Thursday, July 15, 2010

Antonucci - the 13th Russian Spy?

I often call out Mike Antonucci on his selective research and reporting - always designed to show teacher unions at their worst - with the words, "I know, Mike, I know, showing the other side of the coin is not your beat." It is his beat to show a union stealing a dime while ignoring when people running schools steal millions.

I like this comment by Leonie Haimson on his latest work for EdNext:

I wonder if Antonucci and/or Ed Next will next analyze how much the Billionaire's boys club, plus DFER, ERN, EEP and all their associated networks of hedge fund networks spent on lobbying and campaigns. Don't hold your breath!
.....I'm sure these conservative groups far outspend the teacher unions in the category of "research" as well.

This story reminds me of the NY Post making a big deal over UFT campaign contributions to Bill Perkins while ignoring the massive charter school contributions to politicians who support charter schools. (Have the attacks on Perkins by charter school proponents and the fact that they are funding his opponent in the primary caused him to disappear from the charter school wars?)

Mike is a funny guy and here he tops himself.
From the press release (Norms Notes):

Antonucci follows the money and the impact it has on policy.

Which money is Antonucci following? He must be a slow reader as he apparently hasn't gotten to Diane Ravitch's chapter on The Billionaire Boys Club. Now there are a few bucks he should be following that have real influence on policy. Ahhh, not his beat. Just make the union nickels and dimes look like boogeymen.

He gets into Jon Stewart hilarity territory with this one:

"The Long Reach of Teachers Unions: Using money to win friends and influence policy,” featured in the Fall 2010 edition of the Education Next journal, Antonucci also reveals that teachers unions have become a force in matters beyond education policy, including weighing in on domestic policy issues such as taxation, healthcare, gay marriage and redistricting.

“The unions’ influence over education policy is well known, but their influence over government is not. Teachers unions are by the largest political contributors,” said Antonucci.

Gee, he left out the real influence we have - whether to use Charmin or Scott toilet paper. Oh, sorry, I forgot. We don't even have a say in that.

Yeah, this Race To The Top stuff and non-unionized charter school takeovers shows just how much teacher unions influence policy. I must be living in an alternate universe.

Leonie continues:
See new EdNext analysis by Mike Antonucci of how much teacher unions spent on political campaigns in 2007-8. Full study here: You can also comment on the page if you register first.

Press release (Norms Notes)

Interestingly, despite all the fear-mongering from the NY tabloids, in NY State, the NY teachers unions spent less than $5 per teacher on politics, compared to more than $100 per teacher in states like Oregon($356.60), Colorado ($173.98), Montana ($141.74), Utah ($140.60) and South Dakota ($132.15). California spent $41.21 per teacher, and even Texas outspent NY ($2.24 compared to $2.18).

NY was outspent in most of the 22 "right-to-work" states like Texas; (for a list see in which cannot compel teachers to pay union dues. The only states that spent less per teacher were DC, Florida, Georgia and Vermont.

The article also points out that the NEA supports EPIC and Great lakes research institutes, which have issued critiques of some of the unreliable studies that were financed by the Gates, Broad and Walton foundations.

Or for that matter, the Hoover Institute, the conservative "think tank" that publishes Education Next, ( full disclosure: Ed Next published a radically edited letter from me without my consent a few years back.)

I'm sure these conservative groups far outspend the teacher unions in the category of "research" as well.

Leonie Haimson


  1. Well, the obvious difference is that the "billionaires" like Gates are giving away hundreds of millions of dollars of their own money while getting nothing in return; the unions are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to buy jobs, power, and unaffordable pensions for themselves.

  2. Nothing in return? What naive universe are you living in? Do you think it is altruism or the buying of ed policy? No different than what the unions with paltry comparative sums are trying to do. Except the unions actually might represent the point of view of more than 3 people.

  3. So they're getting influence over policy; that's the way the world works; people try to influence the world to be a better place. I get how annoying it must be for people to give away money to causes that you don't like (such as schools that don't employ as many of your union pals).

  4. So now you admit they are spending billions to influence policy while making a big deal over relative peanuts the unions are spending. Yeah, sure they want to make it a better place. Not to push their market based ideology which has proven to be a failure in education and even beyond.

  5. Cogent analysis of the malanthropists, Broad especially

  6. They're not spending billions to influence policy -- the only way you could get to "billions" is by counting all the money that people are giving away to charter schools, scholarships (vouchers), etc. Like it or not, foundations and individuals who do that are largely being altruistic in a way that unions never are.

    The prototypical hedge fund billionaire is giving away money to poor kids, money that he'll never see again. The prototypical union activity is giving money to a politician who then votes for higher unfunded pensions for teachers. You can make a nuanced argument about how the latter really somehow ultimately benefits students more than the former, but it's as plain as day that the former is more altruistic and less self-interested.


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