How to tell if your School District is infected by the Broad Virus

This was originally posted on seattleducation2011. For more information see: A Parent Guide to the Broad Foundation’s training programs and education policies by Parents Across America  (or as a pdf factsheet.)

Chicago has just learned that it will inherit Rochester, New York’s controversial and unpopular school superintendent, Jean-Claude Brizard (Broad Superintendent’s Academy “Class of 2007″).  Those of us who have experienced the “leadership” of  L.A. billionaire Eli Broad’s trained superintendents send Chicago our condolences. We have been there, done that, with scars to show for it, and nothing in the way of real academic or positive gains for our schools and kids.

In fact, the Broad brand has been seriously tarnished lately, to the point where it really should be considered a liability rather than an asset. Here are just a few examples of Broad superintendents who have been ousted or left their districts in a cloud of controversy:  LaVonne Sheffield (Broad Superintendents Academy “Class of 2002″ – resigned), Rockford, Ill.;  Maria Goodloe-Johnson (Broad “Class of 2003″ – fired), Seattle, Wa.; Matthew H. Malone (Broad “Class of 2003″ – resigned) former superintendent of Swampscott, MA; Deborah Sims (Broad “Class of 2005″- resigned), Antioch, CA.

Meanwhile,  Detroit can’t seem to shake its power-hungry Emergency Financial Manager Bob Bobb (Broad Academy “Class of 2005″) whose illegal control of the Detroit School District was stopped in court, but has been recently ratified by a law signed by extremist Republican Governor Rick Snyder.

And now Brizard of Rochester is going to bring his brand of Broad magic to Chicago. 

What’s striking is the similarity of the reigns of terror and error of these Broad ‘graduates.’ Disturbingly so, in fact. Many of the above earned No Confidence votes from their district’s teachers, and from parents too. All meted out a top-down dictatorial approach. Most alienated parents. Many closed schools. A number had questionable audits on their watch. More than one had false or questionable data to support their reforms. All commanded large salaries with perqs, while at the same time slashing services for kids and closing schools in the name of financial scarcity. A number of them avoided informing the elected school board of their plans or actively withheld information from them, effectively bypassing democracy.

Scandal, controversy, animosity followed them all, inevitably out the door.

If this trend continues,  Brizard’s tenure in Chicago will likely be short-lived too. But he still could do some serious damage while he’s there. So, heads-up, Chicago.

To help our fellow school districts throughout the nation, here is a guide to diagnose whether your school district has come under the influence of the Broad Foundation (and what you can do about it).

How to tell if your School District is Infected by the Broad Virus

Schools in your district are suddenly closed.

Even top-performing schools, alternative schools, schools for the gifted, are inexplicably and suddenly targeted for closure or mergers.

Repetition of the phrases “the achievement gap” and “closing the achievement gap” in district documents and public statements.

Repeated use of the terms “excellence” and “best practices” and “data-driven decisions.” (Coupled with a noted absence of any of the above.)

The production of “data” that is false or cherry-picked, and then used to justify reforms.

Power is centralized.

Decision-making is top down.

Local autonomy of schools is taken away.

Principals are treated like pawns by the superintendent, relocated, rewarded and punished at will.

Culture of fear of reprisal develops in which teachers, principals, staff, even parents feel afraid to speak up against the policies of the district or the superintendent.

Ballooning of the central office at the same time superintendent  makes painful cuts to schools and classrooms.

Sudden increase in number of paid outside consultants.

Increase in the number of public schools turned into privately-run charters.

Weak math text adopted (most likely Everyday Math). Possibly weak language arts too, or Writer’s Workshop. District pushes to standard the curriculum.

Superintendent attempts to sidestep labor laws and union contracts.

Teachers are no longer referred to as people, educators, colleagues, staff, or even “human resources,” but as “human capital.”

A (self-anointed, politically connected) group called NCTQ comes to town a few months before your teachers’ contract is up for negotiation and writes a Mad Libs evaluation of your districts’ teachers (for about $14,000) that reaches the predetermined conclusion that teachers are lazy and need merit pay. [“The (NAME OF CITY) School District has too many (NEGATIVE ADJ) teachers. Therefore they need a new (POSITIVE ADJ.) data-based evaluation system tied to test scores…”]

The district leadership declares that the single most significant problem in the district is suddenly: teachers!

