The National Education Association is presenting its 2016 Friend of Education award to Democratic Senator Patty Murray and Republican Senator Lamar Alexander.
In a previous post I looked back on the role of Alexander in the first Bush administration as Secretary of Education and his work with Chris Whittle and the Edison Project. Whittle was an early pioneer in school privatization and worked closely with Alexander.
In 2013 my brother Mike Klonsky commented again on Lamar Alexander. This time he wrote some comments to a post about Alexander on Diane Ravitch’s blog. Ravitch had been an under-secretary of education when Lamar Alexander was the first Bush’s Education Secretary a quarter century ago.
…Yes some people did get rich on holding Edison stock (back then it was Whittle Communications stock), those that bought it cheap and sold it dear. Take Lamar Alexander (and Mrs. Alexander) for example.
Former Department of Education employee and writer Lisa Schiffren says that, “His fortune is founded on sweetheart deals not available to the general public, and a series of cozy sinecures provided by local businessmen. Such deals are not illegal…” Schiffren further notes that, in 1987, Alexander helped found Corporate Child Care Management, Inc. (now known as Bright Horizons Family Solutions Inc.), a company that – via a merger – is now the nation’s largest provider of worksite day care. While businessman Jack C. Massey spent $2 million on this enterprise, Alexander co-founded the company with only $5,000 of stock which increased in value to $800,000, a 15,900 percent return within four years.
Also in 1987, he a wrote a never-cashed investment check for $10,000 to Christopher Whittle for shares in Whittle Communications that increased in value to $330,000. In 1991, Alexander’s house just purchased for $570,000 was sold to Whittle for $977,500. Alexander’s wife obtained an $133,000 profit from her $8,900 investment in a company created to privatize prisons. Alexander frequently shifted assets to his wife’s name, yet such transfers are not legal under federal ethics and security laws. In his 2005 U.S. Senate financial disclosure report, he listed personal ownership of BFAM (Bright Horizons Family Solutions) stock valued (at that time) between $1 million and $5 million dollars. He taught about the American character as a faculty member at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
And so it goes. Great thinker & leader? I don’t agree. Clever investor with other people’s money. Yes.
Friend of Education?