Ed Post Is Really RIEF. Time to Look Closer at RIEF’s Board.
In mid-2014, four entities united in order to form (and fund) a nonprofit, the Results in Education Foundation (RIEF). These four entities were former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Emerson Collective. As reported on the RIEF 2014 tax form, all four donated money totaling $5.5 million for that year.
Broad and Walton are foundations; Bloomberg is not identified as a foundation on the 2014 RIEF tax form, so he might have donated individually, and the Emerson Collective is an LLC (“limited liability company.”)
The president of RIEF is Obama-Duncan Chicago associate, Peter Cunningham.
The sole purpose of RIEF is to support the corporate reform communications vehicle, Education Post.
Regarding its role in supporting Ed Post, the Emerson Collective wished to remain anonymous. Since Emerson Collective is an LLC and not a nonprofit, it is not required to publicize the organizations or individuals it supports. It seems that the Emerson Collective is known for wanting to conceal its funding from public purview, as noted in this May 2013 New York Times post:
There is [a] story line… brought to light by the tale of Laurene Powell Jobs. She is the widow of Steve Jobs, one of the tech titans who received the most criticism for a lack of philanthropy. Yet for more than two decades, his family has been giving away money — anonymously.
“We’re really careful about amplifying the great work of others in every way that we can, and we don’t like attaching our names to things,” Ms. Powell Jobs said in an interview for a profile that Peter Lattman and I wrote in The New York Times last week.
One of the main ways she is able to do that is because of the way she has structured her organization, Emerson Collective. It is an LLC, like a small business, instead of a tax-exempt 501(c)(3), like a charitable organization or foundation. That means that Emerson can make grants, for-profit investments and political donations — and does not have to publicly report its donations as a foundation does. …
“Laurene is a private person, they are a humble family, and they have certainly been generous,” said Ted Mitchell, chief executive of NewSchools Venture Fund, where Ms. Powell Jobs serves on the board. “And I think that the fact that they’ve not needed to splash their name around speaks quite highly to their intense focus on the work.”
Five months after the above New York Times article was published, President Obama nominated Ted Mitchell as Under Secretary. Mitchell was confirmed in May 2014. Keep this in mind as you continue reading.
The Emerson Collective modesty narrative sounds appealing on the surface, but the reality is that Powell Jobs’ LLC is able to fly under the radar of public awareness regarding the causes it finances– and the people it allows to channel its cash and influence.
Thus, the Emerson Collective’s desire to remain anonymous could prompt an individual to try to conceal the official registered name of the nonprofit behind Education Post and instead promote the false message that Ed Post is the registered name of the nonprofit.
The Ed Post website falsely identifies Ed Post as a nonprofit even as it omits any reference to the legitimate name of the nonprofit behind Ed Post. I address this issue in this April 21, 2016, post in which I connect Ed Post to RIEF.
But now, RIEF has been discovered, and so, the public is able to see who is operating the actual nonprofit behind Ed Post.
In my April 21, 2016, post on RIEF, I note that the following individuals comprise the RIEF board:
- Peter Cunningham, president
- Kathleen McInerney, secretary/treasurer
- Bruce Reed, director
- Emma Bloomberg, director
- Marc Sternberg, director
- Russlynn Ali, director
For much of the remainder of this follow-up, I examine the RIEF board, which profoundly overlaps with Obama and USDOE.
The members of the RIEF board represent its four financial supporters– plus the Ed Post leader, Cunningham.
Kathleen McInerney is “an employee of Bloomberg’s longtime accountant, Martin Gellar.”
Bruce Reed was once president of the Broad Foundation (replaced in 2015 by Paul Pastorek)– and he has Obama connections:
Reed will remain as a consultant and senior adviser to the foundation until Aug. 31 and will continue as a member of the board of directors of the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems. Reed, a former assistant to President Obama and chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, was the foundation’s first president and was named to the position in November 2013.
Emma Bloomberg is Michael Bloomberg’s daughter.
Marc Sternberg is a Walton Foundation director, and he, too, has connections with Obama:
Marc Sternberg is director of the Walton Family Foundation’s Systemic K-12 Education Reform Focus Area, in which he leads the foundation’s initiatives to improve K-12 education by empowering parents with quality options. Before joining Walton, Mr. Sternberg served as senior deputy chancellor at the New York City Department of Education. Mr. Sternberg’s experience in education began with Teach For America, serving as a corps member at a South Bronx middle school. He later served as founding principal of the Bronx Lab School, one of the city’s top-performing open enrollment schools. In 2009, he was selected as one of 15 White House Fellows to serve a one-year post in the Obama administration with the U.S. Department of Education.
It is Sternberg who is quoted as saying, “we take no pleasure in this,” in this April 21, 2016, Catalyst Chicago article about the Walton Foundation’s “pulling out” of funding charter schools in Chicago. The article continues by noting,
Walton’s withdrawal is just one of the signs that Chicago’s once-rapidly expanding charter sector is facing a harder sell in an increasingly hostile political climate.
Next, there’s Russlynn Ali. Ali is the managing director of the Emerson Collective’s education fund. Ali is also connected to Broad. And guess what? She, too, has connections to the Obama administration. From Inside Philanthropy:
PROFILE: Russlynn Ali manages grant making at the Emerson Collective, LLC, an organization quietly established by Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs, more than a decade ago. According to their website, Emerson’s concerns divide into three categories: Justice, Students, and Innovation.” Overseeing the “Students” branch of things is Ali, whose rightful claim to professional fame is her impressive stint in the Obama administration.
