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Peter Cunningham’s Education Post Chaperoned by Broad Foundation

October 13, 2017

On September 01, 2014, Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post officially introduced Peter Cunningham’s Education Post to the world. Below is an excerpt from Layton’s article:

Into the fray steps Education Post, a nonprofit group that plans to launch Tuesday with the aim of encouraging a more “respectful” and fact-based national discussion about the challenges of public education, and possible solutions.

Peter Cunningham, the former communications guru for U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, is leading the organization, which is backed with initial grants totaling $12 million from the Broad Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Walton Family Foundation and an anonymous donor.

On April 21, 2016, I wrote a post based on the first tax form filed by the Results in Education Foundation (RIEF), which is the official nonprofit name behind Education Post. Arne Duncan’s former speech writer, Peter Cunningham, leads EdPost.

In that post, I examined the EdPost board and its donors, including mystery donor, Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective. Below (and above, as it happens) is an excerpt:

RIEF is “in the care of” Geller and Co., New York, NY.

The five highest compensated RIEF employees:

  • Tracy Barber, messaging and program director, $89,010
  • Michael Vaughn, communication director, $74,357
  • Antonia Whalen, policy director, $68,356
  • John Gordon Wright, social media director, $65,507
  • Christopher Stewart, outreach and external affairs director, $46,299

And, of course, there is Peter Cunningham, president, $190,700 [plus $11,250 in deferred compensation].

Note that the above compensation was for at most approximately 7 1/2 months.

RIEF board members (aside from Cunningham):

It seems that Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad has played a notably dominant role in EdPost. Cunningham said the following to education journalist Jennifer Berkshire in a May 2015 interview:

When I was asked to create this organization [Education Post]—it wasn’t my idea; I was initially approached by Broad—it was specifically because a lot of reform leaders felt like they were being piled on and that no one would come to their defense. They said somebody just needs to help right the ship here. There was a broad feeling that the anti-reform community was very effective at piling on and that no one was organizing that on our side. There was unequivocally a call to create a community of voices that would rise to the defense of people pushing reform who felt like they were isolated and alone. 

According to RIEF’s 2015 tax form, Eli Broad did not donate money to EdPost in 2015. However, in a strange move to arguably exercise power within RIEF, his foundation does have two representatives on the RIEF board.

One of those individuals, Bruce Reed, was also on the RIEF board in 2014. However, Reed was not designated as “director (The Broad Foundation),” as he is on RIEF’s 2015 tax return.

Former Louisiana state superintendent Paul Pastorek now also sits on the RIEF board. Like Reed, Pastorek also has the designation, “director (The Broad Foundation).” It seems that Reed could have been replaced by Pastorek mid-year on the RIEF board given Reed’s altered role with Broad mid-year in 2015. (As per July 2015 EdWeek, Reed stepped down as board pres but remained on Broad board.) However, RIEF’s 2015 tax form includes no indicator that such is the case. There is a footnote:

Please note that these managers served pursuant to an agreement between Results in Education Foundation and the Broad Foundation.

It is true that the other donors have their reps on the RIEF board (Sternberg is from WFF; Emma Bloomberg is Michael Bloomberg’s daughter; Ali is with Emerson Collective)– which goes to show that Cunningham and his EdPost belong to RIEF donors. However, with its particularly declared presence, of two board members, it seems that Broad has gone above and beyond in assuring its influence over EdPost.

Broad seems to really want to dominate the EdPost “conversation.”

2015 contributions to RIEF totaled $2.3 million, with the Emerson Collective and Walton Family Foundation (WFF) each ponying up $1 million and New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg tossing in the remaining $284,000.

(In 2014, Bloomberg dispensed the largest amount of cash: $3.2 million, with Broad in second place at $1.5 million. Emerson Collective gave $500,000, and WFF, $250,000.)

Also, Cunningham garnered a raise, from $201,950 [$190,700 plus $11,250 deferred comp.] for 7.5 months in 2014 to $368,138 [$327,844 plus $40,294] for 12 months in 2015, which reflects an overall raise of $45,018 and a raise of $22,724 in non-deferred compensation.

On October 12, 2017, Eli Broad announced his plans to retire from his foundation. However, as the New York Times notes, Broad’s exit has been a “slow-motion fade,” with Broad phasing himself out of the Broad Foundation’s work for years now. Still, his foundation continues to make its market-based push for school reform abundantly clear– even placing its board members on other ed reform nonprofits that it funds.

money fishhook

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

3 Comments
  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Thank you for the meticulous research. The pernicious BROAD influence will continue even if he is less active.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider: Who Funds Education Post? | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. Charter-Promoter, Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), Is Really Third Way Foundation, Inc. | deutsch29

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