Sunday, November 6, 2016

Astroturf Hedge Hogs Toss $$$$ into Massachusetts Charter School Expansion Ballot Issue - UPDATED

Irlande Plancher, 51, a Haitian immigrant in Hyde Park who sent three children to district schools and one to a charter, is voting no.
Ms. Plancher, a registered nurse, was glad her youngest child had the charter option. But with four charter schools in her area, she has seen two public schools close. She said she worried that adding more charters would further crimp the traditional schools.
“I think whatever we have is enough,” she said. “We cannot pick and choose which kids we educate and leave the rest out.”... NY Times, Trump-Clinton? Charter Schools Are the Big Issue on Massachusetts’ Ballot -- Nov. 6, 2016
The hedge hogs have tossed $23 million (so far) into the campaign, forcing the forces of good to come up with a little more than half that - a perfect example of misreporting was Mike Antonucci's report listing only the mostly $13 million in union money, Unions Account for 99.4% of Contributions to Keep Massachusetts Charter Cap but ignoring the massive $22 million coming from mostly outside orgs. I usually respect Mike's work even though coming from the right, but not this time.

Diane Ravitch summarizes the latest Mass. poll, which is worth taking a look at - scroll to page 11.  Diane Ravitch's blog
Latest Poll on Question 2 in Massachusetts

Diane reports:
Question 2 is losing in every demographic category except older Republicans.

Whites and blacks oppose Question 2 by similar proportions.

Younger voters (ages 18-39) overwhelmingly oppose it, by 71-21.

If the trends hold, this will be a massive and humiliating defeat for the corporate reformers, who have spent more on this election (at least $22 million) than on any education referendum anywhere. They won't miss the $22 million, but they will have sustained a major setback in their plans for privatization.
Let's hope the polls hold up.

NY Times' Dave Leonhardt backed Question 2:  Schools That Work.  I read somewhere a piece that took him to task but can't remember where -- let me know if you find it so I can update.****

*****Response from Pete Farrugio:
You mention the NY Times’ op-ed writer in this piece on Massachusetts’ pro-charter Question 2, apropos of his pro-charter column in Sunday’s paper

(You have a link to his op-ed in the piece)

You ask for a reference to when somebody took him to task. I found this article about his faux-economist credentials and his consistent support for the right wing austerity hawks. Although it’s not specifically about education, it does reveal him to be another camouflaged neoliberal, like the creeps in Dems for Education Reform (DFER)

The timing of his Boston referenced op-ed just before election day is an example of the NYT’s pro-DFER bias (usually spearheaded by Brent Staples)

As you say, Jersey Jazzman is the only one with a good criticism of Boston charters available online just now

The point in Leonhardt’s propaganda piece that gets me most annoyed is his contention that the MIT study on Boston charters “proves” that the successful charters (test scores) don’t cream for more competent students, they take everybody. Minorities, English Learners, special ed, etc. We’ve seen this claim so many times in defense of charters around the US, and it’s bullcrap. Jersey Jazzman can’t seem to find the data on this because it’s restricted to insiders; BUT,  he does make the bigger point that the struggle to get kids admitted in a lottery situation is a de facto selection mechanism for students with highly involved parents, a BIG motivational factor

Hope this helps
Mass Gov Chalie Baker supports charter expansion and came to the Manhattan Institute here in NYC a few weeks ago to push his agenda. Leonie and crew were outside to protest:
I protested with AQE and the Hedge Clippers folks, outside an event at the Harvard Club, where Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker was speaking about the referendum to raise the cap on charter schools in his state called Question 2.

This effort has been funded with millions of dollars in "dark money," and we were there to make them feel uncomfortable.  Jeremiah Kittredge of Families for Excellent Schools walked into the building while we were chanting, "Governor Baker epic fail! Our public schools are not for sale!"  FES has poured at least $13.5 million into this election -- without disclosing its donors, although one can assume the money comes mostly from the usual suspects -- Walton family members and NYC hedge fund operators.

After the meeting, Baker was scheduled to meet with Bloomberg, trolling for even more bucks -- after Bloomberg had already given $240,000 to the effort.  Meanwhile, all over the country, from California to New York, Washington to Georgia, billionaires are trying to buy  school board races, judgeship elections, referendums, and control of the NY State Senate - all with the same nationwide goal of privatizing public schools, and wresting them from democratic control. 
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, a charter supporter, has taken a stand against in one of the best pieces I've seen: Vote ‘no’ on Question 2.

While the charter lobby has tried to manipulate the black community, there has been pushback:

While the Urban League and many black educators support the ballot measure, the N.A.A.C.P. opposes it and has called for a moratorium on charters, saying they worsen segregation. Black Lives Matter in Cambridge has also come out against the measure.
Finally, Bernie takes a stand on charters:

Bernie Sanders claims charters let Wall Street ‘hijack’ education -- .......Boston Globe.

And  Jersey Jazzman 

 And more

Other money comes from wealthy individuals from out-of-state. Arkansas' Alice Walton, who runs a family foundation funded by the proceeds from Wal-Mart, donated $710,000, while her brother Jim Walton gave $1.1 million. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg contributed $490,000....
A lot of the money comes from individuals in the financial industry, generally working in Boston. The investigative news outlet International Business Times reported that financial executives who manage money for Massachusetts state pension funds contributed $778,000 to groups backing Question 2.
There are also outside education reform groups who have contributed huge sums of money to the campaign. Most notably, the New York-based Families for Excellent Schools gave $15.6 million.
Groups like Families for Excellent Schools are nonprofits that do not have to disclose their donors.
"This is a truly unprecedented financial push by the charter school industry and their billionaire backers to buy our election with untraceable money whose source we will never know," said Juan Cofield, president of the New England Area Conference of the NAACP and chairman of the No on Question 2 campaign, in a statement.

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