Teachers are no longer expected to be creative, passionate, inspired, but merely “effective.”

Superintendent lays off teachers for questionable reasons.

Excessive amounts of testing introduced and imposed on your kids.

Teach for America, Inc., novices are suddenly brought into the district, despite no shortage of fully qualified teachers.

The district hires a number of “Broad Residents” at about $90,000 apiece, also trained by the Broad Foundation, who are placed in strategically important positions like overseeing the test that is used to evaluate teachers or school report cards. They in turn provide — or fabricate — data that support the superintendent’s ed reform agenda (factual accuracy not required).

Strange data appears that seems to contradict what you know (gut level) to be true about your own district.

There is a strange sense of sabotage going on.

You start to feel you are trapped in the nightmarish Book Five of the Harry Potter series and the evilly vindictive Dolores Umbridge is running your school district. (See above photo; Dolores Umbridge , Broad class of ?)

Seek centaurs and Forbidden Forest immediately!

Superintendent behaves as if s/he is beyond reproach.

Superintendent reads Blackberry (Goodloe-Johnson, also see comments ) or sends texts (Brizard, see comments) while parents and teachers are giving public testimony at school board meetings, blatantly ignoring public input.

A rash of Astroturf groups appear claiming to represent “the community” or “parents” and all advocate for the exact same corporate ed reforms that your superintendent supports — merit pay, standardized testing, charter schools, alternative credentialing for teachers. Of course, none of these are genuine grassroots community organizations.

Or, existing groups suddenly become fervidly in favor of teacher bashing, merit pay or charter schools. Don’t be surprised to find that these groups may have received grant money from the corporate ed reform foundations like Gates or Broad.

The superintendent receives the highest salary ever paid to a superintendent in your town’s history (plus benefits and car allowance) – possibly more than your mayor or governor — and the community is told “that is the national, competitive rate for a city of this size.”

Your school board starts to show signs of Stockholm Syndrome. They vote in lockstep with the superintendent. Apparently lobotomized by periodic “school board retreat/Broad training” sessions headed by someone from Broad, your school board stops listening to parents and starts to treat them as the enemy. (If you still have a school board, that is — Broad ideally prefers no pesky democratically elected representatives to get in the way of their supts and agendas.)

Superintendent bypasses school board entirely and keeps them out of the loop on significant or all issues.

School board candidates receive unprecedented amounts of campaign money from business interests.

Annual superintendent evaluation is overseen by a fellow name Tom Payzant.

Stand for Children appears in towns and claims to be grassroots. (It is actually based in Portland, Ore., and is funded by the Gates Foundation.) It may invite superintendent to be keynote speaker at a political fundraising event. It will likely lobby your state government for corporate ed reform laws.

Grants appear from the Broad and Gates foundations in support of the superintendent, and her/his “Strategic Plan.”

The Gates Foundation gives your district grants for technical things related to STEM and/or teacher “effectiveness” or studies on charter schools.

Local newspaper fails to report on much of this.

Local newspaper never mentions the words “Broad Foundation.”

Broad and Gates Foundations give money to local public radio stations which in turn become strangely silent about the presence and influence of the Broad and Gates Foundation in your school district.

THE CURE for Broad Virus:



Sharing information.

Vote your school board out of office.

Vote your mayor out of office if s/he is complicit.

Boycott or opt out of tests.

Go national and join Parents Across America.

Follow the money.

Question the data – especially if it produced by someone affiliated with the Broad or Gates Foundations or their favored consultants (McKinsey, Strategies 360, NCTQ, or their own strategically placed Broad Residents).

Alert the media again and again (they will ignore you at first).

Protest, stage rallies, circulate petitions.

Connect and daylight the dots.

– Sue Peters

Posted on by admin Posted in News & Updates

23 Responses to How to tell if your School District is infected by the Broad Virus

  1. jeff Mosher

    I am a Parent from Peoria high school in Peoria illinois and we believe our School Board is infected with poor and mislead super intendant. Dr. Grwenita Lathan. Please help!

