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The phony superintendent hunt & Sleeping with the enemy
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
Another Option for Minneapolis School Board Voters (2004 General Election)
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004

by Doug Mann

The Minneapolis School Board had over 100 candidates to choose from, yet all 3 finalists are closely tied to the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems / Broad Foundation, which supports the same school transformation agenda as G.W. Bush, MN Governor Tim Pawlenty, and the current Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent Dave Jennings.

One finalist, Joseph Olshefske, participated in the Broad Foundation's 3rd strategic planning retreat, along with US secretary of Education Rod Paige and others. The other finalists for MPS superintendent, Dr. Cheryl King and Thandiwe Peebles, are among the 36 graduates of the Broad Foundation's superintendent training program, which has been up and running since 2001. - alumni profiles http://www.broadcenter.org/alumni.shtml

Were the rest of the 7 semifinalists mentioned by board member Audrey Johnson also Broad Center graduates? Did the Minneapolis School Board seriously consider any candidates not provided by the Broad Centers superintendent school placement office?

The Broad Foundation was founded in 1999 by Eli Broad, who provided $400 million seed money, and Michigan governor John Engler, a well-know school voucher advocate. The Broad Foundation is targeting urban school districts with high concentrations of low-come and minority students for funding and "reform." Rod Paige is at the top of the Broad Foundation's "Heroes list."

The Broad Foundation's reform agenda: Promoting "No Child Left Behind," a business model" for running schools, more superintendents with nonacademic backgrounds, more charter schools, the elimination of tenure and seniority rights for teachers, "pay for performance" schemes for teachers, and changing the National Labor Relations Act and state labor laws to allow for the establishment of employer-dominated unions (at least for the teaching profession).

The key reform promoted by "No Child Left Behind" and the Broad Foundation is closing district-run schools and replacing them with charter schools, which are generally nonunion and pay their employees less money. Charter schools generally have to make do with less money than district-run schools because charter schools don't get local tax money (property taxes). "No Child Left Behind" proposes to close the gap through 'choice' and competition between schools. The invisible hand of the market will somehow close the learning gap.

The reorganization plan presented by Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent David Jennings included moving students out of the district-run schools and into more charter schools, and watering-down or eliminating teacher tenure and seniority rights. Last year the district refused to pay "step and lane" pay increases, an obvious ploy to pressure teachers into switching to a pay-for-performance, which was made an option in the teachers contract a few years ago, but only about one-third of the teachers signed on.

Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (local 59) president Louise Sundin is listed as a presenter for at least one Broad Foundation seminars on transforming teachers unions, and is the leader of one of 30 teachers union locals that is affiliated to the Teacher's Union Reform Network, TURN, which is financially supported, in part, by the Broad Foundation.

In a 2001 press release announcing a pledge by the Broad Foundation to invest $1.7 million in TURN, Eli Broad said: "We are proud to support this truly revolutionary project. The Broad Foundation and the Teachers Union Reform Network are launching a groundbreaking initiative to create a new breed of collective bargaining agreement for teachers that will focus on accountability, student achievement and quality teaching -- rather than just work rules, salaries and grievance procedures." --  Press release dated Friday, June 1, 2001 http://www.broadfoundation.org/med-news/2001-0601.shtml

One of 3 books listed recommended at the TURN web site is United Mind Workers: Unions and Teaching in the Knowledge Society, which advocates getting away from "job Protection unionism." http://www.turnexchange.net/web/resources.htm
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Note: I was made aware of the Broad Foundation connection during an interview with a City Pages reporter about the superintendent search.