Don't bother trying to find this tweet: it's long gone. Funny how these things happen...
But intemperate behavior seems to be Polis's m.o.; here's Diane Ravitch herself:
All class, Congressman. Jon Pelto, who has been working closely with Ravitch in promoting her new book, Reign of Error, took a closer look at Polis:
Click through and read the rest of Jon's post. But let's also take a step back and view this from a larger angle:Last week, Democratic Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado, who purports to be a “a progressive,” called Diane Ravitch an “evil woman” and compared her to the Koch Brothers tweeting ,“Can’t think of anybody else who has caused more harm to public schools, except maybe Koch brothers.”As we are learning, Polis failed to reveal that not only is he a charter school advocate but his foundation, with the help of his company, actually formed a charter school or two in his home state of Colorado.As we know, charter schools like to brag about their higher test scores, but traditionally use their recruitment process and “out migration” policies to push out less academically proficient students and, almost across the board, fail to take their fair share of non-English speaking students and students who require special education services.
Jared Polis is the seventh wealthiest person in Congress. And while I am sure he is a talented businessman, the truth is that he made his money by taking his parents' greeting card business on-line in a transaction that was way, way overvalued:
(Personal note: I've used ProFlowers once. Let's just say, given the lack of service I experienced, I will not use them ever again.)
After making all this money, Polis entered into politics: he ran for an open seat in Colorado's 2nd House district in 2008, which forced him to disclose some of his finances:
For 2006, that's an effective tax rate of 14%. Keep in mind the marginal tax rate that year was "35% on the income over $336,550," which means Polis made out like a bandit, most likely because he was largely paying capital gains tax rates instead of the rates on ordinary income (caveat lector: I'm not an accountant. If anyone can shed some more light on this, please comment below).
So what we've got here is a guy who -- much like George W. Bush -- took advantage of his family's existing businesses and connections and made a lot of money, then parlayed that into a political career. According to opensecrets.org, Polis out-spent his opponent in the 2008 election about 80-to-1.
And even though Polis is a Democrat, his career -- much like George W. Bush -- has largely been about cutting taxes on wealthy folks like himself:
Momentum is growing in Congress behind legislation to enact another “repatriation tax holiday” that allows multinational corporations to bring profits held overseas back to the United States and pay tax on them at a rate of only about 5 percent (rather than the normal tax rate on corporate profits). But the economic or fiscal case for doing so remains poor.
In recent days, several congressional Democrats have expressed support for some version of the legislation.1 The momentum comes in the midst of a major lobbying campaign for it by a coalition of large and powerful U.S.-based multinational corporations.2 Proponents argue that a second temporary repatriation holiday would boost domestic investment and jobs, which is the same pitch that proponents used to sell policymakers on a similar repatriation holiday in 2004 – and one with obvious resonance as the economy struggles to recover from recession and unemployment remains very high.
Nevertheless, the evidence shows that the first holiday failed to produce the promised results. Its primary effect was to provide a huge windfall to the shareholders of a small number of very large corporations.
Yes, folks -- "liberal" Jared Polis has never seen a corporate tax he wouldn't love to cut:1 At a Third Way event last week, Reps. Jared Polis (CO) and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) as well as Sen. Kay Hagan (D- NC) expressed support for the idea, while another group, NDN, hosted a working lunch on the idea earlier this month. See Tim Fernholz, “Democrats Warming to Tax Repatriation,” NJ Daily AM, Tuesday, June 21, 2011. [emphasis mine]
We'll get to that "charity" in just a bit. But let's take a second to appreciate how adamant Polis is about cutting taxes on the wealthy; so much so that's he's will to buck the liberal caucus his own party:
Last night’s House Democratic caucus meeting was explosive, with many members refusing to vote for the Obama-McConnell tax cut deal. However, for all the sturm and drang, if Boehner can deliver all of the Republicans they only need 39 Democratic votes.
Leading the charge for the tax cuts on the Democratic side? Jared Polis, whose net worth is somewhere between $97.4 million and $254.4 million. Polis was quite impassioned as he fought back against the tide of opposition in the caucus, arguing that this deal is “the best we can do.”
But as Joan McCarter notes, and as Keith Olbermann said so eloquently last night, it is immoral that this deal does nothing for the “99ers,” the 2 million people who are due to have their unemployment benefits cut off by the end of the year.
