MEDIA WATCH: Corporate propaganda as 'news' on Chicago's 'public' TV... Channel 11 uses Gates Foundation front group -- Teach Plus -- to claim that PARCC has teacher support, as if Teach Plus were more than propaganda for PARCC and corporate 'reform'...

As the largest Opt Out movement in Chicago and Illinois history exploded across Chicago's public schools, Chicago's "public" TV station, WTTW Channel 11, decided that propaganda from the organization called "Teach Plus" was speaking for Chicago and other urban teachers. WTTW actually put a guy named Josh Kauffman, the "Teach Plus" Chicago spokesman, on camera. Who is Josh Kauffman and what is Teach Plus.

Channel 11 propagandists Phil Ponce getting made up before his nightly show Chicago Tonight. The day the PARCC test began in Chicago, Ponce hosted a show that provided propaganda for PARCC based on the claims of "Teach Plus," an astroturf group funded by the Gates Foundation and others. Ponce also ignored thousands of Chicago classroom teachers to tout PARCC and featured instead a guy from Teach Plus Chicago named Josh Kaufmann who has never taught in Chicago.Not once during the WTTW story did the Channel 11 reporter or corporate spokesman Phil Ponce discuss who or what "Teach Plus" is, and how it suddenly comes to speak for a large majority of Chicago teachers, claiming that the majority of Chicago teachers think the PARCC is a good test.

A closer look at Teach Plus shows what the propagandists at Channel 11 have left out. Like so many other groups across the USA in this age of billionaires' agendas, Teach Plus is what is known as an "Astroturf" group -- phony grass roots. In order to see that on display the viewer and critic has to go no further than the propaganda aired as news on Channel 11 on the March 10 Chicago Tonight show.

One of the most insightful moments in the WTTW Teach Plus propaganda report on WTTW was that WTTW interviewed a guy named Josh Kauffman, who supposedly speaks for Chicago teachers in support of the PARCC. What Channel 11's Phil Ponce neglected to tell his audience is that Josh Kauffman has never -- as in NEVER -- taught in Chicago. And WTTW was unable to find one Chicago classroom teacher who actually supports the PARCC, despite the lurid claims that as many as 80 percent of CPS teachers support the PARCC.

Kauffman himself came to Chicago and worked in the central office as a mid-level bureaucrat at an annual salary of more than double what the average Chicago teacher is paid this year. According to the July 2014 CPS Position File, Joshua Kaufmann was a "Senior Manager for Early College Initiatives" in the CPS central office bureaucracy at an annual salary of more than $95,000 per year. Claims about his achievements as a central office bureaucrat made by Teach Plus are not verified by any evidence within Chicago's public schools.

Yet when Kaufmann became the local head of Teach Plus in Chicago in November 2014, the Teach Plus press release was adulatory:

"Mr. Kaufmann brings over 14 years of experience in education to his position at Teach Plus," Teach Plus put out in a press release in November when Kauffman was appointed Teach Plus Chicago chief. "He began his career as an English, ESL, and drama teacher in New York City and Namibia, before moving back to his native Chicago and joining Chicago Public Schools (CPS) as an administrator. He most recently served as CPS’ Senior Manager for Early College Initiatives, where he expanded opportunities for students to earn college credit while still in high school and helped grow access to college courses by over 700% in three years. - See more at:"

WTTW also left out the fact that Teach Plus is completely dependent on corporate funding for its existence, with most of its money coming from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the same outfit that funded the states in creating "Common Core."

One of the more interesting things about the March 11, 2015 propaganda event on behalf of Teach Plus is that the "survey" upon which Teach Plus bases the claim that the majority of American urban teachers like the PARCC was only released by the organization the day before Channel 11 and Phil Ponce breathlessly reported the claims and then put Josh Kaufmann on TV as a teacher who speaks out against the majority of parents and union teachers in Chicago.

Teach Plus issued a press release on March 10 summarizing the findings of its survey, without explaining how the survey was done or who funds Teach Plus:

HomeNews & EventsPress Releases & Policy StatementsTeachers Find New Tests Outperform Current State Assessments

Teachers Find New Tests Outperform Current State Assessments

March 10, 2015

1,000 Classroom Teachers in Five Cities Engage in Deep Study of PARCC;

Teach Plus Report Presents Key Findings from Teachers’ Feedback

BOSTON, MA, MARCH 10, 2015— What do classroom teachers think about the quality of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment, designed to measure knowledge aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)? Overall, teachers rate the test favorably, with 79% of teachers finding it to be a higher-quality assessment than their previous state tests. Teachers also find clear alignment between PARCC and the standards they teach. A newly-released report from Teach Plus presents these and other findings from the feedback of over 1,000 classroom teachers in Illinois, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C., who extensively analyzed the PARCC assessment. Teach Plus, a national non-profit that empowers teachers to lead improvements in policy and practice, held seven events to test the test in the fall of 2014 to offer local public school teachers the opportunity to delve deeply into the PARCC test. During an intensive day of professional development, the teachers learned more about PARCC questions and analyzed their alignment to CCSS and the characteristics of high-quality assessments. The teachers reviewed PARCC sample test items, discussed them with fellow teachers, and provided feedback about the quality of the test.

“These teachers really took the time to scrutinize PARCC and render their opinion from a base of knowledge,” said Dr. Celine Coggins, CEO of Teach Plus. “The findings tell an important story about the quality of the PARCC test and its significance to teaching and learning.”

