Educators for Excellence (E4E) was founded in 2010, and though it touts itself as a grassroots organization, it receives millions of dollars from corporate reform foundations and is an offshoot of the hedge fund-backed organization Education Reform Now. E4E also has ties to anti-public education groups like Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst. It is actively looking for BTU members to recruit. How does it operate?
E4E mines member activities and lists looking for candidates to reach out to. Candidates will be lobbied, welcomed and invited to a meeting. E4E has a ton of money from pro-charter hedge funders. Soon E4E will set up events and tout its recruits as teacher leaders, while suggesting topics for discussion and position papers. Shortly thereafter, pro-charter, pro-top-down reformers such as the Boston Foundation will hold a forum announcing the great work in teacher-leadership being done by E4E. This is how these groups operate. The fact is, Educators for Excellence promotes the kind of top-down education reform that undermines public education, teachers and students.
E4E’s CEO has called the BTU twice to complain that it has unfairly been linked to Michelle Rhee and StudentsFirst. We stand by our assertion, which is based on extensive research done by the American Federation of Teachers. Four E4E members and staff were featured in the launch video for StudentsFirst. One of the four, Jane Viau, is a board member of E4E. Another, Barbara Gsovski, is on E4E’s Evaluation Team, and still another, Jamie Ferrel, is on E4E’s Policy Team. We will continue to call out E4E as long as they continue to mislead our members.
A Minneapolis teacher has reported:
When you read that an organization “…works to ensure that the voices of classroom teachers are included in the decisions that affect our profession and our students,” what do you think? As a teacher, how can you be against including the voices of teachers? This quotation comes from the mission statement of Educators For Excellence. There is much more to unpack from this carefully crafted, almost seductive, and coded mission statement geared towards new teachers.
E4E uses a widely known tactic to politicos experienced in messaging (marketing in politics). It is called dog whistle politics. Language sharp enough to get the attention of the target audience, but vague enough to defend when confronted about it. Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich in 2012 called President Obama a “food stamp president.” Gingrich received the attention of conservative white voters, but defended himself against charges he was conjuring using it infer Obama stood for “lazy people.” E4E routinely uses this strategy on their website. Marketing matters when you are competing for attention. I think that is why they spent $284,665 on media communications in 2013.
Continue reading this Minnesota teacher’s extensive reports on E4E.
Educators for Excellence is backed by anti-public education, right-wing corporate reformers who value profit over what is best for children. E4E’s funders include:
- The Walton Foundation, a major financier of anti-union, conservative and anti-environmental causes
- The William E. Simon Foundation, which provided $40,000 in grants to E4E in 2011 and 2012, also finances hard-line conservative groups like the Federalist Society, The Manhattan Institute and the Alliance for School Choice
- The Bodman Foundation, which has backed an anti-union teacher association (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), the Federalist Society, and the anti-gay Institute for Family Studies
- The Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which gave $500,000 to E4E in 2012, is known for using its wealth to destroy retirement security for teachers
Educators for Excellence touts itself as a “teacher” organization, but remains silent about attacks on the teaching profession.
The teaching profession and teachers’ rights to have a voice to advocate for schools and students have been under attack in recent years. E4E stands by without challenging legislative or public attacks on teachers and their right to have a voice in the workplace. They use a widely known marketing tactic to politics called “dog whistle politics.” They use language sharp enough to get the attention of the target audience, but vague enough to defend when confronted about it. E4E spent $284,665 on media communications in 2013, in just one city alone.*
Educators for Excellence works to undermine teachers and their unions.
In many cities, E4E tries to influence and interfere in union affairs, despite its ties to various state and local departments of education. Their actions — which can be described as management-linked interference with union affairs — have included obstructing contract negotiations and vilifying unions in the middle of contract campaigns.
Bottom line—Beware of E4E and its tactics
E4E is getting funded to set up a chapter here in Boston. They tend to target early career teachers and try to build their membership through coffee hours, free lunches, raffles, and happy hours. Please help spread the word about E4E so that our members are aware of their tactics! You can download this fact sheet for sharing. If you see them in your school, please let us know.