Yesterday a number of corporate funded charter school advocacy groups joined Governor Dannel Malloy in support of his plan to dramatically increase charter school funding while making historic cuts to funding for public schools.
For coverage see: The Hartford Courant’s Charter School Lobbying: Where Is Money Coming From? and CT Mirror’s Aggressive charter school campaign descends on the Capitol.
Anyway you look at it, the corporate education reform industry has deep pockets.
Just last September, Peter Cunningham, the former PR guy for U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, rolled out a new organization called Education Post.
The cornerstone of the project is a pro-corporate education reform industry blog called The Conversation, its purpose being to counter the work of Diane Ravitch and the more than 230 other pro-public education bloggers around the nation.
The initial grants to get the new pro-common core, pro-charter school, pro-education reform effort off the ground totaled at least $12 million. The money came from the Eli Broad Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Walton Family Foundation and a generous anonymous donor.
At the time, the president of the Broad Foundation, Richard Reed, explained to the Washington Post that,
“The idea for Education Post originated with his organization but that other philanthropic groups had recognized the need years ago.
‘We had a shared disappointment in the tenor of the debate,’ said Reed, a former chief of staff to Vice President Biden and former chief executive of the Democratic Leadership Council.”
Reed went on to add that the new blog was stepping in to help support the discussion surrounding education policy because,
“Administrators, school leaders and teachers have papers to grade, schools to run, and they don’t have time to get out and talk about this…This is an effort to help spread information about what works both inside the field and outside.”
Howard Wolfson, who served as a co-chief strategist to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and a senior adviser to Ned Lamont’ senate campaign in Connecticut is also an adviser to Bloomberg Philanthropies. Discussing the purpose of the new education reform blog, Wolfson said,
“There hasn’t really been an organization dedicated to sharing the successes of education reform around the country…You have local success, but it isn’t amplified elsewhere. And there is a lot of success. There is also an awful lot of misperception around what ed reform is, and there hasn’t been an organization . . . focused on correcting those misimpressions.”
Here in Connecticut, charter school advocates have, from time to time, raised the questions about who funds Wait, What?
Last year a pro-charter school blogger wrote, “How Much Money Does Jon Pelto Really Make for Attacking School Principals?” The blogger added,
“Who does Jon Pelto think he’s kidding?
When Rick Green over at the Hartford Courant’s Capitol Watch blog asked Pelto who pays the bills, the not-precisely-accurate ex-politician’s response was laughable.
“Pelto said he raises about $7,000 annually to pay for his blog,” Green wrote.
Don’t believe it for a second. No fewer than three times a day, seven days a week, Pelto posts haranguing attacks on our governor, education commissioner, school superintendents and principals.
Each one of those posts is hundreds, sometimes thousands of words in length.
And he does it for free? Yeah, excuse me while I have a laughing fit in the corner.
For example, when Pelto was lamely and ineffectually attacking principal and magnet school founder Steve Perry for sending tweets, he decided that Perry’s tweeting had cost the city “well in excess of $10,000.”
How he arrived at that figure, no one knows. But now that he’s made it up, he repeats it as fact every chance he gets.”
Now that it turns out that a blog dedicated to promoting the education reform industry received $12 million in grants just to get going, I can certainly appreciate the Connecticut bloggers disbelief that there are people out here who actually care enough to write about education policy and politics without making hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But the truth is that Wait, What? – like all the individual pro-public education blogs that I know of – receive no funding at all, or, at best, collect small contributions from readers.
Over the past year, Wait, What? has received about $10,000 and, for the record, none of that money came from unions, political action committees or other advocacy groups.
Not that I would turn down contributions from people who like and support the blog and its mission, but truth be told, the anti-common core, anti-common core testing and anti-Governor Malloy posts have apparently made the blog somewhat of a pariah when it comes to the attitude of the national and state teachers’ unions.
Note to self: “If you want to collect donations from teachers’ unions, don’t criticize them and definitely don’t criticize the candidates they support.”
That said, towing the “party line” probably wouldn’t have resulted in a $12 million donation.
In any case, although the notion of making big bucks is very tempting, if readers ever type in the Wait, What? website url and the site is shut down, you still probably won’t find me writing for the education reform industry’s blog — The Conversation — although even a fraction of that $12 million would go a long way toward paying the bills.
And remember, As George Orwell said,
In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
Oh and if you do want to contribute to Wait, What? click on the following link;
Important – Massive Common Core opt-out movement continues to grow in New York State and Connecticut parents are standing up for their children as well
Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of those who have provided financial support for Wait, What? – Along with all the people who have read and participated in the dialogue – The Wait, What? blog has become a leading news and commentary site.
The 1,820 blog posts since January 3, 2011 have attracted over 1.6 million visits and an incredible 23,000 comments.
Thanks to all of you, the blog has become a prime example of the importance of investigative blogging, advocacy journalism and the role social media can play in helping to educate, persuade and mobilize people to stand up and speak out about the important issues of our time.
While the primary focus of the blog has been the on-going effort to push back against the corporate education reform industry and re-take public control of public education, we’ve collectively dealt with an impressive array of issues.
The first blog on Wait, What? was entitled “MIND THE GAAP – Confronting the Cost of Fiscal Honesty 1/3/11).” Less than a week later, the blog of the day was, “Grappling with Connecticut’s Budget Crisis – Part I: What about Education Funding? (1/7/11).”
The article ended with the observation;
“After pledging during the campaign that he would maintain state funding for local education, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy backed off a bit Thursday, saying that is “a goal” that he will “try and accommodate.”
“That’s a goal that I have when preparing the budget,” he said during his first press conference after taking office. “There are many goals that I have. We are going to try and accommodate all of them,”
While some things haven’t changed, other things have. That post failed to generate a single comment and only a handful of visitors stopped by to read it.
Now, with tens of thousands of visitors a month, an individual blog post can generate dozens and dozens of comments.
With 2015 underway, I hope to ensure that Wait, What? becomes an even more vital and important part of the public debate.
And so, I turn to all of you, again.
Over the four years, many of you have made a contribution to help support Wait, What?
And many provided financial support to my campaign as well.
I truly appreciate each and every one of those contributions for they have provided me with a truly unique opportunity to be heard on many of the issues we care so deeply about.
I know that these are difficult financial times for many of us and that the notion of financial security remains out of reach for many, but whatever financial support you could provide would be extremely helpful as I strive to use Wait, What? as a platform to provide news and commentary about the issues of our time.
A donation will help strengthen Wait, What? and the role of advocacy and investigative journalism in Connecticut.
You can donate on-line here:
Or, if you would prefer, donations can also be made by check. Checks should be made out to Wait, What? and sent to Wait, What? c/o Jonathan Pelto, PO Box 400, Storrs, CT. 06268
Contributions are not tax-deductible, but they go a very long way toward help with the maintenance of Wait, What?
Thanks so much,
Your help would be greatly appreciated https://fundly.com/wait-what-2015-winter-request?