Sunday, November 19, 2017

ICYMI: Last Quiet Weekend Edition (11/19)

Some important reads this week. As always, I encourage you to share and tweet and email anything you read that you think deserves a wider audience, because you, dear reader, are how those pieces get a wider audience.

Florida Teacher Shortage

Many, many folks have read the piece I wrote in response to this Sun-Sentinel article about the teacher shortage [sic] in Florida, but I encourage you to go read the original reporting, which is really top notch.

After a Political Rout in Massachusetts, New York Astro-Turf Group Mulling Strategy

When a bunch of millionaires poured money into launching new charter rules in Massachusetts, tey had no idea they'd get spanked this badly. What now? A look at one of the big dark money groups driving the charter school movement.

The Every Student Succeeds Act's Hollow Educational Ambition

Rick Hess (AEI) is a reformster, but he's not afraid to point out when ed reform makes some stupid moves. Here's his take on how NCLB dropped the ball, and ESSA is dropping the same ball again.

Closing the Gap for Native American Youth

A new study, the first ever done, looks at what can be done to close the gap for native American children. This will take you to the study; if that seems daunting, I will try to get to it at some point.

How Ed Reform Ate the Democratic Party

Jennifer Berkshire looks at the sad history of how the Democratic Party decided to stop being the party of public education and instead transformed itself into GOP-lite.

How Stranger Things Shows Support for Public Schools

One small feature of the hit Netflix series is how it places the local school in the middle of the community.

Schooling Is Never Neutral

The JLV with a brief but important reminder

The DC School Reform Fiasco: A Complete History

John Merrow and Mary Levy have created a comprehensive look at the DC "reform" shenanigans of She Who Will Not Be Named and others.  An important counterpoint to all the folks who keep insisting that DC is an example of school reform working.

But It Was The Very Best Butter

Almost forgot this one-- a quick explanation of how a good test can still be a bad test


  1. Peter,

    There's a story that connects the Harvey Weinstein debacle to the corporate ed. reform industry that no one has yet picked up on. I thought you might be interested, or at least let me post about it.

    Here goes:

    When it comes to hypocrisies, check out this latest.

    First, some background ...

    In the last few years, Campbell Brown has made countless joint appearances with David Boies, the Chairman of her union-busting Parents for Educational Justice (PEJ) organization, and also as the lead attorney in the original Vergara lawsuit, and the copycat Vergara lawsuits that PEJ exported to other states, including the one in New York City.

    Here's one of those joint appearance:

    ( 1:58 - )
    ( 1:58 - )
    CAMPBELL BROWN: "You read this story in the newspaper about a teacher who engaged in sexual misconduct, and they still aren't able to remove that teacher (because of evil teacher unions, JACK) ... "

    Every chance she gets, Campbell and Boies call out teachers unions for "going to bat for" and protecting sexual predator teachers. For example, here she is in the Wall Street Journal once again positioning herself, Boies, and PEJ as the protectors / avengers of children sexual abused by teachers.

    The claims and statistics she used to make this predator-teachers-are-running-rampant argument were, at the time, immediately debunked, but that's another story.

    Truth, however, was not the point. She and her allies were and are trying to get people to react emotionally --- who doesn't despise child molestors? --- and consequently turn against teacher unions. Appealing to the emotions and to fear is is a classic propaganda technique. Trumped used it to get elected. The Nazis did this with Jews with movies like Veit Harlan's JEW SUSS, which portrays them as slobbering rapists out to defile innocent German women.

    The title and top note of Campbell's WSJ article are :
    "Campbell Brown: Teachers Unions Go to Bat for Sexual Predators
    "The system to review misconduct is rigged so even abusive teachers can stay on the job."

    Keep all this in mind when you ponder this latest. You're not gonna believe this.

    According to Ronan Farrow's NEW YORKER article released a couple days ago ...