Key findings are:

Teachers believe that PARCC is a better assessment then their prior state tests. 79% of teachers rated PARCC a higher-quality test than their previous state tests.

Teachers find clear alignment between PARCC and what they are teaching. While the majority believe PARCC measures skills needed to be college- and career-ready, teachers were mixed on whether the test was grade-appropriate or too challenging. 69% of teachers believed that the PARCC test did “extremely well” or “very well” in measuring students’ critical thinking skills.

4.Teachers find the English Language Arts (ELA) assessment strongly aligned to the key instructional shifts of the CCSS but may require knowledge students don’t yet have.

Teachers find the math questions cognitively demanding and balanced among concepts, procedures and application, though they wanted to see additional questions that increase the assessment rigor.

“As a teacher, I want to make sure that I’m using a worthwhile test in my classroom,” said Susan Volbrecht, an elementary school teacher in Chicago, IL, who presented at the events and is one of the co-authors of the report. “While this project didn’t address the very real questions of technology and overtesting, it does highlight the fact that PARCC is a better test than many of us currently use with our students.”

The event participants offered suggestion for next steps that schools, districts, and states can take to help teachers as they continue to teach the CCSS and administer the new tests. Specifically, teachers have pinpointed the following as being most useful:

Additional sample questions

Professional development on PARCC


The ability to monitor student progress through formative assessments

Access to better technology

Time to collaborate

“The teachers’ input will undoubtedly help us to improve the implementation of the test and make its specific qualities work for all teachers and students,” said Dr. Coggins.

About Teach Plus

Teach Plus aims to improve outcomes for urban children by ensuring that a greater proportion of students have access to effective, experienced teachers. Teach Plus runs three programs designed to place teacher leaders at the center of reform: Teaching Policy Fellows, the Core Collaborative (C2), and T3: Turnaround Teacher Teams. The programs focus on demonstrably effective teachers who want to continue classroom teaching while also expanding their impact as leaders in their schools and in district, state and national policy. Since its inception in August 2009, Teach Plus has grown to a network of more than 20,000 solutions-oriented teachers in six major cities across the country.

- See more at:

Additionally, it is impossible to find out anything about Teach Plus's money sources by going to their Websites.


March 12, 2015 at 9:39 AM

By: Neal Resnikoff

Big corporate backers of Teach Plus

Large donors listed on the Teach Plus annual report, page 38 are:

Barclays—Barr Foundation—Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—The Boston Foundation—Carnegie Corporation of New York—Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation—CityBridge Foundation—Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation—Eli Lilly and Company Foundation—Harold Whitworth Pierce Charitable Trust—The Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF Affiliate—Joyce Foundation—Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust—The Mind Trust—Moriah Fund—Noyce Foundation—Reeder Foundation—Resnick Family Foundation—SheGives—Shippy Foundation—W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation—Wasserman Foundation.

March 14, 2015 at 8:15 PM

By: Jim Vail

Teach Plus

Here is a report on that teacher meeting about the PARCC test that Teach Plus hosted in December to get teacher feedback that I attended and reported on Second City Teachers:

March 15, 2015 at 8:24 AM

By: ed hershey

teach Plus Funding

i saved TeachPlus's webpage listing their funders. i think its from early 2014. They've since taken it down (I cant imagine why). Besides Gates, it included the pro-charter Joyce Foundation and the ed-reform happy Broad Foundation. Overall, the list closely resembles those of Stand For Children and Teach for America. I can forward it to anyone who wants it.

March 15, 2015 at 12:04 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

Does Teach Plus have any Chicago teachers?

One of the questions raised by the fraudulent WTTW story featuring "Teach Plus" is why they put a guy named "Josh Kaufman" on TV speaking as a "teacher" when the guy, by his own Teach Plus biography, has never NEVER taught in Chicago. Apparently Phil Ponce didn't even bother to ask the most basic question: Where did you teach in Chicago before you became a foundation-funded Teach Plus big shot?

Even more interesting is that last May, after we passed the CTU resolution opposing Common Core in the House of Delegates (in May) and began preparing for the fight over Common Core (which took place in July at the AFT convention), the Sun-Times did a bit of Teach Plus self-promotional work by publishing a letter, supposedly from all 17 Chicago teachers who were with Teach Plus. I don't know whether any of them is still teaching, but their names were all attached to that scabby letter disagreeing with the vote of the 800-member CTU House of Delegates (of which I am a member).

Who are they -- and why didn't Phil Ponce at least ask Teach Plus to put a real Chicago teacher on his show instead of that Astrotuffy guy, Josh...

In May, at least according to that Sun-Times letter, the following were "teachers in Chicago" who signed off on the Teach Plus attack on the CTU Common Core critique:

George Mueller

Paige Nilson

Micah Miner

Casey Fuess

Hen Kennedy

Vickki Willis-Redus

Elizabeth Wontor-Leach

Gina Beach

Kris Beck

Lindsey Siemens

Elijah Osorio

Lynda Edgeson

Jessica Hanzlik

Corey Morrison

Eu Choi Sherisse

Lucas Susan Volbrecht

Rachel Swanson

March 20, 2015 at 5:47 PM

By: ed hershey

teach Plus Funding

i saved TeachPlus's webpage listing their funders. i think its from early 2014. They've since taken it down (I cant imagine why). Besides Gates, it included the pro-charter Joyce Foundation and the ed-reform happy Broad Foundation. Overall, the list closely resembles those of Stand For Children and Teach for America. I can forward it to anyone who wants it.

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