Turnaround for Children Inc.’s lap dog fighting back: “Cohen lacks cred”

Seems Tom Vander Ark is a little sensitive to criticism of his string of fawning articles on Turnaround for Children Inc.

Vander Ark’s latest vacuous piece was published in Education Week. (See following post for details on that disaster.)

van ark fights back

As you can see, Vander Ark wrote:

“I have investigated Mr. Cohen’s claims and they don’t appear to be accurate or credible.”

My reply:

For someone who writes nothing but fawning pieces about Turnaround for Children Inc. – and then reposts them on his blog – you speak with no accuracy or credibility.

If you can cite one instance of lack of accuracy, I would be more than happy to provide you the information you need to clear up your journalistic jaundice.

===

OH, YOU SAY YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT CRYBABY VAN DER ARK?

http://ischoolexcellence.wordpress.com/tag/newark-new-jersey/

To wit:

President of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Tom Vander Ark, is walking away from a multi-million dollar project to open new charter schools in NYC.

The New York Times is reporting that after spending more than $1.5 million of investors’ money on consultants and lawyers, Tom Vander Ark, president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has walked away from the project to open new charter schools in New York City.  As a result, the new schools will not open as planned this fall.  This shocking move has left many frustrated.

MORE HERE:

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/07/plans_for_newark_charter_schoo.html

AND HERE:

http://newarknj.patch.com/groups/schools/p/two-charter-schools-to-still-open-after-setback

AND HERE’S CRANKY TOM AT HIS, UH, BEST?

http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2011/11/vander-ark-getting-cranky-regarding.html?m=1

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‘Education Week’ in the tank for Turnaround for Children Inc.; Blogger Cohen cries bias

ed week bias

When Education Week sees an op ed that suits its purposes – lavishing fawn on its bed mates – it hops right into the sack with its suitor.

But when confronted with a critical piece about one of its partners, it runs for the hills.

Consider Ed Week’s latest fawn on Turnaround:

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_innovation/2013/08/fortified_environments_can_turnaround_the_adverse_impacts_of_poverty.html

Turnaround’s president Pammy Cantor liked the piece so much she posted it on her Facebook page – the same page that prohibits critical public comments.

See a pattern here, folks?

I mean, why don’t you all just get a room.

Who needs a lap dog if you have Tom Vander Ark?

In recent years he has written six laudatory pieces about Turnaround, three of which were in Education Week.

How much are Turnaround officials paying Vander Ark to flak for them?

Tom Vander Ark

Turnaround’s lap dog Tom Vander Ark

Here’s the piece of mine Education Week REFUSED to publish:

Turnaround Children Inc.’s transparency claim transparent The top school official in a major American city as part of an education-reform initiative is bringing in yet another private foundation, yet as little is known about Turnaround for Children Inc. as is known about how it fits into Supt. Cami Anderson’s plan to modernize Newark, New Jersey’s schools.

Anderson arrived in New Jersey’s largest school district in two years ago this month, bringing with her an education-reform movement.

The city’s public schools are among the lowest-performing in the state, even after the state government took over their management in 1995.

Although the school district continues to struggle with low high school-graduation rates and low standardized-test scores, the mayor of Newark, Cory Booker, insists, “Newark, New Jersey can become one of the first American cities to solve the crisis in public education.” This vision for better school district is also shared by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who made a $100 million donation to Newark Public Schools in 2010.

HuffPost’s Joy Resmovits called Newark “a national test case for the fixing of troubled urban schools and the use of major philanthropic dollars in an educational system.”

Now, Turnaround For Children is interviewing schools in Newark for September.

What is Turnaround and what is its proposed role in Newark?

The best source for information would be Turnaround, right?

Wrong.

Turnaround has refused to provide information about its failed foray into Orange schools and whether that experience foretells problems in Newark.

Turnaround’s entry into the reform movement began with Orange, N.J., as well as New York City and Washington, D.C. But as soon as the Orange effort began, it failed, according to Turnaround’s nonprofit filing with the Internal Revenue Service.

Tax documents filed with the IRS by Turnaround disclose the program’s unexpected suspension.

The documents, a public record, also reveal that Turnaround was forced to return the remaining part of the grant that funded the program.

“Management decided to terminate its three-school program earlier than planned,” Turnaround officials told the IRS.

In their IRS filing, Turnaround officials blamed the short-lived program’s demise on what they vaguely described as a “shift in organizational priorities.”

But officials failed to disclose what they meant by the change or who instigated it.

