Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Reformster Poker Benefit

So, got a quarter million dollars burning a hole in your pocket and looking for a way to support the school privatization movement? Then I have the event for you!

It's the Sixth Annual Take 'Em To School Poker Tournament to benefit the fine folks at Education Reform Now. The evening of conspicuous consumption will be on Wednesday, July 22 at Gotham Hall in NYC, and it will be somewhat astonishing. The event will be hosted by Phil Hellmuth and include poker pros Phil Ivey, Erik Seidel, Andy Frankenberger, and Layne Flack.

On top of that, special guest players will include Hank Azaria, James Blake, Billy Crudup, David Einhorn, Seth Gilliam, Allan Houston, Brian Koppelman, Alex Kovalev, Marc Lasry, John Starks, and Vince Van Patten. So whether you like sporty folks or voice actors from the Simpsons, you've got a chance to rub special elbows.

You can have a table with two of those special guests for the low, low registration fee of $250,000 (the Royal Flush Table). No, I did not stutter or mistype. If five years' worth of teacher salary is too steep, settle for the Straight Flush Table for only $100,000. Only one special guest for you, but hey, if you wanted two guests, you should have been more rich. You can get a table of ten with amenities for $50K or just a plain boring table for $20K. If you don't have friends, you can get a single seat for $2,000, and if you're just there to gawk, eat, drink, and play casino games, $250 is now looking like a highly reasonable cost.

It sure beats a bake sale. Who throws a party like this? Well, co-chair of the event is our old friend Whitney Tilson, which makes sense, since Education Reform Now is just another variation on DFER-- neo-lib high-rolling hedge funding education privatizers who do fun things like try to defeat local anti-reform candidates and have silly philosopher retreats to think deep thoughts about reform.

Frankly, I like the idea of the Network for Public Education or BATs buying a table or two, then sitting there making rude comments about charter schools, common core, and testing all night. But I'm afraid that my exclusive tailor, Jean-Claude Pennee, could not whip up something appropriate in time. And I'm sure it takes a certain level of wealth to set up and participate in an event like this without feeling a twinge of shame or irony. On the website for the event we can find information like this:

Mississippi’s average per pupil expenditure is $7,890 per year while New Jersey’s is $17,620, a disparity reflected across the nation. There is a ceiling, however, on what can be achieved through traditional approaches to resource re-allocation. 

These are exactly the same people who declare that we have to get teacher pay under control and that you cannot improve public education by throwing money at it. Yes, throwing money at the education of children across America is a waste of money, money that could be spent on much more valuable and important things. But when the rich want to spend an evening throwing money at each other-- well, that's just good sense and great fun. 

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