Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Monday, January 26, 2015

New Schools Venture Fund bankrolling Ownership Society education

Ted Mitchell, one of the founders and former  chief executive of the NewSchools Venture Fund, was named by President Obama to become the Under Secretary of the Department of Education.
The New Schools Venture Fund is one of the biggest backers of ownership society education, school privatization and corporate-style "reform." They were one of the conservative, anti-teacher groups that backed last year's Vergara suit against teacher tenure and collective-bargaining rights in California. The legal costs for Vergara were covered by  by Silicon Valley billionaire David Welch, a founder of the NCVF and a powerful force behind the growth of privately-run charter schools.

Milwaukee blogger, educator and long-time school activist, Larry Miller, has done his homework on the NSVF and its board of directors. His latest blog post reveals an organization which claims to be about school improvement and innovation but which is actually,
...seeking "public money to be diverted from public schools leading to investment gains in technology, real estate, curriculum, corporate charters, high paid “non-profit” charter managers and the growing education “consulting” industry.
Included in Miller's account of NSVF is a run-down of its "all-white, 10 member board of directors, whose combined portfolio reaches deep into U.S. corporate and entrepreneurial investment endeavors".

• Brook Byers, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
• John Doerr, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
• Chris Gabrieli, Co-Founder and Chairman, Massachusetts 2020
• Dave Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer, SurveyMonkey
• Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and Chair of the Board, Emerson Collective
• Joanna Rees, Founder and Managing Partner, VSP Capital
• Jon Sackler, Managing Partner, North Bay Associates and Kokino LLC
• Kim Smith, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Pahara Institute
• Rob Stavis, Partner, Bessemer Venture Partners
• Dave Whorton, Managing Director, Tugboat Ventures

 Good post, Larry.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Rangel interview paints clearest picture yet of UNO and their machine charter school patrons

Chicago Magazine ran an interview this week with UNO's “Patron 2” Juan Rangel. It paints the clearest picture yet of the corrupt political sewer that is Chicago's system of privately-run charter schools.
Meanwhile, the school network was handing out its own contracts to more familiar names. Monterrey Security, a firm that was previously co-owned by Danny Solis’s brother Santiago, won a $75,000 security contract. Phil Mullins’s wife, Mary Quinn, came away with an HR contract; so did firms that had contributed to Burke and Madigan. Says an UNO insider who spoke on the condition of anonymity: “There was a point where I began to wonder, Is it about the schools? Or are the schools the means to another end?”

Monday, January 12, 2015

Former schools CEO Huberman bellies up to the Chicago charter feeding trough

You might remember Ron Huberman. He was the former CTA chief bureaucrat  who ran the system into the ground and who then replaced Arne Duncan as Chicago schools CEO (why not?) under Mayor Daley and went down aboard Daley's sinking ship.

He is notable for little else besides his "data-driven" reforms -- like claiming he could predict in advance, which CPS kids would likely be murdered and which ones wouldn't. He was also the guy who cut foreign language programs (they weren't on the test) and who called in the police to bust the parent protests to save Whittier School's field house.

Most importantly, Huberman was a dear friend of the city's aspiring privately-run charter networks, like UNO, Noble Street, and Chicago International. And after his dismal tenure at CPS, things began looking up for Huberman. He was able to parlay his school system connections and knowledge of procuring insider contracts into an executive position at Chicago Growth Partners and Prairie Capital. Then he started his own firm, and began reaching for some payback in the form of contracts from some of the same government-financed charter-school operators he championed as Daley’s schools chief.

According to today's Sun-Times:
Huberman, who is a member of Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner’s transition team, founded TeacherMatch LLC in 2011.
The company has since gotten contracts worth a total of more than $200,000 from two of the largest Chicago Public Schools-funded charter operators — the Noble Network of Charter Schools and the United Neighborhood Organization’s charter network — and also has gotten work from some schools in the Chicago International Charter Schools network.
TeacherMatch, which provides software to help schools screen job applicants, reported total revenues in 2013 of more than $286,000, according to school contracting records.
That same year, it got an infusion of nearly $1.9 million from investors, the records show — a sign of confidence in its future growth.
Huberman continues to serve as the company’s executive chairman, though records list its primary owner as Prairie Capital, the Chicago private-equity firm where Huberman has been a top executive since 2011.

In 2013, Huberman lobbied UNO’s then-CEO Juan Rangel and other officials, who say they had reached a “preliminary agreement” with TeacherMatch. But Rangel quit in December 2013 amid a scandal prompted by Sun-Times reports on millions of dollars in government-funded deals given by UNO to two brothers of Rangel’s top aide.

Asked how its charter network ended up doing business with TeacherMatch, an UNO official said, “It is not known who initiated those conversations.” Noble officials and Rangel declined to comment.

Huberman says, Charters “help provide options for families". He might have added the words, "especially mine".

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Chuy Garcia: Rahm treating CPS as a 'profit center'

Quazzo  (F. Klonsky)
Mayoral candidate "Chuy" Garcia accused Rahm of treating education "as a profit center for people with powerful connections." He couldn't be more right. Latest case in point in the mayor's defense of his hand-picked board member, Deborah Quazzo, who uses her board seat to protect her ed-biz investments.

According to the Sun-Times:
Quazzo, a millionaire venture capitalist, has invested in five educational technology companies that have been paid about $3.8 million by CPS since 2010, $2.9 million of it since June 2013, when she replaced Pritzker.
Quazzo is the “founder [in 2009] and managing partner of GSV Advisors—part of GSV Capital Corp., “a publicly traded investment fund that seeks to invest in high-growth, venture-backed private companies. GSV Advisors is “a firm that provides advisory services to companies in the education and business services sectors.” In plainer language, GSV Advisors invests in firms that that bring high-tech to solving problems in education. An example is GVS-backed DreamBox Learning, online individualized math instruction that, the company claims, “improves early educational outcomes for every child—regardless of zip code.”

She's also an ex officio board member of KIPP Chicago (Knowledge is Power Program), a charter school operator; New Schools for Chicago, an organization that raises money for charters.

NEEDED--An elected school board.