Tuesday’s Democratic primary in Malden includes the choice between two candidates to replace Chris Fallon as our MA state-house rep: Steve Ultrino, a true democrat/Democrat; and Neil Kinnon, a less-than-democratic ‘Democrat’ . Both men are city councillors currently. Steve has been a teacher and principal, and works for the Middlesex Sheriff’s office as director of education programs for the incarcerated . Neil works in financial records and is the main executive of the Mystic Valley Charter School.
Many Maldonians view Kinnon as having an ongoing obvious conflict of interest between his role in the Charter School and his voting on issues concerning the regular public schools of Malden. I have wondered for a long time if Kinnon is getting funding/investment or other backing from larger charter-school supporters outside of Malden, as major properties have been purchased for the Charter School’s expansion, and his explanation that economies in the School’s operations have provided the necessary funds, seems unlikely.
In this last weekend before the primary, everyone gets many mailers from different candidates. We just received one supporting Kinnon from a group that is clearly aligned with privatization of public education, and with other groups including collections of hedge-fund managers working to cash in on such privatization. This group is “Democrats for Education Reform-Independent Expenditure-PAC“, with Patrick van Keerbergen listed as treasurer on the mailer. I remembered having seen this name in the Nation recently, in a discussion of groups seeking to profit from privatization of public education.
The aim of this group is to influence the Democratic Party to support privatization of education, and to destroy teachers as professionals, and destroy teachers unions. This is the Arne Duncan (Chicago) line of ‘Democrats’.
I don’t know if Kinnon & Co. have been getting investment monies from some of the board members or advisory board members of Democrats for Education Reform, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Below is a list of hedge-fund executives associated with Democrats for Education Reform, taken from a UFT webpage explaining what the organization is:
Among the group’s eight-person board :
hedge-fund manager John Petry of Gotham Capital, who with Eva Moskowitz co-founded the Harlem Success Academy Charter School;
Tony Davis of Anchorage Capital, the board chair of Brooklyn’s Achievement First East New York school;
Charles Ledley of Highfields Capital Management;
Tilson, chief of T2 Partners and Tilson Funds and vice chairman of New York’s KIPP Academy Charter Schools.
Of DFER’s seven-person advisory board, five manage hedge funds:
David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital, LLC;
Joel Greenblatt, founder and managing partner of Gotham Capital and past protégé of fallen junk-bond icon Michael Milliken;
Vincent Mai, who chairs AEA Investors, LP;
Michael Novogratz, president of Fortress Investment Group;
Rafael Mayer, the Khronos LLC managing partner and KIPP AMP charter school director.
Orbiting the group:
billionaire “venture philanthropist” and charter school funder Eli Broad, whose foundation gave upwards of $500,000 to plug advocacy related to the documentary “Waiting for Superman,” and another charter-touting film, “The Lottery.” Though not himself a DFER board member, Broad is a major funder of Education Reform Now, DFER’s nonprofit sister organization, also headed by Joe Williams.
Meanwhile, Andrew Rotherman, recently retired DFER director and EduWonk blogger, is co-founder of and a partner in for-profit Bellwether Education, described as “offering specialized professional services and thoughtful leadership to the entrepreneurial education reform field.” Rotherman sits on the Broad Prize Review Board, while DFER board member Sara Mead is a senior associate partner at his Bellwether Education and sits on the Washington, D.C., Public Charter School Board.
May I see your passport, please