Charter Schools ConnCAN Corporate Reform Education Industry Privatization Teacher Tenure

Corporate Reform Groups Merging: A Sign of Weakness or Strength?

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Politico reports that two groups advocating for privatization and against teacher tenure are merging.

The merger is presented in typical “reform” doublespeak as a “victory,” but to the naked eye it appears to be an admission of defeat, an admission that neither group has been successful.

50CAN began as ConnCAN, with billionaire funding (supplied largely by the infamous Sackler family, which gained billions by producing and marketing Oxycontin, which is at the center of a national opiod crisis). 50CAN is supposed to spread privately managed charters everywhere, but what it can’t do is cook the research, which shows that charters don’t perform better than public schools unless they cherrypick their students, and many underperform public schools. Their new partner, Campbell Brown’s PEJ, has brought law suits intended to destroy the rights of teachers, but none of its lawsuits has been successful; its lawsuit in Minnesota was thrown out without so much as a hearing. You might say it was laughed out of court, by the judge.

EXCLUSIVE: GROUPS TEAM UP TO MAKE BIGGER MARK: Two reform groups are teaming up to drive change in state education policy by using the courts. The nonprofit 50CAN is joining forces with the Partnership for Educational Justice, a nonprofit founded by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, which is known for lawsuits targeting state policies the group says allow ineffective teachers to remain in the classroom. The partnership will allow 50CAN to get involved in litigation for the first time. And it will allow the Partnership’s small staff to draw on 50CAN’s policy expertise to better determine where lawsuits might be successful.

– The Partnership for Educational Justice will retain its name and pro bono legal help, but 50CAN will serve as PEJ’s fiduciary board. Both organizations will continue their push against teacher tenure laws in three states – Minnesota, New Jersey and New York – and may look at litigation on other issues, like school funding. “50CAN has never done any impact litigation work, so we see an opportunity to provide the backend support for their work in a way that helps them go further,” said 50CAN CEO Marc Porter Magee. “I really think the next set of successes in education reform are going to come from these kinds of collaborations.” Ralia Polechronis, executive director of the Partnership for Educational Justice, said “the beauty of a partnership like this is that PEJ can take advantage of the policy expertise that 50CAN has at a very local level.”

– The Partnership for Educational Justice has yet to prevail in lawsuits aimed at ending teacher tenure policies in Minnesota, New Jersey or New York. And the organization suffered a setback Monday when the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a dismissal of its lawsuit, The Star Tribune reports. Porter Magee said the lawsuits aren’t intended to bring about quick change, but are “long-term commitments.”

As long as the money keeps coming in, the groups will survive. Results don’t matter.

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