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A Great Minds (Common Core, Inc.) History: Eureka Math, Wit & Wisdom, and More.

On October 03, 2019, I had a request on my blog from a commenter who asked if I “could do an investigation on this Wit & Wisdom curriculum we’re being forced to use.” In this case, “we” refers to Louisiana teachers. (The Louisiana Department of Education has a contract for Wit & Wisdom, effective 07/01/16 – 06/30/22.)

This is an extensive dive. Do make yourself comfortable.

Wit & Wisdom is a curricular product of Great Minds, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that also operates an LLC (limited liability company) (see”great minds” using this DC business license search engine). Great Minds also owns Eureka Math.

On its website, Great Minds identifies itself as a nonprofit founded in 2008. Here is the their “about” spiel:

ABOUT GREAT MINDS

A group of education leaders founded the non-profit Great Minds in 2008 to define and encourage content-rich comprehensive education for all American schoolchildren. In pursuit of that mission, Great Minds brings schoolteachers together in collaboration with scholars to craft exemplary instructional materials and share them with the field. Great Minds’ Eureka Math curriculum has won accolades at the state and national levels, and is the only comprehensive math curriculum aligned to the Common Core State Standards at every grade. The non profit also just released Wit & Wisdom, a new English curriculum that taps the power of literature, history and science to meet the expectations of the new standards.

Actually, in 2008, there was no nonprofit named Great Minds, and there wouldn’t be until 2015. The nonprofit formed in 2008 was named Common Core, Inc., which just happens to share a name with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that did not yet exist in 2008 (though, as Washington Post reporter Lyndsey Layton publicized in June 2014,  in the summer of 2008, CCSS “lead writer” David Coleman and Council of Chief State School Officers exec director Gene Wilhoit apporached billionaire Bill Gates and asked him to bankroll CCSS).

Common Core, Inc., began with $285,200 in contributions and grants, and it was a nonprofit focused on the idea of a liberal education, including standards and assessments on the national level. The organization’s purpose, taken from the Common Core, Inc., 2008 tax return:

Creating and disseminating research on the state of liberal education. Research and formulate studies assessing the inclusion of liberal arts in state, national and independent standards, state and federal assessments, state and local curricula and high school graduation requirements, and teacher education and certification requirements.

Lynne Munson, former deputy chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, served as Common Core, Inc., president and executive director ($41,250 for 40hrs/wk and the only compensated member of the board). Too, at the creation of Common Core, Inc., in 2008, education historian and former assistant secretary of education, Diane Ravitch, was on the Common Core, Inc., board as a co-chair. The other co-chair was Antonia Cortese, who at the time was secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers.)

In 2009, Common Core, Inc., reported $200,000 in revenue (contributions and grants). Same mission; same board.

Now, in June 2010, the CCSS were officially finished (see the press release on the Gates Foundation site, the CCSS website, and the US Department of Ed (USDOE) website).

Even though Common Core, Inc., did not mention CCSS by name on its 2010 tax form, Common Core, Inc., revenue jumped to almost $1M that year (all but $10K in the form of contributions and grants), and the Common Core, Inc., mission was slightly modified so that the nonprofit’s work “included” but was “not limited to information on liberal arts and science education programs and as a clearing-house for data on academic curricula and best practices in the field of education.”

In September 2010, Diane Ravitch left Common Core, Inc.

In 2010, Common Core, Inc., also paid DC-based education consultant Sheila Byrd $113,000 for “curriculum mapping/pro.manager/writer.” Byrd was an external reviewer of CCSS ELA standards. (In 2015, Byrd reviewed the EngageNY ELA CCSS curriculum. Note that Eureka Math was first known as EngageNY; in 2012 Common Core, Inc. contracted to create EngageNY’s math curriculum. I wrote about EngageNY/Eureka Math and its connection to Louisiana and to CCSS lead math writer, Phil Daro, in this September 2014 post.)

So many connections. But back to Common Core, Inc., progressing from 2010 to 2011:

In 2011, Common Core, Inc., did not fare as well with revenue (total revenue at $427K, less than half of the $1M received in 2010). Most of its revenue was spent on the liberal arts education focus; however, for the first time, CCSS was mentioned by name (and as a source of generating revenue, albeit next to nothing: $22K generated after expending $21K), as follows:

Conducted a series of professional development workshops intended to guide teachers and district/school leaders in their implementation of the Common Core State Standards and Common Core’s cirriculum (sp.) maps. In these sessions, the team facilitated the exploration of the new standards and the curriculum maps; prepared teachers to develop lessons and assessments based on the maps and modeled instructional practices.

On Schedule O of the 2011 Common Core, Inc., tax form, the curriculum maps are referred to as specifically related to ELA and are listed as a “new service” of Common Core, Inc.

And then came 2012. Common Core, Inc., reported receiving three contracts from the New York Department of Education “to create a PreK–12 mathematics curriculum to be hosted on the state’s EngageNY website. Common Core [Inc.] makes PDF files containing that work available free of charge.” (Note that the bottom of the page offers the purchase of that product, Eureka Math.):

Sample Math Curriculum

In 2012, Common Core won three contracts from the New York State Education Department [NYSED] to create a PreK–12 mathematics curriculum to be hosted on the state’s EngageNY website. Common Core makes PDF files containing that work available free of charge.

Get the most with Eureka Math
Eureka Math represents an extension of the work we did for the teachers of New York State. We encourage districts to consider purchasing for their teachers access to the full Eureka Math website, which enhances the PreK–12 mathematics curriculum with extensive professional development supports:

  • Embedded “just-in-time” videos that demonstrate classroom practices.
  • Convenient navigational tools that help teachers identify and remediate knowledge gaps, implement RTI tiers, and provide support for students at a variety of levels.

To purchase access to Eureka Math, click here.

On its 2012 tax form, Common Core, Inc., revenue jumped to $3.3M (including $3M in contributions and grants; $130K in program service revenue, and $150K in “other revenue”).

