| Public Core
Public Core is an organization of West Contra Costa County parents, teachers, community members, and school staff who fight for public control and accountability in our schools. We believe that public schools, open to all, are essential to the health of a democratic society. Our goal is high quality, inclusive public education for all students. We believe that the proliferation of privately-operated schools using public money will increase inequalities in education and in our society. We are dedicated to informing the public about the impact of publicly-funded, privately operated schools on our community.
California Charter Schools Association
A statewide lobbying organization that promotes expansion and proliferation of charter schools.
In 2011, they received a $15M gift from the Walton Family Foundation for the stated goal to add 20,000 more charter school students in Los Angeles and 100,000 statewide. They receive general operating support from the Gates Foundation ($800K annually) and other major foundations. They have offices in Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Oakland.
See the following for the kind of work they do:
In WCCUSD, this meant filing a lawsuit to get access to parcel tax funds for the schools operated by their members. WCCUSD reportedly settled the suit because the CCSA threatened to run a campaign opposing the renewal of the parcel tax if their member schools weren’t allowed a cut. See: https://edsource.org/2016/district-settles-lawsuit-agrees-to-share-parcel-tax-with-charters/95465
One important thing to note is that not all charter schools in WCCUSD are members of the CCSA. See our list of charter schools in the district for this information.
Go West Contra Costa (Go Public Schools)
This organization was founded in Oakland during the beginning of the charter takeover of OUSD. Some of the work they have done in Oakland has been useful in providing interpretation and coverage of school board decisions. But as they grew, they began more and more to see things the same way the privatizers see them. And that’s when they decided to expand to WCCUSD. Now their decisions and policy are reliably pro-charter, though they claim they are there to advocate for all students.
When they started in Oakland, there were two sides of the organization: a 501(c)(3) for some activities and a 501(c)(4) for when they wanted to support/oppose/endorse candidates and issues. Now their tax status appears to be in flux. As they are growing, the emerging statewide Go Leadership Center looks like it may be taking the helm as the 501(c)(4), though that is not clear. The two ‘field offices’ of Oakland and West Contra Costa identify themselves as 510(c)(3)s.
See GoPS501c4Consulting.pdf to get a sense of the kind of work they do.
In WCCUSD, the director is someone who founded a corporate charter school while posing as the PTA co-president of her neighborhood school, and who still publicly and misleadingly advocates for moving charter students to the front of the line for resources. (See 2:28:09 of the WCCUSD Board meeting, May 25, 2016). The organization regularly appropriates content developed by the California PTA, as if to trade on the name of the 100-year-old truly public and transparent organization. Indeed, we wonder if they are trying to step into the shoes of the PTA, with professional, unelected, unaccountable staff who have “complicated” agendas.
Their major funding is from organizations that have strong ties to corporate privatizers and the original Walton Foundation funders. The Scully Foundation is one of their local major funders, and John Scully, a board member, is not only a founder of another charter school in WCCUSD, but also gave $486,000 in April 2016 to the California Charter Schools Association Advocates Independent Expenditure fund to influence the 2016 elections here and across the state.
The question is this: If this group is truly trying to bridge any sort of communication gap between charters and traditional public schools, are they fulfilling the mission of holding "leaders accountable" by including leaders of charter schools who advocate pushing in line before the thousands of deserving kids in public schools? Or does their vision of serving those kids only work if the kids leave public schools for charter schools?
Further, if Go WCC (and Go Leadership Center) thinks a traditional school board merits a "watch" list, shouldn't all boards that serve students merit the same? Why not publish charter board agendas? Why not review their work?
Founded by Stephen and Susan Chamberlin, this organization is a pro-charter political action committee. They have an arrangement with the reporters at the East Bay Times (formerly the Contra Costa Times) to never call them anything but an “advocacy organization” or “a non-profit.” See our Story of Pro-charter Money in the 2014 election for details.
Their paid staff joined forces with the critics of the bond program to demand a > $1 million dollar forensic audit that is now having cost overruns of its own. The drive behind this is to find potential wrongdoing by a long-gone board member and other staff, many of whom have moved on. Meanwhile, even while the district has undertaken the audit, a paid Education Matters representative has appeared at every board meeting for the past two years to use public comment time to refresh accusations of fraud. The results are still not available, but to be clear, the role of the forensic audit is to (Phase 1) identify processes that put the district at risk, and to (Phase 2) figure out the best ways to modify risky processes going forward. So you see, the Forensic Audit does not, and never will, have the scope or the authority to press charges or to find wrongdoing. Consequently, we conclude, that the persistent efforts by Education Matters to imply that individuals have broken the law and will be indicted are political theater for the purpose of maintaining constant doubt in the public eye about WCCUSD's ability to manage its affairs and specifically, the large bond program. These actions expose the Chamberlins as hypocrites with a complex agenda that has nothing to do with helping children and giving back to their community.
Interestingly, Education Matters’ concerns about transparency and fiscal stewardship only extend so far as it concerns district schools. They have been silent about the secrecy and extra-legal qualities of the potential Adams sale.
Further, while spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2014 to support the candidates they think they can control, they offered tiny little grants to public school teachers for their classrooms, but only in exchange for a PR blurb.
We conclude, based on observing words versus actions, that the role of Education Matters seems to be to cut the district off at its knees, so it can’t serve kids as well as the nearby charter schools.
In mid-July, 2016, they held an endorsement meeting to evaluate potential candidates for the two open WCCUSD Board seats for the November 2016 election. Their panel, which is dominated by charter interests, will make a recommendation to Steve and Susan Chamberlin, and then Education Matters will make an endorsement considering its interests.
Students for Education Reform Action Network (SFER-AN)
A corporate education reform Industry front group. Chapters are staffed and run from a central office in New York. Paid internships for college students in key targeted takeover cities. Richmond is one of these cities.
Although Students for Education Reform is run by students, the self-described “grassroots” group is governed by a Board of Directors that is made up of some of the biggest corporate executives and players associated with the Corporate Education Reform Industry. See: http://jonathanpelto.com/2015/12/03/sfer-the-7-million-student-run-corporate-education-reform-industry-front-group/