Anti-Union Ads in Chicago Paid for By Hedge Funds, Billionaires

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I wish I had known about this before the Chicago Teachers Union suspended their strike and returned to work, but it may shed some light on the timing of the suspension. At the least, it provides a little more context for what teachers unions have to deal with on the ground.

Apparently the above anti-union ad played non-stop on television in Chicago throughout the strike. It’s the product of Education Reform Now, a group that also sometimes goes by Democrats for Education Reform, depending on what pot of money they want to use. Formed in 2005, Education Reform Now has spent millions of dollars over the past few years, whether massaging public opinion or lobbying state legislatures or intervening in school board races.

Education Reform Now spent $10 million in New York state over a two-year period, lobbying Albany for changes to state law on teacher evaluations. They plan to be active in next year’s mayoral election. Former New York City school chancellor Joel Klein, who eventually made his way to work for Rupert Murdoch at News Corp, was the chairman of the Education Reform Now board. The group is closely affiliated with Students First, Michelle Rhee’s lobbying and advocacy group.

Take a look at some of the other members of the New York effort:

Joel Klein isn’t the only connection between Democrats for Education Reform and StudentsFirstNY. The Education Reform Now board includes some heavy-hitting charter school donors from the hedge fund world, including John Sabat of SAC Capital and Sidney Hawkins Gargiulo of Ziff Brothers Investments. Democrats for Education Reform was co-founded by John Petry of Columbus Capital Management, who also serves on the board of both that organization and Education Reform Now. All three board members are deeply involved in the Success Charter Network run by former City Councilmember Eva Moskowitz – who herself will serve on the StudentsFirst board.

In other words, a coterie of hedge fund managers, who have a vested interest in privatizing education through the charter schools they fund. The group got the Senate Majority Leader in New York to insert a provision into the budget allowing for for-profit charters in New York. It eventually got removed, but it’s sure to be back. That’s the whole enchilada.

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