Turnaround officials say they suspended their request for the remaining funding they were to receive for the Orange project, but they made no mention of the amount of funding they had already received and the amount they were still due.

Turnaround officials issued a prepared statement defending their Orange pullout.

“Our hope was to expand the partnership, to deliver a significant amount of professional development to teachers and to increase our engagement district-wide,” said Kate Felsen, vice president of communications. “Unfortunately, Orange Public Schools did not have the capacity to take on the professional development we had to offer during the 2011-12 year. For this reason, we ended our partnership amicably.”

Though Turnaround proudly announced the Orange project in its September 2010 newsletter, there is no evidence on the organization’s web site that Turnaround officials ever notified the public of the program’s suspension.

If Orange school officials are to blame for Turnaround’s failure in their schools, then they are apparently taking the accusations in stride.

Orange Supt. Ronald Lee failed to respond to questions until he received a formal open-records request.

He said, “Turnaround proposed to expand its program to a transformational model that encompassed academic, foundational and behavioral elements in the 2011-2012 school year. At the same time, the district was continuing or launching a number of significant initiatives to improve instruction and student outcomes. We mutually concluded that the district’s initiatives would require and deserved the full focus of the district staff principals and teachers. Therefore, we discontinued the program in Orange at that time to allow these innovations to take hold.”

Felsen, too, will not go beyond her prepared statement.

When asked who funded the Orange effort and who will be funding the Newark plan, Felsen replied, “You have my statement.”

More to the point, attempts by journalists to procure information from this so-called “transparent” group – as described by GuideStar.org – have been met with silence, stalling and arrogance.

Ted Cohen of Maine is a veteran newspaper and radio reporter who follows trending national issues. He can be reached at tedcohen@hotmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Tedcohen1.

Wanna sleaze with Pamela Cantor? Be a news-VIP slug – and “Like her” on Facebook

Roker’s forecast: Shill for Turnaround Children and fortune follows

pam and al

turnaround likes

The list of those who “like” Pam also includes:

turnaround likes2

And there’s more who really like Pam:

turnaround likes3

Are major media outlets’ likes on Facebook page an endorsement for Turnaround for Children Inc?

Ever wonder why Turnaround receives no objective press coverage?

Wonder no more.

==

A bright AJR editorial assistant was one of the first journalists to explore the awkward issue of reporters liking Facebookers.

http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=4628

headshot of Steven Mendoza

Steven Mendoza, AJR

==

https://i0.wp.com/www.poynter.org/wp-content/uploads/avatars/kellyfincham.png

Kelly Fincham, Poynter

Kelly Fincham also posted on journalistic Facebook ethical lapses:

http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/digital-strategies/176649/7-ways-journalists-can-make-better-ethical-decisions-when-using-facebook/

Fincham even quotes The Wall Street Journal’s Liz Heron on the ethical cesspool of reporters liking people on Facebook.

But Heron’s righteousness apparently escaped her own notice. She apparently didn’t realize that the WSJ is among those posting likes on Facebook for, among others, Turnaround for Children Inc.:

turnaround likes3

Katherine and Pamela sitting in a tree

cantor and bradley mugs together

Katherine Brittain Bradley

Katherine Bradley  shilling for her buddy Pam Cantor, prez of Turnaround for Children Inc.

  Bradley’s CityBridge Foundation of Washington, D.C., plugs Turnaround for Children Inc as a featured investment on its website.

http://www.citybridgefoundation.org/Investment/Current-Portfolio/Breakthrough%20Schools/Turnaround%20for%20Children

 “In schools with strong instructional leadership, this resulted in academic gains. Other schools became safer and calmer, but academic improvement was flat or minimal.”

How does Bradly account for declining test scores in Turnaround for Children Inc. schools in New York City and Washington, D.C. ?

She doesn’t.

Not on Pam’s account.

Buy a Turnaround for Children Inc. hug – for $4.5 million

Fancy this – just days before New York announced tanking test scores, Turnaround for Children Inc. tried to steal the bad news with a comedic Facebook posting.

Comedic, that is, in our eyes.

Surely, Turnaround’s top exec could not have been serious when she trumpeted on her Facebook a new $4.5 million program.

p.s. 85 bronx turnaround facebook

Apparently, Pamela Cantor thought she could hide her foundation’s NYC-wide school failures by drawing attention to plans for her group to help teach charter schools how to succeed.

p.s. 85 bronx

Judging from that graph above, which highlights abysmal student failures in one of Turnaround for Children Inc.’s partner schools, would you want Pam Cantor meddling in your charter school?

