Veteran teacher to union: Defend us – or we all succumb to Turnaround’s ilk

Just what is the NTU’s…

“Education Resource Foundation?”


Abigail Shure

Longtime Newark teacher Abigail Shure argues that if the union used teachers’ contributed funds for their intended purpose – defending embattled teachers – rather than for lobbying, public education would benefit.

Shure’s triggerpoint was the Newark Teachers Union’s crying poverty – creating a questionable “foundation,” the details of which remain murky and mysterious – while teachers fight their own battles without union backing.

If the forces trying to defenestrate public education – most notably Turnaround for Children Inc. – prevail, it will be thanks to a misdirected union.


Now, Shure’s essay, which broke on the web under Ed Notes Online

By Abigail Shure

The Newark Teachers Union (NTU) an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) opened a gofundme.comaccount as first reported on Bob Braun’s Ledger

Donated funds are to be funneled through ERC Foundation. Repeated Google searches, however, have unearthed no information on the mysterious charity. Requests for clarification from the NTU have not been returned.

To make matters worse, the AFT is flush with cash. totaled up $1,273,694 in 2016 AFT federal campaign contributions. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton raked in $22,880 while former Democratic candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, got a measly $8,229.  Unfortunate U.S. Sen. Corey Booker, D-NJ was only granted $15.

Back in 2015, detailed AFT donations to Clinton affiliates as $250,000 to Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Foundation, $250,000 to Clinton Global Initiative and $100,000 American Bridge 21st Century (a Clinton allied research group).

The AFT has plenty of money to spend on political candidates and politically aligned organizations with questionable agendas in regard to the future of public school education, whereas the teachers the union purports to represent have to resort to begging.






Newark teachers: ‘Get Turnaround off our back – now.’

newark teachers overtime2

Newark teachers say they’ve had it up to here – and now they’re crying foul over what they say would be $7-an-hour overtime.

newark teachers overtime joins the Turnaround for Children Inc. coverup; refuses allowing response to taxpayer-funded blog

$377,000-a-year David Osher

So Turnaround for Children Inc. now has another Teddy Bear kissing its face.

David Osher, the $377,000-a-year vice president of American Institutes for Research, published a glowing piece on Turnaround on AIR’s “Great Teachers and Leaders” blog.

And guess who posted his lapdog piece on her website: Pammy Cantor, president of Turnaround for Children!

“Luckily,” Osher writes, “…Turnaround for Children, helped put the South Bronx school on the right track.”

Oh, really?

Apparently he missed this report of the South Bronx school’s test-score results since Turnaround went into that school.

south bronx

So, what to do?

We have submitted an op-ed to AIR to point out what a fraud Osher’s piece offers the reading public – to say nothing of the donors who blindly think their money is helping at-risk kids in poor school districts.

(Here is our response:

But AIR has ignored our emails.

We have filed initial appeals of their ignorings, pointing out that their website says they are taxpayer funded:

The Center on Great Teachers and Leaders is based at American Institutes for Research and funded through a cooperative agreement by the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

We are patiently awaiting a response from:

pat gurin mug

Patricia Gurin, $50,000-a-year AIR board chair

Her website:

We have also filed a complaint with the Inspector General’s Office of the U.S. Department of Education:

Inspector General Tighe:

I am interested in your opening an investigation into lack of public editorial access to The Center on Great Teachers and Leaders of the American Institutes for Research.

AIR has refused to respond to or print my response to a blog article it posted on its website that praises the work of Turnaround for Children Inc. in spite of publicly documented evidence that Turnaround for Children’s involvement in at-risk schools is not only not as successful as claimed, but simply is falling short of its publicized goals.

AIR’s Center on Great Teachers and Leaders website says: “The Center on Great Teachers and Leaders is based at American Institutes for Research and funded through a cooperative agreement by the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education.”

Because this is a publicly funded endeavor, it is required to provide access to anyone wishing to offer competing editorial viewpoints.

By failing to do so it is in violation of the tenets of the agreement with the DOE.

Its website further states: “The contents of this website were developed under a cooperative agreement (S283B120021) from the U.S. Department of Education. Information presented in this site does not necessarily represent the policies of the Department of Education and does not imply endorsement by the federal government.”

