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NYC’s Jake Jacobs: Hillary’s Current Ed Advisor Was Behind NCLB?

March 9, 2016

The following post comes compliments of Jake Jacobs, New York City art teacher and proud Washington Post contributor.

jake jacobs 2  Jake Jacobs



Jake Jacobs

If you were shocked by the 2012 John Podesta/Jeb Bush video where the biggest Obama, Clinton and Bush fundraisers effectively called a truce over corporate education reform, be sitting for this one: Last June, Fortune magazine featured Ann O’Leary, “the wonk shaping Hillary’s plans for the country.”

In charge of economic and education issues for Hillary, O’Leary is an ivy educated lawyer and senior fellow at Center for American Progress (CAP) who served in Obama’s transition team and most recently worked for billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, a perennial Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegate and board member at CAP. From the article:

“O’Leary’s connection to the Clintons dates back to the ’90s, when she worked in the White House…O’Leary is a diehard policy wonk, especially keen on anything that affects families or education. As Clinton’s Senate aide in 2001, she was at the center of No Child Left Behind — a once popular education initiative that has since soured in the public mind.

“It was a really important moment,” she says of the law, which Ted Kennedy crafted and George W. Bush signed. “When you look back at what happened, this was serious, bipartisan, constructive work. We were committed to high standards and helping states get there.”

Implementation, she concedes, has been a rocky road — and she praises bipartisan reform proposals. On the newest flashpoint in education, Common Core, she notes that it was an initiative created by governors, not Washington, and notes that it has worked better in states like California, where cautious implementation preceded any focus on test-taking.”

O’Leary, like John Podesta, looks across the aisle to find agreement, for example on the issue of single-parent homes:

“…one place where she is staking out fresh ground..[t]he percent of children being raised by single parents at the middle and lower end of the income ladder…Conservatives have long cited research showing the link between family structure and income mobility. O’Leary gets this, and in our interview offered numbers to prove her point. “You will hear Hillary Clinton talk about this,” she says. “Even saying it out loud is important.”

THE SHELL GAME: O’Leary is co-founder of the Opportunity Institute, a nonprofit that seeks to promote legislation to help children and families from “cradle to grave.” Some goals seem noble, like parental leave and teen pregnancy prevention, but what about K-12 education?

Here it splinters into another organization called Partners for Each and Every Child (sound familiar?) and it gets reformy, looking for “strong policies” to improve “student outcomes”, taking aim at teachers, schools, families and communities. They talk about lobbying all 50 states to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and define Community Schools, providing “infrastructure” such as policy drafts, staff, research and communications, while the larger CAP octopus directs campaign cash, astroturfing and revolving door jobs.

THE MERRY-GO-ROUND: The “Partners” group itself is chock full of ex-Duncan aides, ex-Clinton administration officials and CAP associates, but in particular, key staffers from the US Dept. of Ed’s Civil Rights division, such as Molly Mauer, Guy Johnson and Andrew Amore.

This is very interesting in light of the recent battle over federally mandated annual tests in the recent ESSA law, where “civil rights groups” formed the supposed firewall for keeping annual tests, even after it became clear that the rank and file in these same groups opposed the tests. “Partners” touts their alliances with civil rights organizations, elected officials and state and local education officials, the type they indubitably hire after leaving office.

The funding for this group is no surprise, coming from the Gates, Carnegies, Hewletts and Ford foundations, but also from the AFT and NEA, meaning this is “teachers” money, used since at least 2013 as part of the CAP crusade to set up what Politico has called Hillary’s “policy shop in waiting.”

IT GETS WEIRDER: This part doesn’t involve education, but Ann O’Leary’s marriage to California Supreme Court judge Goodwin Liu became an issue when Hillary’s emails were released. They revealed that O’Leary asked Hillary in 2009 to get Obama to nominate her husband for the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS). Hillary did so, but had O’Leary write two sets of talking points for her, one meant for White House counsel painting Liu as “more liberal” while another set was sent to Sen. Feinstein making him sound “not too liberal”.

Liu’s 2010 nomination was withdrawn after a Republican filibuster, but this illustrates not only how super-tight Hillary is with O’Leary, but how much Hillary was actually influencing Obama right from the start.

Could O’Leary be on the short list for US Secretary of Education, seeing how John Podesta actually makes the determination? And how jarring is it that the unions have quietly been part of this?

(Click image to enlarge.)



  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Jake has done a wonderful job of investigating prospects for leadership in USDE if Hillary is elected. Podesta will play a key role. The funders are the usual suspects.

    The shell games are reaching epidemic proportions. I say this because I am reading Pandemic, a sobering and well-written study of denials, delays, and false premises in addressing epidemics. Much resonates with the work of private foundations–destroying public institutions while pretenfing to save them. The sweet sounding names for these shadowy networks of co-conspirators is part of the deception. They are intent on undermining democratic governance, pubic institutions, and the public welfare.

    Pandemic has a brief and devastating account of the role of the Gates and other foundations in undermining the ability of the World Health Organization to function. The WHO was starved for funds, turned to foundations, the foundations called the shots at WHO in exchange for that money. Gates in mentioned for ignoring the scientific consensus on what do to about malaria. The WHO was so politically compromised by foundation moneythat it could not respond to the Ebola crisis.

    Hope to meet Jake…policy wonks and investigative reporters who work in arts education are too rare.

  2. This is no surprise if you are aware of the decades long relationship between Eli Broad and the Clintons.
    “Will the real Hillary Clinton please stand up?”

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  1. Alternet Article Reports Confirms This Blogger’s Belief: “Ed Reform” is a Bipartisan Affair | Network Schools - Wayne Gersen

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