Skip to main content

AFT and NEA Set to March to Student Achievement Partners Drumbeat

The Education Week headline reads NEA, AFT Partner To Build Common-Core Tools. Catherine Gewertz writes: 

The two national teachers' unions have won $11 million to build an online warehouse of instructional tools for the Common Core State Standards. Student Achievement Partners, whose founders led the writing of the standards, is also a grantee. It will work with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association and their teachers to build the tools and post them on Student Achievement Partners' website.

Got that? Student Achievement Partners led the writing of the standards.

David Coleman

Sue Pimentel

Jason Zimba

Will the teacher stand up?

Zimba needs to update his vita. Bennington College no longer lists him as faculty, but as Ken Libby has unearthed from IRS applications for StudentsFirst Institute (501c3) and StudentsFirst (501c4, he is listed on the board of Michelle Rhee's Student First.

Gewertz notes that "the grant came from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, which is supported by New York City hotel magnate Leona Helmsley."

"Is supported" makes it sound as though Leona, known as "The Queen of Mean" during her lifetime, is still making money decisions. Famed for her remark, ""We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes." Helmsley served 18 months in prison for tax evasion. But her last earthly money deal was to leave $12 million in a trust fund for her maltese dog.

Leonie is dead. The dog is dead.

And now there is money for the AFT/NEA to sell out whatever shred of ethics they had left and join in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation enterprise aka Common Core State (sic) Standards.

Trained-as-a-lawyer Sue Pimentel of Student Achievement Partners and known as one of the architects of the Common Core, is quoted extensively in the Education Week article describing this Helmsley-financed partnership. Pimentel says her outfit has plenty of ideas about what teachers need.

An indication of just how far the teacher unions have been sold up the river is the fact that Education Week doesn't bother to get a quote from anybody from AFT or NEA. Of course no teacher is quoted.

Sue Pimentel does all the talking.

Your union dues at work.

The Helmsley fund also gave $284,300 in 2012 as a three-year grant to the the My Own Book program, which provides field trips for third-grade classes in the New York City public schools to Barnes & Noble bookstores. Each child is given a $50 allowance to purchase their very own books.

We can only wish this fund, which will do far more than any Common Core alignments for the children who get those books, had received the $11 million.

Here's the press release from the Helmsley Foundation. Note whom they quote as "authority" on the Standards: Student Achievement Partners. Teacher unions are mentioned--in a subservient role.

Helmsley Charitable Trust Makes $11 Million Grant to Engage Teachers Across the Country in Meeting New College and Career Ready Standards

With 46 states adopting the new Common Core State Standards, now is the time to support and collaborate with teachers fully in the development and distribution of highquality tools that will assist them in making fundamental shifts required in practice. The Helmsley Charitable Trust's grant will make Common Core aligned tools and resources available for free in partnership with teachers unions.

New York City -- The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust today announced an expansion of its commitment to students and teachers, with an investment of $11 million over a three year period to engage teachers to develop the tools they need to help students meet the expectations of the new college and career ready academic standards. Known as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), these new standards have been adopted by 46 states and are internationally benchmarked. The standards specifically outline the skills a student needs to master in order to be prepared to succeed in college and the workforce. The implementation of these standards will require significant changes in instructional practice for both literacy and math, creating the need for new tools and resources for all teachers.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust is supporting Student Achievement Partners and AFT and NEA––which together represent more than five million teachers––to jointly design tools and digital applications to support teachers in their practice. The investment will reinforce the unions ongoing efforts to support teachers as they incorporate the major shifts required by the Common Core. The tools will be distributed at no cost by Student Achievement Partners––an organization central to the development of the standards. Teachers are by far the most critical inschool factor to improving student achievement, and Helmsley Charitable Trust is deepening its commitment to the success of teachers.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust currently invests in nationally significant issues in K12 and postsecondary education. The Trust seeks to increase the number of American students who succeed in college and who are able to complete in the global, 21st century marketplace. It sees helping teachers make this transition as critical to that goal. Among other interests, the Trust is investing in strategies to help realize the promise of the CCSS in the adopting states by supporting both knowledge and successful implementation of the standards.

"The Helmsley Trust applauds the critical role of teachers and their unions in the development and adoption of Common Core State Standards in dozens of states across the nation," said Rich McKeon, Program Director of Education for the Helmsley Trust. "We are delighted that the unions are taking on this important role of developing tools that will help educators meet these standards. Student Achievement Partners is an authority on the CCSS, and the Helmsley Trust is proud to support its joint work with NEA and AFT in ensuring that teachers are involved in the design and delivery of the highest quality CCSS implementation tools available."

"The new rigorous Common Core State Standards represent a huge shift in teaching and learning ensuring that students are able to think critically, apply knowledge and meet the challenges of today's world," said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. "But teachers across the country say they are not receiving the time, tools and resources they need to master the new curriculum and make the instructional shifts necessary to make the standards work for teachers and kids. The AFT is excited to join this partnership to help ensure that teachers have access to and a voice in creating high quality resources to help their students and their profession succeed."

"NEA believes the Common Core State Standards will help promote flexible, rich instruction and sound assessments that support learning for students. We are pleased that the Helmsley Charitable Trust sees the value and opportunity for all students in Common Core and understands the importance of supporting teachers through the adjustment and transition," said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

"The Common Core State Standards are built on and must continue to be built on the voice of teachers––teachers and their unions were central to the process of developing the standards and are critical to their success in practice. We have been deep in the work of implementing the Common Core State Standards and developing teacher advocates over the course of this past year, and now we need to engage teachers in developing tools that support their effective instruction in line with the shifts required by the Common Core," said Jason Zimba, Founding Partner of Student Achievement Partners. "The best tools are created by teachers for teachers. Together, we will not only create highly interactive, high quality digital tools but we will distribute them on a free platform to over five million teachers. The Helmsley Trust has been an ideal strategic partner in this effort, and with its substantial resources and clear focus on innovative and highly collaborative initiatives, we look forward to their continuing contributions on behalf of American students and teachers for many years to come."


Teacher unions have a lot to answer for.

Teachers who pay for the existence of these unions must start asking questions--and demanding answers.

Silence is killing you.

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.--Martin Luther King, Jr., letter to several clergymen from the Birmingham City Jail, Birmingham, Alabama, April 16, 1963

— Susan Ohanian
comment on union sellout for Common Core money
December 12, 2012

This blog post has been shared by permission from the author.
Readers wishing to comment on the content are encouraged to do so via the link to the original post.
Find the original post here:

The views expressed by the blogger are not necessarily those of NEPC.

Susan Ohanian

Susan Ohanian, a long-time public school teacher, is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Atlantic, Parents, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Phi Del...