As MA Question 2 Funding Nears $32 Million, DFER Files a New Ballot Committee
On November 08, 2016, Massachusetts voters will be deciding whether or not to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state. The ballot measure, known as Question 2, would open the door for “up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools each year.”
As of October 20, 2016, several ballot committees have filed funding reports with the Massachusetts Office of campaign and Political Finance (OCPF).
To date, there are five ballot committees associated with Question 2.
Four ballot committees are in support of raising the charter cap. As of October 20, 2016, together they have raised roughly $19.3 million (accounting for the fact that Yes on 2 turned around and gave its money to Campaign for Fair Access, and Expanding Educational Opportunities gave most of its money to Great Schools Massachusetts, and Campaign for Fair Access received $100k from Great Schools and then turned around and gave it back. I know. It can be confusing.):
The four committees promoting Question 2:
- Yes on 2: $710,000
- Campaign for Fair Access to Quality Public Schools: $2,418,518
- Great Schools Massachusetts: $15,620,448
- Expanding Educational Opportunities: $575,000
The one committee opposing Question 2:
- Save Our Public Schools: $12,533,843
In sum, the five ballot committees have raised roughly $19.3 million on Massachusetts’ Question 2 as of September 09, 2016. (Note: I accounted for money sent from one committee to another. Had I not accounted for such overlap, the total would look like $20.5 million.)
Heads up, MA: Another pro-charter ballot committee has been added:
On October 17, 2016, Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) National Political Director, Patrick van Keerbergen, is named on a new, pro-charter ballot committee, Advancing Obama’s Legacy on Charter Schools.
Given the recent chastisement of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) on USDOE’s reckless charter funding, naming a ballot committee “advancing Obama’s legacy on charter schools” does nothing to inspire MA public confidence that the committee obviously expects to purchase.
Van Keerbergen is listed as the new ballot committee’s treasurer. Its chair is listed as Frank Perullo. (“Frank is the CEO of the Novus Group, and he leads our firm’s polling and strategic consulting practices.”)
Frank Perullo also filed the ballot committee, Yes on 2, which received only two contributions: His in-state $100 “to fund account,” and Arkansas billionaire Alice Walton’s contribution of $710,000.
Thus, it is pretty clear that the ballot committee, Advancing Obama’s Legacy on Charter Schools has been created by Perullo to receive DFER-funneled money.
The committee has no funds in it yet, but stay tuned.
Interestingly, the filing of this DFER ballot committee comes two days after the NAACP ratified its charter school moratorium. (DFER director Shavar Jeffries’ outcry against the NAACP is linked in the right margin of Van Keerbergen’s bio page.)
New York money continues to predominately push charter expansion in Massachusetts:
To date, the largest contributor to in promoting charter expansion in Massachusetts (via the ballot committee, Great Schools Massachusetts) is New York-based lobbying nonprofit, Families for Excellent Schools (FES) Advocacy.
New York-based FES Advocacy has spent $11.2 million to expand charter schools in Massachusetts. That’s 58 percent of the pro-charter Q2 money ($11.2M /$19.3M) and 35 percent of the total Q2 money raised to date ($11.2M /$31.9M).
The largest contributor to anti-charter Save Our Public Schools is the National Education Association (Washington, DC) at $3 million, which represents 9 percent of the total Q2 money raised thus far ($3M /$31.9M).
That’s right: MA Q2 has almost $32 million in funding behind it so far. And with only weeks to go until the November 8th vote, DFER has decided to pump its own charter-expanding money into the mix.
It appears that the NAACP charter moratorium has made “yes on 2” that much more of a corporate reform trophy.