    .. David Boies, again the SAME lead attorney in California's Vergara's farce, and the Chariman of Brown's Partner's for Educational Justice, which is exporting Vergara copy-cat lawsuits to other states. and whose mug was everywhere during all phases of that failed let-'s-bust-unions by-destroying-their-tenure Vergara lawsuit, and also during all those joint appearances with Campbell when new such lawsuits were being filed in other states ...

    ... this is just too incredible ...

    ... for years, Boes engineered a massive and insidious covert network of spooks and private investigators --- including ex-agents from Israel's Mossad secret police (???!!!) --- to spy on, then attack Harvey Weinstein's victims who, in spite of Boies' pressure, were FINALLY starting to speak out during the last year leading up to the media firestorm that began in September. It was an obviously failed effort, as we all know now, to intimidate those victims into silence.

    For years, Boies' group was doing the same thing to any journalists that were thinking of reporting on Weinstein's predation.



    Hmmm ...

    Who's "going to bat for sexual predators?"

    Who's being paid "to keep abusive" people "on the job?"
    ------------------------------ --------------
    NEW YORKER's Ronan Farrow:

    "In some cases, the investigative effort was run through Weinstein’s lawyers, including David Boies, a celebrated attorney who represented Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential-election dispute and argued for marriage equality before the U.S. Supreme Court. Boies personally signed the contract directing Black Cube to attempt to uncover information that would stop the publication of a Times story about Weinstein’s abuses, while his firm was also representing the Times, including in a libel case.

    "Boies confirmed that his firm contracted with and paid two of the agencies and that investigators from one of them sent him reports, which were then passed on to Weinstein. He said that he did not select the firms or direct the investigators’ work. He also denied that the work regarding the Times story represented a conflict of interest. Boies said that his firm’s involvement with the investigators was a mistake. 'We should not have been contracting with and paying investigators that we did not select and direct,' he told me.

    “ 'At the time, it seemed a reasonable accommodation for a client, but it was not thought through, and that was my mistake. It was a mistake at the time.'

    "Techniques like the ones used by the agencies on Weinstein’s behalf are almost always kept secret, and, because such relationships are often run through law firms, the investigations are theoretically protected by attorney-client privilege, which could prevent them from being disclosed in court. The documents and sources reveal the tools and tactics available to powerful individuals to suppress negative stories and, in some cases, forestall criminal investigations."
    ------------------------------ --------------
    This is truly stupefying news.

    What an absolutely monumental piece-of-sh-- Boies is!

    Another aspect of this is that the New York Times fired Boies and his firm once Farrow's piece hit the press.

    Think about that for a second:

    ... for years, Boies had been hired by --- and getting extremely well-paid by (millions) --- the NY Times to defend it against various and totally separate libel lawsuits .... while, at the same time, Boies was deliberately hiding the fact that his firm, (including ex-Mossad ageints) --- was covertly intimidating reporters --- including New York Times staffers and writers --- into dropping the story. This is in addition to his campaign to pressure Weinstein victims into not speaking out, not just to the NEW YORKER's Ronan Farrow, but also to the NY Times reporters who did a story covering the same ground.

    Chew on that for a second: Boies is terrorizing New York Time reporters into not covering and dropping the Weinstein story ... while being paid by the NY Times to provide legal services for the Times in separate libel suits being brought against the Times. (sorry about being repetitive)



    Well, the NY Times found out and immediately fired Boies and his firm, and blasting him for his "betrayal" and "reprehensible" work for Weinstein.

    "The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow reported Monday that lawyer David Boies, working on behalf of Weinstein, contracted with a team of private investigators, including former Mossad agents, to try to kill a negative New York Times story about Weinstein. Boies firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, has represented the newspaper three times in the last 10 years. The firm was reportedly defending the Times in a libel suit at the same time it was hiring private investigators to target its journalists.

    “ 'We never contemplated that the law firm would contract with an intelligence firm to conduct a secret spying operation aimed at our reporting and our reporters,' the Times said in a statement obtained by Politico’s Michael Calderone.

    “ 'Such an operation is reprehensible ... we should have been treated better by a firm that we trusted,' the statement continued."