Cost of the CCSS workshops rose from $21K in 2011 to $383K in 2012, and the term “Common Core State Standards” was replaced with “Common Core curriculum materials.” Given that at the time, the name of the nonprofit was Common Core, Inc., removal of the words “state standards” creates ambiguity. Note that the filing date for Common Core, Inc.,’s 2012 tax form is November 25, 2013, right about the time that the “Common Core rebrand” became a tactic for quelling public discontent. Just an observation. However, the name of the nonprofit itself would remain Common Core, Inc., for three more years.

Back to Common Core, Inc., 2012 tax information (with some asides):

Barbara Davidson is listed as “associate director of programs.” (In 2016, Davidson became the president of StandardsWork (see here also), an organization founded in 1992 by CCSS ELA “lead writer” Susan Pimentel.)

Finally, in 2012, Common Core, Inc., contracted with Louisiana math teacher Nell McAnelly for $132,300 as a “project leader” to develop EngageNY/Eureka math. From a 2016 Great Minds lifetime service award press release about McAnelly:

McAnelly first joined Great Minds (then known as Common Core) in 2011 as part of a small team of educators and mathematicians who came together to develop a Pre-K to 12 math curriculum carefully aligned to rigorous new college- and career-ready standards. A year later, she became project director of the effort. The following year, the curriculum was delivered and EngageNY Math (aka Eureka Math) was born.

Within 24 months, more than 30 million downloads of the curriculum had been recorded. A 2016 RAND Corporation study found Eureka Math/EngageNY to be the most widely used math curriculum in the country.

Prior to working with Great Minds, McAnelly taught math at the high school and university level for three decades. She continues advising the Gordon A. Cain Center for STEM Literacy at Louisiana State University, which she helped to transform into a major education research and outreach hub during her 30 years of teaching and service at LSU.

In a March 2014 Associated Press article, Eureka Math is billed as being “LSU developed Eureka Math.” The problem with the article is that it fails to mention that McAnelly and others writing Eureka Math were doing so for DC-based Common Core, Inc., and that Common Core, Inc., was under contract with the NY to produce EngageNY/Eureka Math. The way that the article reads could incorrectly lead one to believe that Eureka Math begins and ends with LSU and that Eureka Math, by implication, belongs to Louisiana.

If such were true, then Louisiana would not be paying Great Minds, LLC, of DC, for Eureka Math.

Back to the Common Core, Inc., tax forms:

In 2013, Common Core, Inc., revenue shot up to $9.6M, mostly in “government grants” ($8.7M), but also from “membership dues” ($436K). Of the $9.6M in total revenue, $6.4M was expended on developing curriculum, and $870K was used for professional development workshops related to curriculum.

Robin Ramos (Los Angeles) is identified as a “lead writer,” turns out, for a component of EngageNY/Eureka math ($142K). Nell McAnelly (Baton Rouge, LA) continues as “project leader” (EngageNY/Eureka math) ($135K).

(An aside: LSU math professor Scott Baldridge is apparently “the” lead writer of EngageNY/Eureka Math; Ramos was lead writer for a portion of it. See NY math teacher Gary Rubinstein’s 2015 take on what he calls “You Reeka Math.”)

2014. Name of org was still Common Core, Inc. Revenue rose to $16.5M, $4.7M of which was in “government grants.” Too, Common Core, Inc., reported $1M in “license income” and $7M in “royalties.” Finally, the professional workshops were drawing a profit; the $1.4M cost was less than the $2.2M revenue.

Don’t think “nonprofit” means an organization generates no revenue.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett (who pleaded guilty in 2015 of receiving kickbacks and bribes) was board chair (Bennett had been on the Common Core, Inc., board since 2008.)

Nell McAnelly was treasurer ($94K for 5hrs/wk). Lorraine Griffith (identified on prior tax forms as a curriculum writer) was listed as a “trustee” ($100K for 2hrs/wk). Too, Common Core, Inc., began paying for “branding” ($147K) and “marketing services” ($146K). And Sheila Byrd was back for “curriculum development–English” ($118K).

2015. Common Core, Inc., changed its name to Great Minds. In August 2015, Common Core-holdout and 2016 presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, called Common Core “poisonous.” Not sure if the name change was influenced by an attempt to avoid the words, “common core,” but the now-Great Minds nonprofit was making notable money. Program service revenue (the money generated by Great Minds products and services) ballooned from $3.2M in 2014 to $20M in 2015. At the same time, contributions and grants dropped, from $6.2M to $1.5M.

Eureka Math and Wit & Wisdom were clearly identified as Great Minds’ two 2015 “program service accomplishments.” Eureka Math’s description:

Eureka Math is a preK-12 curriculum that helps students to understand math deeply and to connect it to the real world, preparing them to solve problems they haven’t encountered before. The team of teachers and mathemeticians who created Eureka believe that it’s not enough for students to memorize a process for solving a problem, they need to know why that process works. Eureka uses clear models and proven instructional methods to help students become not just literate, but fluent in math. The curriculum is available free of charge for use by any educator on our website, greatminds.org.

In 2015, Eureka Math cost $7.8M but generated $18.1M– even as it is advertised as “available free of charge for use by any educator on our website, greatminds.org.”

“Free on our website” is producing big bucks somewhere (in, for example, state contracts).

The newer of the two Great Minds curricular offerings, Wit & Wisdom, cost Great Minds $2.9M in 2015 but generated only $97K:

Wit & Wisdom is a K-8 English curriculum based on authentic texts of the highest quality. Students use these texts at every turn– to learn, and eventually master, essential reading, writing, speaking, listening, grammar, and vocabulary skills. Instead of Basals, students read books they love to build knowledge of important topics and master literacy skills. All students read and discuss grade-level texts, with suggestions for support included at key moments throughout each lesson.

In 2015, Nell McAnelly replaced Barbara Byrd-Bennett as board chair ($89K for 10hrs/wk). William Kelly became treasurer ($100K for 5hrs/wk); “trustee” Lorraine Griffith took a cut in pay: only $93K for 2hrs/wk. And president/CEO Lynne Munson earned $317K for 40hrs/wk.

A number of others were also handsomely compensated, including “deputy director” Barbara Davidson ($191K for 40hrs/wk) and “lead writer” Robin Ramos ($157K for 40hrs/wk).

In 2015, Great Minds’ “branding and marketing” cost $1.2M.

