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'Teachgreat.org' joins dozens of Michelle Rhee-type astroturf groups attacking public schools... The Missouri billionaire Rex Sinquefield -- who said in a university lecture that public schools were a KKK plot against black people -- takes aim at teachers and unions...

While Illinois gets to focus on Bruce Rauner's billionaire's version of how reality should be reset, nearby Missouri gets an even funnier dosage of what happens when people with little imagination and the imbecilic focus on getting rich are allowed to utilize the United States of America to become their own intense versions of John Galt, the guy Ayn Rand created in her fantasy "Atlas Shrugged." Reminding Illinoisians about how a mere three years ago Chicago billionaires Penny Pritzker and James Crown suddenly birthed the Illinois branch of "Stand for Children" during the days before tax laws changed in 2010, Missouri billionaire Rex Sinquefield created "Teachgreat.org" with three quarters of a million dollars of his dough on Christmas Eve.

Missouri billionaire Rex Sinquefield is bankrolling an attempt to make teacher tenure unconstitutional.Rex Sinquefield is relatively unknown in Illinois, but his type is not. As deregulation and the newest Gilded Age coincided to place more power than ever into the hands of men (and a few women) who had a single-minded devotion to self-enrichment, the die was cast. Once they had money to throw around and play with, some of the billionaires would do more than add a third and fourth vacation home in Aspen (as former Enron CEO Kenneth "Kenny Boy" Lay did) or add twenty feet to their 80-foot yachts. Thanks to a Supreme Court that makes it easy to do so, the plutocrats are able to create their own parallel universe and try to impose it on everyone else.

Rex Sinquefield has recently tried to buy enough votes in the Missouri to lower his own taxes (he failed) and has slowly increased general media interest in his John Galt versions of reality.

THE STORY WAS BROUGHT TO OUR ATTENTION BY DIANE RAVITCH, WHO REPORTED IN ON HER BLOG ON JANUARY 4, 2014.

RAVITCH REPORTED:

Conservative billionaire Rex Sinquefield does not believe that teaching should be a career. He doesn't think that teachers should have any job security. He thinks that teachers should have short-term contracts and that their jobs should depend on the test scores of their students. He has contributed $750,000 to launch a campaign for a constitutional amendment in Missouri to achieve his aims.

The campaign, in a style now associated with those who hope to dismantle the teaching profession, has the duplicitous name "teachgreat.org" to signify the opposite of its intent. The assumption is that the removal of any job security and any kind of due process for teachers will somehow mysteriously produce "great" teachers. This absurd idea is then called "reform." This is the kind of thinking that typically comes from hedge fund managers, not human service professionals.

Illinois zealot and billionaire Bruce Rauner is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to get elected Governor of the "Land of Lincoln."Sinquefield manages billions of dollars and is also the state's biggest political contributor. "The Teachgreat.org initiative would limit teacher contracts to no more than three years. It also requires teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted, and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system, according to the summary on the groups website.

"The initiative also mandates that teachers be allowed to engage in collective bargaining for pay, benefits and working conditions, in an apparent move to appeal to teacher groups. So far, such organizations have been wary of the proposed constitutional amendment. "Sinquefield gave $100,000 to Teachgreat.org this summer.

"Roughly 147,000-160,000 signatures from Missouri registered voters would be needed to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. The exact number depends on which six of the states eight congressional districts are used for signature collection.

"A similar ballot initiative also backed by Sinquefield -- was proposed for the 2012 ballot, but signature collection was never completed.

"This latest contribution sharply increases Sinquefield's total 2013 donations to various Missouri causes and candidates to more than $2.5 million, according to the Ethics Commission's tally."

We have seen in state after state that conservative ideologues can buy politicians. But we will see whether they can also buy enough of the public, through advertising and public relations, to start the purge that Sinquefield believes is necessary.

I can't help but be reminded of the time I spoke to the Missouri Education Association about three years ago. There were about 800 teachers there from across the state. Afterwards, when I signed books, I was struck by the number of people who said things like, "please sign this for my dad, he is a retired superintendent," or "please sign this for me and my two sisters, we are a family of teachers." So many of the teachers came from small towns where their family had been teachers for years. If Sinquefield has his way, who will replace them? Is there a long line of graduates from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton just itching to teach in Eureka and all the towns and hamlets of Missouri, to take the place of those who are fired? And who will replace them when they move on to their real careers?

