ChartersWork.org &co.

Robert Lewis of WNYC in New York published a report today about the money behind Families for Excellent Schools, a non profit organizing pro-charter advertisements, rallies for pro-charter governor Andrew Cuomo, and a website called ChartersWork.org. The multi-million-dollar ad campaign began, Lewis reports, just after Bill deBlasio, on record as seeking to slow the boom in charter schools, was elected mayor of New York City.

The Wall-Street-backed Families for Excellent Schools shares an address with the New York branch of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst. And Lewis discovered that their funding – which is partly concealed by a the organization’s 501(c)4 status – includes the following:

$700,000 from the Walton family, $200,000 each from the Broad and the Lucia Buck foundations, and $100,000 from the Moriah fund, all private financiers of the charter movement.

Pearson Data Troubles

Education Week published a print story on March 5 about technical failures in a student data system being implemented in North Carolina. The state’s old system was purchased by Pearson Inc. and phased out. Pearson’s system has failed in ways that prevented school systems from sending out transcripts for graduating seniors applying to colleges. A key problem is the Pearson system’s inability to include on transcripts mid-year grades for year-long courses.

How many of the most basic high school subjects are year-long classes? English, math, foreign language, social studies all come to mind. And yet the new, supposedly improved, data system did not factor in the ability to handle this fundamental fact of high school life! Elementary school teachers also found that grades entered were lost and the system regularly froze, delaying report cards in many areas of the state.

Pearson is one of the two major education-oriented corporations the U.S. government entrusted with testing for the Common Core State Standards. And, as all who have been following that testing situation know, Pearson’s testing has resulted upheavals in schools, mishandling of test scores, and lawsuits resulting in millions of dollars in fines – chump change for a corporation raking in billions each year from education-related endeavors. (See, e.g., Answer Sheet)

Pearson and other private education corporations are already pervasive in the running of our public and public charter schools. And corporate-backed organizations like Families for Excellent Schools continue to fight for more privatization in our schools.

Will the education corporations involved – Pearson, K12, McGraw Hill and others – soon join Bank of America and J.P. Morgan as too big to fail?