That $18.2M in program revenue includes $13.3M in royalties, $2.3M in subscriptions, $1.4M in professional development workshops, and $1.2M in direct book sales. Almost all of Great Minds’ 2015 revenue was associated with Eureka Math.

2016. Great Minds’ revenue skyrocketed yet again, up to $44.2M. All but $100K was program service revenue:

  • Royalties: $22.7M
  • Direct Book Sales: $14.7M
  • Professional Development Workshop: $4.2M
  • Subscriptions: $2.6M

Eureka Math continued to be the major money-maker; it cost $17.8M but generated $42.6M. However, in 2016, Wit & Wisdom profits were in the hole for $4M; cost was $5.5M, yet revenue was only $1.5M.

Menwhile, Great Minds moved on to the next curricular venture, conducting “extensive planning for a new science curriculum,” for a 2016 cost of $60K.

Board chair McAnally was at $90K (10hrs/wk). President/executive director Lynne Munson is at $350K (40hrs/wk). Fifteen other individuals are listed as making between $126K and $216K as officers, key employees, or highest-compensated employees.

Furthermore, in 2016, Great Minds the nonprofit established Great Minds LLC (Schedule R). According to Nonprofit Law Blog, there are a number of reasons that a nonproft might create an associated LLC, including protecting the nonprofit from risks associated with assets or activities of the LLC or operating a business not substantially related to its tax-exempt purpose without risking revocation of the nonprofit’s tax-exempt status.

I think the liability protection is the chief reason. From Schedule O of the Great Minds 2017 tax form:

On January 1, 2017, Great Minds entered into a bill of sale, assignment and assumption agreement with Great Minds LLC, which is a disregarded entity (not separate from its owner) of Great Minds. The agreement transferred certain operating activities, including the marketing, selling and implementation of all the current and future products of Great Minds, to Great Minds LLC. Additionally, Great Minds transferred inventory, tangible property and transferable contract rights as outlined in the agreement to Great Minds LLC. The transfer did not include some intellectual property, nontransferable insurance plans or the line of credit.

In 2017, Great Minds yet again increased its program service revenue: $66.8M. No money derived from contributions and grants. Direct sales of books and curriculum soared:

  • Direct sales of books and curriculum: $55M
  • Professional Development: $6M
  • Digital Income: $3.2M
  • Royalty Income: $2.6M

The organization’s mission still states that liberal arts education is its aim.

As to “program accomplishments”:

  • Eureka Math: Cost is $25.6M; revenue is $64.6M, for a profit of $39M
  • Wit & Wisdom: Cost is $3.2M; revenue is $2.2M, for a loss of $1M
  • Science curriculum under development: Cost is $46.6K

Board chair McAnelly was paid $82K for 10hrs/wk.

President/exec dir Munson’s total compensation was $487K (40hrs/wk).

Based on Great Minds’ 2017 tax info, here’s the latest word:

Great Minds is raking it in big time on Eureka Math and losing money on Wit & Wisdom, and seemingly stalling on its science curriculum development.

Eureka Math is carrying Great Minds.

What a boon.

money tree

_____________________________________________________________

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

.

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.

Read more…

It’s Not a Flash Drive: Vaping News Teachers and Parents Can Use

I began my teaching career in 1991. When I think about my contemporary classroom experience and consider my professional world decades ago, I find myself often thinking, “Well, I didn’t see that coming.”

Case in point: Vaping.

Twenty-eight years ago, I never would have imagined that my classroom responsibilities would include actively watching for students to try to inhale concentrated nictotine vapor (laced with other chemicals) using a device at best the size of my index finger– and which easily resembles a flash drive.

This is Juul, the latest in electronic cigarettes. The device operates on a rechargeable battery; it heats up a pod of “juice” that turns into a vapor, ready for inhaling.

IMG_1579

“Juul Starter Kit”/ juul.com

Juul devices can recharge using a computer USB, and since the Juul already resembles a flash drive, it takes a careful eye to discern when a student who is working at a school computer station might also be using that opportunity to charge a Juul.

Vaping in class is as easy as bending over one’s bookbag to ostensibly search for a pencil, or seeming to wipe one’s face with one’s sleeve, or appearing to wipe one’s nose with a tissue.

Chemical inhaled, chemical exhaled. Snap of a finger. Blink of an eye.

What a win for the tobacco industry! Since there is no smoke, only a vapor, imagine how much more teens will use this device, stealthily, in plain sight, in a split second. And the marketing win does not stop there. Vaping devices are being marketed as tobacco product “harm reduction.”

Why, I can even purchase youth-enticing fruit-flavored vaping products– and all I have to do to “prove” I am 21 or “legal smoking age” is click a button on a website prior to making the purchase.

Of course, online sites like Altria (producer of Juul e-vapor devices) offer campaigns against underage use of tobacco and vaping products. However, the big question is whether Juul and others are intentionally marketing their products to underaged buyers.

On October 02, 2019, US District Judge Sarah Vance ruled that a number of suits against Juul Labs, Inc., related to marketing, sales, and product liability of its e-cig, Juul, will be combined and will be heard in the Northern District of California, San Francisco, to be exact– which is where Juul is located, and which is what Juul wanted.

From Judge Vance’s transfer order:

Common defendant Juul Labs, Inc. (JLI) moves under 28 U.S.C. § 1407 to centralize this litigation in the Northern District of California or the District of New Jersey. The
litigation consists of the ten actions listed on the attached Schedule A, five in the Northern District of California, two in the Middle District of Alabama, and one each in the Middle District of Florida, the Southern District of Florida, and the Southern District of New York. The Panel has been notified of more than forty potentially related actions.

The actions in this litigation involve allegations that JLI has marketed its JUUL nicotine deliveryproducts in a manner designed to attract minors, that JLI’s marketing misrepresents or omits that JUUL products are more potent and addictive than cigarettes, that JUUL products are defective and unreasonably dangerous due to their attractiveness to minors, and that JLI promotes nicotine addiction. The actions include both putative class actions and individual personal injury cases. In the briefing to the Panel, a number of responding plaintiffs argued that the Panel should create two MDLs  (Multidistrict litigations) – one for the putative class actions in the Northern District of California, and a second for the individual actions in the District of New Jersey. The plaintiffs who first advocated that position 2 stated at oral argument that they now support centralization of all actions in a single MDL. None of the other plaintiffs who filed briefs in favor of a two-MDL approach presented oral argument. All other responding parties support centralization of all related actions in one MDL, but they disagree on an appropriate transferee district. Suggested districts include the Northern District of California, the Eastern District of Louisiana, the District of Maryland, and the District of New Jersey.

