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Students First, a vehicle for radical change in TN schools

In Uncategorized on February 6, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Students First, a vehicle for radical change in TN schools

02/06/2014
1024 am

Students First is a radical PAC, a lobbyist group with a socialistic leader as it’s front!

That leader is Michelle Rhee, ex wife of Haslam education czar Kevin Huffman.

Ladies and gentlemen we are in the midst of a revolution and we are not even engaging the enemy of this assault at our front door.

Parents, teachers, taxpayers, citizens, Principals, teachers, administrators, school boards, elected officials and all adults who may dare stand in the way of this nationalization of our schools are not included in this evolution towards socialistic reform in our state. Please step aside, you are now an afterthought and an obstacle to real change.

Students first using it’s platform to change everything about our schools is using big money to buy this change in Tennessee that are you witnessing.

Kevin Huffman, the education secretary in TN, the Haslam appointee, who used to be married to Michelle Rhee of whom they share children and founder of Students First is the radical socialist in charge of betraying the students of TN and subjecting them to the iniquities of a failed agenda that has faced controversy and failure everywhere she has attempted to inject her extreme agenda.

Who is Michelle Rhee? She is a child that has not been able to grow up! She was perhaps the sheltered child that never met her parents expectations and rigid standards customary of her culture. She obviously, in my opinion, never quite measured up to their rigid curriculum of her parents. So with youthful and reckless abandon she somehow thinks she is qualified to lead radical reform inside TN and across the nation injecting her childhood hurt into Tennesssee schools. 

Her childhood has somehow left her with a radical agenda and an unsolicited entry into our school system with the audacity to think that her unproven ways are the sole solution to fix our schools shortcomings.

Reeling from her DC ultimate failure and cheating scandal she sought to bring a brand of education that obviously doesn’t work inside a free republic. Moving children aggressively beyond where they were created an environment and culture that promoted cheating resulting in falsely inflated results.

As a Teach for America fellow at an inner-city Baltimore school in 1993 she reminisces, “Day in and day out, I struggled with my students,” she writes. “They simply wouldn’t listen. I would routinely spend the day alternating between screaming at the children, bribing them, and giving them the silent treatment for their misdeeds. None of it worked.” It was even reported that at one point in her career she resorted to placing duct tape over their mouths so they would listen. For Gods sake she was not even a teacher, she was a Bureaucrat placed in a classroom, a place where only a “real” teacher need be!

During her tenure at DC Public Schools, 2007 to 2010, she gutted the standing system and began to overhaul it. Radical anti teacher, anti union, and basically anti school measures took place. 

Sure one could reduce that all this change was necessary and essential. But the results were not as radical as the changes to
The system and they were definitely  not longstanding. Among the critics it was stated that her change did not last after she was run out of town by a new Mayor. It didn’t have legs and didn’t produce any real change. We are now relying on her unproven and controversy riddled system to work inside Tennessee!

Governor Haslam, several legislators and Senators have taken multiple thousands of Students First lobby money to implement the changes that are so controversial to us today. 

Can you believe any politician would give up his or her soul for Michelle Rhee and Students First to enact the failed system that she advocates for the minds and lives of our children. It would really surprise you at those folks who gladly accepted thousands  of dollars to enact socialistic change and pacify a Governor that is way past his day of reckoning. Perhaps in another blog do I dare address that issue!

Remember, she has no proven system or one that has endured the test of time, yet we in Tennessee migrate to her as if she is the messiah. 

But all we are really interested in is the money she hands to buy your compliance. Michelle Rhees and Students First legacy still haunts her and follows her wherever she goes.Her greatest achievement to date is that perhaps any gains in standardized testing performance was produced at her own hand, by cheating or providing the culture for it.

The embattled Rhee was implicated in the largest cheating scandal in our educational history. She was tagged with having the largest erasures from wrong to right answers on standardized tests in DC. A charge that today she denies. But the legacy follows her and leaves doubt as to the validity and substantiality of her radical reform measures. She has even attempted to cover this ordeal up but her memos and conversations  with educational leaders has crippled her efforts to hide this fiasco.