The fact that it’s Polis pushing this deal in the House makes it brutally and transparently clear who this benefits: millionaires. Kevin Drum does the math, and finds that “most of most of us get a few hundred dollars while the rich get hundreds of thousands or even millions each.”
“The rich are willing to make that deal every day,” he says. “Wouldn’t you?” [emphasis mine]Now, Polis does try to put on airs of fiscal responsibility. But his plans to raise revenue almost always include regressive tax schemes. Here he explains how to further screw the poor and middle class in that favorite soapbox of the wealthy, The Wall Street Journal op-ed pages [all emphases mine]:
Yeah, balance the budget on the backs of immigrants, because they are all making so much money -- sure, that'll work...
On the issue of increasing revenue, the famous Grover Norquist antitax pledge that many Republicans have signed does not preclude provisions that will increase revenue without actually increasing taxes on Americans. One way would be to require the 10 million immigrants living in America illegally to get right with the law and pay back-taxes and fees, which would generate as much as $5.4 billion in new revenue, according to the Center for American Progress.
Unless you're talking about taxing Bill Bennett, internet gaming taxes will inevitably be regressive.New revenues can also be found by changing the way we treat Internet gaming, which is currently both underground and offshore. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement currently spends millions of dollars trying to shut down and prosecute Internet gaming sites, but they remain a casual click away for any interested gambler. Legalizing and regulating online gaming, as Reps. John Campbell (R., Calif.) and Jim McDermott (D., Wash.) have proposed, would generate $42 billion in additional revenue over the next decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
In my home state of Colorado, and in 15 other states and the District of Columbia, local revenues have increased by millions of dollars since lawmakers decided to legalize and regulate medical marijuana. By reducing the current 100% confiscatory tax on marijuana to more reasonable levels, we can make revenues increase. If we were to nationally legalize, regulate and reduce federal taxes on marijuana, we could receive as much as $2.4 billion in additional revenue annually, according to a 2005 study conducted by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron.Another regressive consumption tax. But any mention of raising the capital gains tax? Of removing the cap on payroll taxes? Of closing the loopholes accessible only to the wealthy?
Perish the thought...
So we know Jared Polis is soaked in the avarice of your typical Republican supply-sider. But here's the thing: in spite of his greed, Polis wears a thin veneer of liberalism. He has taken up the cause of regulating fracking -- OK, he did so because his own property was affected, but still...
He's also an opponent of the PATRIOT Act and is pro-choice. He's one of only seven openly gay members of Congress. He voted to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He has a 100% rating from NARAL and the ACLU, and a 0% from the NRA and the Christian Coalition. He even gets high marks from the NEA and the AFL-CIO.
And yet Polis says of Diane Ravitch -- whose agenda includes the expansion of social services, desegregation, and a cessation of attacks on teachers unions -- “Can’t think of anybody else who has caused more harm to public schools, except maybe Koch brothers.”
Ravitch also specifically calls for charter schools to open their admissions procedures to allow more children with special needs -- children who may not be well-served by traditional public schools. According to the Jared Polis Foundation's website, the two charters that Polis supports are designed to do exactly this:
The New America School seeks to extend the benefits of English literacy and a high school liberal arts education to immigrant young adults and families in Colorado. The educational needs of linguistically diverse youth (ages 16-21) in Colorado often are not met by mainstream public schools.And:
The Jared Polis Foundation’s ongoing collaboration with Urban Peak successfully opened the first Colorado high school for students who are experiencing the challenges of homelessness or unstable living situations. The Academy of Urban Learning opened its doors in August 2005 as a Denver Public School Charter High School.You'd think Jared Polis would be praising Ravitch's stance on charter schools. You'd think he'd be saying: "Look at the charters I support; they are doing just what Ravitch wants!" You'd think a "liberal" like Polis would be pleased to see Ravitch fighting back against a school privatization movement that is being funded in large part by the Koch brothers.
What is it about Diane Ravitch that causes Jared Polis to lose his mind? I can only conjecture, but here's my best guess, based on Polis's own words:
I'll leave the many, many problems with the Colorado teacher evaluation system aside for now, and simply point out that Polis is yet another wealthy "reformer" who is trying to make the case that education outcomes lead to poverty, rather than the other way around.
