The Billionaire Boys Club

Jerry Johnson, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has much in common with the hedge funders who are behind the corporate education reform movement.

What do the hedge funders and venture capitalists who have taken it upon themselves to dismantle improve America’s public schools have in common with the owners of the National Football League? For one, both are fabulously wealthy (see, for example, Johnson, Jerry or Rauner, Bruce) And of course both groups DELIGHT in seeing minority kids succeed against all odds.

But might there be some other commonality that unites these men of means and vision? It turns out that both the titans of the NFL and the plutocrats behind Education Reform, Inc. share a common dislike for overpaid employees who insist on hanging around for an entire “career,” waiting to collect a pension.

Among the sticking points in the contentions negotiations between the NFL and its referees was the owners insistence that they have more “flexibility” to fire underperforming refs. When I saw this, I understood exactly what the problem was. It turns out that LIFO lifer referees have been ruining America’s favorite pastime just the way LIFO lifer teachers have been widening the achievement gap and destroying the future of an entire generation with their low expectations. 

But when I asked a football fanatic friend—let’s call him Paul because his name is actually Paul—if the NFL is perceived to be lousy with lousy refs the way our public schools are riddled with underperformers (see, for example, the recent smash hit documentary “Won’t Back Down”), he looked puzzled. In fact, Paul couldn’t recall a single instance in recent history where a ref had been fired for poor performance. Well, duh! No doubt the referees, just like teachers, are protected by their 600 union contracts that make it illegal for them to be fired under any circumstances. Wrong again. The referees are already subjected to an incredibly rigorous evaluation process.

Gosh, this IS a mystery. If the NFL is not in fact full of underperforming refs, what an earth could the owners be after? Dear reader: avert thy gaze as I fear the answer is not pretty. You see, the owners of the the National Football League, which earns $9 billion in revenue each year, are, to put it crudely, greedy mother@#$%ers. And when the owners demand more “flexibility” to get rid of “underperforming” refs, that’s greedy mother@#$%er code for “these guys make too much money.”

At this point, regular EduShyster readers are beginning to feel a frisson of smug satisfaction. You see the Education Reform, Inc. talking points may be shrouded in inspirational platitudes about “the children” (cue Whitney Houston here), but the intent or consequence of the specific “reforms” they’re pushing is always the same: teachers get paid less, freeing up valuable edu-bucks in the process. Let’s do a quick examination of the Education Reform, Inc. playbook, shall we?

  • Charter schools: teachers at these laboratories of union-free innovation earn less than their counterparts at traditional public schools, sometimes dramatically less.
  • Tenure: Team Reform claims to hate tenure because it protects bad teachers. But when they say “bad” they really mean “expensive.”
  • Test scores and VAM: Churn keeps the cost of labor down which is why Team Reform lines up behind any tool that can be used to weed out underperforming overpaid teachers and replace them with fresh new innovative ones.
  • Teach for America: TFA recruits get paid the equivalent of a beginning teacher’s salary—and best of all they don’t stick around long enough to see their pay increase, let alone collect one of those pesky pensions.
  • Alternative certification: whose bright idea was it to make teaching a profession anyway???

So what’s the real difference between the NFL owners and the hedge funders of Education Reform, Inc? Simple. Everyone knows that the NFL owners are greedy mother@#$%ers


  1. At least the NFL owners are more transparent about the motivations, same as the NHL owners.

    Many districts in Ma. hide behind the 3 year non-renewal process as a way to rid the district of “bad” teachers. They forget to mention that it has nothing to do with skill it has to do with cost. The rules are so well constructed that leadership is not required to tell you why you are being let go. You are handed a letter telling you that your contract is not being renewed and you are done.

    The same can be said for teachers in the “Receivership” district. Many were drummed out for performance because the district hid behind “what’s best for the children”. COWARDS!

    Keep up the good work Ed, expose the education reform movement for what it is really about, greed and power, NOT THE CHILDREN.

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