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

Just what is the NTU’s…

“Education Resource Foundation?”

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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.

-Editor

Now, Shure’s essay, which broke on the web under Ed Notes Online http://bit.ly/2cnIlje:

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 http://bit.ly/2cAI5QW.

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. Opensecrets.org 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,watchdog.org 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.

 

 

 

 

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Education Week’s $13 million funders now hearing our plea for transparency; Cohen seeking to ‘tear down this wall;’ Ms. Edwards, grant us editorial balance on your Turnaround for Children Inc. whitewash

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Virginia $253,000-a-year Edwards

Prez of Education Week

What perspective is Ed Week attempting to silence?

Does Ed Week support the education-reformer view that ordinary citizens and taxpayers should not participate in the national-education bet?

Instead we should follow the long-debated, top-down assembly-line format whereby we each deal only with our individual widgets?

Select machers such as Vander Ark and Hess are allowed to pontificate at will. No balance is needed since they are in the know.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rick_hess_straight_up/2013/05/newarks_cami_anderson_speaks_some_simple_truths.html?r=931541873

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We have emailed all 16 philanthropies supporting EdWeek appealing to them to urge EdWeek to publish our op ed or letter disclosing the truth about Turnaround for Children Inc.’s failures.

ed week email

ed week funders

Top salaries at EdWeek.

ed week sals==

Pamela Cantor, the prexy of Turnaround for Children Inc., likes Vander Ark’s one-sided editorials.
But test scores of children studying in TFC partner schools are plummeting.

Vander Ark’s version of creative writing:

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

cohen and vander ark go back and forth

Here’s our version – of the truth:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1e9iQEnkZ7VJD_HWz1LUOW68EPmEzcS_v6Xs8_owS5co/edit?usp=sharing

Match made in heaven – Cantor and Vander Ark.

cantor and vander ark

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EdWeek is making so much money it is now charging teachers – the ones whose jobs they are after – for articles.

ed week charging teachers

Can ‘Turnaround for Children’ friends help Cami get her bonus?

cami anderson

The Newark Teachers Union is circulating an on-line petition – on MoveOn.org – requesting that Superintendent Cami Anderson not be given a $50,000 bonus after cutting Newark school budgets by over $50 million.

The petition, addressed to Gov. Chris Christie and Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, is not restricted to teacher signators.

https://newarkschoolsforsale.wordpress.com/no-cami-bonus-petition-why-gave-her-a-50000-bonus

The following email is being sent out on behalf of
John M. Abeigon, NTU Director of Organization
Today New Jersey Spotlight reported that the Christie Administration is considering giving as much as a $50,000 bonus to Newark’s controversial superintendent in the same year she’s forced over $50 million in cuts on Newark schools. [1]Tell Education Commissioner Cerf: No bonus for Cami Anderson while Newark’s schools are on the chopping block.

This spring Christie-appointed Superintendent Cami Anderson pushed through a school budget that cut $56 million from Newark schools, slashing funding for some schools by as much as 15%. [2] In response nearly 1,000 Newark students walked out of class and marched on a meeting of the New Jersey Assembly Budget Committee to demand the funds their schools are entitled to under state law.But in the end Anderson and Christie prevailed; no additional funds were offered to Newark. That the Christie Administration can now consider giving $50,000 to Newark’s superintendent while schools have been closed and programs are on the chopping block is simply obscene.Tell Commissioner Cerf that Cami Anderson shouldn’t get a bonus while Newark schools bleed.
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Commissioner Chris Cerf

While Chris Christie and Commissioner Cerf may be happy with Anderson’s willingness to carry out their attacks on Newark public schools, Newark’s community is not.

This year the Newark Board of Education gave Anderson a vote of no confidence and the Newark City Council unanimously called for a moratorium on her future proposals
.Newark residents realize their public schools are being hollowed out from within.
Instead of working to improve public education, the Christie Administration is pushing a pro-charter, pro-voucher agenda that will be great for some people’s pocketbooks but totally inadequate to meet the needs of students.
They’re even on record as saying that they haven’t done a good enough job.
When Newark residents demanded that the state give up its stranglehold on Newark schools and give control back to the community, Commissioner Cerf shoo’d them off and said that Newark school performance wasn’t where it needed to be. [3]
But if school performance is lagging, how can they possibly justify giving the person they charged with improving it a massive bonus?
This is cronyism at its very worst, and it’s an insult to Newark students, educators, and residents
John M. Abeigon
Director of Organization
Sources
[1] Mooney, John. “Newark’s school chief is up for her next performance bonus.” New Jersey Spotlight, July 22, 2013. http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/13/07/21/newark-s-school-chief-is-up-for-her-next-performance-bonus/
[2] “The backstory: Why Newark’s high school students walked out.” New Jersey Spotlight, April 12, 2013. http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/13/04/11/op-ed-the-backstory-why-newark-s-high-school-students-walked-out/
[3] “Acting Commissioner dramatically lowers state monitoring scores.” The Education Law Center, July 5, 2012. http://www.edlawcenter.org/news/archives/other-issues/acting-commissioner-dramatically-lowers-newarks-state-monitoring-scores.html
Mike Maillaro
Director of Research and Communication
Newark Teachers Union
 
“Stay strong, stay focused, stay united”

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

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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

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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.