On the basis of the papers filed and the hearing session held, we find that these actions involve common questions of fact, and that centralization – of all actions – in the Northern District of California will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation. These actions share multiple factual issues concerning the development, manufacture, labeling, and marketing of JUUL products, and the alleged risks posed by use of those products. Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery, the possibility of
inconsistent rulings on class certification… and conserve judicial and party resources.

We select the Northern District of California as the transferee district. JLI is headquartered in that district, and it represents that most of the key evidence and witnesses are located there. Five constituent actions, including the first-filed case, are pending in the Northern District of California, as are several tag-alongs. Judge William H. Orrick III, to whom we assign the litigation, is an experienced transferee judge. He has been presiding over most of the California actions since they were filed and already has ruled on two motions to dismiss. We are confident that he will steer this litigation on a prudent course.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the actions listed on Schedule A and pending outside the Northern District of California are transferred to the Northern District of California, and, with the consent of that court, assigned to the Honorable William H. Orrick III for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings.

On October 03, 2019, EdWeek reports additional, potential litigation as two Kansas school districts “have vowed to sue Juul Labs Inc. and other companies in the e-cigarette industry, alleging that vaping is harming their students and disrupting their schools to the point that the districts may recover damages”:

The Goddard and Olathe districts have not filed their lawsuits yet, but resolutions adopted in recent weeks by their school boards authorizing such legal action may be the tip of the iceberg. A Kansas City, Mo., law firm working with both districts is actively recruiting other districts to join the effort. …

The contemplated legal actions bear a resemblance to lawsuits filed against pharmaceutical companies and others responsible for opioid medications.

And on October 02, 2019, vaping continued to be in the news in New Jersey as its vaping task force released a report offering suggestions on how to confront the issue in the Garden State. A bit from the October 04, 2019, NJ Spotlight:

As concerns continue to mount nationwide about the health effects of vape use, Gov. Phil Murphy outlined a number of regulatory and legislative steps — like banning all flavored products — he believes New Jersey should take to reduce youth access to e-cigarettes.

Several state lawmakers reiterated their support for his key recommendations, which were contained in a report issued Thursday by a task force Murphy impaneled three weeks ago. The report also calls for blocking the sale of clothing that conceals these devices, new regulatory requirements for those that sell e-cigarettes, and a greater public and private collaboration to track and respond to health problems that result.

On October 03, 2019, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) updated its detailed and informative page, entitled, “Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping.” Some excerpts:

CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state and local health departments, and other clinical and public health partners are investigating a multistate outbreak of lung injury associated with use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products.  

What We Know

  • As of October 1, 2019, 1,080* lung injury cases associated with using e-cigarette, or vaping, products have been reported to CDC from 48 states and 1 U.S. territory.
  • Eighteen deaths have been confirmed in 15 states.
  • All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette, or vaping, products.
  • Most patients report a history of using THC-containing products. The latest national and regional findings suggest products containing THC play a role in the outbreak.
  • Approximately 70% of patients are male.
  • Approximately 80% of patients are under 35 years old.
    • 16% of patients are under 18 years old
    • 21% of patients are 18 to 20 years old

What We Don’t Know

  • The specific chemical exposure(s) causing lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use, or vaping, remains unknown at this time.
  • No single product or substance has been linked to all lung injury cases.
    • The outbreak is occurring in the context of a dynamic marketplace for e-cigarette, or vaping, products, which may have a mix of ingredients, complex packaging and supply chains, and include potentially illicit substances.
    • Users may not know what is in their e-cigarette or e-liquid solutions. Many of the products and substances can be modified by suppliers or users. They can be obtained from stores, online retailers, from informal sources (e.g. friends, family members), or “off the street.”
  • More information is needed to know whether one or more e-cigarette or vaping products, substances, or brands is responsible for the outbreak.

The CDC page also offers vaping-related recommendations, key facts, outbreak information (updated weekly), and details on CDC efforts.

On October 04, 2019, Governor Kate Brown of Oregon announced a Temporary ban on flavored vaping products. As Oregon Public Broadcasting reports, Brown’s executive order “lasts for six months and calls for state agencies to develop a plan for warning labels, ingredient disclosures, product safety testing and a campaign to discourage vaping.”

Meanwhile, back at the schoolhouse (and homefront):

In order to better recognize and confront vaping issues on campusand at home, teachers, administrators, other school personnel, and parents would do well to become familiar with vaping devices like Juul.

Knowledge is power.

Don’t be duped into thinking that Juul you just glimpsed is just a flash drive.

This 7 1/2-Minute video about the Juul starter kit might help. (I noticed the video has a disclaimer that it is for ages 18 and over, but, as is true of online sites selling vaping products, no means of enforcement. I also noticed advertisement of the various flavors and even tech support and device guarantee.)

________________________________________________________________________

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

.

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.

Peter Greene: Betsy DeVos Gets Kellyanne Conway to Help Push a $5B Voucher Program

Peter Greene is a retired Pennsylvania teacher who contributes education-related articles to Forbes magazine. I find his writing style both informative and engaging.

Today, I share with my readers excerpts from Greene’s October 02, 2019, piece, entitled, “Betsy DeVos Enlists the Help of Kelyanne Conway and American Enterprise Institute to Sell $5 Billion School Choice Program.”

School choice is DeVos’ raison d’etre.

The sale is not going well.

From Greene’s article:

On Tuesday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway sat down with Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute to make one more pitch for DeVos’s Education Freedom Scholarships. The program seems unlikely to succeed on the federal level.

What Is She Selling?

The EFS are what’s known as a tax credit scholarship. Several states have them, and they work like this: a donor gives money to a scholarship organization, then that program issues a scholarship for a student to attend a school, while the government credits some portion of the donation against the donor’s tax bill. In the case of DeVos’s program, the amount would be 100%. If I donate $100,000 to a scholarship organization, I pay $100,000 less in federal taxes.