    Here's SLATE's coverage of this, where they report that the New York Times is going to sue Boies and his firm, and also seek Boies' disbarment (presumably that's what "pursuing appropriate remedies" refers to) :

    SLATE: "Luban also noted that Boies’ sanctioning of intelligence work on behalf of Weinstein could be ethically questionable under Rule 5.3, which prohibits lawyers from directing or approving a nonlawyer’s “specific conduct” that they themselves could not undertake without getting disbarred.

    " ... "

    "Legal ethics expert and Georgetown Law professor David Luban told us in an email that, at minimum, Boies could have run afoul of Rule 1.7 of New York’s rules of professional conduct, which bars lawyers from representing a client 'if a reasonable lawyer would conclude that … the representation will involve the lawyer in representing different interests.' There are exceptions, but they require informed consent from both clients, which Boies did not provide to the Times.

    “ 'We learned today that the law firm of Boies Schiller and Flexner secretly worked to stop our reporting on Harvey Weinstein at the same time as the firm’s lawyers were representing us in other matters,' the newspaper said in a statement.

    “ 'We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe. It is inexcusable and we will be pursuing appropriate remedies.' ”



    One more thing ... tying in Boies to TFA.

    My favorite part of Brown & Boies' Morning Joe segment is when Boies --- who's supposedly all about attracting high quality teachers --- sings the praises of schools hiring untrained Teacher for America Corps Members who've never set foot in to a classroom (???!!!) :

    Why, Boies says that he even has TFA CM's over at his house for weekend barbecue picnics!!!

    Hear him tell THAT story.

    ( 5:21 - )
    ( 5:21 - )
    DAVID BOIES: "Every summer, we have Teach for America for a picnic, and they're just great! They're enthusiastic, and yet some people want to keep Teach for America out of New York City Schools. It doesn't make any sense if what you want volunteers to do- "

    MORNING JOE: "Why do they want to keep them out?"

    (Oh gee … I don't know. Maybe it's because they've never taught a day in their lives, are totally untrained, and that 90% quit within two or three years, JACK)

    DAVID BOIES: "Because they (veteran unionized teachers) view them as competition for people who are already teaching there. I think that maybe they're disruptive in the sense that they have new ideas and enthusiasm, and that's what teaching is about!"

    Yeah, right, David. Veteran teachers are jealous of and intimidated by TFA's "new ides and enthusiasm" and the resulting "competition."



    Here's a better link to the MORNING JOE video in the post above.

    Watching Boies recount how TFA CM's are chillin' and hangin' with Boies at one of his backyard barbecues conjures up an image:

    Boies is wearing an apron, and a chef's hat while flipping steaks and lobsters at on one of those weekend barbecues in his backyard --- where he's again entertaining TFA teachers --- acting friendly to the visiting TFA CM's at one turn.

    BOIES: (quiet, genial .. to TFA teachers) "Hey Seth and Caitlin. It's 'surf-'n-turf' time. How'd you like your filet mignons and lobsters done? ... You know I really love your Ivy League enthusiasm and new ideas that you guys bring to education. It's just too bad those evil teachers union members can't handle the competition you TFA youngsters are bringing to reforming our schools.

    "Also, it's too bad that teacher unions are protecting sexual predator teachers, and attacking anyone trying to get them out of the classroom."

    ... then enraged at another turn, as he's repeatedly interrupted on his cellphone by ex-Mossad spooks who are giving him the latest Harvey victim intel and/or asking for Boies' instructions on how to obliterate or intimidate the latest complaining Hollywood actress who has spilt the beans on Harvey, or is about to spill the beans on Harvey:

    BOIES: (screaming into his cell phone) "I need DIRT!!! Ya hear me?! Dirt!! Drug use! Abortions! Nude photos! Sex tapes from vindictive ex-boyfriends! Whatever you can dig up! And then use it to nail that b---h and shut her the-f--k-up! She's gonna find that getting raped on Harvey's casting couch is nothing compared to what WE are gonna do to her! And tell those New York Times reporters we're going to cut of their heads and bury 'em in Central Park if they don't lay off Harvey!!! YOU GOT IT??!!"

