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Education Reform Now’s Hedge Fund Buddies

Here’s an interesting story from the Express in Milwaukee, where Education Reform Now (ERN) and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) have been lobbying big time to grab control of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS).

In Saturday’s Buffalo News, ERN Executive Director Joe Williams forgot to mention that the ERN board is made up of businessmen from hedge fund groups who see charters as a “hot cause”. These folks work for Hawkshaw Capital, Gotham Capital, SAC Capital and Maverick Capital.

Maybe that’s why Andrew Rudnick referred to the Buffalo Public Schools as “a big business. This is a billion dollar budget. You need committed, reform-minded folks to be the board of directors.”

Who knew that hedge fund groups were such progressives when it comes to the education of our children? God bless ’em.


  • Cliche

    Buck – does it get boring being such a cliched alt news leftist writer (and I use writer generously)? I would think it would but what do I know.

    Gotham Capital was started by Joel Greenblatt who has quite the resume when it comes to education reform. You can read about it here: http://nymag.com/news/businessfinance/15958/index1.html

    Of course, I’m sure his resume in ed reform doesn’t stack up to yours. And I’m sure it’s much simpler to carry on with the standard alt news nonsense of capitalists = evil rapists schtick but maybe you want to think independently for once. Come up with position that doesn’t fit into the orthodoxy of every other dime store alternative news dope. Or not. Whatever works for you.

  • Buck Quigley

    Cliche,

    I appreciate your curiosity and concern, but don’t worry. I’m not bored.

    In fact, had you not anonymously written, I may not have discovered that Joel Greenblatt formed Gotham Capital in 1985 with $7 million largely from Junk Bond King Michael Milken—who was famously indicted on 98 counts of securities fraud and racketeering, although he escaped those charges with a plea bargain and ultimately served less than two years of a ten year sentence.

    Thanks, buddy. Works for me.

  • Cliche

    I guess you didn’t read the NYMag article and it was too long, detailed and complimentary of Greenblatt’s efforts to reform education? Instead, you got all glib and snarky and went with the guilty by association tact implying that, somehow, Greenblatt is a criminal and/or sinner because he a) started a hedge fund b) made money and c) had investments from a convicted felon – Milken (also a man recognized for revolutionizing finance but let’s not bother with being thoughtful and considering multiple perspectives)

    I gotcha, it’s easier to read the News of the Weird stuff AV brings to the community than to read that entire NYMag article. So carry on with your approach. I didn’t actually expect you to actually consider a different perspective or new information. Why would you when you can keep banging the same drum that’s gotten you to where you are?

  • Buck Quigley

    Cliche,

    I read the article. For all its length, it omitted the detail that Gotham Capital was formed with Michael Milken’s money…which some may find interesting.

    Just not you.

    As for the article, I found this passage on the first page hard to forget: “He (Greenblatt) wants to create an effective and affordable public-school prototype that could be franchised citywide—and fast. ‘I’m an investor,’ he says. ‘I spend my time trying to figure out whether a business model works or not. I wanted to find a model that worked and roll it out.'”

    There are many money-making franchises out there. McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Taco Bell, Subway, etc. Lots of them make money, and have a decent business model. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best stuff to feed our kids.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  • Cliche

    I do think it’s interesting that he started his hedge fund with seed capital from Milken. That’s the first result when you google ‘gotham capital’ so I’m sure you found that before you read the NYMAG article and, with that and the fact that Greenblatt is a proven capitalist, you’re mind was made up. The rest of your time reading the NYMAG article was spent in search of evidence supporting your presumption that Greenblatt’s intentions are nefarious – it’s called confirmation bias and we all fall victim to it. It’s good to be aware of it, though, as sometimes that helps you resist the mistake. Now you know.

    Also, it’s fascinating that you’re more concerned with Greenblatt’s perspective – he’s an investor that wants to find a model that works – and the potential result of that (ie profit) than you are with whether or not he found a model that worked to help educate kids. I’m not sure why, when faced with an issue like education reform, you don’t care about the results of other initiatives. Do successful capitalists really cause you such emotional distress that you can’t see anything more when they’re involved in an issue? How do you go to the AV offices when, presumably, AV makes money selling rubdown ads? Doesn’t the emotion of the positive cashflow overwhelm your ability to soldier on?

    See, you point to successful businesses that sell junk food to compare that to Greenblatt’s success in NYC. But his success is NYC wasn’t financial success – he spent personal cash to help figure out a way to better educate kids. His success was allowing kids to learn more. You don’t care about that, I guess, because Greenblatt has a)made money in the past and b) you seem concerned he or some other investor may make money off education in the future.