What Are The Problems With Her Program?

DeVos has been plugging the program with variations of the following quote from Tuesday’s discussion:

“Our Education Freedom Scholarships proposal…doesn’t grow the government bureaucracy one tiny bit…It doesn’t impose any new requirements on states or on families. It doesn’t take a single dollar from public school students, and it doesn’t spend a single dollar of government money. And it doesn’t entangle schools with federal strings or stifling red tape. In fact, it can’t. And that’s by design.”

None of these statements are accurate. The program would certainly not grow the government in a let’s-add-a-whole-new-bureau way, but it would be a government program requiring, at a bare minimum, someone to handle the paperwork. Families would have to apply for the scholarships, and because they would have to deal with the scholarship organization, there would be red tape. …

As for the oft-repeated assertion that this will not “spend a single dollar of government money,” that is technically true (if we ignore the administrative costs). Since the scholarship money will never make it to the government coffers, it will never become “government money.” … It may not spend government money, but it will certainly cost the government money.

There is another issue with tax credit scholarships. … It creates a whole new avenue to make private schools even more private.

Greene offers more in his article. The full piece is worth the read.

Betsy DeVos 2

Betsy DeVos

__________________________________________________________________________

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

.

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.

Education Reform Now: Manufacturing Grass Roots Support for La. BESE Candidates Castille and Orange-Jones

DC/New-York-based Education Reform Now (ERN) is a 501c3 nonprofit associated with Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). Both are led by Shavar Jeffries (see here and here).

ERN advertises itself as “a national think tank and advocacy organization.”

The “advocacy” comes from an associated 501c4 (lobbying nonprofit), ERN Advocacy.

“Public school choice” is a major DFER/ERN/ERN Advocacy push, and DFER is open about actively promoting its priorities at the federal and state levels.

In Louisiana’s 2019 state board (BESE) elections, ERN Advocacy is supporting two candidates: Kira Orange-Jones (Dist 2) and Preston Castille (Dist 8) (see here also).

Castille is a Baton Rouge lawyer who also happens to be Immediate Past Chairman of the Board of Directors of New Schools for Baton Rouge (NSBR) and Chairman of the Board for Helix charter schools. (Aside: Another BESE candidate, Ronnie Morris of District 6, is also connected to a recently-approved BASIS charter school in Baton Rouge as its treasurer.)

Castille’s time on NSBR board was shared with Louisiana businessman Lane Grigsby, whose recently-disbanded Empower Louisiana PAC funneled $3M in out-of-state billionaire cash into Louisiana’s 2015 BESE race.

It’s a small corporate ed reform world, after all.

ERN Advocacy’s other BESE prize, Kira Orange-Jones, is a Teach for America (TFA) executive director who is married to former New Mexico acting chancellor, Christopher Ruszkowski.

First elected to BESE in 2011, Orange-Jones has trouble attending BESE meetings, keeping her address straight, and submitting timely ethics filings. Sloppy at best; deceptive at worst.

According to its 09/12/19 La. campaign finance filing, ERN Advocacy is also supporting a number of other candidates in Louisiana’s October 12, 2019, election. For Castille, Orange-Jones, and these others running for election in October 2019, New-York-based ERN Advocacy has donated $185K.

The NY-based, corporate-ed-reform entity is the sole donor to its ERN Advocacy PAC in Louisiana.

Some ERN Advocacy spending highlights for Castille and Orange-Jones:

  • In an classic corporate-ed-reform style, ERN Advocacy used its NY money to pay Chicago-based JBC Campaigns LLC over $100K for “canvassing and grass roots consulting” for Castille ($50K) and Orange-Jones ($52K).
  • Encintas, CA-based Carr Marketing received $4,400 for “persuasion calls” on behalf of Castille and Orange-Jones.
  • ERN Advocacy also paid $700 to Clifton Consulting (Austin, TX) for “communications training” for Castille.

Manufactured grass roots brought to you by Loads of Cash from Not Here.

Vote informed, Louisiana.

Rotten apple,isolated on white with clipping path.

________________________________________________________________________

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

.

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.

Stand for Children: Using Its Oregon Money to Influence Louisiana’s 2019 BESE Election

I have been watching for out-of-state money influencing Louisiana’s October 2019 state board of ed (BESE) elections.

On its 09/10/19 filing, one PAC, Stand for Children LA IEC, reported $420K in contributions; it reported spending $168K on six BESE candidates:

  • James Garvey (Dist 1)
  • Sandy Holloway (Dist 3)
  • Ashley Ellis (Dist 5)
  • Ronnie Morris (Dist 6)
  • Holly Boffy (Dist 7)
  • Preston Castille (Dist 8)

The report includes $192K in contributions first reported on this filing. All of the money came from Stand for Children’s national office in Portland, Oregon.

Not one dollar came from a Louisiana contributor.

Some background on Stand for Children and its presence in Louisiana politics:

Oregon-based Stand for Children has three PACs on file in Louisiana:

The last on the list, Stand for Children LA IEC, is the primary PAC in usage. However, according to its 09/10/19 filing, Stand for Children LA PAC has $60K, all from Stand for Children in Oregon, and all expressly for supporting BESE incumbent Holly Boffy (Dist 7).

All three Stand for Children LA PACs are almost exclusively operated using money coming from Stand for Children’s national office in Portland, Oregon.

Stand for Children operates its state branches from its national perch in Oregon, as attested to by statements such as the following from its 2017-18 tax form:

Expenses $439,818: STAND INDIANA CREATED A NEW STAFF POSITION OF FIELD DIRECTOR AND RAN AN EXTENSIVE VOTER OUTREACH AND CANVASSING CAMPAIGN THROUGHOUT THE SPRING AND SUMMER OF 2018 IN PREPARATION FOR SUPPORTING 2 REFERENDA FOR INDIANAPOLIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS (1 OPERATING AND 1 CAPITAL).