Even though the agreement “does not imply endorsement by the federal government,” that disclaimer is insufficient to excuse or insulate the American Institutes for Research from offering editorial space to opposing viewpoints.

The Inspector General

Inspector General Kathleen Tighe

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.



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.




‘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:

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?


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 – 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 Follow him on Twitter: @Tedcohen1.

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


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.’s staff: ‘We’re overworked!’

Kate Felsen

Why does Turnaround for Children Inc. have its own staff publicist?

So it can fritter away donors’ dollars by hiring outside contractors to do the “work” that would otherwise presumably be done by Kate Felsen, who is Turnaround’s mouthpiece-in-chief.

Case in point:

When Turnaround won a $332,500 state, taxpayer-funded grant to promote its alleged work with public-school students at risk, it hired

to drum up a press release announcing the multi-thousand-dollar hand-out.
Here is the press release showing evidence of Turnaround’s profligate spending habits.
turnaround press release
That press release was written by Kerri Lyon, a well-recompensed senior vice president at SKDKnickerbocker:
Kerri Lyon

But the real question is, how much was Lyon paid to create a useless press release?

After all, just two days before, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had issued his own press release announcing the same contract, as you can see here:

cuomo press release turnaround
So we have Turnaround spending a taxpayer grant to hire someone to write a press release that the governor had already issued and which Turnaround itself could have cribbed at a fraction of the cost – at the hand of Turnaround flak Kate Felsen?
And this is the same Turnaround organization that claims to have the financial-management skills to run a reform-education program in Newark’s schools?
Speaking of which, Felsen is so busy farming her work out to private contractors that she hasn’t found the time to answer our basic question:
Which schools will Turnaround be operating in come September?
We’ll get back to you when Felsen comes up with an answer.
Meanwhile, if you are wondering, “who the hell is SKDKnickerbocker?” here is what says about that company:
As we’ve reported, SKDKnickerbocker is led by a team of former Democratic operatives and key White House figures.
But instead of promoting a progressive agenda, or even an Obama agenda, these consultants score huge contracts by helping corporate interests lobby for policies that are not in line with the public interest. Many SKDKnickerbocker employees, including Anita Dunn, a former White House communications director, are also frequent White House visitors.

We’ve compiled a partial list of SKDKnickerbocker’s clients.

Since the firm refuses to register as an ordinary lobbying firm, we don’t know their full roster of clients:

-– SKDKnickerbocker was hired by Kaplan Education to block Obama’s reforms on for-profit college companies, an industry plagued by low quality education, false promises to students, and fraudulent business practices.

-– SKDKnickerbocker was hired to push for billions in tax breaks for already profitable corporations. As Bloomberg reported, SKDKnickerbocker manages a lobbying campaign called “Win America,” an effort by companies like Google and Pfizer to receive hundreds of billions in tax breaks on profits made overseas.

-– SKDKnickerbocker was hired by a coalition of food manufacturers to fight the Obama administration’s proposals on food nutrition standards. As the Washington Post reported, the firms paying Dunn include General Mills and PepsiCo.

– SKDKnickerbocker consults for Students First, a lobbying group aimed at destroying collective bargaining, and replacing public education with a mix of charters, private schools, and online learning companies.

According to documents revealed by the blog At The Chalk Face, Students First helped craft bills in Michigan to break teachers unions by severely limiting collective bargaining.

– SKDKnickerbocker previously worked with the Association of American Railroads, a group representing large railroad companies. When the railroad industry was in a pitched battle with their respective labor unions, SKDKnickberbocker produced ads for the railroad lobby.

– See more at:

Turnaround for Children Inc. now censoring its Facebook page; no more public posting allowed


Turnaround for Children Inc. – which is taking over Newark schools this fall – has suddenly changed its Facebook page to silence public comment.

Turnaround is now prohibiting public comment on its FB page, and it has silenced its private-message button.

The new policy comes in the immediate wake of critical comments a newspaper reporter posted on Turnaround’s Facebook page:

This $13 million tax-exempt group is headed by Pam Cantor, whose top priority appears to be allowing her fans to view her birthday mug on Turnaround’s FB page.

Let’s all wish Cantor a happy birthday.

(She may even censor birthday wishes. Who knows where this will go next?)