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Peter Cunningham Leaves EdPost CEO Position to… Citizen Stewart(?)

April 18, 2019

In 2014, billionaire Eli Broad approached former US ed sec Arne Duncan crony and assistant, Peter Cunningham, to create a multi-million-dollar-funded blog, Education Post.

New Orleans-based ed reformer, Christ Stewart (known as Citizen Stewart), was a founding member of EdPost; according to EdPost’s 2014, 2015, and 2016 tax forms (note that EdPost’s formal name is Results in Education Foundation, or RIEF), Stewart was compensated a total of $422,925 for 30 months at 40 hrs/wk in his role as “outreach and external affairs director.”

That is some blog.

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Chris Stewart

In October 2018, Cunningham became campaign manager for Chicago mayoral candidate, Bill Daley. There was a runoff, and Daley wasn’t part of it.

So, now what for Cunningham?

Not the CEO position of EdPost. Cunningham plans to remain on the EdPost board even as Chris Stewart becomes CEO.

In researching Chris Stewart’s EdPost history for this post, I compared his current EdPost bio with his EdPost bio from March 30, 2019.

One difference caught my attention: The current, “new EdPost CEO” bio omits info about Stewart’s blogging at “Citizen Education.”

From Stewart’s April 18, 2019, EdPost bio:

Chris blogs and tweets under the name Citizen Stewart. He is based in the Minneapolis area.

Compare to Stewart’s March 30, 2019, EdPost bio:

Chris blogs and tweets under the name Citizen Stewart and publishes at Citizen Education. He is based in the Minneapolis area.

Why drop the Citizen Education reference?

Well, one thought is that it might not look so good for the CEO of a blog that is paying one handsomely to be its CEO to be blogging elsewhere. (Note that as CEO of EdPost, Cunningham was paid almost $1M in compensation for 30 months at 40 hrs/wk.)

However, as I read one of Citizen Stewart’s posts, I thought that there might be another reason.

Consider this Stewart post dated July 31, 2018, and entitled, “Want More Black Males in Education? Stop Dragging the Ones Who Are Already There When They Disagree with Your Whack Ass.”

It just so happens that this post is Stewart’s reaction to my blog posts about for-profit SPEX’s special education contracts in Texas; SPEDx CEO is Richard Nyankori.

That’s right: According to Stewart, I am the one with the “whack ass.”

Congrats, EdPost, on your new CEO.

About Nyankori: An excerpt from my April 16, 2018, post, entitled, “For-Profit SPEDx’s End Game: Cut SPED Services for a Lower Bottom Line”:

SPEDx (aka Avenir Education) is a for-profit company that purports to “ensure a student’s disability status does not dictate their path to success in life.”

Its founder and CEO, Richard Nyankori, is a Teach for America (TFA) alum with no degrees or certification in special education or educational research. However, he was placed in charge of special education in DC by another former TFAer, former DC chancellor, Michelle Rhee.

SPEDx had a controversial, $4.4M no-bid contract with the Texas Education Agency (TEA), a contract that TEA canceled in December 2017, but not before it had paid SPEDx $2.2M.

Former TEA sped director Laurie Kash was fired from TEA via email on November 22, 2017, the day after she filed with the US Department of Education (USDOE) Office of Inspector General (OIG) a Request for Investigation regarding TEA’s no-bid contract with SPEDx.

And now, from Stewart’s post:

What would you think if I sent you a black candidate for an education project whose background included experience as a public school principal in two urban districts, a past position serving as the deputy chancellor of special education for the DC Public Schools; a member of several prestigious boards; a B.A in Sociology from Emory; a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction, an administrator’s certification; and a Ph.d in Educational Policy, Planning, and Administration from University of Maryland?

In Black America, we would call that a success, right?

What if on top of that background of achievement I also told you that you would never meet a sweeter person than this candidate?

Well, you’ve just met Richard Nyankori and having encountered him in networking circles the best I can describe him is to say he is a brilliant caramel coated man with a beefy frame, kind eyes, an easy smile, and a gentleman’s presence that can instantly set anyone at ease.