Here’s the scoop: P.S. 85 in the Bronx is working with Cantor to help spend 4.5 million of New York taxpayer dollars to help build community. In return, charter- school teachers will show public-school teachers how to do their jobs.

Turnaround for Children Inc. test-score grades in NYC: A big fat F-

dunce-cap-1

daily news school

nyc test graphic

So, Turnaround for Children Inc. likes to tout its success stories?

Well, in its NYC “partner schools,” Turnaround is now wearing a dunce’s cap.

City students’ scores take dramatic plunge after new standardized tests

 

Read more:
And more:

If you want an example of just how badly Turnaround for Children Inc. fares in its “partner schools” in NYC, all you need is one random sampling.

Take the M.S. 242 Mott Hall V school in the Bronx – please.

Just look at how badly the kids did on the latest tests in a school in which Turnaround for Children Inc. is touting its excellent results:

turnaround nyc failure

How ’bout that Pamela Cantor?

(Cantor is the self-aggrandizing president of Turnaround for Children Inc.)

Did I say you need only one random sample?

How unrepresentative of me!

I just found a second random sample, also from the Bronx.

P.S. 32, where Cantor claims unbridled proficiency success, is a disaster:

P.S. 32 proficiency drop

If the Bronx examples weren’t bad enough, take this school in Manhattan – please.

It’s even worse:

turnaround nyc failure

And here now is another abysmal failure in Manhattan, thanks to Robinhood Foundation funding.

(Robinhood Foundation, which has given Turnaround for Children Inc. more than $1 million to “reach” kids in NYC, got a complete pass from 60 Minutes, which claimed in its latest rerun that Robinhood turned around the test scores in NYC.)

NOTHING could be further from the truth:

60 minutes failure on robinhood

Oh, OK, so you want an example of proficiency in what, Queens?

Here’s our third random sample – the Collaborative Arts Middle School:

turnaround nyc failure

So, there you have it, a representative sample of Turnaround for Children Inc.’s “successes” in the nation’s largest school districts.

On its website, Turnaround for Children Inc. explains the key to its, uh, failure:

Our Mission

Turnaround for Children, Inc. strives to fulfill the promise of public education by helping high-poverty, low-performing public schools create positive learning environments that foster healthy intellectual, social, and emotional growth in every student.

So, disastrous test results in Turnaround’s partner schools in NYC?

Is that what we call “Mission Accomplished?”

And just wait ’til this fall, when Turnaround gets its Mission Accomplished hands on schools in Newark, N.J.

With a track record like this, who can wait?

Turnaround for Children Inc. paid lobbyists $273,250 – and counting

turnaround check to lobbyists

Is this how Turnaround for Children Inc. reforms education – by buying its way into City Hall?

He got $174,000 from Turnaround for Children Inc.

Bill McCarthy of Bolton-St.Johns, LLC in Albany struck paydirt when he was hired by Turnaround for Children Inc. to target NYC agency budgets by cozying up to city councilors.

Turnaround wrote him checks for:

* $75,000 in 2009.

* $87,000 in 2010.

* $12,000 in 2011.

 Lobbyist Bill Lynch Associates, LLC in Manhattan was also invited to the party.

bill lynch

Lynch received a paltry $27,500 in 2009 by introducing Turnaround officials to NYC councilors.

http://www.nyc.gov/lobbyistsearch/search?client=Turnaround+for+Children%2C+Inc.  

And then we have the lobbyist-in-silhouette James F. Capalino who never saw a check he didn’t like.

james capalino mug

Turnaround wrote him checks for:

* $36,750 in 2007.

* $35,000 in 2008.

For that $71,750, the well-connected Capalino agreed to work his expensive charm on:

– NYC Department of Education

– Bronx Borough president

– NY City Council

The operative question is, what did Turnaround for Children Inc. expect for its $273,250?

Since Turnaround officials refuse to answer any questions, you will  have to speculate…

Here is a list of lobbyists Turnaround for Children hired in New York 2009-2011.

The $273,250 doesn’t even include the checks written to all of these folks, about whom we are now inquiring:

turnaround lobbyist list

Source: followthemoney.org

Turnaround for Children Inc., Campbell Brown: kissin’ cousins?

Image

By Ted Cohen

The top school official in a major American city as part of an education-reform initiative is bringing in yet another nonprofit foundation, yet as little is known about Turnaround for Children Inc. as is known about how it fits into Supt. Cami Anderson’s plan to modernize Newark, New Jersey’s schools.