    Okay, that's just a parody, and a little extreme, but you get my point.



    One more thing:

    Public school teacher Nancy Bailey does a superb job of deconstructing the above Boies and Brown's MORNING JOE on her blog:

    "Mr. Boies brags about having Teach for America to his place for a picnic! I can’t help but wonder how he would like young recruits with a couple of weeks of training taking over his job at his fancy law firm. How about Lawyers for America? Or would he have liked it if his parents had lost their jobs due to Teach for America?

    "But mostly, having been a special education teacher, I have to wonder how many students with dyslexia (Bailey earlier goes into detail about Boies having dyslexia, which he overcame with the help of Special Ed. public school teachers.) are going to learn how to read with a Teach for America recruit. Boies, of all people, should realize how much preparation it takes to understand the dynamics of teaching reading, especially corrective reading. Real professional teachers need more not less preparation. Does he think enthusiasm is all you need?

    "And instead of picnicking with Teach for America, maybe he should be doing some real research. While some like to dispute this, both he and Brown should at least learn that, for the most part, the states with the highest test scores have always been the states where the teachers’ unions are strongest and the teachers have tenure. Actually, it has always been sort of a given. No offense to my southern friends. I did not make this up. This is what I’ve been told.

    "No. Boies has friends in high places is my guess. And none of them, I repeat none of them, are friends to teachers or the students those teachers try so hard to nurture and protect. While there are some teachers, like there are individuals in any profession who are less than ideal, these people paint all teachers with one broad stroke. They have a larger agenda in mind.

    "For me, a rather creepy part of the Morning Joe program was at the very end when they were all chuckling in reference to the negative tweets Campbell Brown got before going on The Colbert Report. She calls all of us “haters.” I guess they think anyone who disagrees with them is a hater…which, according to the huge number of people who tweeted, is a lot of people."

  7. Peter,

    Here's an update on Boise, with two more Boies-related articles.

    The first is about multiple conflict of interest disclosures (or rather, failures to disclose):

    While negotiating Weinstein's contract with the board of The Weinstein Company --- Boies was required to disclose any investments he had in any Weinstein Company films produced by Harvey Weinstein.

    Apparently, Boies has $20 million of personal assets to throw away on investments in Harvey's movies ... money accrued, at least in part, from his paid work on the various Vergara lawsuits, and his Chairmanship of the Parents for Educational Justice, created by Campbell Brown.

    Boies also concealed all that damning information from Harvey Weinstein's personnel file --- including much of the nasty stuff that we now know brought Weinstein down --- which enabled Weinstein to remain longer at the Weinstein Company than he otherwise would have.

    A la Nixon's failed Stennis compromise ...

    ... Boies got the Weinstein Company Board and its attorneys to agree to let a third party of Boies' choosing review Harvey's execrable personalle file, write a report, then submit that report to the Board ... and that would constitute the Board's "review" of Harvey's file. Naturally, Harvey came up clean as a whistle in the final review that was submitted to the board.

    And we all now know how accurate THAT turned out to be.

    All of Boies' sleaziness has infuriated the Weinstein Company Board --- which immediately and unanimously fired Weinstein when the scandal broke: (The Board's unanimous vote also includes Harvey's brother Bob ... this is Biblical, it appears)


    "The directors say that had they known of Boies’ personal stake in the films, “We would have immediately said to David Boies, ‘You can’t negotiate Harvey’s contract,’ ...

    "They also contend that Boies denied them access to key documents in Weinstein’s personnel file during an inquiry in late 2014 and early 2015.

