Thursday, February 27, 2014

Another mysterious ed reform group emerges

Education advocacy groups that are fuzzy about their origins and funding seem to be trending in North Carolina.

Yesterday reporters in Charlotte and Raleigh got a round of calls about BestSchoolsNC,  "a new movement with one ambitious goal:  Make N.C. schools the best in America."  The group has hired New Hanover school board member Tammy Colvil as executive director and debuted with some interesting polling on public views on teacher pay. Colvil describes the organization as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization focusing on common-sense solutions.

You won't find specifics about funding or founders on the web site.  Matthew Faraci of Fusion Strategies,  a Raleigh PR firm,  said backers want to remain anonymous because "they don't want to get hit up for donations."

If this sounds familiar,  it may be because I wrote last month about Aim Higher NC,  an equally vague group petitioning state lawmakers for higher teacher pay.  In that case,  the PR person pushing the cause,  who is affiliated with the Democratic party and labor,  said funders feared being targeted for retribution.  And October's  "Thanks to a teacher"  campaign had an anonymous approach, too,  though I tracked down N.C. Board of Education member John Tate as an organizer.

Faraci,  after some prodding,  said he has "a Republican background."  His company's web site doesn't mention any party alliance but does seem political:   "We have more than 75 campaigns under our collective belts, working with candidates and causes at the local, state, and national levels. We’ve worked with multiple presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial, and congressional efforts as well as scores of issue advocacy organizations, political committees, associations and major corporations."

BestSchoolsNC's  "rules of thumb,"  the only guide to the group's vision,  are as broad and hard to argue with as the quest for great schools:  Strong teachers,  high standards,  empowered parents and  "smart,  commonsense public policies."  The only one that hints at an angle that anyone could take issue with is  "choice, competition and accountability,"  which some view as buzzwords for privatization.

Colvil cited her involvement as the mother of four public school students and says she's interested in working with people regardless of political persuasion.  "We're just focused on starting the conversation,"  she said.  She did mention that BestSchoolsNC is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit  --  the kind that can lobby for legislation and engage in political campaigns.  So I'm guessing that conversation may get less bland before long.


Ettolrahc said...

Read this as should have become friends of Ann before they started.

Anonymous said...

Once again the leftist writer has to interject that the organizers has a republican background as thought that is evil.

Anonymous said...

I'm tired of flowery jargon and buzz words. Everyone has the " answer". Teachers are so weary! This is not rocket science! Put us back where we are supposed to be on the pay scale we were promised. That's all we ask. We are working like dogs! Pay us! No more "studies". No more hoop-jumping. Do it!

Wiley Coyote said...

None of these groups are effective.

It just makes them "feel better".

I constantly say "this isn't rocket science" too.

Perhaps 7:27 and I should form a group and call it ACME Rocket Science Education, or ARSE for short.

Shamash said...
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Shamash said...


Google "Colbert Super PAC" to see how to set up your own 501(c)(4) to anonymously fund yourselves.

Here's a discussion of one of Matthew Faraci's organizations with a nice intro video of how those work Colbert-style.

It's from a Communist website, so you know it's unbiased.

I wouldn't want to be accused of partisanship...

Anonymous said...

So I was a Republican last month when I raised the same questions about a group with Democratic affiliations?

Shamash said...


This Faraci fellow is behind the polling group American Insights which produced the poll released by BestSchools NC in your paper.

(I guess that's what happens when you publish PR press releases. Who knows how accurate their polling methods are...)

Anyway, there's plenty about the guy online in facebook, twitter, etc.

He's been in TV production and political communications and apparently knows how to play the media game fairly well.

He's definitely in the "very conservative" category.

Shamash said...

Don't worry about your perceived political affiliations or bias.

I'm a Communist today because I referenced a Communist website.

It's all good.

crazytalker said...

I'm all for more common sense in education, and parenting. How about the parents of NC and the school districts stop buying/pushing for young children, including teens, to have personal Iphones and Ipads.

Kids don't need these devices nor are they responsible enough to have them, takes away time from doing other more meaningful activities, decreases socialization and creativity skills, increases temptations and cyberbullying and decreases childhood and innocence just to mention a few things.

Just look at the news this morning with the Porn Instagram pics in NC. If parents/educators don't think this is happening in CMS, they are clueless. It happened last year at a CMS middle school. There is a big issue in local schools with cyber-bullying.

Wake up parents, stop buying your kids (teens are still kids too) these devices, they will survive. Can you say peer pressure?

Ettolrahc said...

Good point Ann, which of these stories was it last month, so we can compare Apples to Apples.

Rating NC and charter schools
Mystery group pushes higher teacher pay
Check out NC schools: Data reports are up
Hot topic for 2014: Common Core and testing
McCrory's 3Rs: Results, rewards, respect
Licking and grooming: Hope for kids?
Are charter boards accessible to public?
Questions about state's final exams
Read or flunk: It's way more complicated
Appreciating Clark Kent
Why sue? Just tweet
State's big issue: Teachers and money
Where's church/charter line?
CMS gears up teacher recruiting
Should charters reflect race, poverty?
Wake crafts plan to pick top 25 percent of teacher...
Cold-weather delay: What do you think?
Big menu, little info for school shoppers

Read more here:

Meanwhile the groups which are mentioned on here so often are doing so much like Marching during Moral Mondays and the like to improve our schools.

