Friday, August 31, 2007

'Making a killing" in school reform

I don't think so.

August 31st

Response to Whitney Tilson

Thanks, Whitney Tilson, for responding to my blog. It boosts my confidence to know that bigwigs like you read it regularly and that it gives them shpilkes. Seriously, I really didn't mean to get you so upset.

But when a leader of Democrats for Educational Reform comes out in support of vouchers in Florida, I figure, they know someone's going to be critical. So, why shouldn't it be me?

Anyway, why act so offended? When I poked at you Wednesday for your pro-voucher, anti-union views, you responded in ill temper (I think that's what they call it at the Harvard Business School), calling my post "a pack of lies" and going so far as to correct a typo in my blog (my daughter already caught it, Whitney, so there).

This was your puny defense:
"Trying to make a killing in the charter school business"?! Yeah, that's right, the charter school business is so profitable that I'm telling all my friends in the hedge fund business that they're in the wrong business. My message: "If you really want to make a lot of money, start a charter school!" LOL! And I guess anyone who criticizes the behavior of the teachers unions is ipso facto a union hater. HA! I amnot a union hater -- though I hate many things that certain unions do.

I love his final line
"With Democrats like this, who needs Republicans?" I want Democrats to be so strong in leading the charge on school reform that Republican support isn't necessary -- that's the goal!!!
First let me say that I really like the LOL stuff. It shows that you're really into all this bloggerese.

Secondly, I'm not quite sure what you mean by "leading the charge on school reform." Did you mean that you want Democrats to outdo the conservatives in their attack on real reform? Be even more aggressive on union bashing and vouchers? What exactly do you mean, Whitney? How do you want to out-reform or supplant the neocons?

And what exactly do you tell your friends in the hedge fund business? C'mon, you can tell me. I promise not to share. And while you're at it, please tell me why a guy with friends in the hedge fund business should have so much say over what goes on in public education anyway?

I only made that "making a killing" crack after reading about you and your fellow money managers in Elizabeth Green's New York Sun article. Remember Whitney, I don't make this stuff up.

A money manager recently sent an e-mail to some partners, congratulating them on an investment of $1 million that yielded an estimated $400 million. The reasoning was that $1 million spent on trying to lift a cap on the number of charter schools in New York State yielded a change in the law that will bring $400 million a year in funding to new charter schools.
You see, that came straight from you and your friend and co-investor, Ravenel Boykin Curry IV (remember, I covered his wedding). While I'm certainly no money manager myself (not that I wouldn't like to be, but for educators, managing money takes on a completely different meaning) this article made me realize that there are different ways to "skin the cat," as you guys so nicely put it.

Here's your own quote, Whitney. After reading it, I think you will owe me an apology:
As investors, the group's leaders spend their days searching for hidden diamonds in the rough: businesses the market has left for dead, but a savvy investor could turn for a profit. A big inner-city school system, Mr. Tilson explained, is kind of like that — the General Motors of the education world. "I see very, very similar dynamics: very large bureaucratic organizations that have become increasingly disconnected from their customers; that are producing an inferior product and losing customers; that are heavily unionized," he said. A successful charter school, on the other hand, is like "Toyota 20 years ago."
OMG, you guys are trying to make a killing in the charter school business. I think our differences are semantic ones, over the words "make a killing." It's really all about what you are trying to kill, i.e., public education and what you are ("ipso facto") trying to save, i.e., vouchers.

BTW, how do you reconcile being a Democrat with your support for vouchers? LMAO. As I said, "with Democrats like this, who needs Republicans?"


PREAPrez knowledgably points out:

"There’s a start of a conversation you never hear in the teachers’ lounge: 'As I was telling my friends in the hedge fund business…'"

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

With Democrats like this, who needs Republicans?

August 29th

He likes Obama and vouchers

A while back, Alexander Russo asked the question, "Who the hell is Whitney Tilson?" Turns out he's part of a group of four Ownership Society entrepreneurs trying to make a killing in the charter school business. See my post on this here and Elizabeth Green's story in the New York Sun. He's also a player in KIPP, a union hater, and a Democratic (yes, I said Democratic) Party honcho who claims to support Barack Obama.

Not surprisingly, he is a favorite of Andy Rotherham, who runs Tilson's pro-voucher commentary on his Eduwonk bog.

With Democrats like this, who needs Republicans?


How the hate campaign worked

Samuel Freedman has a piece in today's NYT ("Critics ignored record of a Muslim principal") about the hate campaign against the Kahlil Gibran International Academy and how it succeeded in driving Principal Debbie Almontaser out of her job.

For anyone who bothered to look for it, Ms. Almontaser left a clear, public record of interfaith activism and outreach across the boundaries of race, ethnicity and religion. Her efforts, especially after the Sept. 11 attacks, earned her honors, grants and fellowships. She has collaborated so often with Jewish organizations that an Arab-American newspaper, Aramica, castigated her earlier this summer for being too close to a “Zionist organization,” meaning the Anti-Defamation League.