These details are important because the man you would see if you met him in person is an entirely Richard than the crass cartoon you’ll meet when he is described by Mercedes Schneider, a blogging teacher who routinely takes aim at those she considers to be enemies of public education.

In her view, Richard is one such enemy.

She wrote a blog post (no, I won’t link to her hot garbage of a blog) about Richard that flogs him as a greedy TFA-alum looking to make a fast buck off of K-12 education (Richard owns a start-up company that helps states and school districts understand their special education data).

Being educated, “beefy-framed,” and nice does not alter the fact that Nyankori has no SPED credentials; that he was indeed placed in charge of SPED in DC under a fellow TFAer without such credentials, and that he operates a SPED company that was awarded a questionable no-bid SPED contract in Texas.

In his “whack ass” post, Stewart fails to address these facts, instead opting to insinuate that my posts about Nyankori are nothing more than a white, middle-aged teacher-blogger railing on a successful black man.

If this is how Stewart responds to posts about ed-reformers under scrutiny when such ed-reformers are persons of color, then Cunningham and EdPost have a problem on their hands, one that bio-cleansing will likely fall short of remedying.

Education Post: Better Conversation, Unless I Take Issue with Your Whack Ass.

thinker facepalm

_____________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

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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.

5 Comments
  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Thank you Mercedes. The EdPost asked for this mean-spirited CEO.

  2. Christine Langhoff permalink

    Stewart’s cuckoo. On his watch Ed Post will be too. Peter Cunningham deserves such a comeuppance for the pain he has caused to so many. I have a clear memory of a parent in tears at the NPE conference in Raleigh (I think it was Rahleigh) during the session when Cunningham was interviewed by Jennifer Berkshire. The man told Cunningham that his endorsement of reformster policies had directly harmed his son. Cunningham shrugged it off as if to say no big deal. #Karma

  3. Jack permalink

    One of the recurring themes in Citizen Stewart’s writing is blatant, unapologetic “age-ism” when it comes to teachers. This is a pathology on his part.

    I wrote a response to corporate reformer “Citizen Stewart” pseudo-review of BACKPACK FULL OF CASH, and highlighted something that he once again just threw in there:

    Attempting to put down public school teachers. Stewart referred to them as “aging” as in “throngs of aging, unionized public school teachers.” (That’s in the 17th paragraph, about 2/3rds of the way through the piece)

    What’s up with that? I mean he’s black, so perhaps he should be a little more sensitive to stereotyping a certain group — in this case, older people.

    Here’s my response in the Ravitch blog COMMENTS section — the part referring to the “aging” slur:
    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
    JACK:

    “Public school teacher bashing (Why, they’re all “aging”, don’t you know? How dare they get old, and remain on the job as teachers?)

    ” … ”

    “(NOTE — in the next excerpt, Stewart’s age-ist pejorative description of all or most public school teachers:

    — “throngs of aging unionized teachers” —

    \WTF??!!!

    For one thing, what qualifies for “aging” in Stewart’s deranged mind? A teacher over 50? Over 40? Over 30? And so what if some teachers are older? Don’t they get better with experience?)
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
    Here’s the excerpt of my response in the Ravitch blog COMMENTS section — the part referring to the “aging” slur:
    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
    JACK: “Read this amazing screed — masquerading as a movie review —

    https://www.the74million.org/article/matt-damon-chose-private-school-for-his-kids-great-but-why-is-he-making-a-film-about-denying-school-choice-to-poor-families/

    by Citizen Stewart, and you can see all the rhetorical tricks that privatizers use are on display.

    “Divert and change the subject

    Public school teacher bashing (Why, they’re all “aging”, don’t you know? How dare they get old, and remain on the job as teachers?)

  4. dave permalink

    TEA’s regard toward special education is literally criminal – they secretly forced districts to bring their special education numbers down for a decade. why? purely to lower government spending. def lookin sideways at anyone getting involved w TEA’s special education wing

    read about it here, unbelievably messed up (and spurred a successful federal lawsuit against TEA): https://www.houstonchronicle.com/denied/

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