Papering Over Public K-12 School Reform By Seth Sandronsky
Private interests are busy paying for political favors from lawmakers at the state Capitol in California, writes Dan Morain, a columnist with The Sacramento Bee: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/13/5905448/dan-morain-the-investigation-into.html
According to him, what we know about Sen. Ron Calderon, a pro-business Democrat representing Montebello, and snared in an FBI sting operation recently, is just the tip of the dollars-and-politics iceberg.
The good senator has ample company, Morain continues. He mentions other actors and forces in the fetid pay-to-play of California state politics.
Yet his column omits the donor role of a leading public K-12 school reform group under the state Capitol dome. What is going on?
Al Jazeera America’s Oct. 31 unveiling of an FBI affidavit that alleges Sen. Calderon’s multiple alleged wrongdoings includes his brother Thomas Calderon’s meeting with star education reformer Michelle Rhee’s lobbyists. Her StudentsFirst group operates from a national headquarters in Sacramento.
The affidavit alleges that StudentsFirst lobbyists met with Sen. Calderon’s brother on Feb. 20. On Feb. 21, Sen. Calderon introduced a teacher-reform measure, Senate Bill 441 that Rhee’s group supports: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/sen/sb_0401-0450/sb_441_cfa_20130423_084911_sen_comm.html
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Rhee’s husband and never a classroom teacher, backed Sen. Calderon’s SB 441, which failed to pass out of committee. The mayor’s education non-profit, Stand Up for Great Schools, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that accepts hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Walton Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the big-box retailer, also supported SB 441, which teacher unions opposed.