Today’s Moring Education article at Politico discussed StudentsFirst involvement in the 2012 elections. It also sheds some light on why the Common Core is entrenched within the Republican ranks and some Governors.
Former D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee directed hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last election cycle to conservative candidates and organizations through her ed reform group StudentsFirst, according to the group’s latest tax filings. The 990 forms cover the fiscal year from August 2012 through July of 2013. They show that StudentsFirst and its sister organization, StudentsFirst Institute, raised a combined total of $26.7 million, down slightly from $28.6 million the previous year. The haul includes a huge bequest of stock, worth $2.6 million, from an unnamed donor. (Rhee will not disclose her funders.) On the expense side, Rhee’s group spent $2 million for consulting services from the Democratic firm SKDKnickerbocker. It also spent $1.7 million on membership fees paid to the grassroots activist site Change.org. The site hosted a number of StudentsFirst petitions that gathered tens of thousands of signatures — and provided Rhee’s organization with a trove of email addresses — until protests from organized labor prompted Change.org to cut ties with StudentsFirst.
— Rhee, who earns nearly $350,000 a year, also spent heavily on political activism in the year covered by the tax forms. StudentsFirst gave $500,000 to a business-backed committee in Michigan that successfully worked to defeat a union effort to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state constitution. It also spent $250,000 to support a charter-school campaign in Georgia. StudentsFirst gives to candidates and committees from both parties but many of its biggest political donations went to Republican caucuses and conservative alliances in states including Florida, Maine, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
— StudentsFirst gave $10,000 each to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam in Tennessee and Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in Missouri. The group also donated to scores of state legislative candidates, including some tea party members who have worked against the Common Core — which Rhee supports — but who back other elements of the StudentsFirst agenda, such as vouchers or charter schools.