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Carol Burris: The Link Connecting Charter Schools, Cuomo, Political Donations, and Teacher Certification

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Carol Burris has written a bombshell piece exposing the links that connect charter schools, political money, and teacher certification.

Wall Street gives heavily to Governor Cuomo. Hedge fund managers love charter schools, those entrepreneurial start-ups that they identify with. Charter schools in New York have a serious problem retaining teachers. Some charters have a teacher turnover rate exceeding 50% every year. Several charters authorized by the State University of New York (SUNY) had teacher attrition rates of at least 70%. The charter committee of SUNY was appointed by Governor Cuomo. It is considering a plan to allow new teachers to bypass the state’s high standards and to gain their teaching credential from the charter. This credential would not be recognized by any public schools in New York State.

Want to know what’s behind all of these machinations?

Let’s look at the confluence of Cuomo-appointed SUNY board members to large contributions of charter boards to Cuomo’s campaigns[1].

“The corporation with the largest number of charter schools under the control of the SUNY Charter School Institute is the Success Academy charter chain, run by Eva Moskowitz. Her political action committee, the Great Public Schools PAC, contributed $65,000 to Cuomo in 2011-2012 and another $50,000 to date in 2017. Success Academy Chairman Daniel Loeb, founder and chief executive of Third Rock Capital, and his wife, have directly contributed over $133,000 to Cuomo. Since 2015, Loeb has added $300,000 to Moskowitz’s PAC, and another $270,000 to other PACs that support Cuomo. That’s more than $700,000.

“Other Success Academy present or former board member families who contributed over $100,000 either directly to, or to PACS, supporting Cuomo include: Andrew and Dana Stone ($280,000), Bruce Kovner ($130,000); Joel and Julia Greenblatt ($280,000), John and Regina Scully of California ($110,000), John Petry ($130,000) and Daniel Nir and his wife Jill Braufman ($152,500). An additional nine other Success Academy Board members, including three who live outside New York state, collectively contributed hundreds of thousands directly or indirectly to Cuomo. Most of the contributions are direct donations.

“The Success Board is only one example of many. Paul Tudor Jones is the founder of Excellence Boys Charter School of Bedford Stuyvesant, which is also authorized by the SUNY Charter Board. He and his wife, who both live in Connecticut, contributed $400,000, with most of the contributions going into PACs that gave to the governor. Even the charter-loving Waltons, who don’t live in New York, have jumped in — nearly $100,000 in direct contributions to Cuomo and over $100,000 into PACs. And it doesn’t end there. Charter board members from the Harlem Children’s Zone to Hebrew Academy Charter Schools contribute large sums of money to Cuomo.”

That kind of money buys a lot of friendship.

We will see if it is enough to establish a special route for charter school teachers: one with lower standards.

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