More About the Termination of KIPP Co-Founder Mike Feinberg


The New York Times reported on the allegations against Mike Feinberg, co-founder of KIPP, and his termination. 

“KIPP, one of the country’s largest and most successful charter school chains, dismissed its co-founder on Thursday after an investigation found credible a claim that he had sexually abused a student some two decades ago, according to a letter sent to the school community.

“The co-founder, Michael Feinberg, was accused last spring of sexually abusing a minor female student in Houston in the late 1990s, according to someone with close knowledge of the case, who was not authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified. An outside investigation found her claim credible after interviewing the student and her mother who both gave the same sequence of events.

“Mr. Feinberg denies the accusation, his lawyer, Christopher L. Tritico, said.

“Investigators also uncovered evidence that Mr. Feinberg had sexually harassed two KIPP employees. One case, in 2004, led to a financial settlement, the letter said; the other could not be corroborated because the woman involved would not cooperate, but the letter found it to be credible.

“We believe that Mr. Feinberg’s actions were incompatible with the leadership qualities that are central to our mission,” said the letter, which was sent Thursday afternoon to teachers, administrators and families of students.

“Mr. Feinberg was told of his dismissal at a meeting on Thursday in Houston.

“Mr. Tritico said an initial investigation last summer by outside counsel for KIPP’s Houston board had found the 1990s allegation to not be credible, before a second investigation by WilmerHale, a law firm specializing in sexual misconduct, reversed that finding.

“He said Mr. Feinberg had never been told of the precise allegations against him, and had not been given a chance to defend himself. “The investigation was conducted without even the most rudimentary form of due process,” Mr. Tritico said.

“KIPP said the first investigation found the claim inconclusive.

“The program, started in Texas in 1994 with 47 fifth-grade students, achieved extraordinary results with poor and minority schoolchildren and became a model that many others sought to replicate around the country. Today it has nearly 90,000 students and 209 schools in 20 states. The vision of Mr. Feinberg and the other co-founder, David Levin, Ivy League graduates who came together through Teach for America in the early 1990s, is largely credited with its success.

“In the early years, Mr. Feinberg was a teacher and administrator in Houston, but his current role had been mainly external — fund-raising, lobbying, political advocacy and college partnerships. In the year ended June 2016 — the latest period for which the organization’s tax filings were available — Mr. Feinberg received $231,885 in compensation and benefits while working for KIPP’s Houston schools, and $220,241 for work at the parent foundation in San Francisco, the filings show.”

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West Virginia: Teachers Strike Across the State for Pay, Health Care


West Virginia teachers went out on strike across the state, closing down every public school.

“Teachers across West Virginia walked off the job Thursday amid a dispute over pay and benefits, causing more than 277,000 public school students to miss classes even as educators swarmed the state Capitol in Charleston to protest.

“All 55 counties in the state closed schools during Thursday’s work stoppage, Alyssa Keedy, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Education, said.
 “Work stoppages by public employees are not lawful in West Virginia and will have a negative impact on student instruction and classroom time,” West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steven Paine said in a statement this week. “Families will be forced to seek out alternative safe locations for their children, and our many students who depend on schools for daily nutrition will face an additional burden. I encourage our educators to advocate for the benefits they deserve, but to seek courses of action that have the least possible disruption for our students.”

“Data from the National Education Association show that in 2016, West Virginia ranked 48th in average teacher salaries. Only Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Dakota sat below it in the rankings, which included 50 states and the District.

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Missouri: Governor Eric Greitens Indicted for Invasion of Privacy


Republican Governor Eric Greitens was indicted for invasion of privacy.

“Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was indicted and taken into custody Thursday for felony invasion of privacy, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner’s office announced Thursday afternoon…

“Gardner’s statement said a grand jury found probable cause to believe Greitens violated a Missouri statute that makes it a felony if a person transmits the image contained in the photograph or film in a manner that allows access to that image via a computer.

