Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Donors Choose to Teachers: Drop Dead

Donors Choose decided to respond to the backlash against them due to their decision to take money from the anti-teacher, anti-union movie Waiting for Superman. The entire response amounted to little more than a giant FU to teachers. Let's look at what they said--their response is indicated by italics.

DonorsChoose.org believes that public school teachers know their students’ needs best, and we exist to facilitate as much support for their classrooms as possible.

That sounds reasonable, but it's unrealistic. If the KKK or American Nazi Party offered to fund projects for DonorsChoose, I'm assuming they would refuse, even if there were no strings attached. Their money would facilitate support as much as anyone else's, yet I feel fairly certain we won't be seeing those organizations listed as donors any time soon. Yet DonorsChoose sees fit to accept money from the makers of Waiting for Superman--a movie that glorifies Michelle Rhee, who just the other day fired 241 teachers, or 6% of her staff. She also threatened to fire another 700 teachers next year. That would amount to over 25% of the teachers in the DC public school system. In what way does this support teachers?

To do so, we work with people and institutions from a variety of education policy perspectives. For example, we collaborate regularly with school districts, AFT and NEA chapters, traditional schools of education, alternative teacher certification programs, traditional public schools, charter schools – organizations that all want to encourage public school teachers to seek classroom resources through DonorsChoose.org.

I know who you work with. No one is saying that part of your organization is suspect. The problem is who you take money from. At the top of your partnership page, you spotlight Build-a-Bear and Sonic Drive-Ins, which are pretty benign organizations. Reading further along, it seems Bill and Belinda Gates are big sponsors. Are you aware that Bill Gates--the richest man in America--recently said that teacher pensions were a huge problem and should be cut? Bing--a Microsoft company under Gates, contributed more than a half million dollars to you. Bloomberg, who would like the right to fire teachers, is also listed as a supporter. There appear to be a number of hedge funds and banks supporting you as well. Hedge funds in particular are driving the charter school movement that is threatening public education in this country. I'm not alleging any wrongdoing on your part, but you are known by the company you keep, and you keep company with a lot of anti-teacher donors.

The individuals and institutions supporting these teachers’ requests represent equally diverse viewpoints. We think "Waiting for 'Superman'" has the potential to make public education top-of-mind for even more people throughout the country, and we look forward to channeling this expanded interest into direct support for teachers and students.

Suppose you were promoting yourselves as a pro-animal organization, like HSUS, for example. Would you take money from hunting organizations or the NRA because they offer diverse viewpoints? Would you take money from Canadian baby seal clubbers because they also have diverse views, or would you look to support animals?

Canadian baby seal killers are to animals as Waiting for Superman is to teachers. Their "interest" in the issues is not to promote the general welfare but to bludgeon their victims in their own self-interest.

Donors Choose is not wielding the club themselves, but they sure as hell are holding the coats of the folks who do wield them.

If you want to join the Facebook page and boycott Donors Choose, please click here.


NYC Educator said...

Not only that, but they sent me the identical comment. They do not respond to teachers as individuals. Odd then that they can claim to know what teachers want.

Mr. Talk said...

I guess they don't believe in differentiated commenting. Points off their data report!

Pogue said...

At DonorsChoose.org we personally "Reply To All".

Liza said...

I was under the impression donorschoose only clubs adult seals, but it seems like I'm wrong?