A few days ago, Kilroy’s Slower Delaware posited Jack Markell could run for U.S. Senator Tom Carper’s seat. I commented I thought he should stay out of politics altogether. I’ve always known he would hobnob around the corporate education arena. Today, an announcement came out that Ridge-Lane Limited Partners is going to expand their social-impact merchant bank. When I saw who else is a part of this, it made my head throb.
Who is involved? The name Ridge-Lane comes from former Pennsylvania Governor and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and financier Brad Lane. Others involved include: Jack Markell (DE), Christie Whitman (NJ), Jennifer Granholm (MI), Beverly Perdue (NC), John Deasy (former Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District), James Douglas (VT), Gary Locke (WI), Jay Nixon (MO), Ted Mitchell (former U.S. Under Secretary of Education), Bill Ritter (CO) and a whole bunch of ex-federal figures. The goal of Ridge-Lane? According to ex-Pennsylvania Governor and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, in a press release issued today:
“I am excited to have such distinguished leaders join us” said Governor Ridge, “as we expand the company in support of our mission to drive positive outcomes in society, at the intersection of private innovation, investment capital, and government. We are proud to announce our new team members.”
Yes, because we need more corporate education reform leaning folks dumping AND hedging more corporate dollars into education. Because that has resulted in so much better education for kids. Some of these people are the same ones who pledged their souls to the almighty standardized test and sacrificed millions of public education children for flawed state assessments. But now, to fix those problems in education created by some of these very same people, corporations will profit off student outcomes by betting on the outcomes. I am utterly disgusted it has come to this.
Even ex-Vice President Joe Biden has some influence here as his former Deputy Director of Policy, Kerry Duggan, is in on the gravy train.
For folks in Delaware, this description of what Ridge-Lane does should see a very well-used term thrown out by current Delaware Governor John Carney in here:
RIDGE-LANE Limited Partners is a social-impact merchant bank with a team of General Partners, Operating Partners, and Senior Advisors who have served at the highest levels of business, finance, and government. RIDGE-LANE LP structures public-private partnerships to finance social infrastructure and urban development projects across the U.S., as well as advisory to venture capital funds and corporate development services to commercialize and scale private technology companies across the globe.
Yes, public-private partnerships. Carney’s mantra. Last night, the Christina School District Board of Education passed a Memorandum of Understanding with Carney’s office and the Delaware Department of Education to “partner” with each other. The plan calls for a lot of public-private partnerships which was why Delaware United Way’s Executive Director Michelle Taylor was there asking the board to approve the plan. The four yes voting members took the bait and swallowed it whole. I have no doubt in my mind Christina will be the first guinea pig district in Delaware to pilot some social impact bond betting to “improve outcomes” of the most vulnerable students in the state.
When you go to the Ridge-Lane website, you can’t even get into the different sections they want to invade with social impact bonds. You get a huge picture of the U.S. Capitol Building and it asks for a password. Because we all know transparency goes out the window in public-private partnerships. That’s kind of the whole point of it. I guess they don’t want us commoners knowing what they are up to! If you thought hedge funds in education were bad enough, social impact bonds will be ten times worse! Because when you look at their business “credo”, one of their mantras we should all bow to is this: We view capital as a commodity and use it as a tool. Apparently, students are the new “capital” much like teachers were “human capital” during the height of the corporate education reform movement. They will assuredly use students as a tool and leverage because another part of their “credo” is this: We have conviction that personal wealth creation will come as a by-product of using our knowledge and resources to help scale innovation.
This is the future of public education and I warned you all about it a long time ago. All of these people were in key positions to begin a substantial amount of education reform policies. Now they will take it to the bank. It is unethical, immoral, and wrong. They created the very mechanisms in which they will now measure schools through social impact investments. A conflict of interest? It goes way beyond that. These people need to be brought to the clear light of day and exposed for the scumbags they are. And in Delaware, Governor John Carney is now at the top of that list.