  2. TwoTeachers

    The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District in Charlotte, NC is definitely under this spell. There is NO DOUBT about it. Superintdent Peter Gorman was a Broad graduate and is now training Anthony Tata of Raleigh Public Schools in Wade County.

  3. kc in charlotte

    More of the insidious “corporatization” of America. More of the uberwealthy elitist extremists trying to cram their agendas down the throats of middle class Americans, asleep at the wheel I’m afraid. Interesting that Bill Gates, a non product of public school education, has taken such an interest here. A kid of privilege, prep school educated, Harvard grad… started his empire initially through luck and chance and later built his wealth into a fortune through monopolistic practices. I certainly don’t want my kids modeled after him. If in America, a kid needs a corporate icon to aspire to, I’d put my money on someone like Steve Jobs. Middle class self starter who DID go through the public school system. A perpetual innovator, not perfect but with the kind of intellect and entrepreneurial abilities that are worth pointing out to your child…. Steve, we need a Jobs Foundation now!

  4. Ozymandias

    Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools certainly fits a significant number of Broad virus symptoms! Thank you for this great article!

  5. Susan O

    This is a frighteningly accurate description of exactly what is happening here in Providence.

  6. RI Teacher

    This is the entire state of Rhode Island under Deb Gist (Broad Grad).

  7. youbook

    Welcome to Prince George’s County, Maryland – we currently have our second Broad Academy Superintendent.

  8. lisa

    Wow, Los Angeles, with Broadite Superintendent John Deasy, is ground zero for this. We have all the symptoms, including Teach for America Vista Corps teachers bing paid $16,000 a year and highly paid consultants making six figures.

    We need to develop a vaccine and share it.

  9. Stephen London

    You left out two symptoms that have come to the fore in LAUSD, where I have taught for 17 years. First, here in ground zero land for Eli Broad’s benevolent inverventions, LA public school students are now being bribed into making an effort on their otherwise irrelevant annual CST bubble test frenzy weeks by having their grades automatically raised if they go up in a test category. Teachers who resist this unwarranted grade inflation are harassed into compliance. Second, a mysterious decree appears ordering all teachers of all grades to allow homework to count for no more than ten percent of students’ grades, because achievement marks, like the value of teachers, should reflect bubble test performance, not year round effort or the actual application of skills.

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  11. Carmen G. Aguilar

    Hello All! I retired from teaching 2nd grade in 2010.
    After reading the article, it is obvious that Chicago Public Schools are”infected” , and are suffering from the same” disease”: Testing is the mandate, Arts are not needed, teachers have to prove they are “effective”, children do not need recreation time, brain wash students to be the future”cheap labores of the future”. I am talking about the schools that are located in the gettho and in the poor neighborhoods of Chicago.
    Today I visited my former school, that I adore: the children, the parents, the teachers! And I found out that many of the classes I wanted to visit and say Hello! were TAKEN A TEST! Already!! September 20!!! What we have todo is RESIST! MAKE OUR VOICES BE HEARD! Parents, students, teachers, RESIST! Find ways to work together for our children.

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  13. Rene Diedrich

    In LA they union has surrendered to this . They literal slipped Deasy in after creating the Chaos thru layoffs and RIFs and it is incrediibly scary with witch hunts, we ar stressesd, we are struggling, but teachers are on their own. They spread these myths about tenure and propaganda about who is at fault for this mess. Like most teachers in the hood I did my job and then some. I have excellent evaluations, respectablle scores, and was popular with the kids who caught on before me about the trap I was in. I abided my duty to blow the whistle on abuse and noncompliance. They made me an example of what happens to teachers who advocate for students instead of them. These people are ruthless. They put me in teacher jail to wait l finally they are about to fire me . There is no sense in defending myself. They own the school board who won’t look at teachers evidence at all. It is a done deal. They have ruined my life and others.’ they will not stop until we make them. Surely we can start a petition at change. Com.

  14. cate moses

    Santa Fe, New Mexico Public Schools is infected.  Our whole state is infected, with Jeb Bush darling Hannah Skandera as state education czar.  Here in Santa Fe we’ve got Harvard Urban Superintendents’ Program’s Joel Boyd as our new super.  HUSP is the Massachusetts version of the Broad Foundation.  Boyd brought his posse of Broadies with him.  Broadie Joseph Wise negotiated Boyd’s contract with our school board, as predicted.  Why are we paying some corporate lawyer from Massachusetts to negotiate a golden parachute contract in which Boyd has none of the “accountability” he rabidly demands of teachers?  

