It was Diane Ravitch who coined the name, “The Billionaires Boys Club,” to describe the crew of hedge fund managers and philanthropists who are the angels behind the union-bashing and private management charters that the Obama administration seems so infatuated with.
In a Democracy Now! interview with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez Ravitch explained:
“The Billionaires Boys Club” is a discussion of how we’re in a new era of the foundations and their relation to education. We have never in the history of the United States had foundations with the wealth of the Gates Foundation and some of the other billionaire foundations—the Walton Family Foundation, The Broad Foundation. And these three foundations—Gates, Broad and Walton—are committed now to charter schools and to evaluating teachers by test scores. And that’s now the policy of the US Department of Education. We have never seen anything like this, where foundations had the ambition to direct national educational policy, and in fact are succeeding.
In this month’s issue of New York Teacher, Maisie McAdoo names names.
Education Reform Now, a group once named Democrats for Education Reform and run by a former Milwaukee education reporter named Joe Williams, is a main player in the Democratic Party and represents their most rabidly anti-union, right-wing, pro-Wall Street fringe. But it is a very wealthy fringe.
Sitting on their board:
John Petry. A partner at Gotham Capital Management. Petry’s Gotham Capital LLC, founded in 1985 with $7 million from junk-bond king Michael Milken, is a privately owned hedge fund.
Sidney Hawkins Gargiulo. Hawkshaw Capital, founded in 2002 by a former Lehman Brothers analyst.
John Sabat. SAC Capital, a Stamford, Conn.-based private investment firm.
Brian Zied. Maverick Capital, a Dallas-based investment adviser managing hedge funds and private investment funds.
Also included among Education Reform Now’s funders is Julian Robertson, the founder of the Tiger Management hedge fund. According to McAdoo, Robertson’s gifts include $71 million in 2008, including $250,000 to Education Reform Now, $1 million to the Achievement First charter network, $2 million to KIPP charters, $3 million to the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence, $7.1 million to Teach for America and $200,000 to the New Teacher Project.
Of course, all this is open and above-board. But not always. Back in April of 2009, Ed Reform Now’s Joe Williams got in a mess of trouble for functioning as a bag man, channeling money through different organizations and funds to hide its source and destination.
Daily News reporter Juan Gonzalez reported that $500,000 was quietly donated by Plainfield Asset Management, a Connecticut-based hedge fund to Al Sharpton for the purpose of promoting charters. Former NY schools Chancellor Harold Levy was a managing director at Plainfield Asset Management. Gonzalez found that the money given to Al Sharpton was channeled through Williams and Williams refused to tell Gonzalez how the donation was handled or what it was used for.
Back in 2008, I ran a couple of posts about Democrats for Education Reform which bag man Williams didn’t like too much, although he wasn’t sure which Klonsky he was mad at.
…one of the Blogging Klonsky brothers, I can’t remember which one, but I’m not worried because I am pretty sure I can kick both their asses.