Anonymous said...

There are already enough groups that say they are advocating for teachers and our children. What about joining forces? All these groups do is weaken the message. In my opinion, these are all groups making money off of our children and in the process mudding the waters and weakening our education system. So sad... I've been told before, over and over again, follow the money and how right (and sad) that is.

Ettolrahc said...

I know it is not fair to just look at the list and say four stories out of 18 of them were about Charter Schools last month.

Especially since Charters number about 16 in the immediate area, and we have 160 CMS schools which one would think would have unique stories at each of them.

Ettolrahc said...

9.33 I agree we have to many for CMS folks starting these things only to make things better in certain pants pockets or pocketbooks.

Shamash said...


Common sense isn't as common as it once was.

I prefer something more rigorous.

Wiley Coyote said...


PETA is after me because I tried to catch dinner last night.


Wiley Coyote said...

Ann is Unaffiliated.

Now back to your regular programming...

Shamash said...

Lifelong PUMA member myself...

People for the
Mistreatment of

It's not as bad as it sounds.

Its a 501(c)(4) organization.

I use it as an anonymous donor to pay for my Omaha Steaks.

Anonymous said...

Shamash, that Colbert clip is a hoot! My favorite line about creation of a 501C4 to keep donors secret: "Without it, you get to know. With it, you go to hell."

Anonymous said...

Why is NC so crazy? What is wrong with this place? Why did Tillis and Mcory only give new teachers a raise? Why has teacher pay been frozen for so long. Many school districts froze pay during the crash but not now. My friends wife in PA pay was frozen but they have gotten all their pay back. My freind in NV had his pay frozen and now it's back. These states pay their teachers significantly more (PA wow). Why have theses states figured it out? Talking with my friends, they don't have these strange groups (not that they know of). I feel bad for teachers and I really like my kids school. Why?

Anonymous said...

North Carolina is the new Mississippi!!

Anonymous said...

In the imortal word of a man (ANDY BAXTER) CMeS paid $90,000 a year to say:


Shamash said...

Colbert did quite a few pieces on the SuperPAC shenanigans with quite a few diferent celebs.

It's amazing to me how he can be so informative and so funny at the same time.

He's a gifted educator for sure.

Anonymous said...

Its another attack on the middle class. I can't afford private school and my family is not eligible for 4000 grant. I was looking forward to my son having a teacher his sister had. She is awesome. She has taught for a 11 years and has seen principals come and go. Now she is going. I don't care for all the politics and secret strange groups. I want some one to keep our teachers. Why couldn't all the teachers get a raise? If the govener thinks " teachers deserve better". Then why did only a third of them get it? I do not have a party, to be honest, I am to busy to vote. I will vote this November.

Anonymous said...

If parents and teachers Vote, Raleigh will listen. Send Mcory and Tillis a message.

Ettolrahc said...

Yes send a message that we want folks in office who will not do anything but support the systems like CMS who we know do such a super job.

I know that sending messages works, why the observer is considering the many messages they got in today's comments. You know like they have for the last few years.

Anonymous said...

It's not about the down town bureaucrats. Teachers do not like them either. Its about keeping teachers in our local schools.

Anonymous said...

85% of parents are happy with CMS. Mcory is at about 45%.

Ettolrahc said...

Cite that percentage of Parents thing. That would be interesting to see and from which of the few groups we see on here over and over.

Shamash said...
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Shamash said...


Here's a citation for that "85% happy" stat...

Straight from the horse's mouth...

Meck Ed.

"The overwhelming majority (93.1 percent) reported feeling that their child is safe when he/she is at school, and 84.9 percent were either satisfied or very satisfied with the level of educational quality that CMS provides for their children.

The district response rate for this year’s survey was 15.5 percent."

I doubt that this was a scientific sampling, so who knows what to make of that 15.5% response rate.

Maybe the other 84.5% don't give a crap.

To be completely honest, they should only claim that slightly more than 13% of parents are "happy" with CMS.

Until they get a truly random sample or complete survey.

But we know that'll never happen.


Go right to the source and ask the horse
He'll give you the answer that you'll endorse.
He's always on a steady course. Talk to Meck Ed.

Shamash said...
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Shamash said...

And we have the CMS survey pages with individual results (but no summary?).

What's really interesting to me is the "response rates" to the surveys.

Some of the schools can barely get 10% of their parents to respond to a survey.

And you can probably GUESS which schools those are.

Yep, the same ol', same ol' schools with ALL the parental involvement...

Makes me wonder if there's a correlation between parent survey response rate and school performance.

But it is interesting (2013)...

School Parental Response
Providence 45.3%
Berry Acad 9.5%
Hawthorne 3.6%
Cato Mid. Col. 36.5%

Ah, nevermind...

No one would care about that.

And if we started measuring it, and someone paid attention, I'm sure someone would start gaming THOSE results.

Maybe offer free Zumba classes or a bucket of buffalo wings for turning in a survey.