    They don’t learn anything about education at HUSP & the Broad, but they sure are schooled in spin.  Boyd arrived with a well-oiled PR machine along with his Broad posse.  Already teachers are suffering, Boyd is talking about increasing class sizes, he’s lurking in school hallways and dressing down teachers in front of their students, and we’ve got a new “Discovery” test, the purpose of which is to predict how kids will do on the high stakes standardized tests.  Please, send in the centaurs!  

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  16. Gwen Dixon

    i think im going to throw up. this sounds too familiar.

    • Terri

      Gwen, i’m having the exact same reaction right now. People around here already consider me a ‘conspiracy theorist’ but once I read this, well I believe it validated everything I’ve been saying….

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  18. another momma bear

    Memphis, TN public schools, may you rest in peace… you’ve been taken down by Bill Gates hook, line, and reform sinker. 🙁

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  20. mike

    Our Broad Academy graduate, superintendent Runcie in Broward County Florida seems to be doing a good job so far… anyone have any opinion as to what to expect? Here is where I am hoping he will take us, is there any chance do you think?

    Imagine a school of the future where all children
    are treated with the same dignity and respect that special-needs ESE children
    typically are treated with – all kids. Imagine safer world ones ESE child can grow
    up into where he or she will be treated with dignity by all people –

    There is a core seed in every school now of trained
    education professionals and lay parents that know that consequences and justice
    and positive discipline are all weasel-words for “punishment.” This
    core of parents and professionals would not think of punishing their own nor
    anyone elses ESE child and so the concept of replacing an abhorrent and
    disgraceful policy of Zero Tolerance with one of Zero Punishment makes inherent
    sense – this core of professionals is well aware that acting-out is a cry for
    help, in the only way children know how, and not an excuse for us to reach for
    a gun, they know that all students are children, 24 hours a day, and deserve to
    be treated that way – Special needs ESE educators are that core.

    Imagine a school that is more museum-like than
    prison-like – a school full of children and adults that treat each other with
    dignity and respect, where kids love learning because it is simply what kids do
    – like a Golden-retriever loves balls, because it is what retrievers do.

    We must change how we “see” children –
    Here is a good place to begin the process of change; Most schools in the U.S.
    employ “Zero Tolerance” policies to one degree or another – even if
    they do not call it that – and they do this under the PBIS, Positive Behavior
    Intervention and Support, aegis; many of these same schools are also rated on a
    scoring system as ranking highly as PBIS participants and adherents. Most
    superintendents and principals see only a loose, indirect connection between
    PBIS and punishment; PBIS to most is about positive rewards that are used to
    prevent the need of punishment, and the harsher the punishment, the more
    effective the “lesson.” Punishments become consequences which become
    lessons that teach – but teach what, really? In regard punishment, the PBIS
    program is seen as useful to guide where the setting of “zero
    tolerance” lines should be drawn in regard a child’s behavior on school
    property, using the PBIS reward/consequence chart. PBIS tried the low-key
    approach and has succeeded in convincing everyone to replace the word
    punishment with the word consequences. Unfortunately, the Orwellian alteration
    of word meanings has not served the purposes of good, but of bad, and has
    resulted in very little alteration of behavior – and as one might expect from
    an Orwellian tale, both safety and education outcomes have declined and things
    are worse by far now, nationally, in many respects (not worse in all respects,
    of course, thankfully).

    Nationally, without any supporting science behind it
    to motivate the experiment with our children, we nonetheless chose to
    double-down on toughness with zero tolerance polices in our schools, and it has
    failed, miserably – We must now face this fact and replace Zero Tolerance with
    Zero Punishment. Period.

    Error is an opportunity to learn, not an opportunity
    to be punished.

    Schools must be Safe Sanctuaries for children from
    an overly penal, overly fearful, crazy outside world. PBIS is on the crazy side
    and does not even know it… could someone please let them know, please?