    His effort in NYC seems to have worked. The current urban public school systems don’t seem to work. Would you rather have a successful model if it was created by a capitalist or keep the status quo which ensures no one makes any money (including the kids who are subjected to these schools)?

    Also, you should read more about Milken and the work he’s done post-prison. Hard to find too many bad words written about him. And his global conference is quite impressive. But I’m sure you don’t care because, again, a) he made money in the past and b) was convicted of securities violations.

  • Lock step

    Cliche’s words: “…His effort in NYC seems to have worked. The current urban public school systems don’t seem to work. Would you rather have a successful model if it was created by a capitalist or keep the status quo which ensures no one makes any money (including the kids who are subjected to these schools)? ”

    So, schools that only seem to work are good, and should make money. This is the same logic being applied to health care too.

    Is the privatization of government functions going to be the mega wealth-creation commodification device for Wall Street now? Can we look forward to buying rising stock in Blackwater Inc., and have their crossing guards doubling as a community paramilitary so we can get rid of those costly unionized police
    forces?

  • Cliche

    Lock step – the reform efforts in NYC had no monetary gain for anyone – not Mr. Greenblatt, not Blackwater or any other evil capitalistic regime. No one made $. Got that? Instead, he donated a tremendous amount of money to try to create a system that helped better educate kids. And it worked. There was no privatization. That, of course, is entirely different than health care.

    Are you able to comprehend those facts?

  • Lock step

    Cliche’s words: “..Are you able to comprehend those facts?” are to put it mildly, condescending.

    Please give direct reference to your facts (not the NYMAG article)so I can avoid the confirmation bias you attribute to the standard alt news nonsense of capitalists = evil rapists schtick

  • Cliche

    Those words are indeed condescending. I tend to condescend to dummies so I apologize.

    I like that you ask for facts – not counting the facts laid out in the NYMag article. So, in other words, you want even more facts? Ok, no problem. Here is the program Greenblatt funded called Success for All. Here is their site which details the research done to validate their approach. I’m quite sure you’ll find non-reasons to dismiss this set of facts as well since you have no interest in actually finding the truth, you just want to dismiss this guy’s work.

    http://www.successforall.net/About/research.html

  • Milken’s hair

    I use writer generously
    I apologize
    No one made $. Got that?
    I tend to condescend, find non-reasons to dismiss no interest
    but what do I know

  • Cliche,

    Maybe you could make the trip to Baltimore to attend the Success for All Foundation’s 2010 New Leaders Conference in June, and report back with all the “independent” research they’ll provide you with. It’s only $825 to attend.

    http://www.successforall.net/Partners/conferences.html

    And just so you know who you’re dealing with, check out their 2008 990 form on page 10. Learn about the top five paid employees of the foundation that took home over $100,000, and the 113 others that are paid over $50,000.

    This link should take you there…

    http://stor.artvoice.com/success_for_all_foundation_2008.pdf

    Now, who were you saying wasn’t making any money?

  • Cliche

    ZOMFG there are people who make over $50,000 a year in US currency? Disgusting, I tell ya. And there are 5 human at the foundation that make over $100,000? Is there no decency left in this world?

    If you bothered to look at the research – which you attempt to paint as somehow not-independent – you’d see that it was conducted by professors at institutions like Harvard, PENN, MIT, Johns Hopkins, etc. Now, I’ll stipulate that these professors themselves make money so perhaps we can’t consider their work. And the research was paid for by – get this – the Progressive Policy Institute and the Department of Ed. Now, the PPI is only center left and, I bet, the staff there also gets paid in US currency so perhaps you’ll still consider all this moot, but I thought you should at least try to understand the facts before getting back to your comfortable conclusions.

    So, on the one hand, we have a reform agenda that has received qualitative support (in the form of the NYMAG article) and quantitative support (in the form of the research cited above). You, on the other hand, make the case that because people involved in pushing these particular reforms have made money in the past, the reforms should be dismissed. Boy, it’s a close call as to which argument is more persuasive.

    I do wonder, though, if we did dismiss the perspective of everyone who makes money who exactly do we listen to? Don’t you get paid despite your total lack of qualifications? Or does AV staff get paid in trade in hand releases at the ‘massage’ parlors you shill for?

  • Yeah Right

    Because monitizing public education and busting Unions is a good thing. F*ck you Wall Street bast*rds

  • Be Real

    The recent tv ad paid for by ERN speaks for itself using scare tactics to encourage the creation of charter schools and also unfairly slamming the teachers union. When money is the motivation for education we all loose. pull your head out of the sand and stop trusting those motived by greed.