Friday, January 27, 2012

Demi-Billionaire and Consultant v. Parent Advocate (I Think This Is a New One…)

In an article today Debra Rubin (she's been busy with all of these Hebrew charter dramas) reported on the fourth denial of Tikun Olam.  And in it she dropped a couple of bombshells!   

The first was from the Hebrew Charter School Center (HCSC).  We'll get to that bombshell in just a moment, but first let me tell you about the HCSC.  They describe themselves as "a nonprofit organization created by the Areivim Philanthropic Group in 2009 to help advance the Hebrew language charter school movement."  

So what's the Areivim Philanthropic Group you ask and who runs it?  

Why, it's run by none other than Michael Steinhardt, who was called a luminary of the hedge fund world by New York Magazine in their 2007 rankings of the hedge fund elite.  What's a reform movement without a billionaire backer, right?  Although to be fair, Steinhardt is only described as a demi-billionaire by Forbes.  Poor guy.

How crazy is it that here in tiny Highland Park we are fighting off the direct impact of the billionaire boys club on public education?  

Julie Weiner of the New York Jewish Week reported in February of 2010 that:

The fledgling Hebrew charter school world has two major players right now, although only one — the newly launched Hebrew Charter School Center — is actively seeking to build the movement beyond Florida.
Quietly launched over the past year by the Areivim Philanthropic Group, a Jewish funding partnership established by Birthright Israel co-founder Steinhardt and the late William Davidson (whose estate Areivim is currently suing), the $3.2 million Hebrew Charter School Center is providing seed money and free consulting to aspiring Hebrew charter schools throughout the country.
HCSC gave Tikun Olam a $30,000 start-up grant in 2009.  When I reached out to them they would only go on record as saying that they were no longer working with high schools.  However, after Michael Winerip's NY Times column about the misrepresentations in the application, the HCSC sent Ms. Rubin an unsolicited statement confirming that the HCSC:

“is not involved with Tikun Olam, we do not support their application, and we share many of the concerns that the Times and others have raised about it.”

Whoa.  They really couldn't put any more distance between themselves and Tikun Olam, could they?  

Ms. Rubin's second bombshell was a quote from Tikun Olam "consultant" Jeffrey Lischin, who claims that:

founders have been “harassed through misinformation and disingenuous traditional district leaders who love their monopoly.” They are flouting the spirit of the charter school law, he said, which envisions the concept as establishing vehicles for “educational improvement through competition and choice. Sadly that vision is being harmed and most sadly students are being harmed.”
Lischin, an associate of the NJ Charter School Resource Center, said Tikun Olam’s founders are “committed to a multicultural, ethnically diverse, economically diverse secular school.”
He added he would “not address the accusations of misconduct because of legal implications other than to say it is my personal opinion that the founders were slandered.”
Monopoly!  Competition!  Choice!  Man, that's a lot of reformy speak for one quote!!!

Every claim that has been made by our community is backed up with documentation.  Enough documentation that the NY Times was able to run with our story.  The HCSC, who is not exactly a friend of our cause, seems to be saying they noticed some stuff too and they share the concerns in the NY Times. 
Yet Mr. Lishcin, who by they way is not just a random consultant, he's their grant writer, sees fit to state that "it is his personal opinion that the founders were slandered."

That is quite a claim, sir.  You got anything to back that up?

Anything I have told reporters regarding Tikun Olam is based on written documentation from individuals and organizations.  Nothing has been based on my "personal opinion."  I and other members of the Highland Park community like Chris Rodda, did the due diligence that the state and federal governments did not see fit to do. 

Apparently, neither did Mr. Lischin.  

1 comment:

  1. Debra Rubin's articles identifies Mr. Lishcin, the consultant who helped write the Tikun Olam application and defends it as a great one, as an employee of the NJ Charter School Resource Center. The Center is housed at Rutgers University and would be one of the entities that would approve new charter schools if Sen. Ruiz's multiple charter school authorizer legislation that Gov. Christie supports becomes law. Can you imagine an authorizer even less accountable than the State Department of Education?