Over at Forbes I have a post up on Detroit schools Emergency Manager, Robert Bobb, and his announcement that he will be issuing layoff notices to all 5,466 public school school teachers there. What’s really interesting is that Bobb is a graduate of the Broad Foundation’s Superintendent Academy – a program that shapes new corporate reformers to go out and bring school choice and privatization to the masses.
Even more interesting, to me at least, is how the school reform movement is so closely tied to the recent power grabs in Wisconsin and Michigan and elsewhere. For instance, the Detroit Public Schools were challenging Bobb’s authority in the courts. He was appointed by Rick Snyder’s Democratic predecessor, and from the beginning people have been unhappy with his top-down approach to fixing the Detroit school system – which is admittedly in rough shape. He was constantly hampered by pesky lawsuits. Then Snyder passed Public Act 4 which gave Emergency Managers (and the governor’s office) sweeping new powers over financial emergencies, and gave Bobb the powers he’d almost had revoked in the courts.
So the law basically quashed the ongoing attempts to stop Bobb from doing what he’s doing – which is closing schools, firing teachers, unilaterally changing union contracts, and starting up a bunch of new charter schools. All of which is great for his pals over at the Broad Foundation which, incidentally, is paying a hefty chunk of Bobb’s salary.
All of this is very much connected. People focus a lot on the Koch brothers, but the Broad and Gates Foundations are in many ways just as or more responsible for this craziness. If you have any information on this, or pieces of the puzzle I may be missing, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email.