191 teachers, 70 schools, public and charter were involved in a mass 
cheating scandal that rocked Rhees legacy and offered many doubts as to the effectiveness of her change of cheating as the policy.
http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3070623

As John Merrow of AFT reflects on the failure Washington DC, the leader of the American Federation of Teachers concluded, “Rhee’s overzealous fixation on testing and measurement, and her efforts to silence and fire anyone who questioned her reckless, destabilizing strategies, ultimately failed D.C.’s kids.” 

“Under Rhee’s tenure, DC-CAS scores showed little or no gain, and the performance gap between low-income and upper-income students actually widened. Schools were destabilized by the constant churn of teachers and principals being fired, relocated or leaving out of frustration. Our children deserved better.”

Rhees response to the widespread cheating when confronted answered with a memo that states: What did Rhee do when the evidence in the memo was presented to her?

Apparently she followed Sanford’s number one recommendation as listed in the memo, she was quoted saying “That we keep this Erasure study really close hold. No more people in the know than necessary until we have more conclusive results.”
http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/12/why-not-subpoena-everyone-in-d-c-cheating-scandal-rhee-included/

Concerned with Michelle Rhees and Students First legacy? Here are a few disturbing facts. 25, the number of D.C. schools closed during Rhee’s tenure,
 which began in June 2007 and lasted until October 2010. Twenty-three schools were closed in 2008 alone.

1/3, 1 333.3 Teachers of the 4,000 teachers on the DCPS payroll on Sept. 1, 2007 were gone by 2011, through firings, layoffs and attrition.
http://m.washingtonpost.com/opinions/book-review-radical-fighting-to-put-students-first-by-michelle-rhee/2013/02/08/562df41e-671e-11e2-85f5-a8a9228e55e7_story.html

You think through her plan to better American schools she is actually relying on parents to assist and guide the education of our children? Think again. She said this when asked about her goals to turn around education. “My goal is to ensure that laws, leaders, and policies are making students – not adults – our top priority!”

In her book, Radical: Fighting to put Students First she says, “Rhee’s awakening to the potential of every child is blessed with a great teacher, her rage at realizing that adults with special interests are blocking badly needed change.
http://www.studentsfirst.org/pages/about-michelle-rhee

Using the StudentsFirst State Policy Report Card (SPRC), a tool of radical change, to facilitate States to take over our schools, and not in a good way. This reform measure takes our schools and teachers away from local school boards, superintendents and discourages parent or teacher involvement, essentially removing those obstacles called Adults or Teachers from the equation by manipulation, performance measures thus tightening control and eliminating their voice. 

This overtaking of our educational system with no decision making from those pesky “Adults” can only lead to a recipe for disaster, complete control of our schools by our “state led” and eventually fed led and nationalization of our schools. Can you see a pattern developing here. 

She went on to say, remove the obstacles (adults, parents) and real change can take place.
http://www.studentsfirst.org/blog/entry/more-states-taking-over-struggling-schools

In essence what she is saying is “Let’s take our schools away from the teachers, adults, parents, school board, taxpayers, Superintendents and principals and turn them over to the state and DOE and we can have real education reform.”

From her bio on the StudentsFirst website Ms. Rhee is partnering with school districts, state education agencies, non-profit organizations and unions to transform the way schools and other organizations recruit, select and train highly qualified teachers in difficult-to-staff schools.

Another radical change that has been enacted in TN is the teacher performance evaluation that allows a teacher to be evaluated to keep their licensure based largely on how a student performs on standardized tests. A 5 tier grading system largely based on how well a student does on a standardized test that will put their employment, licensure and careers at great risk.

Again, adults removed from the equation, caring locally invested teachers, many who have grown up and been raised in the community they teach, plucked out of their schools and replaced with radical robots with a six week summer training course under their belt using  compliant “adults” brainwashed and made to conduct accordingly via the TFA, Teach for America, or Rhees very own. TNTP, The New Teacher Project.

