I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Do The Hustle

Derrell "The Freman" Bradford cashes in:
With education reform at center stage in New Jersey politics, a new political action organization is expected to launch today with a $1 million media campaign addressing teacher quality. 
Better Education for Kids (B4K) has posted a press release on its fledgling website, describing itself as a 501c(4) organization, a non-profit permitted to promote political causes. It is led by prominent school choice activist Derrell Bradford as executive director and funded through two wealthy financiers and philanthropists, David Tepper and Alan Fournier. 
When contacted last evening, Bradford confirmed the launch and said the group was aiming to promote issues like tenure reform, merit pay and other issues affecting teacher and principal quality. 
These issues have been the centerpiece of Gov. Chris Christie’s education platform, although increasingly picked up by some leading Democrats. 
"Special interests have dominated our public education system for decades," Bradford is quoted in the press release, dated for today. "They like the status quo, but our parents and kids don't. It's time for us -- parents, students and concerned citizens -- to stand up and make sure our public education system puts our children's interests first."
"Special interests" - you know, like teachers.

Derrell is a spectacularly unqualified member of Christie's task force in charge of screwing teachers eliminating tenure. He lives to hobnob with the rich and famous. He has admitted that his is banal platitudes and faux digital hipster shtick are nothing more than a cheap attempt to advance his career. He is Michelle Rhee with a bad Horatio Alger story grafted on to his bio.

His arguments are slick but facile. He has no command of actual research on teacher effectiveness. He is, for all intents and purposes, a clown.

But he has paid his dues and toed the corporate line; in today's world, that means it's time to cash in:
"There is serious hedge fund money coming into New Jersey -- that’s who's behind this -- and this is a serious opening salvo in the public arena for those who want to privatize public education," said Steve Wollmer, the NJEA’s communications director.
He said the NJEA has indeed has its own expensive media campaign planned. "But whatever we spend will pale in comparison to what they’ll spend," Wollmer said. "They are bringing big money."
The individuals providing the initial backing to B4K do indeed bring significant resources. Tepper is a successful hedge fund manager, the founder of Appaloosa Management, and also known as a generous philanthropist to education and other causes. A native of Pittsburg now living in Livingston, Tepper gave $55 million to Carnegie Mellon University and what is now the David S. Tepper School of Business.
Fournier established Pennant Capital Management, also a hedge fund. He had previously worked with Tepper at Appaloosa Management. The press release said his charitable interests have included St. Anthony's High School, Community Food Bank of New Jersey, New Jersey SEEDS, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark, TEAM Schools of New Jersey and the All Stars Project of New Jersey. [emphasis mine]
Hedge fund managers pay an income tax rate of 15% - less than the rate teachers and other public workers pay. So they've got plenty of scratch to throw around, and Derrell is lining up at the trough for his taste. Maybe he'll name a charter school after Tepper.

I'll tell you one thing: I don't want to hear any more of his sanctimonious crap about how those of us who see tenure as a necessary protection for teachers don't care about kids as much as he does. Because it's pretty obvious what Derrell really cares about.

Derrell Bradford, doing what he does best...

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