Expenses $331,988: STAND WASHINGTON LED A COALITION OF ORGANIZATIONS, PARENTS, AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS TO EDUCATE LAWMAKERS AND THE PUBLIC AND ADVOCATE FOR PUBLIC AND POLITICAL SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION TO PASS A HIGH SCHOOL SUCCESS PACKAGE. THE LEGISLATION DID NOT PASS DURING THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION.

Expenses $1,762,001: STAND OPERATES PROGRAMS IN 7 ADDITIONAL STATES COLORADO, ILLINOIS, LOUISIANA, MASSACHUSETTS, OKLAHOMA, OREGON, AND TENNESSEE.

Since 2012, hundreds of thousands of dollars has flowed into Louisiana elections from this Portland, Oregon, ed-reform organization, and when I examined the campaign finance filings for these three PACs, I discovered only two Louisiana contributors to one of the PACs, the Stand for Children LA PAC:

  • Stephen Rosenthal; Total contribution $30K (10-2012: $10K; 10-2015: $15K; 10-2016: $5K)
  • Richard Reilly: 11-2013: $10K

Rosenthal is the brother of “mother of New Orleans Recovery School District,” former BESE member, Leslie Jacobs.

Manufactured grass-roots.

I wrote about Stand for Children (SFC) in my first book, A Chronicle of Echoes (see chapter 19). SFC began in Oregon in 1996 and has planted itself in nine states since.

In 2011, SFC co-founder, Jonah Edelman, publicly bragged about his efforts to prevent Chicago teachers from striking because SFC successfully pushed for legislation requiring a 75% of union members to approve a strike. (Despite Edelman’s SFC maneuvering, in January 2012, nearly 90% of Chicago teachers voted to authorize a strike.)

SFC is anti-union, pro-Common Core, pro-school choice—usual corporate-ed-reform fare. As for some of its major money: Since 2010, the Walton Family Foundation has funded SFC (via the SFC Leadership Center$4.1M, with $400,000 specifically earmarked for Louisiana.

Then, there’s the Gates funding.

Since 2005, the Gates Foundation has funded SFC $20.1M, with $3.2M earmarked in July 2012 to support the effective teaching work underway as well as to strengthen the capacity of their national office to deliver state of the art organizing programs to other state affiliates throughout the country.”

Some other Gates-SFC “let’s build some grass roots” highlights:

  • In October 2013, $880K to support a cohort of school district superintendents to advocate for improving teaching, learning, and results in Louisiana public schools
  • November 2013: $751K to support public understanding and successful implementation of college and career ready standards
  • October 2014: $2.6M to support Common Core implementation and teacher effectiveness programs
  • October 2015: $4.3M to support capacity building and increased public will around Common Core standards and aligned assessments in four states, as well as positive teacher effectiveness policy changes
  • November 2017: $1.3M to support capacity building and increased public will around high quality standards and aligned assessments

For more on SFC and its funders, see this ProPublica link.

Back to BESE:

On its Louisiana site, SFC advertises its BESE picks (which includes Tony Davis, who is unopposed in District 4, and Kira Orange-Jones, who SFC has apparently not earmarked for support using its Oregon money as of 09/10/19.)

In Louisiana, SFC advertises its process for supporting BESE candidates:

Electing Bold Leaders

Stand for Children Louisiana’s mission is to ensure that all kids, regardless of their background, graduate from high school prepared for, and with access to, a college education. In Louisiana, too many kids don’t make it to graduation with the skills they need to be successful in life. That is why Stand members are committed to working to elect leaders who are deeply committed to improving educational opportunities for children and who make decisions in the best interests of the children they are elected to serve.

Stand for Children Louisiana is committed to utilizing a robust and transparent member endorsement process in order to support those candidates who best stand for the values and ideals espoused by Stand For Children.

The Process

All candidates running for critical school board seats were sent comprehensive questionnaires and given adequate time to respond and complete.

Upon receiving the completed questionnaires, Stand’s Endorsement Committee reviewed each candidate’s responses, bios and relevant voting records, if available. Those candidates who returned completed questionnaires were invited to participate in an in-person interview with Endorsement Committee Members. Endorsement Committee members were able to make their decisions based on each candidate’s interview, questionnaire responses and relevant experience or voting record. Final endorsement decisions for each candidate were based on the below criteria.

Candidate Criteria

  • Issue Alignment: They show a commitment to raising achievement for all students, increasing family and community involvement, improving school funding, and ensuring our schools have effective principals and teachers. If the candidate is an incumbent, they have a strong track record on improving education.
  • Strong Personal Character: They have a vision and make clear commitments to improving education or have a proven record of bold, innovative leadership on student-centered policies. They show bold leadership, strive for consensus, but are willing to support potentially unpopular policy changes if necessary to get results for children.
  • Viability: They have a clear and viable strategy for winning their race.

It all sounds so locally-driven, so grass-rootsy.

It’s probably best to not mention that SFC in Oregon finances the show.

Where-Is-The-Best-Place-To-Hide-Money-At-Home

____________________________________________________________________________

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

.

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.

 

“Important Parent Meeting” About College Funding, Yet Sponsor Withholds Identity from Mailer

On September 13, 2019, I received a mailer that at first glance appeared to be one that my southern Louisiana school district might send: No frills; just an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of white paper, xeroxed ad folded three times. However, in the place of the return address was written, “Important Parent Meeting.” No address, obviously a means of getting people to open and read the mailer. This would be unusual for our district, which identified itself in the return address as the sender of mail. Still, I thought, it could be the district.

Except for the Cleveland, Ohio, postal permit.

IMG_1576 (1)

When I opened the mailer, the first words at the top, in large type, were, “Free College Workshop.” As I continued to read, I realized that I was being invited to a meeting requiring a reservation for attendance and promising lots of “FREE” help with college financial aid, including learning

  • How to send your child to a private college for less than a state school
  • How to create a plan to pay for college in an economy without relying on 529 plans, expensive private student loans or raiding your retirement accounts
  • How to lower your “out of pocket” costs and get the maximum amount of financial aid from each school
  • How to increase your college-related tax deductions and tax credits

Sounds great!

