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Advocacy: Group Launches AFT / Randi Weingarten Watchdog Effort

image from cdn.laborpains.orgA nonprofit advocacy group called the Center for Union Facts published a full-page ad in the New York Times last week (pictured), blaming AFT president Randi Weingarten and teachers unions for low PISA 2013 scores by American students.  

Reform gadfly Diane Ravitch didn't think much of the ad or the Times' decision to run it, based on this recent post (Rightwing Group Attacks Unions in “New York Times”).  

Since the shadowy new progressive reform group dubbed "Integrity In Education" isn't launching today as promised last week, let's talk about the Center for Union Facts, the NYT ad, and the Ravitch critique.

According to Ravtich, our PISA scores aren't declining, don't connect to larger economic successes, and -- this is sort of interesting - the AFT has approved some forms of merit pay (even though merit pay absolutely doesn't work).  

As usual, test scores don't mean much, except when they can be cited to show that reform ideas don't work. It's the Ravitch Contradiction (or some better turn of phrase).

Ravitch also slams the center that funded the ad, based on an anecdote from some time in the past in which she questioned Richard Berman over his critique of teachers union in New Jersey and he didn't know the answers. Case closed, as Ravitch says.

The ad didn't get much attention other than from Ravitch, though there's a small writeup in LaborPains.org  -- a publication of the Center for Union Facts (AFT Refuses to Reward Excellent Teachers, Protects Incompetence Instead).  

I'll save you reading it to say that it includes just one juicy quote -- yes, from Berman: "Randi Weingarten doesn’t care about reforming schools in the name of quality education; she cares about exploding government budgets in the name of filling her union’s bank account.”

According to a quick talk with someone at the Center, last week's ad is part of a newly-relaunched effort to call attention the gaps between AFT / Weingart rhetoric and actions (dubbed AFT Facts), isn't specifically funded or earmarked by a particular donor, and is slated to last for the next few months. I'l let someone else comb through the organization's 990 tax forms, but a quick search comes up with this donor warning from Charity Navigator.

Yesterday's Labor Pains headline:  Teachers Union Fights for Convicted Child Molester.

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Since you know about the Charity Navigator warning, Alexander, it's rather misleading ]to refer to this operation as a "nonprofit." (This is one of Richard Berman's many operations -- just Google.)

Charity Navigator has become aware of the following information in connection with this charity:

During our analysis of this charity’s FYE 2011 Form 990, the document revealed that more than half of the Center for Union Facts' functional expenses were paid to its CEO Richard Berman's for-profit management company, Berman and Company. The document revealed that, out of total expenses of $1.38 million, $870,000 were paid to Berman and Company for staff[ing] and operat[ing] the day-to-day activities' of the charity. See relevant pages from the organization's 2011 Form 990 filing via PDF files "CUFpage8," "CUFpage10," and "CUFscheduleL" for more information.
We find the practice of a charity contracting for management services with a business owned by that charity's CEO atypical as compared to how other charities operate and have therefore issued this Donor Advisory.

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