(We interrupt our regularly scheduled police state Café programming to bring Drew Franklin’s investigation into DeRay McKesson’s Baltimore mayoral campaign’s promise of ‘accountability and transparency’ at OrchestratedPulse.com.)
The journalist notes at the beginning how rare it is that a mayoral campaign for a city of about 600,000 to blast onto the national media stage even before announcing any policy positions that might defeat more politically entrenched candidates, and that McKesson had even raised over $70,000 in online donations to his campaign pretty much on spec. Beyoncé, of course is endorsing him, as well as rapper Talib Kweli. Maybe Kweli will rap him out a song soon, perhaps even a pumped-up Weird Al Yankovitcesque take-off on Shorty Long’s ‘Devil with the Blue Vest on’ (yeah, Mitch Ryter’s cover was great). ;-) But shoot, he knows what a media darling DeRay had become even before that, as do we all. His name was practically synonymous with the BlackLives movement, and his Twitter followers must have numbered in the millions!
Franklin reminds us that “In 2015, Fortune included McKesson in its list of the “World’s Greatest Leaders” for his work on Campaign Zero, a “data-driven” platform that puts forth policy recommendations for police reform”.
While observing that DeRay’s extensive relationship with TFA (Teach for America) has received almost no scrutiny, the best educational policy experts (my word, not his) regard TSA as the vanguard of the privatized school movement and teachers’ union crushing. He notes many examples in New Orleans (post Katrina shock-doctrine), NYC, Chicago, DeeCee, and Baltimore, and that the NGO is funded by the Waltons, Gates Foundation (my, their filthy lucre-stuffed noses poking into everything they can control), and Fortune 500 corporations.
Sure, Franklin says, some of his proposals are good, including $15/hr minimum wage, and college debt jubilee for low-income kids, but that those are distinctly at odds with his regressive policies that adhere to corporate models of his funders.
So…as a good journalist would do, he phoned DeRay to ask him to answer some questions in hope that he might be ‘transparent and accountable’. Well, not so much; Drew characterized his answers as “alternating between evasiveness and irritation”. For instance:
“He struggled to explain how, after quitting his job, he funded his constant excursions to protests against police brutality from Ferguson to Milwaukee. And he adamantly refused to discuss subjects like campaign personnel or outside donors. Even routine questions were met with gruff responses.
“All of that is public information,” he said, when I asked about his fundraising strategy. Mckesson didn’t yield to more specific question about his campaign contributions, either, instead deferring to his forthcoming campaign finance report, which he confirmed won’t be filed until next month.
When asked if he was harvesting emails gathered by Campaign Zero to promote his mayoral campaign, as several sources told me he was, Mckesson simply said, “No comment.”
He would not give any details about his campaign’s voter database management, refusing to confirm he even maintained any kind of database at all, despite the ubiquity of the practice in contemporary elections. Nevertheless, an analysis of the source code in a DeRay For Mayor donor appeal email I obtained indicates that it was sent through a list on Campaign Zero’s web domain.
Nor would he tell me about an off-the-record policy meeting he held in January, according to the Washington Post. Among the dozen attendees were members of Campaign Zero’s planning team and Donnie O’Callaghan, a former TFA corps member and project manager for TFA offshoot The New Teacher Project. Mckesson refused to identify the “several city officials” the Post reports were at his policy meeting, telling me they did not want to be named.”
And ooopsie, his website apparently shows similar verbiage about education reform as Rahm’s, Bloomberg’s, Detroit’s mayor… standardized test score results, yada, yada, which by the by, make bucket loads of bucks for Silicon Valley, as do…online schools.
The author brings in opinions from Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at California State University at Sacramento who writes about and researches TFA often at his website Cloaking Inequity.
You’ll love this, though. Having asked Heilig about McKesson’s comments on assessing “the feasibility of repurposing closed schools and recreation centers to ensure opportunities are available in all neighborhoods”, you could hear the snort in his comment: “repurposing for what???”, then reminding us how often those publicly financed buildings were sold to charter schools (I’d add many are private charter schools, but no matter) for a buck. Apparently when Drew asked DeRay if he would close schools in Baltimore if elected, the Blue Vest scoffed that the Mayor doesn’t control the school system, and while answering the questions: ‘would you prevent them, allow them?’, he answered:
““That’s like asking me if I’m gonna change the bus schedule,” he said. “The mayor doesn’t manage the bus schedule.”
Snort! Way-ull…yay-uss, eggzackly like that.
As many others, Franklin wondered how it was that McKesson (by then jobless) and Johnetta Elzie were able to show up in so many different venues across the country as protests occurred, and they’d Tweet them out abroad via Twitter (remember: DeRay sports a Twitter Tee now and again, and has said “Twitter IS the revolution”, ha ha.
When Franklin asked him, he answered:
“You know, people ask me this, and I—I haven’t even had to answer this. I, you know, me and you don’t have a relationship. You know, you’re a reporter to me, you know—I’ve answered it many times. I will, um, I will put that on my list of things and try to double back with you.”
Several hours later, Mckesson texted me the link to a Tweet from last spring claiming that his excursions were funded by unnamed “family and friends.”
The essay gets even more surreal when Franklin shows not just the indelible alliance of TFA, DeRay’s candidacy announcement, Brittany Packnett, and an arm of TFA Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) that provides training and funding to aspiring politicians and candidates affiliated with TFA. And it seems highly possible that a key reason the two TFA luminaries attended the 15,000-strong TFA 25th Anniversary Summit in DeeCee the weekend of February 5, with a heady seminar entitled “Then and Now: The New Civil Rights Agenda and Education”…may have had something to do with the fact that not long ago, the organization was facing backlash for being (ahem) racist, in that most of the black teachers that were made redundant…were being replaced by white teachers with their minimal education for certification.
Olivia Blanchard weighed in on Sept. 23, 2013: ‘I Quit Teach for America; Five weeks of training was not enough to prepare me for a room of 20 unruly elementary-schoolers.’
Stir in DeRay’s apparent high regard for ‘local technology entrepreneurs’, Bill Gate’s advocacy for Common Core and its goals (Diane Ravitch here), and yeppers, you have a recipe for corporate controlled education of the most egregious kind, but otoh, creating little corporate drones might be just what the doctor ordered, no? Pay attention to reTweet of black superhero below:
DeRay’s Tweets and reTweets (Tweet and re-Tweet were sittin’ on a fence; Tweet fell off…who was left?):
‘Vested Interests: Why DeRay Mckesson Matters’, advocate.com
‘Mayoral Candidate DeRay Mckesson Is Not a Member of the Illuminati’ (wide grin)
Ha ha; worth reTweeting five times (get it now?): ‘Opting Out Is the Wrong Choice for Our Kids’ by Charles F. Coleman Jr. Civil Rights Attorney, Former Prosecutor, Black Superhero (he must be alluding to his personal grifting for the Waiting for Superman rubbish:
“Educators, parents, political leaders, business people, and concerned citizens are determined to save our educational system. Waiting for “Superman” offers powerful insights from some of those at the leading edge of educational innovation, including: Bill and Melinda Gates, Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee, Randi Weingarten, Bill Strickland, Eric Schwarz, Jay Mathews, Eric Hanushek, Davis Guggenheim and Lesley Chilcott.” Yep, a DeRay reTweet
Way-ull; you get my grift now, yes? VOTE DERAY FOR MAYOR OF BALTIMORE! HE WEARS A BLUE VEST! It smells like Nirvana to me!