To seal the deal regarding the marvels of this *FREE College Funding Workshop,” at the bottom of the flier were several supposed testimonials:

“Guessing I’ll gain thousands of dollars of financial aid just from what I learned in the first 30 minutes.” –Robert T, Parent of High School Junior

“Opened my eyes to look at colleges we thought were out of our price range.” –John S., Parent of High School Junior

“Extremely informative presentation– clear, concise and easy to understand.” –Emily W., Parent of High School Senior

“Where were you when I sent my first kid to college?” –Jeffrey W., Parent of High School Sophomore

Lots of words on this mailer.

Lots of enticing promises.

Not one hint of who sent it. Not even a “sponsored by” in the finest of print.

IMG_1577

Someone wanted me to trust him/her with my financial planning without trusting me to make an informed decision about who, exactly, was asking to handle those finances.

That really bugged me.

I went to the online reservation site, mylocatevent.org,  to see if it identified the sponsor of the event, the only identifier I discovered was in the url once I entered the RSVP code:

http://www.mylocalevent.org/rsvp-events/nick-sept-26/

Whoever “Nick” was, this was his event.

I decided to contact place where the event was to be held, the Covington Firehouse Event Center, for information about the “FREE College Workshop” event sponsor.

I found the phone number for the reservations host, which led to an email address.

On September 20, 2019, I sent the following email to City of Covington facilities director, Amy Tucker:

Hi, Amy.

I live in Madisonville, and I last week, I received an invitation to attend an event to be held at the Covington Firehouse Event Center on Thursday, September 26, 2019, at 6:30 p.m..

The mailout only indicates that this is a “free college workshop,” but it includes no information about who is hosting the event.

I was hoping you might be able to tell me.

Thank you.

–Mercedes Schneider

Within minutes, I received this response:

Hi Mercedes,

Nick Randazzo with Northshore Capitol Planning rented the venue from me.

Hope this helps,

Amy Tucker

Nick.

Nick Randazzo is a local guy. His business, North Shore Capital Planning, was started in 2014 and includes college planning as a service.

On September 20, 2019, after receiving Tucker’s email response, I emailed North Shore Capital Planning. In the subect line, I wrote, “free college workshop”:

Hello, North Shore Capital Planning.

I received one of your “important parent meeting” flyers for the event scheduled for Sept 26 in Covington.

I noticed that nowhere on this flyer do you identify yourselves as the hosts of the event.

Why did you choose to conceal your identity?

Thanks for responding.

–Mercedes Schneider

As of this writing, I have received no response.

More about Nick:

According to Randazzo’s LinkedIn bio, as of January 2017, he is also “director of agent develoment” of Houston-based College Funding Evolution:

Director of Agent Developement

College Funding Evolution

Jan 2017 – Present

Houston, Texas Area

College Funding Evolution is built for advisors, by advisors, as a turn-key urgency-based marketing system designed to meet the needs of financial advisors looking to re-invigorate and/or jumpstart their careers in financial services. College Funding Evolution helps guide financial planners and their college bound clients through the overwhelming and often grueling experience of college admissions and financial planning.

College Funding Evoution apparently sells “help” to finacial planners. It is on file in Texas as Studemont Group College Funding Solutions, LLC, as of August 2014.

Companies leading to other companies, leading to other companies.

From the College Funding Evolution home page:

THE TOP 5 ADVISOR MISTAKES IN COLLEGE PLANNING

  • null

    Selling Future Needs Instead Of Immediate Needs

  • null

    Being A Pushy Salesman VS Trusted Advisor

  • null

    Failure To Charge Fees In Addition To Commissions

  • null

    Not Seeking The Starving Audience

  • null

    Doing The Same Things Over And Over In Business And Expecting A Different Result

    ABOUT US

    College Funding Evolution was founded as a turn-key urgency based marketing system designed to meet the needs of advisors looking to re-invigorate and/or jumpstart their careers in financial services. The old “cookie-cutter” seminars, expensive steak dinners, and product based approach is dying if not dead.

Randazzo apparently wants to be the “trusted advisor” to a “starving audience” (no free steak dinners, heh). But he doesn’t want that audience to know who he is before they blindly agree en masse to his mystery “workshop.”

But the College Funding Evolution home page has more info, much more. Buried among the words is what appears to be the hub of the entire enterprise: My Tuition Score (highlighted by me):

College Funding Evolution was founded as a turn-key urgency based marketing system designed to meet the needs of advisors looking to re-invigorate and/or jumpstart their careers in financial services.

The old “cookie-cutter” seminars, expensive steak dinners, and product based approach is dying if not dead. John has built College Funding Evolution to meet the immediate needs of advisors looking to truly make a meaningful, tangible, positive impact in their clients lives while minimizing client acquisition costs. Marketing can be expensive and suffocating to a business if it is inefficient. College Funding Evolution has solved that problem. Older “social security” and “retirement” prospects will gladly eat an advisors meal and consume lots and lots of time only to “think about” moving forward. College Funding Evolution has a built in urgency that prospects breathe and feel. Our advisors don’t have to push clients into action. College Funding Evolution prospects are bringing their entire financial lives into the first and second meeting without having to convince them to. College Funding Evolution was built for agents by agents.

Benefits of Our Services

Coaching

Personal Success Coach who will provide weekly coaching, mentoring, and accountability “check-in” calls to keep you on target, executing your plan, and staying focused

My Tuition Score

Full access to My Tuition Score- The premier financial aid planning software (that is used on every single one of your Free Consultation appointments)

Training

Monthly Coaching & Advanced Sales Training Calls (Two per month!) with world class industry coaches & top-of-the-top producers to help you grow your practice

Membership

Membership in Peace of Mind College Consulting’s admissions and financial aid service center

Access 

Access to attend Live College Funding Evolution Universities

Personalised Service

Personal Strategic Business Coach to help with case design/support and provide ongoing training of the College Funding Solution

I think My Tuition Score– the software “that is used on every single one of your Free Consultation appointments”– is the cornerstone of this entire, multi-LLC, college-financial-advising gig.

More on that front:

I remembered seeing Peace of Mind (POM) College Consulting as a “strategic partner” on Randazzo’s North Shore Capital Planning site, and here it is again on the College Funding Evolution site.

The POM “about” page indicates that it is “a proud member of the Ohio Association for College Admission Counseling.” As of March 2015, POM College Consulting LLC is on file with the Ohio Secretary of State (entity # 2373668).