Sinquefield despises public schools. In 2012, he had to apologize for a remark in which he said that the KU Klux Klan invented public schools to hurt African-American children.

Sinquefield founded a fund that now manages over $300 billion. He is also founder and president of the Show-Me Institute, a libertarian policy belief-tank.

KKK INVENTED PUBLIC SCHOOLS? REPORTED FROM A MISSOURI BLOG...

Retired investor Rex Sinquefield is apologizing for remarks he made Thursday at Lindenwood University when he quoted a former judge who claimed public schools were designed by the Ku Klux Klan to hurt African-American children.

He now says the comments were "ill-timed and inappropriate."

Sinquefield angered teachers with his remarks at the university's St. Charles campus during a policy lecture called "A Conversation about Good Business, Capitalism, and Liberty." He got onto the subject of tenure, which he wants abolished through an amendment to the Missouri Constitution.

"Many of the good (teachers) leave and go onto something else and the bad ones stay," he said. "And their pay increases with time and grade. It is right now illegal to consider the performance of the students in setting the pay of teachers in Missouri. Its illegal."

And then came the Klan statement.

"I mean, this is -- you know what. There was a column written and I hope I dont offend anyone. There was a published column by a man named Ralph Voss, who was a former judge in Missouri. He now owns and writes for a newspaper in Central Missouri called the Unterrified Democrat -- what a name -- and its in Osage County, Missouri, and he starts off and its something like this. He said, A long time ago, decades ago, the Ku Klux Klan got together and said how can we really hurt the African-American children permanently? How can we ruin their lives? And what they designed was the public school system."

Rep. Chris Carter, D-St. Louis, said he was "floored" by the statement, and Rep. Margo McNeil. D-Florissant said she was "flabbergasted." Missouri National Education Association condemned Sinquefields remarks.

"To call the work of educators in public schools a KKK conspiracy shows how out of touch billionaire Rex Sinquefield truly is," said Chris Guinther, a teacher on leave from the Francis Howell School District. "This is a slap in the face of every educator who has worked tirelessly in a public school to improve the lives of Missouris children. Rex Sinquefield needs to explain himself and apologize to all students, parents and Missourians."

Sinquefield did apologize. A spokeswoman emailed this statement from Sinquefield this afternoon:

"I apologize for my reference to a quote from Ralph Voss of the Unterrified Democrat. The public discourse on these issues is too critical for an ill-timed, inappropriate reference. It is my sincere hope that this does not distract us from the important mission of helping all children access a high-quality education."

POST DISPATCH STORY ABOUT SELF SERVING TAX LEGISLATION

FOUL: For a guy who has spent more than $2 million just in the past couple of months trying to convince the Missouri Legislature to cut his tax bill, Rex Sinquefield doesnt do politics very well. Heres a guy who has more political hacks on retainer than Hillary Clinton. (OK, were guessing). Hes got his own think tank. He has pliant economists with actual degrees on the payroll. And what does he do? He has one of his bought-and-paid-for political organizations issue a bogus report that proves how inbred the whole Grow Missouri movement is.

This week, we received in our email inbox a news release from Associated Industries of Missouri touting a study proclaiming the benefits of House Bill 253, the Sinquefield-devised and supported tax-cut bill that would help rich folks and certain businesses avoid taxes, shift the burden to the middle class and devastate school funding (and funding for lots of other things) in Missouri. Woo-hoo! The report came from the cleverly named Taxpayers Research Institute of Missouri.

One problem: TRIM is just a division of AIM, which is one of the many organizations Mr. Sinquefield gave money to so he could pretend Grow Missouri was more than his own personal money-shredding machine. TRIMs executive director, Ray McCarty, is also AIMs executive director, the same guy who claims to have basically written House Bill 253. It says so right there on the research report.

