A reminder that education “reformer” Michelle Rhee can’t be trusted, and that she’s up to no damned good in Pennsylvania:
To understand the attack on public education in Pennsylvania, begin with Rachel Tabachnik’s comprehensive report on the partnership between far right-wing funders like the DeVos family with Michelle Rhee’s national StudentsFirst organization, and the Pennsylvania StudentsFirst organization, which shares the same name as Rhee’s group, but has very different people running it.
The Pennsylvania Students First organization is actually an affiliate of American Federation for Children (AFC), chaired by Betsy DeVos, as it states on the website. A donation to Students First PAC was received from Joel Greenberg, a board member of AFC, on the date the PAC was formed. Approximately 5 million dollars from Greenberg, a co-founder of Susquehanna Investment Group (SIG), and two of the other SIG co-founders, Jeffrey Yass and Arthur Dantchik, would follow between March 10 and May 11, 2010. Most of this money was, in turn, contributed to the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Anthony H. Williams. Graphic at right is the AFC board of directors.
It would be simple enough to dismiss the Pennsylvania organization as a cynical effort to piggyback onto the national Rhee organization, which still seems to meet with the approval of liberals who aren’t paying attention, except that Michelle Rhee is bear-hugging projects of that organization and gracing them with her appearance and support. For example:
- Rhee visited Lincoln Charter in June of 2011, with Gov. Corbett, Ed. Sec. Roy Tomalis, and Jeffrey E. Piccola. The school choice bill in Pennsylvania is Piccola’s number one priority, and Governor Corbett is in lockstep with that goal. DeVos’ StudentsFirst PAC donated $50,000 to Piccola, so it’s reasonable to conclude they’re expecting some results for that donation.
- Rhee spoke to teachers at the Mastery Academy charter school in Philadelphia on Sept. 22. Dawn Chavous, a board member at a Mastery School, is also an employee at the DeVos-funded StudentsFirst PAC.
- Finally, there is the now-infamous appearance with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at the gala sponsored by American Federation for Children, the DeVos organization which spawned Pennsylvania’s StudentsFirst organization.