Ali earned her Bachelor’s from American University and a JD from Northwestern. She worked as an attorney at several California-based law firms and has also taught the subject at UC Davis and University of Southern California.
In the non-profit sector, she’s done policy research for the Broad Foundation, won the Broad Prize in Education, and served on several review boards of education programs such as College Track, Great Schools and Institute for College Access and Success. The Aspen Institute has awarded Ali their New Schools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Fellowship. She has also served as vice president of Washington, DC’s Education Trust, was the founding managing director of Education Trust West, and the president’s liaison at the Children’s Defense Fund.
Working in the government sector, Ali first served on former California Governor Schwarzenegger’s Advisory Committee on Education Excellence. Then the truly big guy came ‘a knocking.
President Obama appointed her as US Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in May of 2009. There, Ali worked as “US Secretary of Education [Arne] Duncan’s primary adviser on civil rights and [was] responsible for enforcing US civil rights laws as they pertain to education.” She made sure the “nation’s schools, colleges and universities [received] federal funding [that did] not engage in discriminatory conduct related to race, sex, disability or age,” according to the Department of Ed’s site. She also directed an army of around 600 attorneys to this end.
The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education says that during Ali’s time at the Office for Civil Rights, she directed their focus more toward discrimination complaints, a topic that did not receive adequate attention under the aegis of former president George Bush. She also “issued new guidance for how colleges and universities should respond to incidents of sexual assault.”
Laurene Powell Jobs hired Ali to oversee grant making at Emerson Collective in 2012. In terms of what she’s funding there, the collective is discrete. Frying Pan News reported a recent donation of $1.2 million from Emerson Collective to Parent Revolution a parent organized group seeking to gain more leverage over the education policy that impacts their children. The LA Times says they gave $200,000 in the Coalition for School Reform, an organization committed to the improvement of public schools in the LA area. Contra Costa Times reported a donation of $40,000 from Emerson Collective to The Santa Clara County Schools PAC.
What all of these organizations share in common is that they strongly support charter schools. Ali also isn’t afraid to dive into the discussion regarding teacher tenure.
But Emerson Collective does not accept unsolicited requests. As they state it: “Actively seeking out individuals and organizations that are doing extraordinary work is a large part of our mission. However, only by discovering these people in the real world and seeing their ideas in their truest form, can we properly evaluate opportunities.”
As it turns out, Ali was the USDOE Office for Civil Rights (OCR) official who wrote the two controversial “Dear Colleague” letters that wrongly interpret OCR’s “guidance” for postsecondary institutions regarding bullying and sexual harassment as legally binding.
To round out the RIEF board, note that Cunningham is also connected to the Obama administration:
Peter Cunningham is the Executive Director of Education Post, a Chicago-based non-profit communications organization promoting education reform. He recently served as Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach in the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama Administration’s first term. Prior to that he worked with Arne Duncan when he was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. Peter was President of Cunningham Communications, a Chicago-based communications company serving public, private and non-profit sector clients. He also is affiliated with Whiteboard Advisors, a DC-based education policy and research firm. For several years Peter worked with the political consulting firm Axelrod and Associates and also was a speechwriter and senior advisor in the administration of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Add to the above RIEF board Obama/USDOE connections this Ed Post’s former policy director, Ann Whalen, who has Chicago roots and is currently with the Obama administration:
Ann Whalen is senior advisor to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Prior to returning to the U.S. Department of Education, she served as the director of policy for Education Post.
Whalen has served more than five years in the Obama Administration with the U.S. Department of Education. At the department, Ann was director of the Implementation and Support Unit, providing technical assistance to states and school districts as they rolled out new reform programs to improve student results. In that role, she managed a 35-member team and a portfolio of over $50 billion in grant programs. She also served as a special assistant to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, helping shape administration policy across a range of issues. She also worked with Duncan at Chicago Public Schools for six years and served in the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development under the administration of former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Whalen is the one who issued this warning letter to state superintendents on December 22, 2015, regarding delivering on federally mandated testing. In her letter, Whalen makes it clear that she plans to either withhold or redirect NCLB funding for states that did not have that 95 percent of students tested in 2014-15:
If a State with participation rates below 95% in the 2014−2015 school year fails to assess at least 95% of its students on the statewide assessment in the 2015−2016 school year, ED will take one or more of the following actions: (1) withhold Title I, Part A State administrative funds; (2) place the State’s Title I, Part A grant on high-risk status and direct the State to use a portion of its Title I State administrative funds to address low participation rates; or (3) withhold or redirect Title VI State assessment funds.
In her December 22, 2015, letter, Whalen suggests that states take action to penalize districts if they don’t deliver that 95 percent for spring 2016 testing.
And, finally, as noted in my April 21, 2016, post, according to this March 20, 2016, EdSurge article, RIEF funder, the Emerson Collective, has just hired former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as a managing partner to ostensibly round up the Chicago youth not attending school– youth that have fallen through the cracks of the Chicago schools disruption that Duncan helped proliferate in his time as Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO and from his Obama-buddy perch in the White House. (Note that the CPS chaos has been exacerbated by yet another Obama pal, Rahm Emanuel, who left his position as White House chief of staff in 2010 to become a Chicago mayor specializing in closing community schools and opening charters.)
No wonder the Waltons only donated $250,000. Given that Bloomberg is now Independent after being both Democrat then Republican, the Waltons are the RIEF, I mean, Ed Post token Republicans.
At its RIEF center, Ed Post is little more than enmeshed USDOE.
Coming June 2016 from TC Press:
Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.
She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.
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