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Cory Booker is no friend of public education


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


…At least he wasn’t.

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

4 comments on “Cory Booker is no friend of public education

  1. Jill Reifschneider
    April 2, 2016

    Sad. I was a big fan of this guy early on.

  2. ciedie aech
    March 23, 2016

    Cory has become just another tool to be used by Venture Capital. So very, very sad.

  3. ciedie aech
    March 23, 2016

    I used to be such a big fan of Cory Booker. My reaction each time I hear of him these days is a sort of Shakespearean ET TU CORY of betrayal.

  4. Puget Sound Parent
    March 22, 2016

    Cory Booker is the epitome of the sellout, phony, pro-right wing, pro Wall Street, pro Hedge Fund, ersatz “Democrat.” But what’s MOST frustrating isn’t Booker’s corruption and mendacity—it’s the proclivity of so many Democrats and progressives who should know better, but apparently don’t.

    Their hearts may be in the right place but their heads couldn’t be more clogged with nonsense due to them apparently being “easy marks” for seduction.

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This entry was posted on March 22, 2016 by in Events and tagged .
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