ExcelinEd, formerly registered as the Foundation for Excellence in Education, is a non-profit group founded by former Florida governor Jeb Bush in 2008 and headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida. The FEE describes themselves as, "working with decision makers on developing, adopting and implementing reform policies. We are a hands-on, how-to organization that provides model legislation, rule-making expertise, implementation strategies, and public outreach."
Ties to ALEC
Promoting Corporate Funders' Interests and Work With ALEC
Non profit group, In the Public Interest released e-mails in January 2013 revealing correspondence between the FEE and other Jeb Bush founded group, Chiefs for Change, which consists of former and current state education leaders who support Bushes conservative education reform goals. Education officials from Florida, New Mexico, Maine, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Louisiana are were involved. The e-mails reveal the FEE writing and editing laws, regulations, and executive orders on state education that benefit corporate donors' profit opportunities and closely resemble the American Legislative Exchange Council's education agenda. The FEE arranged "Chief for Change donor meetings" where education officials literally sat in with the corporations profiting from providing education materials and technologies that policies promote. Legislation edited by the FEE and originally written by ALEC which would eliminate class size caps and student-teacher ratios, allow public dollars to flow to online schools and classes and prevent local school districts from limiting access to virtual schools, has already been proposed in Maine. Other FEE written legislation in Florida has increased the use of a proprietary test which is provided by Pearson, an FEE donor. Louisiana Voice found,
- "FEE and ALEC also have many of the same “experts” who serve as members or staff employees and the two organizations also collaborate on the annual ALEC education “report card” which grades states’ allegiance to their policies."
Dave Myslinski, the former FEE State Policy Director for Digital Learning Now! (an operation of FEE), is also the former Staff Director on ALEC's Education Task Force.
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.
News and Controversies
Special Interests Use FEE as a Backdoor Lobbying Vehicle
The Foundation for Excellence in Education has pushed hard for states to adopt digital learning in public schools, "a costly transition that often requires new software and hardware. Many of those digital products are made by donors to Bush’s foundation, including Microsoft, Intel, News Corp., Pearson PLC and K12 Inc."
Jeb Bush, as well as FEE maintain support for Common Core standards. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a top FEE donor, is the primary funder of the campaign.
Other policy goals of the foundation include:
- A-F report cards for schools
- Tax vouchers for private schools
- Expanding charter schools
- Encouraging online learning and virtual charter schools
These policy goals are in step with ALEC's education agenda.
- Total Revenue: $11,884,963
- Total Expenses: $12,608,835
- Total Lobbying Expenditures: $15,373
- Net Assets: $13,760,911
- Total Revenue: $11,416,212
- Total Expenses: $10,355,530
- Net Assets: $14,640,889
- Total Revenue: $10,056,650
- Total Expenses: $5,949,477
- Net Assets: $13,599,985
Staff as of August 30, 2016:
- Patricia Levesque, CEO
- Deena Reppen, Vice President of Administration and Chief of Staff
- J. Alex Kelly, Vice President of Advocacy
- Jess Langhain, National Advocacy Director
- Tom Greene, Regional Advocacy Director, West Coast
- Ryan Mahoney, Regional Advocacy Director, Southeast
- Debbie Mortham, Florida Advocacy Director
- Kim Preston, Regional Advocacy Director, Midwest
- Adam Thompson, Regional Advocacy Director, Gulf Region
- Joanna Hassell, National Policy Director
- Shan Goff, Florida Policy Director
- Christy Hovanetz, Senior Policy Fellow, Accountability
- Matthew H. Joseph, Policy Director, Funding
- Matthew Ladner, Senior Advisor, Policy and Research
- Lowell Matthews Jr., Policy Director, College and Career Readiness
- Cari Miller, Policy Director, K-3 Reading
- Adam Peshek, Director, Education Choice
- Karla Phillips, Policy Director, Competency Based Education
- Claire Voorhees, Director, K-12 Reform
Communication and Operations
- Jennifer Diaz, Director, State Communications
- Kassandra A. Elekes, Deputy Director, State Communications
- Kristin Lock, Director, Marketing and Digital
- Barbara Ross, National Communications Director
- Mandy Clark, National Director of Development
Board of Directors
As of the Foundation's 2014 IRS filing:
- Jeb Bush, President
- F. Philip Handy, Secretary
- William E. Oberndorf, Treasurer
- Reginald J. Brown, Director
- William Simon, Director
- Brian S. Yablonski, Director
- Cesar Conde, Director
- Joel I. Klein, Director
- Elizabeth DeVos, Director
- Laureen P. Jobs, Director
- Condoleezza Rice, Director
- Charles Schwab, Director
Former Board of Directors
As of 2013:
- CEO, Patricia Levesque
- Executive Director of Digital Learning Now!, John Bailey
- State Policy Director for Digital Learning Now!, Dave Myslinski
- Executive Director of Chiefs for Change, Eric Smith
- National Director of Advocacy/Legislation, Josh Venable
- National Director of Policy/Implimentation, Mary Laura Bragg
- National Director of Communications, Jaryn Emhof
- Marketing Director, Erin Price
- Chief Development Officer, Fonda Anderson
- Cheif of Staff, Kay Kammel
- Chief Financial Officer, Carrie Jenkins
- Office Manager, Washington, DC, Elizabeth Emery
- Operations Manager, Sarah Powell
- Operations Manager for CEO, Susan Rehwinkel
To see complete team visit the website.
The FEE lists the donors on their website, below is a list of donors who contributed over $100,000:
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Walton Family Foundation
- Bloomberg Philanthropies
- Carnegie Corporation of New York
- Eli and Edythe L. Broad Foundation
- The Kovner Foundation
- The Marcus Foundation
- Robertson Foundation
- Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation
- The Stiles Nicholson Foundation
- Helios Education Foundation
- Kern Family Foundation
- News Corporation
- Bill and Susan Oberndorf Foundation
Other funders that are listed include:
- Chater Schools USA
- The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation
- Bill and Mary Ann Becker
- The Bradley Foundation
- Jeb Bush and Associates
- Atlas Network
Foundation for Excellence in Education
P.O. Box 10691
Tallahassee, FL 32302
Resources and Articles
- Foundation for Excellence in Education, About Us, foundation website, accesses June 4th, 2013.
- State Policy Network, SPN Florida, organizational website, accessed September 1, 2016.
- Jamie Corey, DOZENS OF ALEC MEMBERS REVEALED IN EMAILS OBTAINED BY DOCUMENTED USING THE FLORIDA SUNSHINE LAW, Documented, December 19, 2019.
- Nonprofit group releases emails which depict connection between ALEC, education reform and corporate investors, Louisiana Voice, January 30th, 2013.
- Donald Cohen, "Bush's Education Nonprofit and Corporate Profits", In the Public Interest, January 30th, 2013.
- Lyndsey Layton, Jeb Bush education foundation played leading role in mixing politics, policy, The Washington Post, January 6, 2015.
- Foundation for Excellence in Education, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, November 13, 2015.
- Foundation for Excellence in Education, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, November 13, 2014.
- Foundation for Excellence in Education, 2012 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, November 15, 2013.
- Excellence in Education, Team, organizational website, accessed August 30, 2016.
- Foundation for Excellence in Education, Team, FEE Website, accessed June 4th, 2013.
- FEE, Our Donors, foundation website, accessed August 30, 2016.