The Scratch n’ Sniff Guide to Phony Education Reform Groups

Just in time for the start of the school year, this handy EduShyster scratch n’ sniff guide can help you smell a phony ed rephorm group from a mile away…

The start of the school year will no doubt see the appearance of an alphabet soup’s worth of education reform groups popping up in a community or on a campus near you. But how to tell if said groups are  something rather less than meets the eye–let’s call them rephorm groups, shall we? This handy EduShyster scratch n’ sniff guide can help you smell a phony from a mile away.

1. No one in leadership ever attended a public school
Now I don’t want to get all class warfare up in here but if the bios of an #edreform group’s leaders are filled with references to Shore Country Day and Deerfield Academy, we’re probably looking at a case of rephorm. Likewise, the curriculum vitae as we cultured people call them, are unusually ivied, if you know what I mean.

2. Leaders claim to be life-long educators–after two years in TFA
The education rephorm movement is replete with leaders who are life-long educators, if by life-long you mean two years in Teach for America. Keep in mind, however, that the outstandingness of some of these young innovators is such that two years for them is like 25 years for a typical LIFO lifer.

3. Policy agenda just happens to be exactly the same as ALEC’s
Now I don’t know about you, but as a young undergrad EduShyster spent most of her time playing spades and drinking warm Liebfraumilch working with legislators and state-level education policy makers to weaken workplace protections for teachers. That’s why I was so impressed that the totally grassroots student movement that is Students for Education Reform seem to have come up with the ALEC policy agenda all on their own.

4. Group claims to be grassroots but members are strangely elusive
Behind every ed rephorm group is a vast army of virtual supporters of key civil right$ cau$e$ like ending LIFO or bringing parent trigger legislation to a state near you. A funny thing about these rephorm phans–they can prove awfully elusive. Or with the case of local phan phave Massachusetts Stand for Children all of the grassroots supporters just happen to be members of Stand’s board.

5. Walton Family Foundation is on speed dial
The Walton Family Foundation is committed to something called “infusing competitive pressure into America’s K-12 education system,” which sounds like a phantastic idea to me. They also do a pretty amazing job of infusing phunds into education rephorm groups like StudentsFirst, Stand for Children and the National Right to Work Legal Defense and Education Foundation.   

6. Has headquarters in Manhattan’s Financial District
After all, the investment achievement gap is the civil right$ i$$ue of our time.

7. Just happens to have loads of friends who run hedge funds
I mean, like who doesn’t these days, right???

8. Is focused like a laser on the achievement gap/graduation rates
In fact that focus is so amazing laser like that the rephorm group never ever mentions what happens to these poor minority kids between the ages of one and six. Or the phate that awaits our lucky graduate when he or she falls into the hands of one of the for-profit colleges that are pheasting on minority communities like leeches.

9. Personally thrived in free and easy Montessori environment but supports no nonsense, no excuses curricula for poor minority kids
As for the “misbehavior tax” that some of the no-excuses school use to regulate student behavior, shouldn’t daddy’s accountant handle that?

10. My God, isn’t that enough????


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