    If I can train my Golden Retriever without use of consequences
    or punishment or whatever other Orwellian silliness one wishes to call it – if
    the child wouldn’t want it for his birthday or wish to do it on a weekend, it
    is a punishment, pure and simple. Isn’t “positive discipline” just a
    consequence and aren’t both a passive aggressive or implicit, however minimal,
    punishment – whatever weasel-word one wishes to use for it? As it is described,
    the purpose is to educate, not punish, then why not simply say so? Please check
    out the sites listed at the end, these can help us flip from zero tolerance to
    zero punishment in our schools.

    Positive education – Not Positive Discipline – If a
    child has done something wrong, then harm has already been done themselves, and
    likely others – why do more harm upon anyone – education of the child as to the
    harm that has resulted from his action is what is called for, not discipline.
    Zero Tolerance must be replaced with Zero Punishment and Zero Suspensions. We
    must put an end to negative education and embrace the truth that Error is
    Opportunity to Learn, not Opportunity to Discipline – Why call
    “education,” “discipline?”

    It is Orwellian madness – woe for us and our

    Children do not communicate as well as adults, this
    is why they must be taught. When a child must communicate something important
    and emotional that is beyond their ability to communicate, they act out.
    Regardless of whether a child commits a crime or bullies and hurts another,
    sells drugs, or simply acts out in class – or brings a GUN or knife – , IT IS A
    CRY FOR HELP! The more severe the infraction, the more loud and furtive the
    scream. Within the safe sanctuary of a school environment we must reach for our
    hearts to employ empathy, not for our own guns to employ punishment and
    violence, when dealing with such extreme pleas for help.

    An Experiment for the Imagination, or Reality?
    Imagine training fifty adults to not do anything “parental” in regard
    children under their direction – they are not to concern themselves, nor become
    emotionally involved, with said children’s well-being in any
    “parental” way. Now find a large building with few exits or windows –
    then take 1,000 children and toss in these 50 trained adults. Let this mixture
    of kids and adults stew for six to eight hours, five days a week. What will you
    get do you think? You will get exactly what we have now in our schools.

    Which of us would dare positively discipline, apply
    a consequence, or even use an educational-tone when dealing with a wife’s (or
    significant others) having done something to ones dislike, made an error, or
    done something wrong – Rather, when speaking, the goal is educational and the
    tone is communicative. Try otherwise and you will not like the outcome – Ha! It
    is time we treat children with dignity, just as we are adapting to treating
    women and peoples of different races, ethnicities, and cultures with dignity
    and respect. To help teach this, we need pets and animals in our schools and
    classrooms – every single class needs a pet, period. If a child harms a class
    pet, then this is a segway to discover why the child did this for the educator,
    realizing that the children and pets are often treated similarly in the home,
    and not an opportunity to scold and punish the child in a fashion that one
    would never do the pet – an opportunity to learn, not an opportunity to punish
    – this something that pets can be critical in helping to communicate to both
    students and teachers in our children’s classrooms.

    If a consequence is not a punishment, and we do not
    punish in our schools as some would claim, then what is so wrong in saying that
    we are replacing ZERO TOLERANCE with ZERO PUNISHMENT?

    Check out Opportunity to Learn Campaign, Dignity in
    Schools, and Pets in the Classroom here:

    An educational network of school museums with
    thousands of young eyes and minds scouring the land for exciting new
    discoveries in their backyards and beyond, this is where the future is heading
    – all aboard! Kids will bring in their “treasures” and have them
    scanned at school… soon, very soon…

    Empathy Educates

    Pets in Classrooms Education Grants

    Pets in the Classroom is an educational grant
    program to support public school teachers to have aquarium fish or small pets
    in the classroom

    Dignity In Schools

    National Opportunity to Learn Campaign | Education
    Reform for Equity and Opportunity

    To combat fears of “justice-based”
    restorative practices being applied to children, consider the following model,
    but for kids;

    FYI: History, science, math, art, engineering…
    these are all collectible categories, so once a system is in place and
    everything is properly set up, one can expect schools to be stuffed with all
    categories and types of educational items in the near future.

    My facebook pages focus on zero punishment in
    schools, please FRIEND ME:


    Thank you

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