What Rhee Promised to the Billionaires (Walton, Gates, et al) but Didn’t Deliver

Part Three of Many

Over and over again, Michelle Rhee and her acolytes in the DC public schools (including the now-disgraced former leader, George Parker) promised utterly amazing results to the boards of the Arnold, Broad, Robertson, and Walton Family Foundations would occur, for which DCPS would receive up to $64.5 million to pay for bonuses and a contract that pretty much eliminated any job security for teachers, since principals could use almost any staffing-related excuse to fire almost anybody at the end of a school year, with no recourse unless the teacher could somehow find another job at another school.

I cut-and-pasted here the phrase that occurs, word for word, in the agreement between Rhee and each and every single one of those foundations:

what DCPS committed to in the Predicted Gains

Let me spell that out again, in text form:

“D.C. Public Schools and the D.C. Public Education Fund must verify that D.C. Public Schools is meeting the student achievement outcomes detailed in the ‘Predicted Gains’ document received on February 16, 2010.”

In other words, if they want to keep the money, they are REQUIRED to meet these goals. One would think that if they didn’t meet those goals, then there should be some consequences. Those consequences are spelled out on page 8 of the published PDF:

breach of agreement

A lot of fine print, but here is the important part:

“in the event of any material breach of any Grant Agreement or these Grant Terms and Conditions by DCPS, [then the fund that is administering the grant] reserves the right to withhold or withdraw any or all [money] Grants then due or owed, regardless …”

You would think that they would have let the public know whether Rhee et al had met their goals or not, right? Well, I’ve showed so far that out of the two I’ve checked, Rhee & Henderson met neither one, not even close.

You can find the original agreement here.

And here are ALL of the numerical goals again, for your viewing pleasure:

what rhee et al promised

How many of these 78* goals do you think they have actually achieved?


*I count 16 DCPS growth targets, 48 goals for closing the racial/ethnic achievement gaps on the DC-CAS, 10 specific numerical goals for the NAEP, and 4 goals for being in the top half of all NAEP-TUDA districts by the year 2013.


The saga so far:

  1.  https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/did-any-of-michelle-rhees-promises-actually-work-in-dc/
  2. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/more-on-michelle-rhees-promises-concerning-dcps/
  3. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/what-rhee-promised-to-the-billionaires-walton-gates-et-al-but-didnt-deliver/  (this one)
  4. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/two-more-promises-by-rhee-et-al-were-they-kept/
  5. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/ten-more-promises-from-rhee-henderson-company-were-any-of-them-kept/
  6. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/33-6-for-nearly-all-values-of-3-not-5/
  7. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/5281/
  8. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/more-failures-to-deliver-on-promises-by-michelle-rhee-and-her-acolytes/
  9. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/another-day-another-bunch-of-failures-from-rhee-henderson/
  10. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/even-more-missed-targets-dc-cas-proficiency-in-2010-and-2011/
  11. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/rhees-failures-in-dc-the-continuing-saga-2012-dc-cas/
  12. https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/the-long-list-of-failures-by-rhee-and-henderson-continued/


Once again, let me credit my colleague Erich Martel for coming up with the idea of going back to the original promises and seeing if they were kept or not, and sharing his findings with me. These calculations are generally my own, so if you find any mistakes, don’t blame him. Blame me.

Billionaire Arnold’s Deceptive Campaign Against Worker Pensions

David Sirota has written a hard-hitting expose of how Enron billionaire John Arnold has managed to create the impression that the major financial crisis hitting our nation is not billionaires like Arnold ripping off the public, but instead the modest pensions and health benefits of millions of public workers.

Sirota explains that Arnold did it by paying supposedly ‘impartial’ think-tanks like the Brookings Institution to come up with position papers saying that the only solution to budget crises in various states and municipalities is to cut workers’ pension plans and their health benefits, leaving out entirely the idea of raising taxes on the very wealthy or ending subsidies for large corporations.

I strongly recommend reading the article.

An excerot:

Rule 3: [for producing deceptive advertising disguised as objective reporting] Forward prepackaged assumptions that serve the native advertiser’s goals, and do not mention facts that undermine the native advertiser’s agenda

Self-serving assumptions and strategic framing are among the most critical components of native ads. Arnold’s public television series, for example, was called “The Pension Peril” – the idea being that pensions are primarily or even singularly causing a financial crisis in states.

It’s the same technique in the Arnold-funded Brookings paper. By the paper’s own admission, it “starts from the premise that the pension systems in many states have simply become unsustainable.”  Largely ignored is the data showing that while some pension funds face problems, those problems are typically small compared to other bigger budget problems.

For instance, the Center for Economic and Policy Research notes that pension shortfalls are “less than 0.2 percent of projected gross state product over the next 30 years” and “even in the cases of the states with the largest shortfalls, the gap is less than 0.5 percent of projected state product.” Similarly, Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research reports that pension contributions “account for only 3.8 percent of state and local spending.”

Summing all that data up, McClatchy Newspapers has noted that “there’s simply no evidence that state pensions are the current burden to public finances that their critics claim.” Meanwhile, what pension shortfalls do exist are far smaller in total than the amount state and local governments arespending each year on subsidies and tax breaks to corporations.

These facts are nowhere to be found in the Brookings report. Instead, pension cutting politicians like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) are lauded for “successfully creating a sense of crisis around the pension system” and for pleading poverty to justify retirement benefit cuts. Amazingly, the paper does not contrast Christie pleading poverty with his handing out a record amount of corporate subsidies, signing legislation to expand those expensive corporate handouts and proposing expensive new tax cuts for the future.

Published in: on March 1, 2014 at 9:35 am  Comments (3)  
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