Interesting to note, teachers from these two organizations do not need to be teachers, trained in education or certified as education instructors, to be inserted into these school replacing these “bad adult teachers” , they just need to have a strong desire to educate and a degree .

In fact, although boasting an educational background, Michelle Rhee has a bachelor’s degree in government from Cornell University and a master’s in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. 

Hardly a teacher, yet given the authority to change our states educational grid. 

We have a bureaucratic stooge deadset on the nationalization of our schools and an eventual takeover of our schools by the federal government and the Department of Education.

We are in the midst of takeover. Your child is the victim. Our elected officials have played you and I and we have given up our student sovereignty for the almighty dollar.

We rushed into RTTT with its millions to create change. Who had called for this change? A politician leading the charge? We can trace this societal change back to a few visionaries blinded by greed and the ability to “bring the bacon” back to Tennessee. 

Surely we can agree that perhaps we need to focus on areas for improvement. Yet I think we can agree that replacing what we have with a moronic scheme of deprivation and inadequacies is hardly the answer!

RHEE-diculous education reform blood money leaves many local politicians in TN with fat pockets

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2013 at 7:22 AM

RHEE-diculous education reform blood money leaves many local politicians in TN with fat pockets

It’s time for the parents, teachers and school administrators to stand up to the bullies in our government and take back our schools. 

They, people like Rhee and Huffman, are not interested in making sure that our children are getting a good education in our public schools or even creating education reform that will truly make a difference. 

They are all about the money and what it will do for them and their political careers. 

We need to kick them out of Tennessee, too, and they can take Haslam with them. He is no friend to the public school system and needs to be replaced! Submitted as a comment by By: kellyfretz on 1/16/13 at 10:23, Nashville City Paper.

Letter to the editor submission by Karen Bracken,
http://www.tnacc.net/

Many months ago I researched the campaign contributions from Students First received by TN legislators (all of them).  

What I found convinced me that we have special interest groups influencing the decisions made in Nashville.   

At the time I had no idea that SF had targeted TN to push their progressive agenda.  This explains why the push to increase Charters in TN.   

Kevin Huffman (xhubby to Rhee-both from Teach For America) Chris Barbic – Director Achievement School District  (Broad Academy graduate and Teach For America) is a dangerous combination in Tennessee that must be ended.   

I have only shared my information with a few activists in TN.  I had also found and shared the information about Student’s First and their 990’s.  I was waiting for the appropriate time to share my research with everyone.
 
Well an article was just released and it exposes some of our legislators (my spreadsheet reveals many more than the article) and the fact they cannot and will not ever support our efforts to repeal Common Core.  WE MUST GET THEM OUT OF OFFICE. 

 Dolores Gresham and Sen. Dickerson need to be at the top of the list. Dickerson is a doctor. First term in office he gets a prime committee appointment and is given the position of 2nd Vice Chair????   It is time for committee reform. 

We have people making decisions about our children’s education that know nothing about education. Even to this day most remain clueless about Common Core.  

We need to ensure that people assigned to committees have experience in the field and they are not taking contributions from people or companies that can influence the decisions of the committee. Anyone that would like to see my spreadsheet can do so upon request.
 
PLEASE read the article below and share it with everyone.  It is time to pay the piper.  Read all the way through.  The end is the shocker and this author is NOT from Tennessee.

So why so much included in her article about Tennessee?  Could it be corruption abounds in Tennessee legislature?
 
 Karen
 
—–Original Message—–
From: 
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 1:10am
To: karen.bracken@reagan.com
Subject: [New post] How About Some Rhee-lated Information from Tax Documents?

How About Some Rhee-lated Information from Tax Documents?
by deustch29

I have been reading tax forms. 990s– the form of the nonprofit organization (no 1040s for them).
It might sound boring, but I guess that all depends upon whose tax forms they are.