POM College Consulting is registered in Solon, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland.

Cleveland, Ohio– as in mailer postage paid by permit from. (Side note: I originally tried to track Randazzo by the postage permit and on September 18, 2019, spoke with the postal inspector’s office, but I was advised that I might well reach only a third party, which likely would have turned out to be true in this case. I may have received news of POM but likely not Randazzo. Though I have not confirmed it with the postal inspector, it appears that POM has the postal permit connected to Randazzo’s mailer.)

The POM “about” page exclusively features My Tuition Score, including the following 2-minute video on My Tuition Score:

My very abbreviated cite from the My Tuition Score info on POM’s “about” page:

A Tuition Score is a unique and comprehensive preparation tool for families with children in the college planning phase. The Tuition Score takes the overwhelming and extraneous amounts of information and narrows it down to the most critical aspects of college spending specific to your family.

There is no other college preparation tool on the market that merges financial methodology with educational guidance in the way that the Tuition Score does.

What will the Tuition Score Report include?

Your Tuition Score Report will include crucial information such as:

  • Your family’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC)—the minimum amount your family is “expected” to contribute towards the cost of college— and more importantly, an explanation of what it means, how it applies to your “actual” contribution amount, and how that will affect your overall cost to attend a selected school
  • The money needed at the time college will begin. This is based on current and future available savings allocated for college, cash flow, need-based aid available (never guaranteed) at the selected school, historic school generosity percentages, and your EFC
  • The total gross cost of the selected school, based on future projected costs for the years that your student will attend
  • Up to 9 suggestions for colleges in your desired geographic area that most likely provide a return on college investment upon graduation—i.e. you will experience a higher likelihood of getting placed in a job in a chosen field at, or near, the top of the pay range
  • Tips on the entire college planning process, including myths versus truths. These tips help families easily avoid costly mistakes in the complex financial aid process
  • Our proprietary college loan manual which highlights your college loan options, providing a full analysis of each
  • A full scholarship overview of what is available to your family and where to get these monies
  • A complete and updated list of the Top 250 Need-Based Aid Generous Schools
  • Valuable information that can unlock exciting, money-saving opportunities at higher priced schools your child may not have considered
  • A deep discount on personalized email assistance with the entire college planning process

How much does My Tuition Score cost?

Families can obtain a Tuition Score and a family-specific report for FREE.

The full, comprehensive and all-inclusive report can be obtained for $79. In addition, you will receive five updated versions of the report absolutely FREE.

My Tuition Score is free at first to ostensibly whet the appetitte of parents facing funding their child’s college. Then $79 for the full report, which leads to “a deep discount on personalized email assistance with the entire college planning process” and maybe more financial assistance– for a price, of course.

After all of ths investigation of Randazzo’s mystery mailer, here is what I conclude:

  • My Tuition Score is likely the central feature of Randazzo’s “FREE College Workshop,” which is inarguably intended to yield for his company additional financial consulting related to college.
  • Randazzo could have identified himself and his company on his mailer (and allowed would-be participants to make an informed choice about their attendance) without revealing his My Tuition Score “secret weapon.”
  • Randazzo’s concealing his identity on his mailer does nothing to boost my confidence in him as a financial adviser.
  • Had Randazzo identified himself and his company on the mailer he sent to me, I likely would not have written this post.

mystery

______________________________________________________________________

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

.

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.

 

Louisiana’s “Education PAC”: A Bit About Nancy Landry, Eddie Rispone, and Lane Grigsby, and More.

In my perusal of Louisiana campaign finance reports, I discovered the PAC featured in this post.

On January 31, 2017, Louisiana lawyer and former La. House rep Nancy Landry started a Louisiana PAC called the Education PAC.

Investigating the political connections among ed-reform associates is very much spider-webby-entangling. I will purposely keep this one brief.

Landry was the House education chair who publicly demeaned Louisiana teachers in 2012; Landry proposed a motion (which passed) requiring teachers who came before the House ed committee to state what kind of leave they took to be present to speak during a school day.

nancy landry 2

Nancy Landry

The first donors to Landry’s Education PAC were Louisiana businessmen Lane Grigsby and Edward Rispone. Each donated $25,000 in 2016.

Both Grigsby and Rispone are associated with Lousiana Business and Industry (LABI), which is a major promoter of education reform in Lousiana. LABI loves Nancy Landry.

Grigsby’s own Empower Louisiana PAC was a funnel for six out-of-state billionaires from four families to contribute a combined $3M to influence the outcome of Louisiana’s 2015 Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) election.

Rispone, who is running for governor and who promotes charters and vouchers, is closely aligned with Betsy DeVos. I touch on Rispone in my August 28, 2019, post:

In December 2018, Jim Walton donated $100K to the Louisiana Federation for Children Action Fund, a PAC to which he has donated in the past ($35K in October 2016 and $50K in March 2017).

The chairperson for Louisiana Federation for Children Action Fund is Eddie Rispone (see here and here and here)….

Louisiana Federation for Children is a state affiliate of American Federation for Children, the national, school choice organization formerly chaired by US secretary of education Betsy DeVos.

Devos and her husband Richard each made a $100K contribution to Louisiana Federation for Children in 2015, expressly to support and oppose certain candidates in various Louisiana elections. (Rispone also contributed $75K toward this school-choice-shaping effort.)

Spider-webby. Back to Landry.

In October 2017, Grigsby and Rispone each droped another $25K in Landry’s Education PAC. They are by far the largest contributors. (Six others only contributed a combined $6,500.)

The only BESE candidate the Education PAC has supported is Holly Boffy ($1,000 on 03/18/19; $1,500 on 06/11/19).

I guess Landry became tired of operating a PAC that did not seem to be garnering any notable funding beyond the $100K donated by Grigsby and Rispone combined. In July 2019, Landry was replaced as Education PAC chair by LABI lobbyist, Brigitte Nieland, who in 2019 quit LABI to lead government affairs for the corporate ed reform group, Stand for Children.

Stand for Children operates three PACs in Louisiana– with scant funds coming from those who reside in the state. I am working on a post about that one.

More web.

Stay tuned.

spider and fly

________________________________________________________________________

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

.

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.