The then Mayor Cory Booker. Mark Zuckerberg is in the background.

Update on January 10, 2017:

We have come across additional information on Cory Booker’s predilection for the corporatization of public schools.

Booker was on the Alliance for School Choice (ASC) Board of Directors from 2004 to 2008 along with Betsy DeVos. Also note that John Walton of the Walton family was a founder of ASC.


To view the source of the document above, go to the program for the Alliance for School Choice Summit in 2008.

According to ALEC exposed:

The Alliance for School Choice (ASC) is a conservative 501(c)(3) non-profit group that promotes the school privatization agenda via the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other avenues. It is affiliated with the 501(c)(4) advocacy group the American Federation for Children.[1] Former Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, who was charged with multiple crimes stemming from abuse of his office, is on staff at ASC as Senior Advisor to its Government Affairs Team.[2]

In the organization’s own words, ASC “is the nation’s vanguard organization for promoting, implementing, and enhancing K-12 educational choice. In collaboration with a host of national and state allies, we create opportunities for systemic and sustainable educational reform that puts parents in charge.”[3]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

ASC is a member of ALEC’s Education Task Force. Scott Jensen represented the organization on the task force as of July 2011 when he was ASC’s “National Consultant for State Projects” (ALEC also lists him as representing the 501(c)(4) wing of the group, American Federation for Children). Jonathan Nikkila, ASC’s Government Affairs Director, also represented the organization on the task force at that time.[4]

In an interview with former head of ASC Clint Bolick:

The Alliance for School Choice has generally been focused on defending voucher programs against lawsuits that claim they violate the First Amendment’s establishment clause (or roughly, the idea of separating church and state). As Bolick has pointed out, the words “separation of church and state” aren’t in the Constitution. There are also all sorts of other precedents for using state money for non-religious ends via religious means. Veterans can use their education stipends at religious colleges, some Head Start programs are held in churches. etc.

This past summer, though, the Alliance for School Choice decided to take a more pro-active approach, which Bolick calls “voucher remedy litigation.” Rather than wait for a district, city, or state to pass a voucher law, he sued the Newark, NJ public schools for failing to provide an equitable and thorough education to its students. As part of the remedy, he asked the NJ courts to force the district to impose a voucher solution.

Booker was also on the Advisory Board for Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). In the words of Marla Kilfoyle and Melissa Tomlinson in their peer reviewed white paper The Intended Consequences of the DFER Education Agenda:

The Democrats for Education Reform have initiated a shameless war on public education, even as they claim to support children, teachers, and schools.

There is much to beware of when Cory Booker begins to talk about public education.

Now, to the original article:

Cory Booker is no friend of public education

I have heard Cory Booker’s name off and on for several years and not in a very good light.

On Thursday he will be in Seattle to talk about “Finding common ground as a nation”.

It will be interesting to see what he says about education.

In the past, Booker has pushed for vouchers and charter schools. Has he matured enough to become more knowledgeable about the disastrous effect of privatization?

In 2012 I posted Cory Booker and the $100M gift to Newark Public Schools. It was about Booker’s decision to keep the $100,000 gift made by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to be used by public schools under wraps. It was a smarmy move by the then Mayor Cory Booker.

In 2013, Booker was active in Democrats for Education Reform (DFER).

According to DFER Watch:

Democrats for Education Reform is a political action committee supported largely by hedge fund managers favoring charter schools, merit-pay tied to test scores, high-stakes testing, school choice (including vouchers and tuition tax credits in some cases), mayoral control, and alternative teacher preparation programs.

Diane Ravitch describes DFER in her post Follow the Money.

If you want to know why so many politicians think so highly of charters, there is a basic rule of  politics that explains it all: Follow the money.

The most visible organization promoting corporate reform is called Democrats for Education Reform, known as DFER (commonly pronounced “D-fer”). DFER is the Wall Street hedge fund managers’ group. It always has a few non-hedge funders on the board, especially one or two prominent African-Americans, to burnish its pretentious claim of leading the civil rights movement of our day. Kevin Chavous, a former council member from Washington, D.C., fills that role for now, along with the DFER stalwart, Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark. DFER has its own member of the U.S. Senate, Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado. It has also raised money generously for Congressman George Miller, the senior Democrat on the House Education and Labor Committee.

This group bankrolls politicians, woos them, raises campaign cash for them, and persuades them of the advantages of turning the children of their district over to privately managed schools. Watch their website to see which politician they favor this month and scan those they have recognized in the past.

In New York City, Hakeem Jeffries, DFERs’s candidate for U.S. Congress, announced his support for tax credits for religious schools on the day after he won the election. His support for charter schools was already well known.

In 2013, Jersey Jazzman wrote:

The next few weeks should determine whether there is actually going to be a Democratic primary race for the open Senate seat in New Jersey, or whether Cory Booker will simply stride to Washington with token opposition. Representatives Frank Pallone and Rush Holt are Booker’s only serious opposition, but each trails the Newark mayor by more than 40 points.

I’m watching this race carefully because, as regular readers know, Booker is one of the reformyest politicians in New Jersey, if not the country. He supports school vouchers (but not health care vouchers – hypocrite), loves charters, thinks merit pay for teachers is a great idea, wants to do away with seniority, and seems to have no problems with error-prone test-based teacher evaluation. He accepts scads of money from edu-vultures like Andrew Tisch of K12 Inc., yet thinks that the teacher payroll in Newark is too big. Cory Booker, in short, is one of the least friendly politicians to public school teachers and public education in the Democratic party. His election to the Senate would undoubtedly mean the upper chamber would gain yet another acolyte for SecEd Arne Duncan and his failed policies. 

In 2014, Diane Ravitch posted the following in her post Bob Braun: How Could NJEA Endorse Cory Booker?

Bob Braun, veteran investigative journalist is baffled: the New Jersey Educational Association endorsed Cory Booker, who loves vouchers and charters. About 90% of charters are non-union. About 100% of voucher schools are non-union.

Braun asks:

“In the latest NJEA Review, the organization that calls itself a union and supporter of public education not only endorses this pro-voucher, pro-charter, pro-Cami Anderson, pro-Chris Christie candidate of Wall Street, it also provides a forum for him to spread lies and half-truths. How, when the children and parents of Newark are suffering from the agony that is “One Newark,” when the city’s teacher union is under attack and about to be broken, how when Booker already has said he wanted to see Newark turned into the charter capital of New Jersey—how could the NJEA publish this rot?”

He adds:

“I went on a voucher pilgrimage to Milwaukee that Booker helped organize, a trip sponsored by the right-wing organization Education Excellence for Everyone (EEE). He brought us to see evangelical schools operated with public funds where students greeted each of us individually with “Jesus loves you.” He brought us to see Catholic schools kept alive with public money. And it was then that he began his nonsensical mantra—“Public school choice is the civil rights issue of our time.”

“To be honest, I was in favor of school choice until that trip. When I saw what it really looked like in operation, I was repelled. It meant the end of public education as we know it: And that is precisely what Cory Booker wants—and, if he succeeds, the NJEA will have helped him.”

If you go to Booker’s event, let me know what you think.

Dora Taylor