So, to recap: The business organization that wants the Legislature to override the veto of the bill that the business organization wrote is now touting a report about the bill that was written by the same business organization.

And theyre hoping Missourians wont see through this incestuous charade.

Seriously, Mr. Sinquefield, check out how your minions are wasting your money. No wonder you need a tax cut.

CHRISTMAS DONATION STORY Sinquefield Donates $750,000 To End Teacher Tenure

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By JO MANNIES

Financier Rex Sinquefield, Missouris largest political donor, has given $750,000 to jumpstart the initiative petition drive for a ballot measure to end teacher tenure.

According to the Missouri Ethics Commission, the money was donated on Christmas Eve to Teachgreat.org, the campaign committee set up to oversee the effort.

So far, Sinquefields donation appears to be the single largest contribution to any of the dozens of initiative petitions cleared for circulation. For years, Sinquefield has been an outspoken proponent of change in the states public school system. He also has some major allies, including House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka.

The Teachgreat.org initiative would limit teacher contracts to no more than three years. It also requires teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted, and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system, according to the summary on the groups website.

The initiative also mandates that teachers be allowed to engage in collective bargaining for pay, benefits and working conditions, in an apparent move to appeal to teacher groups. So far, such organizations have been wary of the proposed constitutional amendment.

Sinquefield gave $100,000 to Teachgreat.org this summer.

Roughly 147,000-160,000 signatures from Missouri registered voters would be needed to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. The exact number depends on which six of the states eight congressional districts are used for signature collection.

A similar ballot initiative also backed by Sinquefield -- was proposed for the 2012 ballot, but signature collection was never completed.

This latest contribution sharply increases Sinquefield's total 2013 donations to various Missouri causes and candidates to more than $2.5 million, according to the Ethics Commission's tally.



Comments:

February 24, 2014 at 6:55 AM

By: Paul Bannes

Use of money to influence lawmaking.

At one dollar each, the cost to get the petition signed by the requisite amount of voters would be $147,000 - $160,000, petty cash for a billionaire. Actually, more would be required because of the inevitable dropping of names from the list. Double, triple, quadruple the amount, it would still be petty cash for a billionaire. Return on investment, that I cannot calculate. I forgot to ask yesterday when I encountered signature gatherers on a street in St. Louis, how much they were being paid for each signature. I have heard, a dollar each, which is where my numbers come from. The one I talked to did not have the complete text of the initiative, just some bullets. To my question, so, what's this about, the answer was "keeping better teachers."

May 13, 2014 at 5:05 PM

By: Patricia P Tursi, Ph,D,

Sinquefield and Teach Great Misrepresented.

The Teach Great Initiative was promoted by people who mostly were from out of state and who admitted they "lived on the road." Paid one dollar for each signature, they were either coached or motivated to "misrepresent" (lie) about the initiative, saying it was for "teacher's pay" or some other inoccuous description.

I decided to ask a few signers whether they thought they were signing an initiative which supported teachers and they said they did. However, there were others who thought that taking away tenure, making pay raises based upon standardized testing and limiting contracts to three years was a great idea because they thought teachers had an easy ride.

This is sickening. Anyone who believes that teaching is an easy way to make a living needs to have a turn in the classrooms, spend their summer vacations going to school and spend their evenings and vacation time making lesson plans. Also, they need to deal with parents, unruly children, low budgets and, now, even the threat of death by a crazed pupil.

Sinqufield, like Kochs, is about privitization. The repubs recently overrode Gov Nixon's veto of lowering taxes on businesses and this will really hit education and other Missouri programs hard. They are breaking the postal system by mandating the PO deposit retirement pay years in advance and even for people that aren't hired yet. Our postal system was very good...if you've tavelled overseas, you realize how good it is.

Pretty soon, only the rich will have an educaiton, and only the rich will eat and breathe.

I wonder if the voting commission could enforce dishonesty when the initiative signatures were obtained by lying.

May 13, 2014 at 5:08 PM

By: Patrici P Tursi, Ph.D.

Sinquefield & teach great

Another issue. Sinquefield is against big government and wants to privitize. Then why does he want to amend the Missouri Constitution to control local school boards by having state-wide control!

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