Two 990s are the subject of this post. The first is the 2011 (August 2011 to July 2012) 990 for Michelle Rhee’s reform lobbying organization, StudentsFirst (SF). The second is the 2011 990 from the lesser-known SF sister organization, StudentsFirst Institute (SFI).  Both forms were signed by Michelle Rhee on June 13, 2013 and filed with the IRS in Ogden UT on June 18, 2013.

The Best of Both Worlds: 501(c)3 and 501(c)4
Both SF and SFI are nonprofits. However, SF is a 501(c)4, and SFI, a 501(c)3. A 501(c)3 is limited in the percent of its budget that it can devote to lobbying. (Violation of this restriction is the reason that Common Cause filed its whistleblower complaint with the IRS against the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC] in April 2012.) However, a 501(c)4 does not have such a restriction. Therefore, SFI needs SF in order to unleash as much lobbying as it likes in statehouses around the country. 

Here is the 501(c)4 freedom that causes reformer faces to light up:
501(c)(4) organizations can engage in unlimited lobbying so long as it pertains to the organization’s mission. 

501(c)(3) organizations are not permitted to engage in political activity, endorse or oppose political candidates, or donate money or time to political campaigns, but 501(c)(4) organizations can do all of the above. [Emphasis added.]

One might wonder why Rhee is operating both 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 organizations. After all, why not just operate SF, the 501(c)4, if the goal is unregulated lobbying?

Tax deductions.  As a 501(c)3, SFI allows for deductions not allowed to the SF 501(c)4:

In regards to supporting these organizations, donations made to 501(c)(3) organizations are deductible to the full extent of the law as charitable contributions. Donations made to 501(c)(4) organizations are not deductible, though some businesses who make these contributions often write them off as advertising or business expenses. …

If you want the best of both worlds, you can have two separate but affiliated organizations – one a charitable 501(c)(3) and the other a 501(c)(4) lobbying arm. 

Many trade organizations lobby extensively on behalf of their members, but have an affiliated 501(c)(3) foundation for charitable giving and educational purposes. [Emphasis added.]
Rhee wants “the best of both worlds.”

(Rhee has a second 501(c)4, the Hartford, CT-based Great New England Public Schools Alliance (GNEPSA). GNEPSA portrays itself as “grass roots.” However, it contributors include NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the self-proclaimed “most trusted educator” Steve Perry, and, of course, SF.)

Rhee Is on a Mission
Each of Rhee’s two tax forms requires the respective organization to state its mission. Here’s the SF mission as stated on its 2011 990:
Our mission is to build a movement  to defend the interests of children in public education and pursue transformative reform so that America has the best education system in the world.

And the SFI mission, as noted on its 2011 990:
Our mission is to research and develop model policies that defend the interest of children in public education and pursue transformative reform, so that America has the best education system in the world.

One should realize that StudentsFirst was founded by the same Michelle Rhee who made children’s mouths bleed (taping her students mouths in class) and spoke casually (and fondly) of the incident years later to an audience of new teachers. 

This is the same Michelle Rhee seriously implicated in cheating during her time as DC chancellor and who was never thoroughly and competently investigated.  

I note as much in my post on the highly-questionable DC IMPACT study. (Whistleblower and former DC principal Adell Cotherne discusses the shoddy nature of DC teacher evaluation in this interview.)

In order to gain a better sense of the SF “mission,” consider this excerpt from Reuters reporter Stephanie Simon:
Schools don’t need more money, Rhee says; they need to be held accountable for how they spend it.
Rhee wants all teachers to be evaluated in large measure by how much they can boost their students’ scores on standardized tests. 

Scores are fed into a formula that rates how much “value” a teacher has added to each student over the year. 

Rhee says teachers who consistently don’t add value “SHOULD BE FIRED;” those who do well should be rewarded with six-figure salaries.

She has also successfully pushed legislation in several states, including Florida, Michigan, Nevada and Tennessee, to abolish seniority systems that protect veteran teachers and put rookies first in line for layoffs without regard to job performance.

Also high on Rhee’s agenda: giving parents more choices. She calls for expanding charter schools, which are publicly funded but often run by private companies. 

