Tuesday, June 18, 2019

JerseyCAN Can't Hide From Opioids Crisis Billionaire Founder

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NJ Spotlight needs to stop giving space to billionaire-backed corporate reform groups like JerseyCAN. JerseyCAN does not represent the students, parents and educators of this state and should not be given a platform when their only true constituency is their funders. You can see the full list, which includes the Waltons, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, John Arnold, etc. here.

JerseyCAN - a 'branch campaign' of 50CAN - is particularly egregious in this regard. Three years ago 50CAN merged with Michelle Rhee's failed StudentsFirst. The Frankenstein-esque corporate reform group created by the merger continues to masquerade in a handful of states as "locally grown, locally led and locally sustained." 

Nothing could be further from the truth, and here in New Jersey those of us paying attention are not fooled. We see JerseyCAN for what it is - a mouthpiece for a Connecticut billionaire responsible for the opioids crisis who should have no say in what happens to students in our state. 

50CAN grew out of ConnCAN, the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Nowa reform group co-founded by Jonathan Sackler in 2005. Sackler is one of the heirs to the Purdue Pharma fortune - built on the back of the opioids crisis. As reported by The Guardian, the Sackler heirs "face mass litigation and criminal investigations."

The New Haven Register has a fascinating piece on Jonathan Sackler and his connections to charter schools and 50CAN. The article states that 50CAN is trying to distance itself from Sackler and hasn't taken any money from him in 2019, but that's hardly the point. 50CAN would not exist were it not for billionaires like Jonathan Sackler and the fortunes they amass by exploiting others. 

Simply put, 50CAN doesn't deserve a seat at the table in conversations that relate to the future of public education in New Jersey. 

Sackler's 50CAN can swap out "50" for "Jersey" and hide behind the "Jersey Girls" they hire to front this national organization at the "local" level, but that doesn't change the fact that 50CAN doesn't deserve the amount of real estate they are afforded in NJ Spotlight's opinion pages.

New Jersey legislators would also be well advised to steer clear of these lackeys for the billionaire backed corporate reform movement and start listening to the actual students, parents and educators in this state.