Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Charter Schools’ New Cheerleaders: Financiers

STOP THE PRESSES!!!  The NYT had an in-depth article today about Democrats for Education Reform and Education Reform Now taking on the teachers unions and advocating for charter schools in NYS, with support from a wide range of hedge fund managers.  I love this new phrase: "Talk to Joe":

When Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo wanted to meet certain members of the hedge fund crowd, seeking donors for his all-but-certain run for governor, what he heard was this: Talk to Joe.

That would be Joe Williams, executive director of a political action committee that advances what has become a favorite cause of many of the wealthy founders of New York hedge funds: charter schools.

Wall Street has always put its money where its interests and beliefs lie. But it is far less common that so many financial heavyweights would adopt a social cause like charter schools and advance it with a laserlike focus in the political realm.

Hedge fund executives are thus emerging as perhaps the first significant political counterweight to the powerful teachers unions, which strongly oppose expanding charter schools in their current form.

Gotta love this quote from the head of the UFT (we're driving them crazy!), who impugns our motives, and my response:

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, has melded these companies — which run only about a dozen of the 140 charters in the state — into all pro-charter forces in his talking points, accusing hedge fund managers of putting "profits above education."

"I think they should donate their money, and they seem to have a lot of it, directly to the education budget," Mr. Mulgrew said. "They seem to be willing to spend anything, which always leads me to suspect motive."

Charter supporters say the unions' own motives are clear: "To protect their own self-interest, often at the expense of children," said Whitney Tilson, a hedge fund manager who is on the board of KIPP New York, which runs six charter schools.

The financial titans, who tend to send their children to private schools, would not seem to be a natural champion of charter schools, which are principally aimed at poor, minority students.

But the money managers are drawn to the businesslike way in which many charter schools are run; their focus on results, primarily measured by test scores; and, not least, their union-free work environments, which give administrators flexibility to require longer days and a longer academic year.


May 9, 2010

Charter Schools' New Cheerleaders: Financiers



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