She wants to let parents seize control of failing public schools and push out most of the staff. (Parent trigger?, added for emphasis)

She also supports tax-funded vouchers, which can be used to pay private and parochial school tuition, for families living in neighborhoods with poor public schools. [Emphasis added.]

In short, Rhee is full speed ahead for “reforms” that in no way touch her life. She has millions. She has not been held accountable for cheating in DC. 

Via her TFA experience, Rhee exited the classroom before she faced any evaluation– and she was never held accountable for taping her students’ mouths. 

She has been politically elevated by philanthropic reform money– no seniority issues for her. 

And she is for charters, vouchers, and “parent trigger”– the consequences of which do not touch her privileged children.

Rhee is also connected to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which SF endorses.

And now for those 990s.
The 990s: Overall Revenue and Top Three Program Services

In 2010, SF reported $4.6 million in revenue. The amount rose to $15.6 million in 2011.

In 2010, SFI reported $3 million in revenue, which rose to $13 million in 2011.

In 2012, SF reported the following as its first of its “three largest program services”:

StudentsFirst has an active presence in state legislatures where they work to address legislative policies that promote transformative reform concerning teacher quality, parental empowerment, and fiscal responsibility. 

The team works to ensure proposed legislation meets the goal of transformative education reform. 

StudentsFirst conducts research, prepares policy briefings, hosts forums for the public and meets with legislators and members of their staff to discuss specific education strategies.  Expenses: $4,116,572 [Emphasis added.]

In the second “program service,” SF dares to write that its goal is to “empower teachers,” among others, to “create awareness about education issues and policies.” The expense: $3,300,635.

Finally, its third “service” is “to engage in electoral activity through direct support… and paid media campaigns including independent expenditures in support of candidates to further education reform.” [Emphasis added.]  The expense: $3,289,994.

In other words, SF is purchasing its will in public education.

SF is a lobbying machine.

As for SFI, its top three program expenses do not include the language of lobbying; however, SFI does report on “public policy development methods and analyses”; “oped articles,” and “meetings, events, and workshops.” The total top three expense: $6,987,719.

Let’s talk about “the” board.
SF and SFI: 

Two Organizations; One Board

Both SF and SFI share the same 23-member board. 

Listed below are the paid board members, including their titles and combined compensation. 

The combined SF and SFI hours for all listed below total 40 per week.

Michelle Rhee, Founder, CEO, and Director   $306,063

Dmitri Mehlhorn, Chief Operating Officer   $230,019

Enoch Woodhouse, VP of Operations   $89,027

Talya Stein, VP of Development   $187,221

Eric Lerum, VP of National Policy  $120,566

Maynappan Sevugan, VP of Communications   $115,893

Timothy Melton, VP of Legislative Affairs  $59,829

Ximena Hartsock, Director of Outreach   $163,249

Kathleen Delaski, Senior Advisor  $166,906

Katherine Gottfredson, National Policy/Legislation Manager   $134,476

Dana Peterson, State Director,   $126,295

Mafara Hobson, Manager, National Marketing   $123,835

Bridget Davis, State and Issue Manager   $119,178.

Do not confuse “nonprofit” with “volunteer.” There is money to be made as a compensated nonprofit board member.

Amid public questioning regarding Rhee’s “Democrat” status, in 2013, three Democrat board members– Stein, Sevugan, and Hartsock– resigned from SF.

Some additional noteworthy information on SF/SFI compensated board members: 

Melhorn is the chief operating officer of Bloomberg Law; 

Woodhouse is a former DC Public Schools Office of Data and Accountability employee.

Eric Lerum, author of the SF position article on CCSS, is VP of National Policy for the Fordham Institute.

As for the non-compensated SF/SFI board members, a number are celebrities: Connie Chung, Bill Cosby, Jennifer Johnson, Jalen Rose. 

Blair Taylor is chief community officer for Starbuck’s Coffee and a member of the National Assessment Governing Board (as in the Nation’s Report Card). 

