Our recent post critiquing the National Council on Teacher Quality’s report entitled “Teacher Quality Roadmap” got the most hits out of any of the posts on Classroom Struggle. This demonstrates there is clear interest in understanding the politics and economics behind a seemingly well-intentioned nonprofit organization such as GO. With that said, we’re publishing Jack Gerson’s biographical sketch of Jonathan Kelin, the executive director of GO Public Schools. Let’s understand who our “allies” are before we co-sign their political projects.
Oakland’s Jonathan Klein and the Rogers Foundation
- Jack Gerson
The corporate forces who orchestrate and bankroll the assault on public education are destructive and lethal, but they are not stupid. They can see as well as we that their divide-and-conquer strategy is beginning to break down: the strategy of blaming teachers and teacher unions for the problems of public education. They saw the powerful alliance that was built between teachers and parents in Chicago — especially black and Latino parents. They see a similar alliance developing in Philadelphia, where 23 schools are being closed and the school district effectively handed over to charter school management organizations. They see the anger being directed at school closures and denial of resources, and they see it being directed where it belongs: at them, the
GO’s Jonathan Klein, looking straight out of a corporate boardroom presentation.
corporate deformers. And since they are not stupid, the corporate forces are trying to regroup, to change their packaging a bit (e.g., talking more “how to improve teaching” before moving on to the need for standardized high stakes testing ["to hold teachers accountable"] and to “close down or turn around failing schools”). Same core program, but new packaging.
But they have money to burn. They’re slick. And in Oakland, long a laboratory for the corporate privatizers, they are pulling out all stops to rebuild support from the community. Their representatives here are very slick and very skilled. OUSD Superintendent Tony Smith’s background is pretty well known. But how many are aware of the pedigree of the man who founded and runs GO Public Schools?
Who is behind GO Public Schools? Jonathan Klein is the Executive Director of GO Public Schools. It would be hard to find an individual anywhere whose resume better illustrates how thoroughly the corporate billionaires — especially the Broad Foundation (and the local Rogers Foundation) — have planned and executed the dismantling of public education in Oakland as we have known it, especially during the state takeover of OUSD and its aftermath.
Klein was student body president at Yale, and then a TFA teacher in Compton, California (Compton was then in state receivership, run dictatorially by its state-appointed administrator, Randolph Ward). He came to Oakland in 1999 to run Bay Area Teach for America (1999 – 2003). Klein then studied and taught at UC Berkeley’s business school, where he got an MBA and taught some business courses. Then he was installed in OUSD by Eli Broad — Klein did his Broad Foundation residency from 2006 to 2008 as Special Assistant to each of the three State Administrators (all of whom were themselves graduates of Broad’s Urban Superintendents Academy: Randolph Ward, Kimberly Statham, and Vincent Matthews.)
Jonathan Klein left OUSD in 2008 and became Chief Program Officer at the Rogers Family Foundation, Oakland’s home-grown corporate billionaire public education-bashing foundation. (From the Rogers Foundation’s home page: The Rogers Family Foundation supports schools, charter management organizations, and non-profit organizatons that are making measurable changes in the lives of Oakland students.) T. Gary Rogers, as CEO of Dreyers, played a major role in pushing the toxic “Expect Success” initiative on OUSD during the state takeover. His son, Brian Rogers, now the Executive Director of the Rogers Foundation, founded Lighthouse Charter Schools, ran unsuccessfully for school board on a corporate deform agenda (basing teacher evaluations and pay on student standardized test scores; closing down “failing” public schools and opening more charter schools; etc.).
Jonathan Klein used the time and resources made available to him at the Rogers Foundation to enhance the connections he’d made at Yale, TFA, the Broad Foundation, and OUSD top management to lay the groundwork for GO Public Schools. A little over a year ago, Jonathan Klein left the Rogers Foundation to became the first Executive Director of GO Public Schools.
For Jonathan Klein’s biosketch at the Broad Foundation, see:
For his biosketch at GO Public Schools, see:
For more on the Rogers Foundation, go to: