Center for Education Reform
The Center for Education Reform (CER) is a right-wing 501(c)3 nonprofit and associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN). CER is a pro-education privatization group on the front lines of the "education reform" movement that seeks to expand charter schools and vouchers. "Our mission is to expand educational opportunities that lead to improved economic outcomes for all Americans, particularly our youth, ensuring that the conditions are ripe for innovation, freedom and flexibility throughout U.S. education."
CER is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Task Force on Education and Workforce Development and plays a key role in supporting many of ALEC's public school privatization efforts. The organization has presented at ALEC meetings as recently as 2016.
State Policy Network
SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 49 states, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of June 2018, SPN's membership totals 156. It is an $83 million right-wing empire as of the 2011 funding documents from SPN itself and each of its state "think tank" members. Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.
In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"
A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.
Ties to ALEC
The Center for Education Reform is an ALEC member and sits on the Education and Workforce Development Task Force. The director of ALEC's Education and Workforce Development Task Force, Inez Feltscher, served as CER's Director of Research in 2015 before working for ALEC.
CER has presented at numerous American Legislative Exchange Council conferences. Most recently, CER was listed as a speaker at the May 6, 2016 ALEC Education and Workforce Development Task Force Meeting and presented at ALEC's Annual Meeting on July 27, 2016.
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
- Total Revenue: $1,186,294
- Total Expenses: $1,585,334
- Net Assets: $131,216
- Total Revenue: $1,559,967
- Total Expenses: $1,921,629
- Net Assets: $530,256
- Total Revenue: $2,464,785
- Total Expenses: $2,072,233
- Net Assets: $891,918
- Total Revenue: $2,603,114
- Total Expenses: $2,295,379
- Net Assets: $499,366
Board of Directors
- Jonathan Hage, Chairman, Founder and CEO, Charter Schools USA, Inc
- Michael Moe, Vice Chairman, Co-Founder, Global Silicon Valley Partners
- Susan Wolford, Treasurer, Managing Director, BMO Capital Markets
- Donald Hense, Secretary, Chairman, Friendship Public Charter School
- Jeanne Allen, Founder & CEO, The Center for Education Reform
- Dennis Cariello, Shareholder & Ed Leader, Hogan, Marren, Babbo & Rose, Ltd.
- Kevin Chavous, Executive Counsel, American Federation for Children
- Edward Fields, Chairman & CEO, HotChalk
- James Goenner, President & CEO, National Charter Schools Institute
- David Hardy, CEO, Boys' Latin of Philadelphia Charter School
- Chris Whittle, CEO, Avenues: The World School
- Janine Yass, Vice Chair Emeritus, Director, Philadelphia School Partnership
- Gisèle Huff, Emeritus, Executive Director, Jaquelin Hume Foundation
- Jerry Hume, Chairman Emeritus, Chairman of Basic American, Inc
- Jeanne Allen, Founder and CEO
- Tim Sullivan, Chief Communications Officer
- Amanda Von Leer, Special Assistant to the CEO
- Richard Weisbach, Director of Policy and Innovation
- Gil McPherson, Operations Coordinator
- Lexi Sowemimo, Office Manager
- Theodore Allen, Creative Director
- Pat Korten, Communications Consultant
- Hannah Barry, Intern
- Nilofar Vakili, Intern
Employer Identification Number (EIN): 52-1847187
Center for Education Reform
1901 L Street, NW, Suite 705
Washington, DC 20036
- State Policy Network, Directory, organizational website, accessed Mach 13, 2017.
- Center for Education Reform, About, organizational website, accessed March 14, 2017.
- American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC SPECIAL PRESENTATION: KEMP FORUM ON EXPANDING OPPORTUNITY, A PROJECT OF THE CENTER FOR EDUCATION REFORM AND THE JACK KEMP FOUNDATION, organizational website, accessed March 14, 2017.
- Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
- Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
- Lisa Graves, Taxpayer-Enriched Companies Back Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education, its Buddy ALEC and Their "Reforms", PRWatch.org, November 28, 2012.
- Inez Feltscher, Inez Feltscher, LinkedIn, accessed March 14, 2016.
- American Legislative Exchange Council, EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT TASK FORCE MEETING, organizational website, accessed March 14, 2017.
- Center for Education Reform, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, July 31, 2015.
- Center for Education Reform, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, October 25, 2014.
- Center for Education Reform, 2012 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, July 11, 2013.
- Center for Education Reform, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed March 13, 2017.
- Center for Education Reform, People, organizational website, accessed March 13, 2017.