Anderson refuses to respond to open requests for information, and Turnaround officials  – where the secretive ex-newsie Campbell Brown sleeps on the board (http://gawker.com/5936190/campbell-brown-is-incapable-of-understanding-the-concept-of-disclosure) – are equally evasive.

Brown’s lackings also caught the sharp eye of Karoli Kuns. (http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/campbell-brown-crawls-out-under-her-rock-sl)

Attempts to contact New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf have been met with similar silence.

Cami Anderson

chris cerf mug

Chris Cerf

As a longtime newspaper reporter, I find transparency hard to come by. Nonprofits should make transparency their middle name.

In fact, Guidestar.org is helping promote transparency, announcing recently its intent to “encourage nonprofit transparency on a national scale.”

A bit of history: Anderson arrived in New Jersey’s largest school district  in 2011. She brought with her an education-reform movement. The city’s public schools are among the lowest-performing in the state, even after the state government took over their management in 1995.

Although the school district continues to struggle with low high school-graduation rates and low standardized-test scores, the mayor of Newark, Cory Booker, insists, “Newark, New Jersey can become one of the first American cities to solve the crisis in public education.”This vision for better school district is also shared by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who made a $100 million donation to Newark Public Schools in 2010.

HuffPost’s Joy Resmovits called Newark  “a national test case for the fixing of troubled urban schools and the use of major philanthropic dollars in an educational system.”

Joy Resmovits

Now, Turnaround For Children is interviewing schools in Newark for September. What is Turnaround and what is its proposed role in Newark? The best source for information would be Turnaround, right?

Wrong.

Turnaround has refused to provide information about its failed foray into Orange schools and whether that experience foretells problems in Newark. That’s not the way to run a nonprofit. Obfuscation begets journalistic cynicism – and scrutiny.

Turnaround’s entry into the reform movement began with Orange, N.J., as well as New York City and Washington, D.C. But as soon as the Orange effort began, it failed, according to Turnaround’s nonprofit filing with the Internal Revenue Service.

Tax documents filed with the IRS by Turnaround – accessible through Guidestar.org – disclose the program’s unexpected suspension. The documents, a public record, also reveal that Turnaround was forced to return the remaining part of the grant that funded the program.

“Management decided to terminate its three-school program earlier than planned,” Turnaround officials told the IRS. In their IRS filing, Turnaround officials blamed the short-lived program’s demise on what they vaguely described as a “shift in organizational priorities.”

But officials failed to disclose what they meant by the change or who instigated it.

Turnaround officials say they suspended their request for the remaining funding they were to receive for the Orange project, but they made no mention of the amount of funding they had already received and the amount they were still due.

Turnaround officials issued a prepared statement defending their Orange pullout. “Our hope was to expand the partnership, to deliver a significant amount of professional development to teachers and to increase our engagement district-wide,” said Kate Felsen, vice president of communications. “Unfortunately, Orange Public Schools did not have the capacity to take on the professional development we had to offer during the 2011-12 year. For this reason, we ended our partnership amicably.”

Kate Felsen

Though Turnaround proudly announced the Orange project in its September 2010 newsletter, there is no evidence on the organization’s web site that Turnaround officials ever notified the public of the program’s suspension.

If Orange school officials are to blame for Turnaround’s failure in their schools, then they are apparently taking the accusations in stride. Orange Supt. Ronald Lee refused to respond to questions. He submitted a statement finally after receiving a formal open-records request.

Ronald Lee

He said, “Turnaround proposed to expand its program to a transformational model that encompassed academic, foundational and behavioral elements in the 2011-2012 school year. At the same time, the district was continuing or launching a number of significant initiatives to improve instruction and student outcomes. We mutually concluded that the district’s initiatives would require and deserved the full focus of the district staff, principals and teachers. Therefore, we discontinued the program in Orange at that time to allow these innovations to take hold.”

Felsen, too, will not go beyond her prepared statement. When asked who funded the Orange effort and who will be funding the Newark plan, Felsen replied, “You have my statement.”

More to the point, attempts by journalists to procure information from this so-called “transparent” group – as described by GuideStar.org – have been met with silence, stalling and arrogance.

To garner and cultivate pubic support, i.e., more dollars, nonprofits need to be open, accessible. Not hiding. What language do they understand – “lawsuit?”

Ted Cohen of Maine is a veteran newspaper and radio reporter who follows trending national issues. He can be reached at tedcohen@hotmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TedCohen1.