The latest to come out is an article in The New Yorker about Green Dot Public Schools and its founder and chairman, Steve Barr. The piece was written by Douglas McGray of the New America Foundation, a D.C. based policy institute which includes education reform as one of its key issues. Green Dot was founded in 1999. In 2006, billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad gave Green Dot $10.5 million to open up 20 more schools. It currently operates 18 high schools, mostly in
Years ago, Barr became friends with Reed Hastings, the founder of Netflix.
Hastings and Don Shalvey are the co-authors of the California Charter School Initiative introduced to the legislature by Assemblyman Ted Lempert and signed into law in 1998. This repealed the 100-school limit of
Steve Barr calls Shalvey one of his “Most Influential People,” along with former California Governor Pat Brown. Incidentally, Barr named one of his dogs “Jerry Brown.” Other connections are that Broad and Hastings donated generously to State Superintendent Jack O’Connell’s campaign, and that Jerry Brown set up two charter schools in
According to the McGray article, this past March,
… Barr got a call from the new Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. He [Barr] flew to
, at the end of March, for what he expected to be a social visit. At the meeting, Washington, D.C. revealed that he was interested in committing several billion dollars of the education stimulus package to a Locke-style takeover and transformation of the lowest-performing one per cent of schools across the country, at least four thousand of them, in the next several years. The Department of Education would favor districts that agreed to partner with an outside group, like Green Dot. "You seem to have cracked the code," Duncan told Barr. Duncan
And according to the New Yorker’s abstract
This month, Barr expects to meet with Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers (A.F.T.), and her staff and outline plans for a Green Dot
, a national school-turnaround partnership between Green Dot and the A.F.T. Their first city would most likely be America Washington, D.C.
But now let’s turn to basketball.
Luckily for him, Steve Barr played basketball in high school and playing hoops is still one of his main hobbies. He’s read Laker Coach Phil Jackson's The Last Season at least twice. Barr says, "Basketball is the perfect metaphor for anything.” This history and outlook sets him up nicely for being accepted by Arne Duncan and President Obama.
Secretary of Education, Call-Me-Arne,
After his oversees basketball adventure,
So in 1991, Rogers placed Duncan in charge of running the Ariel Education Initiative, a non-profit set up by Rogers' firm to advance "...educational opportunities in economically disadvantaged areas.” It seemed like a good fit for
The rest is history. In 1998, after running
Basketball happens to be a HUGE part of Rogers’ life. For years he has played in three-on-three basketball tournaments where
Another of Rogers' regular basketball teammates for many years is Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama’s older brother. Both men attended
Knowing Rogers via her brother, Michelle introduced Obama to him when she started dating Obama seriously,
So now the relationship between Rogers, Robinson, Duncan, and Obama is explained. By the way,
This is a world where basketball means a lot, and where it is believed that important qualifications for a person are borne out on the courts. From The Audacity of Hoops:
But before matters between Barack and Michelle could advance too far, she had a test to administer. Having grown up listening to her father and her brother, a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year at
Princeton, insist that a man’s character gets laid bare on the court, she hatched a plan. Craig Robinson rounded up a quorum of friends of varied abilities. “I didn’t want the game to be too intimidating,” he says, because it would’ve been painful to tell Michelle the prospect with the odd name hadn’t made the grade. He needn’t have worried. Obama found that sweet spot between not shooting every time and not always passing to Craig. In campaign appearances Robinson would retell the story with a kicker: “If I could trust him with my sister, you can trust him with your vote.”
It's a cute story, but after figuring things out, it's a little scary to think that this type of thinking may have been a factor in why Arne Duncan was ultimately selected.