Thursday, June 7, 2007
Getting a return on their "investment" in public education [Archived]
We see a school...they see a Toyota
If you want greater insight into how ownership societyentrepreneurs use their money to drive public school policy, look no further that the May 31st New York Sun where where reporter Elizabeth Green takes us into the world of big-time ed investing.
A money manager recently sent an e-mail to some partners, congratulating them on an investment of $1 million that yielded an estimated $400 million. The reasoning was that $1 million spent on trying to lift a cap on the number of charter schools in New York State yielded a change in the law that will bring $400 million a year in funding to new charter schools.
Wow! How would you like to get a return of 400% annually on your investments? You could, if you had a name like Ravenel Boykin Curry IV.
The money managers who were among the main investors in this law — three Harvard MBAs and a Wharton graduate named Whitney Tilson, Ravenel Boykin Curry IV, Charles Ledley, and John Petry — are moving education-oriented volunteerism beyond championing a single school. They want to shift the political debate by getting the Democratic Party to back "innovations" such as merit pay for teachers, a longer school day, and privately-run charter schools.
I just like saying, "Ravenel Boykin Curry IV."
Friends call him "Boykin." Here a story about his wedding, if you're interested. My invitation must have gotten lost in the mail.
However, I couldn't find anything in his background that would make him a legitimate educator or policy expert. But Boykin's wife, Celerie Kemble (left), seems knowledgeable about lots of stuff.
Palm Beach bred and Harvard educated, Kemble can declaim with Clintonian stamina on topics like charter schools, the foibles of her class and decorating theory. "Decorating styles right now are like politics," she said, noting that they both cleave to the middle.More metaphors...
Why do money-manager types get to bring their own metaphors and similes to the education table? I mean decorating styles? Cleavage? And what are the foibles of her class anyway?
Wait! How about this one--Toyotas?
From Sun story:
As investors, the group's leaders spend their days searching for hidden diamonds in the rough: businesses the market has left for dead, but a savvy investor could turn for a profit. A big inner-city school system, Mr. Tilson explained, is kind of like that — the General Motors of the education world. "I see very, very similar dynamics: very large bureaucratic organizations that have become increasingly disconnected from their customers; that are producing an inferior product and losing customers; that are heavily unionized," he said. A successful charter school, on the other hand, is like "Toyota 20 years ago."Hear that kids and teachers? Your charter school is like a 20-year-old Toyota. If I were you, I'd find out where that beater is headed and who's driving?