The Broad Foundation – Why Should You Care?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Broad Foundation – Why Should You Care?

Do you know who Eli Broad is?
Have you heard of the Broad Foundation?
Are you aware of the Broad Superintendent Academy?
But most importantly… Do you know why you should care?

Now is the time to get familiar with a Venture Philanthropist, named Eli Broad, whose philosophy is to impose a business model of disruption within public schools and eventually target them for closure, making way for privatization – all while receiving profits and tax benefits.

Click on each link for more information.  Small excerpts appear below the links.

“Broad and his foundation believe that public schools should be run like a business. One of the tenets of his philosophy is to produce system change by “investing in disruptive force”. Continual reorganizations, firings of staff, and experimentation to create chaos or “churn” is believed to be productive and beneficial, as it weakens the ability of communities to resist change.”

The uncertified Broad Superintendents Academy (BSA) has been producing graduates since 2002. Through 2011 the Broad Center issued press releases biannually which announced the incoming participants and then graduates of each year’s cohort. Although the Broad Superintendents Academy invited individuals to apply to its program in 2012 and 2013, press releases are no longer issued and the names of recent participants are not known.

Another interesting shift to note is that the adjective “prestigious” is being used less and less by reporters when describing the Broad Superintendents Academy, and the adjective “controversial” is being used more and more.

So, what exactly is the Broad influence? …By it’s own admission, it calls itself a venture philanthropy, as in venture capitalist.  Meaning it invests in philanthropy expecting to yield a return on its investment… 

The Broad Foundation likes to infiltrate its targets on multiple levels so it can manipulate a wider field and cause the greatest amount of disruption. Venture edu-philanthropists like Gates and Broad proudly call this invasive and destabilizing strategy «investing in a disruptive force.» To these billionaires and their henchmen, causing massive disruption in communities across the nation is not a big deal…

A hallmark of the Broad-style leadership is closing existing schools rather than attempting to improve them, increasing class size, opening charter schools, imposing high-stakes test-based accountability systems on teachers and students, and implementing of pay for performance schemes. The brusque and often punitive management style of Broad-trained leaders has frequently alienated parents and teachers and sparked protests…

We strongly oppose allowing our nation’s education policy to be driven by billionaires who have no education expertise, who do not send their own children to public schools, and whose particular biases and policy preferences are damaging our children’s ability to receive a quality education.

As on the Board, almost all have no training in pedagogy or child development, and no classroom experience. Most are people in their 20’s and 30’s who see promoting the corporate education reform agenda as a stepping stone in a career path which they began in the business world.

In reform-speak, both the Broad Academy and Residency are not mere programs: they are “pipelines.» …Once Broad alumni are working inside the education system, they naturally favor hiring other Broadies, which ups the leverage…

How to tell if your School District is Infected by the Broad Virus

  • Schools in your district are suddenly closed.
  • Even top-performing schools, alternative schools, schools for the gifted, are inexplicably and suddenly targeted for closure or mergers.
  • Repetition of the phrases “the achievement gap” and “closing the achievement gap” in district documents and public statements.
  • Repeated use of the terms “excellence” and “best practices” and “data-driven decisions.” (Coupled with a noted absence of any of the above.)
  • The production of “data” that is false or cherry-picked, and then used to justify reforms.
  • Power is centralized.
  • Decision-making is top down.
  • Local autonomy of schools is taken away.
  • Principals are treated like pawns by the superintendent, relocated, rewarded and punished at will.
  • Culture of fear of reprisal develops in which teachers, principals, staff, even parents feel afraid to speak up against the policies of the district or the superintendent.
  • Ballooning of the central office at the same time superintendent  makes painful cuts to schools and classrooms…

Click on the link to read more.  It may take a few minutes to load, but totally worth the read.  Also included are answers to the ever popular question:  «What can I do?»

The Broad patterns are visible in the latest suburban «reform infections» in (these must read pieces):

Eli Broad, one of the richest men in America, runs a private, unaccredited «academy» to train budding school leaders in corporate education reform. I put «academy» in quotes because the thing is really a book club: six weekends over ten months, which I consider an insult to the many dedicated professionals I know who work hard to earn their Ph.D.s and Ed.D.s at real, accredited institutions of higher learning before taking over school districts.

“Morale is as low as I have ever seen it.  Virtually every teacher I speak to, especially the strongest teachers, are planning their exit strategies.  The environment is about compliance and loyalty and there is absolutely no emphasis on strong teaching.” He goes on to say that “the administrative team is extremely weak,” “Teachers are writing lesson plans that are never read,” and “We are being treated as a failing school when there are some highly successful things about the school.”

and

Within months of his arrival, Mr. Capone managed to fire both the president and the vice-president of the local teachers union, among other staff, in the middle of a contract negotiation. The ostensible reason for this was to free up monies for improved instruction; however, Capone simultaneously hired more central office staff, including a «data analyst,» rather than putting all of the savings back into Highland Park’s classrooms. 

The criteria for the selection of schools to be closed is a mystery to the community that is trying to find what must be done to the keep their community school open so their children do not have to walk or travel long distances to school. Parents are told their schools are not cost effective because of under enrollment (which are largely due to student transfers to charters), the building is too old, or they are given no clear reason for the community school being closed. At some point in the process, charter schools are offered as an option to distressed parents.

In cities where this process has begun, vacant closed schools are blight in already impoverished communities, or they are turned over to charters, or they are sold to real estate interests at bargain basement prices. This is the script being followed by graduates of the Broad Superintendents Academy all over the country.

He Who Pays the Piper Calls the Tune

Philanthropies risk losing their tax-exempt status if they donate directly to candidates for public office, so some foundations have tried other ways to ensure they have the people they want in key posts. 

The Los Angeles–based Broad Foundation stipulated in the contract for a $430,000 grant to New Jersey’s Board of Education that Governor Chris Christie remain in office.  [emphasis added]

A Question to Consider
before the train derails:
  • “At what point do financial gifts begin reshaping public decision-making to fit a private agenda?…Even the best-intentioned gifts have a way of shifting behavior. Educators and the public, not individual philanthropists, should set the agenda for schools.”  – Times Editorial

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