Tuesday, April 2, is a very important St. Louis City School Board Election. The State will soon return governance of our School District to our Elected School Board.
Who the two new School Board Members are will matter enormously on decisions made here and at state level on Charter Schools and other privatization. In an election where dark money from public school privatization proponents is attempting to elect two candidates- Adam Layne and Tracee Miller, it’s alarming that local news media spent little time on the election and no one covered the dark money issue.
According to campaign finance records filed with Missouri Ethics Commission, School Board Candidate Adam Layne has spent a mere $511.16 on the election so far, mostly for out of state printing. In citywide elections, that low level of spending is usually associated with perennial candidates and third party candidates with zero chance of winning. It can also mean the candidate is working with a consultant and the consultant will not bill until election day or after. Transparency Fail.
His MEC records, however, do not tell the whole story.
Last week, St. Louis City-based Civil PAC sent out a targeted, glossy, multi-color mailing supporting Adam Layne. Voters received the mailing on or about Monday, March 22nd. Civil PAC was created by political consultant JP Johnson after his defeat for 79th District State Rep. The Treasurer is Joe Wilson, a political consultant and public defender (I had no idea you could do both at the same time), who previously worked for Rex Sinquefield’s Better Together.
At the time of the mailing, Civil PAC had $37.21 in its bank account per MEC records. On Wednesday, March 24th, Civil PAC reported to MEC that it had received a $20,000 donation on March 19th. The donation was from Public School Allies, 6312 Seven Corners Center #354, Falls Church, VA 22044. The address is a UPS drop box.
Public School Allies is the Political Action Committee for The City Fund, an organization that supports privatization of public schools. But Public School Allies is not registered as a Political Action Committee with the Federal Elections Commission, Commonwealth of Virginia, or State of Missouri. There’s no transparency on who really donated the money to fund Adam Layne’s campaign for School Board.
Why do public school privatization supporters support Adam Layne? Layne is a former Teach for America teacher. Teach for America is a union busting organization that replaces career teachers with low paying short term teachers without formal educator training.
The school privatization movement recruits Teach for America alumni to run for school boards across the country. Teach for America has many ties to The City Fund which paid for Adam Layne’s mailer.
In his interview with the local teacher’s union for an endorsement, Layne verified that he supported so-called Right to Work laws. Missouri voters overwhelmingly defeated Right to Work last August.
Layne is also a board member for Jack Krewson’s new charter school- Kairos Academies. Krewson is a Teach for America alumni.
Charter schools are private schools funded with public money. There is no governance by the elected School Board or accountability on tax dollars spent. There are great charter schools, charter schools that do as well as public schools, and charter schools who perform worse than public schools. But the thing they all have in common is they take public funds away from public schools.
School Board Candidate Tracee Miller is also Teach for America alumni and previously worked for Blueprint Schools, which made a bad situation even worse in Boston public schools.
Per campaign finance reports, Miller received $1,000, to date, from Leadership for Educational Equity, 1805 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 and then paid the same organization $1,000, to date, for consultant services. Leadership for Educational Equity is a charter school/privatization advocacy group that recruits Teach for America alumni to run for school boards across the country.
Miller received the money from the nonprofit, not its Political Action Committee, so there is no way to trace the money further.
Miller’s campaign has received another $6,150, mostly from other states, including current Teach for America teachers/alumni, people connected with her online education employer Khan Academy, and unemployed persons.
Miller carries a $8,593.43 debt for the campaign, to date. You don’t run up that kind of bill running for School Board without someone in mind to pay the tab.
And speaking of campaign debt, at a candidate forum last week, Miller said the $1,000 from Leadership for Educational Equity was a loan, not a donation. She is her own treasurer, is the person responsible for the campaign finance reports, and should know what’s reported. They clearly show no loans made to her campaign.
Follow the money.
If you’d like to see the campaign finance records yourself, check here.
All sorts of Tuesday candidates & issues information here (scroll down past sample ballot).
— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman