vice President of Regional Operations, which the posting explained may be housed in Connecticut.
According to the advertisement for the job, the Vice President of Regional Operations responsibilities will include, “Designing and leading high level issue based advocacy campaigns.”
To ensure a proper understanding of life as a classroom teacher, the organization lists the preferred qualifications to be a,
“Bachelor’s degree and at least one year of professional experience as a Pre K-12 classroom teacher preferred; some form of teaching, school-based professional experience, student-based professional experience or previous work with educational non-profits.”
The required skills include, “Political savvy and keen interest in/understanding of education policy, the education reform movement broadly, and the power and politics of the education landscape both locally and nationally.
E4E explains the right candidate must also have “Tenacity” and “grit.”
In Connecticut, the organization is also looking for a new Executive Director for Connecticut, whose job will be to oversee Connecticut’s E4E operation.
According to the job post, lobbying legislators will be one of the Executive Director’s responsibilities, along with working to, “Establish E4E-CT as a go to source for the opinions and perspectives of progressive educators on issues that impact Connecticut’s classrooms.”
Again the entity says that, “At least one year of experience serving as a Pre K-12 classroom teacher” is preferred,” as well as the requirement for “Tenacity” and “grit.”
Apparently E4E is also looking for a Managing Director of Outreach in Connecticut.
The job postings don’t explain where the present Executive Director Ranjana Reddy is heading, although after a sting with TFA she headed to Newark, New Jersey to help create Rise Academy charter school, a position she left to attend Yale Law School.
At Yale she proudly reports that she worked for John White, who took over from Paul Vallas in New Orleans and Commissioner Stephen Pryor in Connecticut. Her biography explains that when working for Pryor she, “spearheaded the writing of Connecticut’s No Child Left Behind waiver.”
From charter school founder, to Yale, to writing Connecticut’s NCLB waiver… What a testament to the corporate education reform.
And as the saying goes, all this is just the tip of the iceberg –
Just wait till you hear what else E4E is up to in Connecticut.
You can read more about E4E in Connecticut via the following Wait, What? posts Another faux pro-public education group targets Connecticut (12/18/12) and Teacher-led organization that gives teachers a meaningful voice in policy is expanding in CT! (5/23/13)