Union-Backed Lobbying Group Attacking Education Reformer

Campaign against Campbell Brown spearheaded by pro-union lobbyists

Campbell Brown
• August 8, 2014 5:20 pm


A new attack campaign against former CNN anchor and school reform advocate Campbell Brown is being led by a team of union-funded lobbying groups.

The Alliance for Quality Education and the New York Communities for Change launched the campaign against Brown, who is spearheading an effort to reform New York’s teacher tenure policy, BuzzFeed reported on Friday. The groups are seeking to portray Brown as a staunch right-winger "with zero credibility on education," a spokesperson for NYCC told BuzzFeed.

The campaign includes a website and fake Twitter account caricaturing Brown. As of Friday afternoon the parodic Twitter account had just 55 followers.

The Twitter account suggests that Brown’s legal challenge to the state’s teacher tenure rules is motivated by undisclosed donations.

Both AQE and NYCC are registered lobbying groups in New York, with AQE focusing exclusively on education policy.

The groups also receive substantial contributions from teachers unions, which oppose reforms to tenure laws.

The AQE received $62,100 from the Teachers AFL-CIO Local Union and $5,000 from the Service Employees Local Union in 2013, according to Department of Labor filings, which would equal roughly 18 percent of the group’s budget in its most recent public tax filing from 2012.

Carol Gerstl, a lobbyist for the United Federation of Teachers, sits on the group’s board of directors, according to its 2012 tax filing.

Over the past several years, NYCC has received over $1.4 million from unions, including $288,992 from teachers unions in 2013, Department of Labor records show.

AQE describes itself as "a coalition mobilizing communities across the state to keep New York true to its promise of ensuring a high quality public education to all students regardless of zip code." According to the NYCC website, the group is focused on "social and economic justice."

Teachers unions have been pushing back against Brown’s lawsuit seeking to reform tenure rules, which she and other critics say makes it nearly impossible to take unfit—and even sexually predatory—teachers off New York’s payroll.

The head of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, has been a vocal critic of Brown, calling her reform effort "sad and disturbing" in a letter to the Wall Street Journal in January.

Weingarten came under fire from her own supporters last month, after the Washington Free Beacon reported that the American Federation of Teachers was spending $230,000 annually to partner with Democracy Alliance, a dark-money network of progressive advocacy groups.

Published under: School Choice, Unions