Chapter 10 of Ravitch's new book is all about the ironclad correlation between poverty and educational outcomes. The response of reformy types to this indisputable fact is to blame "bad" schools for creating poverty; they point to the outliers as proof that "all children can learn," and that if we just "stop putting the needs of adults before the needs of children," poverty will magically be swept away.
It's a foolish argument on its face. Outliers don't prove anything about causation, let alone correlation: that's why they're outliers. And the mechanics of how poverty affects student performance are very well known: overwhelmingly, studies show what happens outside the school has the largest influence on student achievement outcomes.
Now, every time someone like me or Ravitch pushes back on this, the inevitable response is that we are using poverty as an "excuse"; that we're not serious about making schools better. Nothing could be further from the truth -- we just want an agenda for school improvement that actually has evidence to back it up. And that would include getting more necessary resources to public schools, expanding social services, and dealing with the country's crushing income inequity.
But I never seem to hear folks like Jared Polis talk about poverty outside of school "reform." And I'm not alone in sensing this:
I’m not trying to erect another straw man – there are many substantive, meaningful discussions going on, and nobody thinks education is the only solution. Yet even as the recession decimates low-income families, the safety net continues to erode. And I sometimes feel like much of what passes for political rhetoric on strategies to fight this poverty – and justify these huge cuts in programs that do so – consists mostly of “we need to fix bad schools,” with only passing reference to any other type of program (see here, here, here, here, here and here). [emphasis mine]Amen. Again, neither I nor Ravitch nor anyone on the "real reform" side is saying schools can't and shouldn't get better. But I find it more than a little convenient that very wealthy "liberal reformers," like Jared Polis, spend so much time and energy on unproven education schemes while barely mentioning income inequity.
GLBT rights and reproductive rights and the environment and gun rights and civil liberties are part of Jared Polis's agenda; good for him, these are important issues. But so are regressive taxation, manipulation of the markets, destruction of the social safety net, and the disgusting income inequity that has grown worse than at any time in modern history.
Wealthy "liberals" who do not want to talk about inequality have found a useful issue in education "reform." They can affect concern for the poor by pointing their fingers at teachers and their unions, deflecting the blame away from themselves. They can pretend that "college and career readiness" will lift the poor out of a system they themselves have benefitted from: a system that requires winners and losers.
I don't think Jared Polis wants to see anyone suffer. I don't think Jared Polis likes poverty. But I do think Jared Polis would rather not reflect on the possibility that maybe his wealth was acquired at the expense of the working poor and the shrinking middle class, and that maybe we need to reform our government, our economy, and our markets with far more urgency than we need to reform our public school system.
If wealthy, "liberal" reformers would finally start acknowledging this sate of affairs, maybe we could have a significant, substantive conversation about the future of this country -- and that would include education reform. It appears, however, that Jared Polis would rather just call the people who are trying to talk about education at a level beyond platitudes "evil".
How sad for you, Colorado.
Fighting "evil" for Colorado's 2nd.
ADDING: Jon Pelto has even more:
Real man of the people, dontcha know...But back in 2008, Polis’ corporate connections were already an important part of his campaign operation. But for $418,400 he raised through the national ACTBlue fundraising program, his remaining campaign funds came from a number of corporations that he owns, is connected with or willing to “invest” in his desire to become a congressman. Leading the list of corporate donors was his own company, Jovian P4 ($55,980), SPS Studios ($14,800), Bow River Capital ($13,500), Jovian Holdings, another of his companies ($13,500), Intensity Ventures ($9,200) and Sandler Family Supporting Foundation ($9,200).Other corporate donors giving to Jared Polis included Panthenon Resources ($6,900), Genesis Health Care ($6,600), Citigroup ($6,100), Laffer Assoc ($6,100), Citizen’s Energy ($5,200), Baraboo Growth ($4,600), Gillemont Sunset Ranch ($4,600), Gotham Capital Investment Partnership ($4,600), HNTB Corp. ($4,600), Jove Partners ($4,600), KSI Corp. ($4,600), MDC Holdings ($4,600), Najafi Companies ($4,600), Palo Alto Investments ($4,600), Pancil ($4,600), PrimeCap Finance ($4,600), Pritzker Group ($4,600), Provide Comerce Inc. ($4,600), Roche Group, ($4,600), Space X ($4,600), Tantum Investment Management ($4,600), Valor Equity Partners ($4,600) and WKM Group ($4,600).The more you look at Jared Polis’ campaign finance reports and his approach to politics, the more questions rise to the surface.