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Since there is so much money available to launch new charters, someone has to do it.
Families for Excellent Schools was a front for tycoons and billionaires who despise public schools and advocate for privately managed charter schools. When Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to rein in zeta Moskowitz’s power grab (she wanted to open 14 new charters, he approved only eight), FES unleashed a $6 million TV blitz attacking de Blasio for trying to ruin the lives of black and brown children, who would be thrown out of schools that did not yet exist. Cuomo was showered with money by FES supporters, and he announced himself to be the charter industry’s champion, even appearing at their lavish rally. Cuomo persuaded the legislature to give NYC charters whatever they wanted, including free public space.
In 2016, FES became the lead financier of the pro-charter coalition in the Massachusetts refendum on whether to expand the number of charters. FES raised at least $15 million and tried to hide the names of its donors. Despite heavy spending, Question 2 was overwhelmingly defeated. After the election, the state’s political ethics office demanded that FES release the names of donors, which it did. The donors were super-rich and included both Democrats and Republicans. The state fined FES $426,000 (all the money on hand) and banned it from Massachusetts for the next four years. Soon after, the FES executive director was accused of sexual misconduct at a Reformer retreat (Camp Philos) in DC. He was fired, and FES closed its doors.
Professor Maurice Cipunningham of the University of MassschusettsGoogle his 2016 and 2017 articles about FES.
Now, of course, not everyone went down with the ship. There’s lots of millions out there for ambitious young people who want to undermine and privatize public schools.