It's teacher hunting season!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

More Corporate Fronts Driving Education "Reform" Exposed: Now, the DeVos Family

Behind every education "reform" (actually, deform) group is a millionaire investor or donor. We've heard about the Broad and the Gates foundations manipulating public education policy. Here is more unsettling news of a 1%er family and right wing shadow groups manipulating policy in the same vein.

Behind Education Action Group is Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the DeVos family of multi-level marketer Amway fame. (Wikipedia describes the Mackinac Center as: The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a free market think tank headquartered in Midland, Michigan. It is the USA’s largest state-based free market think tank.)
(And see Right Wing Watch about the Mackinac Center:

From the madfloridian blog (in

[As with the earlier Tempers Flaring in Memphis article, the following is from the madfloridian post, the indents are from the inset boxes throughout the article.]

Another "false front" education reform group? Keep eye out for their op eds in local papers.
Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion
Sun Oct 09th 2011, 12:55 PM
The Michigan Education Association writes about the Education Action Group and warns to watch out for their activities.

Behind the false front

Note the ties to the Mackinac Center and the DeVos family.
EAG isn’t really a group. It’s two very partisan men with ties to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and Dick DeVos of Amway Corp. fame. Olson’s brother is director of education policy at the Mackinac Center, another anti-union, pro-privatization group. The man who incorporated EAG, Eric Doster, is a Michigan Republican Party lawyer who has served on the board of the Great Lakes Education Project, a political action committee linked to DeVos. DeVos, of course, helped finance the failed 2000 vouchers initiative.

EAG bashes the collective bargaining process and school employees’ rights to inform the community and to work to elect leaders who value students and the employees who teach and help them at school.

Olson claims to be nonpartisan, but he is a partisan Republican Party activist and an officer in the state party.

Olson refuses to disclose his group’s funding sources, making it difficult to discern whose agenda EAG is pushing.

This Michigan-based "reformer" group just had an opinion piece published in the Tampa Tribune. It is anti teachers unions.

Teachers' union seeks to nullify the public's will

The column refers to an effort by the teachers' union in Florida to fight the new anti-tenure law. They totally misrepresent what the situation is about, and then they go on to express support for Rick Scott's extreme education changes.
By filing this suit, union leaders are telling people that teachers should not be held accountable for the performance of their students. They want us to believe all teachers are equally intelligent and motivated. They're saying that all teachers should continue to have a guaranteed job for life under tenure and remain on a common pay scale, regardless of the outcome of their work.

More than anything, FEA leaders are blatantly displaying their disrespect for the democratic process. They have no interest in the outcome of the elections that put Scott and his legislative allies in office. They are willing to use the courts to overturn the will of the people.

So much for majority rule. Union leaders, with all their wealth and influence, can simply shop for a politically-friendly judge who will rule in their favor. The eventual ruling may have little to do with the constitutionality of the new law and more to do with judges who accept donations from the teachers' union and feel obliged to pay them back.

And they speak of Rick Scott:
Reform-minded leaders like Scott have stood up to the unions and demanded accountability in the classroom. If teachers are not going to be held responsible for student performance, who will be? Can you think of another profession where employees are not held accountable for the final product?
[Ed.: are doctors held entirely responsible for patients' health? Or are diet and exercise credited?? Are police held entirely responsible for crime rates? Or can poverty be pointed to??]

They simply are not telling the truth. I wonder how many op eds in how many newspapers?

One member of this group has been regularly hounding an education blogger these last few months. They demanded and got all his education emails. The blogger, Fred Klonsky, posted about it often at his blog.

The return of Velderman. Ask GOP tough questions and you get put on a watch list.
It was late last school year that the goof ball ideological terrorists at the Michigan-based Education Action Group demanded that my school district hand over to them all my work emails.

Which they did.

EAG gofer Ben Velderman signed the FOIA request. The reason for the FOIA was that this blog asks tough questions about education and public policy and is outspokenly pro-teacher and pro-union.

Nothing has changed about that. Certainly not a FOIA request from some punk from EAG.

Now Think Progress reports that this is becoming standard GOP practice. Ask a Republican elected official a challenging question and you get placed on a watch list.

There are many of these groups which are fronts for corporations. One of them that is doing great harm to public schools is called the Parents Revolution. It is no parents revolution, it is funded by billionaires, connected to Green Dot charter schools.

The MEA website says this EAG group has tactics that "include sending anti-union mail to residents, attending local school board meetings and using the news media to further its negative agenda."

They also recommend:
If EAG surfaces in your district, please inform your local MEA UniServ director. You also may want to share what you know about EAG with your school board members and administrators, so they can consider EAG’s motives.

Maybe I should let them know it is surfacing in Tampa, Florida.

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