Friday, September 22, 2023

Time for Reformster Benefit Poker Again

It's a reminder that the wealthy are not like the rest of us.

Next Thursday, it will be time for the 13th Annual Take 'Em To School Poker Tournament, a night of benefit money flinging to help out Education Reform Now

ERN, which calls itself "a think tank and advocacy organization" is the funding arm of Democrats for Education Reform, a group beloved by hedge fundies interested in monetizing charter schools, do-founded by big time hedge fundie Whitney Tilson, who once explained where the D came from:

The real problem, politically, was not the Republican party, it was the Democratic party. So it dawned on us, over the course of six months or a year, that it had to be an inside job. The main obstacle to education reform was moving the Democratic party, and it had to be Democrats who did it, it had to be an inside job. So that was the thesis behind the organization. And the name – and the name was critical – we get a lot of flack for the name. You know, “Why are you Democrats for education reform? That’s very exclusionary. I mean, certainly there are Republicans in favor of education reform.” And we said, “We agree.” In fact, our natural allies, in many cases, are Republicans on this crusade, but the problem is not Republicans. We don’t need to convert the Republican party to our point of view…

There was actually a big kerfluffle a few years back when Colorado Democrats made the Colorado chapter of DFER get out of the Democratic state assembly. DFER/ERN are the folks who do fun things like try to defeat local anti-reform candidates and have silly philosopher retreats to think deep thoughts about reform.

These days the CEO of both groups is Jorge Elorza, formerly mayor of Providence. He was still in office when the state took over Providence schools. DFER has shifted its message in a more social justicy direction (" We elect Democratic leaders who prioritize a high-quality equitable education for all students") with "anti-racism" and "remedying a history of systemic inequity" among their values. That still translates to big support for charter schools, with an emphasis on trying to convince Democrats that they should get with the choice program.

The big poker bash will be next Thursday in Gotham Hall. It is not nearly as star-studded as it was the last time we checked it out, but it's still not for the shallow pockets crowd.

Want to sponsor a table with ten seats plus a special guest? A Straight Flush Table costs only $100,000. For $50K you can host a Full House Table, and $30K gets you a regular table of ten. If you just want to grab a single seat for yourself, that's a mere $3K. Just want to skip the poker and have some dinner and cocktails while playing some casino games? That's a mere $250. Sadly, I will be busy that day and unable to attend. Too bad, because

This charity event is a meaningful opportunity for you to connect with corporate executives, philanthropists, financiers, and celebrities who are passionate about ERN's mission. The event will feature poker players battling for valuable prizes, such as once-in-a-lifetime experiences, exotic trips, golf outings and more. In addition to poker, guests can enjoy the silent auction, golf simulator, casino games, premium open bar, delicious food and a swag bag to take home. There are plenty of opportunities to endorse your business by setting up an area, sponsoring a table, or contributing an item to the swag bag.

Past celebrities, they note, have included a bunch of big name poker players, sports guys, U.S. Congressman Hakeen Jeffries, Billy Crudup and Kevin Pollak.

Do people pay that kind of money, some of you may ask, correctly noting that the Straight Flush Table costs more than most teachers make in a year. Well, in 2022 there was one Straight Flush sponsor, three Full House sponsors, and twenty-five table hosts. All of them were either guys who got rich shuffling money or corporations in the capital biz. They raised over $2 million.

This is the kind of thing that reminds me of the considerable imbalance between reformsters and public school defenders. Many of us are out here doing what we can on a budget of $0.00, and these guys just get together to drop a couple mill playing games for "exotic trips." All things that folks actually working in education can totally relate to.

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