SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: The Truth About High Achievement New York

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Truth About High Achievement New York

For those that have not been paying attention of late there is a new faux education advocacy group in town.

OK maybe not new but we here just found out about them last week just before the ELA exams began. This group, High Achievement New York, is one of those so-called, "Hey we are here for the kids and the families of NYC and we are just regular people and are down with everyone else," groups.

HANY has even being playing radio spots on WCBS-AM and WINS coercing and lying to those that do not have enough information that testing really is not a major disruption and...well you know what? Let's look at the script together;
I’m  Pat Sprinkle, and I am a  New York public school teacher. If your son or daughter is in the 3rd through  8th grade,  I  want  you to know this month’s state assessments are crucial for their future. Almost two - thirds of our students graduate from high school without being ready for college or a career.  These tests are designed to fix that  – they’re a check - up to make sure all our kids are getting the  problem - solving and critical thinking skills need ed to succeed . It’s a great investment for your children  – the rules guarantee they’ll spend less than 1% of the their time on  the tests each year. Let’s give all  our students a chance at a better life. Because they deserve it.
Where to start? We can start with the fact that Pat Sprinkle is a loyal, card carrying member, of Educators 4 Excellence.

These tests do not measure problem solving nor critical thinking skills. These tests are only measure how confused and stressed out our students get.

Maybe 1 percent of students time each year is spent on taking the tests, but how much time is spent each year preparing for the tests?

But what bothers us most is while the voice over at the end of the radio spot tells the listener that the spots were paid for by HANY nowhere do we hear a voice over that HANY is majorly financed by the Gates Foundation, the same financiers that breech birthed E4E.

Yes to a lay person it might seem cynical to imply that Gates monies are pulling the strings. We can give the benefit of the doubt and say that Gates donated to a true grass roots organization. We can. We shan't.

The Crack Team did a WhoIs search of HANY's url (Web address) and came up with bupkus. The information the WhoIs came up with showed many a layer hiding the true owners of the web address. Why?

We then googled the telephone # we found on the HANY blog, 212-681-1380 and found out that that is the main number for Mercury LLC a public affairs/lobbying firm in Manhattan.  Heck, Mercury LLC is the public affairs firm for Campbell Brown's Partnership for Educational Justice! Mercury is also a registered lobbyist in NYC.

It gets deeper.

When The Crack Team spoke with someone at Mercury LLC (More on this in a bit) we shared the address of the blog. Immediately this person read the blog. When The Crack Team checked on the blog's stat counter and the ISP comes from another public relations firm Porter Novelli which is part of the Omnicron Group.

When The Crack Team spoke with VP of Mercury LLC  Jon Weinstein the first question we asked him was who paid for the poll that is listed on HANY's blog that New Yorkers across the state are in favor of high stakes testing. Jon told The Crack Team that MercuryLLC "commissioned the survey." This is akin to McDonald's commissioning a poll to find out which fast food restaurant has better tasting burgers, McD's or Burger King only to find out McD's is the better tasting burger.

We thank Jon for his honesty but for some reason asked that the remind of question be written out in an email and he will respond. He did. But first the questions The Crack Team sent;

1. Is it possible to get a copy of the survey that is being touted by HANY?  

2. HANY appears to be coming off as a "grass roots" organization. Why hasn't HANY shared information that the Gates Foundation is it's main funder in the radio spots or the fact Mercury LLC is the force behind HANY?  

3. How many of the coalition members know that the Gates Foundation is your main funder?  

4. Is there any official relationship between HANY/Mercury and StudentsFirst, Educators 4 Excellence and Campbell Brown?  

5. When 212-630-1630 is googled why does Campbell Brown's "Partnership for Educational Justice" appear in the listings?  

6. Have any of the people who did the voice overs for the radio spots receive compensation and if so how much?  

7. Who other than the Gates Foundation has funded HANY? 

8. Has Mercury LLC done any lobbying in Albany, NYC, or Washington on behalf of Gates, StudentsFirst, DFER, PEJ, Campbell Brown, E4E, and other such organizations?

Jon replied promptly; 

High Achievement New York provides New York parents, teachers, business and community leaders with an organized platform to support the Common Core standards, which are essential for preparing our children for college and 21st century careers. 

We are transparent about where our funding comes from and who our coalition members are.

Our funders are listed in this press release, posted on our website:

Coalition members can be found listed at the bottom of each press release on this page:

We are proud of the work we are doing to make sure that all of New York’s children are advancing together and learning the critical thinking and reasoning skills they need for success.

Finally, no one in our radio ads was compensated for offering their viewpoints. We appreciate your interest in High Achievement New York.

Jon didn't really answer the question did he? We emailed him back several times and he has yet to respond to what we asked him. As a former reporter for NY1 surely Jon didn't like BS and obfuscation when it was done to him.

Is it just possible that part of reason thousands of students statewide have opted out is that we are sick and tired of astro-turf groups telling us parents how our kids should be educated? Interfering with our local school boards, our teachers, our politicians? 

Time to go away HANY and all the astro-turf groups out there. Leave our children's education be. WE THE PARENTS AND THE COMMUNITES know what is best. You don't. 

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