“The indictment apparently stems from allegations made in media reports last month that, during the course of an extramarital affair, he took a photograph of his bound and partially nude lover and threatened to publicize it if she exposed the affair.”

Greitens is of interest on this blog because one of his first actions was to pack the State Board of Education and force the firing of the uncontroversial state commissioner of education. Greitens is a huge supporter of privatization and was planning to replace the Commissioner with a charter lover.

But the governor forgot that his appointees were supposed to be approved by the Legislature and they were not. Consequently, none of his appointees serve legally, and there is no quorum on the state board.

What is not clear is why Greiten’s non-legal Board was allowed to fire the state commissioner.



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Quick Takes: To No One’s Surprise, Trump Said Some Stupid Stuff

* Today Trump said that maybe we should have a rating system for movies. Do you think maybe someone should tell him…oh, never mind.

Here’s the video of Trump talking about video games and movie rating systems

— Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) February 22, 2018

* During the president’s “listening session” yesterday when he was talking about arming teachers, Trump said, “I think it could very well solve your problem.” Notice that he referred to the shooting of innocent children as “your” problem. No wonder this guy’s staff have to script him for signs of empathy – he has none.

President Donald Trump holds notes during a White House listening session with students and parents affected by school shootings. (AP Photo by Carolyn Kaster)

— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) February 21, 2018

* Speaking of stupid things people said, here’s something Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted today:

Banning all semi-auto weapons may have been popular with the audience at #CNNTownHall, but it is a position well outside the mainstream

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 22, 2018

I guess 67 percent of Americans are “outside the mainstream,” because that is how many of us support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons, according to a Quinnipiac poll that was just released.

* No, CNN did not attempt to script participants at last night’s town hall forum.

CNN response to the claim of a “scripted question” for last night’s town hall:

— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) February 22, 2018

* Chris McDaniel has uncovered an important story that might get lost amidst all the other news.

Procuring execution drugs has become almost impossible, as major pharmaceutical companies stopped making them or refused to provide them for capital punishment. Missouri itself faced a crisis in early 2014, when the previous pharmacy it had been using was exposed in the press and stopped providing the state with drugs. Scrambling, Missouri found a new pharmacy and stockpiled the lethal injection drug pentobarbital, enabling it to set a record pace for executions, scheduling one a month for more than a year.

To hide the identity of the new pharmacy, the state has taken extraordinary steps. It uses a code name for the pharmacy in its official documents. Only a handful of state employees know the real name. The state fought at least six lawsuits to stop death row inmates and the press from knowing the pharmacy’s identity. Even the way Missouri buys and collects the drugs is cloak-and-dagger: The state sends a high-ranking corrections officer to a clandestine meeting with a company representative, exchanging an envelope full of cash for vials of pentobarbital. Since 2014, Missouri has spent more than $135,000 in such drug deals.

But now, BuzzFeed News can reveal the supplier: Foundation Care, a 14-year-old pharmacy based in the suburbs of St. Louis that has been repeatedly found to engage in hazardous pharmaceutical procedures and whose cofounder has been been accused of regularly ordering prescription medications for himself without a doctor’s prescription.

* Take 3 minutes to watch Justice David Souter’s prescient remarks back in 2012 about the dangers that emanate from civic ignorance. While you do so, keep in mind Donald Trump’s statement at the Republican Convention: ” I alone can fix it.”

* Yesterday I wrote about how the social media savvy Generation Zers are taking on the pro-Trumpers. Here is a perfect example:

CNN’s Blitzer to Student: “Cameron, what do you say to conspiracy theorists who say you’re paid actors?”

Cameron: “Had they seen me in our production of Fiddler on the Roof, they’d know no one would ever pay me to act.”

I. Love. These. Kids. #NeverAgain #ParklandStudents

— Kathleen Smith (@KikkiPlanet) February 21, 2018

* Finally, there is a whole lot of truth packed into this short speech.

