"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

StudentsFirst Increases Lobbyists in Missouri. Where are Our Gift Cards?

StudentsFirst Ms. Robinson's protestations make about as much sense as this snippet.

Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst is a hot topic on some educational blogs yesterday.  Diane Ravitch and Bob Sikes have unleashed an unexpected avalanche of readers' comments on their recent blogs about StudentsFirst and a letter from a StudentsFirst paid organizer, Catherine Durkin Robinson.  Robinson took exception to being called out by name in Sikes' blog about her plea for StudentsFirst supporters to comment online and support the education reformers and their version of school "choice":

With a legislative battle looming in Florida, corporate reformers propagandists have their marching orders. Last night, Michelle Rhee’s Florida rep sent out calls for an online comments campaign.
> From: Catherine Robinson
> Date: July 26, 2012 9:58:12 PM EDT
> To: Catherine Robinson
> Subject: rapid responses needed – and a contest!

Hi all,
… starting right now, there will be a monthly contest for the best rapid response. The more comments you leave on blog posts, the more times you can enter! Post a polite and persuasive pro-reform comment and email me the link so I can check it out.
That’s all you have to do!
At the end of the month (August 26th at midnight) I will announce the winner. Not only will that winner get a gift card to the restaurant or store of choice, but he or she will also be promoting the cause of real and transformative change in public schools! What could be better?
Robinson submitted a list of supporting signatures at the Florida Senate Budget Committee on Parent Trigger last spring on behalf of Rhee’s StudentsFirst.  As of yet, Scathing Purple Musings has not received any “polite and persuasive pro-reform”  comments.

Ms. Robinson replied on Sikes' blog:

I sent along an email to super-supporters called a Rapid Response Team, asking them to send me their best comments for the chance to win a gift card. I’m disheartened and dismayed that one of them would then forward my email and mischaracterize my intentions. 

Whether it’s the Obama campaign offering to buy a supporter a round-trip ticket to Chicago, or me offering to buy someone what would be a $5 gift card out of my own pocket, recognizing volunteers for their extraordinary efforts is common in grassroots organizations.

I should know. I’ve spent my whole life organizing and advocating. And so now I’m organizing over 119,000 Florida parents, teachers and concerned citizens. This has subjected me to great levels of heroism and integrity. But it has also exposed me to organized and well-funded hatred and character assassinations.

My record is clear. 

As a 25-year veteran of campaigns to end apartheid, support animal rights, protect a woman’s right to choose, bring recycling to college campuses, champion the rights of the LGBT community… 

As an 8-year teacher of at-risk youth and ESE students…

As a canvasser for Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama in rural Pasco and Polk counties…

As a concerned mom and PTA officer…

…nothing prepared me for the level of nastiness and vitriol that descended upon me when I took this job and began to vocally advocate for policies that put students first.
But nothing will deter me or scare me away. Because last week I spoke with a mom who’s only hope of putting her son in a good school is to break the law and pretend to live in another district. I’ll keep fighting against powerful union and school board interests. I’ll keep fighting…to help her.

And shame on the rest of you.

The blog floodgates opened and readers responded to the wagging finger of "shame on the rest of you" comment by Ms. Robinson.  Be sure to read them.  Apparently the carrot of a free gift card and dinner isn't enough for these folks to give up the idea that communities and taxpayers that financially support schools should be the ones driving the educational decisions, not a organization with paid organizers.  In Missouri, the state director for StudentsFirst doesn't even live in Missouri and she didn't offer prizes to Missourians as did Ms. Robinson for Missourian support.

I wrote a response on Sikes' site and linked an article in which Ms. Robinson lectures her fellow progressives and how they should be supporting the corporate takeover of education.  Remember, "it's for the kids" and it's HER vision (via StudentsFirst) on the best educational practices that taxpayers should support and adopt.

Don't think the pressure won't be present in Missouri from Ms. Crusey to gin up the "grassroots" and StudentsFirst professional lobbyists.  The organization added two more lobbyists in our state in May 2012, bringing the total number of registered lobbyists to six: 


Back to all lobby tweets

The client and lobbyist information on this page is for informational purposes only.
All information on this page has been obtained from the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Pelopidas cannot provide any additonal information about the people or companies listed on this page.

Present lobbyists

Changes in the last 90 days

Changes on: 05/01/2012
Ximena HartsockAddedSTUDENTSFIRST

2012 Legislative Principal


Lobbyists representing principal:
   Tim Melton
   Jeri Powell
   Michelle Rhee
   Stacey S. Webb

I am surmising since Florida has implemented more of the educational reforms supported by Arne Duncan and the Obama administration, as well as Republicans wedded to the idea that schools should operate on a business model, that it doesn't need as much prodding as do our on the fence Missouri legislators. 

The letters urging "grassroots support"  is really quite unnecessary for an organization with nine paid lobbyists, don't you think?  It really doesn't matter what the taxpayers want.  This organization will twist legislators' arms for their corporate blueprint of education.  I wonder what the StudentsFirst budget is for gift cards and free dinners in Missouri?    


  1. I asked "Students First" several times for financial info about executive competition and benefits and never received a reply only more donation requests!
    See : http://teachersdontsuck.blogspot.com/2011/12/here-is-email-that-i-received-last-week.html

    Walt Sautter

  2. I would just like to know how we can rid ourselves of unnecessary and intrusive government agencies i.e. Dept. Of Education, EPA, to name a couple.........What happened to the limited government and states rights? This is far from the country seen by our founding fathers.

  3. Well if you don't want clean water to drink, nor clean air to breath then feel free to abolish the EPA. There is a reason for the EPA, to make sure that those among us who would pollute the environment for their own profit pay for their own messes. Didn't your mother teach you to "pick up after yourself?" You know something to the effect, "You made the mess now clean it up!!" Well, in essence the EPA is that Mom telling her kids to "clean up after themselves". Not only that but it is mom not letting you make the mess to begin with.


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