    ”Rather than give direct access, Boies pushed to have a third party, Rodgin Cohen of law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, review the personnel file and write a report to the board, the Journal reported. The directors agreed to the review reluctantly after failing to obtain the file themselves, the people familiar with the matter told the Journal. Cohen’s report found 'no unresolved claims that could result in liability to TWC or its directors' and 'no pending or threatened litigation.' ”

    The other article is about how Boies' other big money clients are dumping him in utter disgust at what's been revealed in Ronan Farrow's report and elsewhere:


    "Now the city of St. Petersburg, Florida, has also ended a potential relationship with Boies.

    "Boies had been lined up to represent the city pro bono in a case to challenge the campaign finance rules under Citizens United. But, according to the Tampa Bay Times, Boies’s involvement with Weinstein soured the city on the idea:

    "Those revelations [in the New Yorker piece] caught the attention of [St. Petersburg council member, Steve Kornell], who wrote Monday on Facebook that Boies’ involvement in the Weinstein scandal means he would vote against any offer from the lawyer to defend the city’s Super PAC ordinance.

    KORNELL: “I find this reprehensible and will absolutely NOT vote to accept Boies’ offer to represent the city of St. Petersburg pro bono on the campaign finance issue.”

  8. There's more mind-blowing David Boies stuff to share.

    Boies personally negotiated Harvey Weinstein's 2015 contract with The Weinstein Company (TWC), and you're not going to believe this, but Boise --- the same self-righteous protector/avenger of countless children he claims are bing abused by teachers, the guy who is the Chairman of the Partners for Educational Justice's campaign to root out sexual predator teachers whom Boies claims are protected by evil teachers unions, and whose firm does all PEJ's legal work to the effect --- crafted and included language in Weinstein's contract with TWC that..

    ... you're not going to believe this ....

    ... ALLOWED for and FULLY EXPECTED Weinstein to commit sexual harassment and sexual assaults --- both in the future, and in the past. Indeed, Boies negotiated Harvey's contract so that such behavior on Weinstein's part, per the contract, could never result in the possible consequence of Weinstein being fired.

    Again, Boies, Weinstein, and his employers and The Weinstein Company all assumed, as a given, that Harvey has in the past, and will, in the future, engage in sexual harassment and assaults, but that behavior --- or lawsuits arising from that behavior --- could never be grounds for the Board at The Weinstein Company (TWC) to fire Harvey.

    For Boies even to ask for such contract language takes real chutzpah, but he did, and, incredibly, he got it.

    According to this abomination of an employment contract negotiated by Boies, if and when Weinstein was sued by a victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault at Weinstein's hands, Weinstein would have to merely pay "a fine" to his employer, TWC, then continue working for the company.

    Call it David Boies' "License to Rape" clause in Weinstein's contract.

    Indeed, Boies anticipated that there would be multiple such lawsuits brought by victims, and thus, instituted "an escalating scale of fines" that Weinstein would pay ... again, in lieu of getting fired. "$500,000 for the first time, $750,000 for the second," and on and on.

    As TMZ put it, "The contract says as long as Weinstein pays, it constitutes a 'cure' for the misconduct and no further action can be taken. TRANSLATION -- Weinstein could be sued over and over and as long as he wrote a check, he keeps his job."

    "TMZ is privy to Weinstein's 2015 employment contract, which says if he gets sued for sexual harassment or any other 'misconduct' that results in a settlement or judgment against TWC, all Weinstein has to do is pay what the company's out, along with a fine, and he's in the clear.

    "According to the contract, if Weinstein 'treated someone improperly in violation of the company's Code of Conduct,' he must reimburse TWC for settlements or judgments.

    " 'Additionally, You [Weinstein] will pay the company liquidated damages of $250,000 for the first such instance, $500,000 for the second such instance, $750,000 for the third such instance, and $1,000,000 for each additional instance.'

    "The contract says as long as Weinstein pays, it constitutes a 'cure' for the misconduct and no further action can be taken. Translation -- Weinstein could be sued over and over and as long as he wrote a check, he keeps his job.

    "The contract has specific language as to when the Board of Directors can fire Weinstein -- if he's indicted or convicted of a crime, but that doesn't apply here."