Last night my #MuhammadAli book won the @PENamerican @espn Award for Literary Sportswriting. Wow! Here’s my acceptance speech. @HMHbooks

— Jonathan Eig (@jonathaneig) February 21, 2018

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In the Trump Administration, the Polluters Are in Control

In 2017, 13 federal agencies expressed high confidence that “more than 92 percent of the observed rise in global average temperatures since 1950 is the direct result of human activity.” But the Trump administration wants to debunk its own findings. First, Trump nominated Kathleen Hartnett White, a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), to lead the Council on Environmental Quality.  As you might imagine, the TPPF is basically a front for utility companies and the oil and gas industry.

Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, told the Texas Observer, “TPPF‘s donors are a Who’s Who of Texas polluters, giant utilities and big insurance companies. TPPF is thinking the way its donors want it to think.”

Unfortunately for the polluters, Kathleen Hartnett White gave one of the most pathetic performances in history during her confirmation hearings. It was so bad that her nomination had to be pulled.

Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said he found Ms. White’s views so unsettling that he mounted a campaign to block her confirmation. Mr. Carper said he visited the offices of 16 Republican senators to voice his concerns, bringing with him an iPad in order to play a three-minute video that his staff had compiled of Ms. White struggling to respond to questions posed by both Republicans and Democrats at her hearing.

In an interview last week, Mr. Carper said he believed his effort had played a part in ending Ms. White’s nomination.

Her climate change skepticism wasn’t necessarily the problem. Her complete ignorance of environmental science was just too much to overlook. That’s why the Trump administration is tossing us another climate skeptic.

The Trump administration is considering a North Carolina regulator who questions mainstream climate science to be the next White House environmental adviser, just weeks after withdrawing a previous nominee who held similar views.

Donald van der Vaart, the former secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, said in a telephone interview that he had been in discussions with the White House for several positions in recent months, most recently to possibly lead the Council on Environmental Quality, which is responsible for coordinating federal environmental policy.

In the interview, Mr. van der Vaart expressed skepticism about the extent to which humans have contributed to climate change, a view that puts him at odds with scientific findings and echoes the views of other senior administration officials. He also expressed a willingness to challenge the legal foundation of federal climate-change policy, the 2009 Environmental Protection Agency decision known as the “endangerment finding,” which declares that greenhouse gases are harmful to human health and must be regulated.

“I’m not going to say ‘no,’” Mr. van der Vaart said when asked if he would support repealing the endangerment finding.

Now, it’s clear that getting a climate skeptic confirmed to this position is a priority for the Trump administration, regardless of what 13 agencies of the government have concluded with “high confidence.” But the goal this time is to find someone who won’t fall flat on their face in front of the Senate. In Mr. van der Vaart, the polluters think they’ve cleared that bar.

Some activists who deny established climate-change science, like Myron Ebell at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank, support Mr. van der Vaart’s potential nomination, saying he combines more than 25 years of regulatory experience with a unique background as both a lawyer and chemical engineer. In addition, Mr. Ebell said, Mr. van der Vaart’s climate views are closely aligned with those of the previous nominee, Kathleen Hartnett White, who was withdrawn from consideration this month.

“Having lost Kathleen, which saddens me, I think Donald van der Vaart is a good alternative. He brings many of the same strengths,” Mr. Ebell said. And, he noted, “He doesn’t have a long and open trail of speeches and comments,” like Ms. White does, in which opponents can look for ammunition.

The polluters, using manufactured climate skeptics, captured the GOP as soon as John McCain lost his bid for the presidency. A lot of people who aren’t Republicans put their trust in Donald Trump precisely because he wasn’t in lockstep with conservative positions on everything. On climate, though, there has been absolutely no daylight. For whatever reason, Trump is fully on board with pushing climate skepticism. If Donald van der Vaart isn’t confirmed, the next nominee will be no different. The polluters can feel confident that Trump will feed their nominees into the system until one can make it through the process and win confirmation.

And this is across the board: at the EPA, at the Energy Department, and even in the courts, the polluters are ascendant and can justifiably expect to get everything they want from this administration.

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