Big Money Groups Fund Anti-Union Agendas


October 3, 2012
Around Town by Neal Tepel

StudentsFirst NY

StudentsFirst NY is headed by former Washington, D.C., Chancellor Michelle Rhee. According to The New York Times the group was formed “to counter the influence of the teachers’ union in New York.” On the board are some that have a history of anti-labor positions: Rhee, former chancellor Joel Klein and Eva Moskowitz, a former New York City councilwoman who now runs charter schools. Other board members are hedge fund managers Daniel Loeb and Paul Tudor Jones, founders of the Robin Hood Foundation. One of the group’s first actions in New York was to urge people to call for an end to seniority-based layoffs for teachers.


The New York Campaign for Achievement Now, or NYCAN, is backed by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. NYCAN is vigorously promoting “parent trigger” legislation that would allow a majority of parents at chronically underperforming schools to choose from several reform options, including converting the school into a charter school, firing the school administration or closing the school outright. Here in New York, NYCAN Executive Director Christina Grant who previously worked for Teach for America, a KIPP charter school and Uncommon Schools. NYCAN’s national affiliate, 50CAN, has retained Albany lobbyists to promote their agenda.


Democrats for Education Reform, is a corporate-backed political action committee that attacks retirement security and public education. The group has an aggressive anti-union agenda advocating for tax caps, vouchers, merit pay, nonunion charter schools and the elimination of tenure and seniority. The group’s New York branch is headed by Elizabeth Ling, a board director in the Harlem Success Academy charter school network and former banking financier. The board includes a “who’s who” of superrich hedge-fund managers and charter school proponents, including Whitney Tilson, a board member of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and New York’s KIPP Academy Charter School.


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