Joel Klein, the Bloomberg-appointed, former NY schools chancellor, is on the SF/FI board. It is only fitting since Klein influenced former DC Mayor Adrien Fenty to hire Rhee as chancellor.

Three non-compensated SF/SFI board members remain:  David Coleman, Jason Zimba, and Ann-Margaret Michael.

Both the SF and SFI FY2011 990s allude to three board members “sharing a common employer” and that such “did not impact the organization’s decision to choose them as members of the board of directors.”
I’ll bet.

The “common employer” is not named in either tax document.
Student Achievement Partners.

For a detailed account of the highly nondemocratic choreography that is CCSS, see the post in which I examine the CCSS Memorandum of Understanding.

Student Achievement Partners is at the center of CCSS. They even refer to themselves as “lead architects” of CCSS on their website.

All three Student Achievement Partners “employees” left the SF/SFI boards effective June 30, 2012.

I think they were there in the first place in order to lobby for their product– CCSS.
Mission accomplished.

SF 2011 Campaign Contributions;
SF inserts itself in local political races by sending cash to reform-friendly candidates. As such, SF is doing its best to purchase democracy.

Below is a partial list of individuals/ organizations receiving SF campaign contributions and the amounts given. 

I have restricted my list to the first 15 SF campaign contributions on the list. 

However, the full list includes of 170 contributions ranging from $300 to $2 million. (See pages 41 thru 53 of the SF 2011 990 for the full list.)

Parents and Teachers for Putting Students First (San Rafael, CA)   $2 million

Better Education for NJ Kids, Inc.  (New Brunswick, NJ)  $200,000

MI Republican Admin Account (Lansing, MI)  $40,000

Ferrell Haile for Senate (Gallatin, TN)   $10,000

House Republican Caucus (Nashville, TN)   $10,000

Senate Republican Caucus (Nashville, TN)   $10,000

State Representative Kevin Brooks, (Cleveland TN), $5,000 dollars. (added for emphasis)

Steve Dickerson for State Senate (Nashville, TN)   $10,000

Friends of Dolores Gresham (Somerville, TN)   $8500

Friends of Joey Hensely (Hohenwald, TN)   $8500

Aspire Michigan (China, MI)   $7500

Principle Centered Leadership Committee (Miami, FL)   $7000

Citizens to Elect Jamilah Nasheed (St. Louis, MO)   $6700

Barry Doss for State Representative (Covington, TN)  $6500

Bill Spivey for State Representative (Lewisburg, TN)   $6500

Committee to Elect Richard Montgomery (Sevierville, TN)   $6500

A quick read of the full list shows that SF focused its 2011 contributions to political races in Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, and Georgia.

How Much to Buy America?

In reading these tax documents, I cannot help but wonder if our democracy is such a farce that it will crumble beneath the weight of the wallets of the wealthy removed. I wonder what it will take for them to realize that they are foolishly destroying the foundation upon which they themselves stand. In their arrogant fiscal elevation they forget that even they require the foundational institutions that form our democracy– public education being one such institution.

Handing millions over to the likes of Michelle Rhee is idiocy. Rhee is nothing more than some Frankenstein creation of bored philanthropy.  

Be careful, mainstream America. In promoting Rhee, you are confusing cash flow for substance.

Here’s a hint: When you hear that a candidate in a local election is being outspent by 10- or 20-to-1, vote for that candidate.
 
BCN Note:
We also could benefit from Legislators that are not on the dole with huge special interests and lobbyist. 

We need a return to a system where our teachers are paid to teach, our students are there to learn, parents have a say so, citizens are seeing accountability with their tax dollars and elected officials are not so self serving with palms outstretched taking any “blood” money a vested groups lays out.

I apologize for the length of this blog but details and researching the truth gets lengthy on occasion.

http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/how-about-some-rhee-lated-information-from-tax-documents/

Local State Representatives receive  pocket money, bribes for radical education reform.

http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/michelle-rhee-tn-pac-aids-three-metro-school-board-candidates

http://www.nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/reforms-table-rhees-studentsfirst-gives-generously-legislative-campaigns

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