Campbell Brown, a television personality who formerly had her own show on CNN, has recently filed a lawsuit against New York State to eliminate due process rights for public school teachers. Campbell Brown’s New York lawsuit is a copycat of a similar lawsuit that was filed in California. In fact Brown’s lawsuit, and a second nearly identical New York State lawsuit, are part of an orchestrated political campaign undermining public schools, public school teachers and public school teachers unions. A small group of conservative millionaires and billionaires are funding these lawsuits and other efforts to undermine our public schools in New York and around the country. This website examines who Campbell Brown really is, who she represents and the myths and facts about her lawsuit.
Right-Wing. Elitist. Wrong about Public Schools.
The Real Campbell Brown has a credibility problem. With no background in education, she is running a political campaign that will harm teachers, kids, and struggling families. She is funded by Wall Street conservatives who will profit directly from her efforts to demonize teachers, dismantle public schools, and attack Democrats who support due process.
The Real Campbell Brown is right-wing, elitist, and wrong about public schools.
Right-Wing: An Alliance with Deep-Pocketed Republicans and Extremists
The Real Campbell Brown is a registered Republican and has a history of targeting Democrats and hobnobbing with Republican donors and hedge funders like Dan Loeb, Paul Singer and Daniel Allen, and Republican politicians like former Governor Jeb Bush. Her misleadingly named Parents Transparency Project operated as a “dark money” organization, and refused to publicly disclose the names of its funders while it spent at least $100,000 on TV ads falsely accusing Bill de Blasio and other Democrats of protecting sexual predators. She used the Karl Rove Republican technique of framing the advertisements as “issue ads,” to prevent disclosure of her Wall Street and Republican funders.
The Real Campbell Brown has suggested that anyone who opposed the Iraq war also opposed American troops; downplayed the role of birtherism in conservative circles; criticized then-Senator Obama’s supporters for seeing clear racial undertones in Senator McCain’s description of him as “that one,”; attacked Planned Parenthood for targeting Republican Senators who voted to confirm an anti-choice Supreme Court justice, called MoveOn.org members “American Insurgents” in direct comparison to “Iraqi insurgents” and falsely claimed that Rush Limbaugh “reversed course” on branding Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a “reverse-racist”.
The Real Campbell Brown has been criticized for not disclosing her husband’s political job and the economic self-interest that might have influenced the opinions she peddled in newspaper columns. She is married to Dan Senor: a hedge-fund manager and major player in conservative political circles.Senor served as a top advisor to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential candidacy, as spokesperson for George W. Bush’s war in Iraq,and as a board member of StudentsFirstNY — an anti-public education organization that is also involved in this lawsuit.
The Real Campbell Brown is not honest or transparent about who is really funding her and benefiting financially from her political campaign. After twice dodging Stephen Colbert’s recent question about who is funding her lawsuit, she flatly refused to answer.
Brown’s problem with transparency runs deep. She was recently caught having The New Teacher Project write copy for her other shadowy organization, the Parents Transparency Project, without disclosing the ties between the groups. Her right-wing partners have a direct financial interest in seeing her lawsuits succeed. Indeed, The New Teacher Project has received more than $24 million dollars in contracts with the New York City Department of Education, largely during the Bloomberg administration. The New Teacher Project stands to makes millions of dollars if the current laws that provide teachers due process are scrapped. The group contracts to provide young teachers for school districts and sells pricey services to education administrations that would be more in demand if these laws were abolished. The New Teacher Project was founded by Michelle Rhee, who is closely associated with many very conservative Republicans and whose StudentsFirst lobbying group is on Campbell Brown’s Board.
Elitist: A Life of Luxury and Privilege Disconnected From Public School Families
Before being recruited by the hedge fund set to be the public face of the latest attack on public schools, the Real Campbell Brown had no experience with public schools, and had never done anything to advance the educational interests of young people and their families. She attended exclusive private schools herself and is not a public school parent. The Real Campbell Brown lives a life of luxury and privilege, and is out of touch with regular New Yorkers and the needs of struggling parents.
She is an elitist working with many of the leading anti-public education and right-wing ideologues in the country. They are on her Board of Directors and Advisory Board, and are using her as a mouthpiece for their extremist agenda. Her Boards read like a who’s who of the corporate education reform movement—the privatizers, test promoters and teacher bashers who seek to dominate the education policy debate. Not one of them is a regular public school parent or known as a public education advocate.
The Real Campbell Brown sees her attack on teacher due process not as a single battle, but as part of a larger “war.” She describes herself a “soldier in Eva’s Army” – referring to controversial charter school mogul Eva Moskowitz. In her messianic mission she represents the same Wall Street titans and conservative market reformers who oppose school funding, promote high stakes testing, and champion voucher schemes and privately-run charter schools.
The Real Campbell Brown has no legitimacy as a spokesperson for high-needs students in struggling public schools or for students of color in urban communities. She is a mouthpiece for Wall Street conservatives who want to profit from the privatization of public education.
Wrong: Clueless about Teaching, No Credibility on the Facts and Unwilling to Fight for What Kids Need
The Real Campbell Brown doesn’t understand how the best teachers actually do their jobs and why due process helps ensure that students have access to high-quality teachers. The laws that she wants to eliminate will lower the quality of our teaching force, and harm kids and their families in the process. Due process strengthens and support the best teachers against arbitrary firing, discrimination, favoritism, and abuse.
The Real Campbell Brown doesn’t understand that due process helps teachers advocate for extra services for students with disabilities. These laws allow teachers to speak out against policies like excessive standardized testing that harm our kids and families. These laws ensure teachers’ right not to be discriminated against based on race, gender or sexual orientation. These laws prevent schools from laying-off the most experienced and skilled teachers to save money.
The Real Campbell Brown claims that teachers who are charged with an offense have been “found guilty” even before they have had a fair hearing before a neutral arbitrator. In fact she wants to eliminate the arbitrator altogether and turn the decision-making over to school district administrations —the very people who are bringing the charge in the first place.The Real Campbell Brown supports policies that would turn public schools into hostile, corporate work environments where the best teachers can be fired anytime for any reason or, indeed, for no reason at all–modeled after the Wall Street culture that her patrons practice.
The Real Campbell Brown has never been seen or heard in the most important battles to defend educational opportunity and equity for the most vulnerable students. When state budget cuts in New York produced thousands of teacher layoffs and dramatic program cuts that hit high poverty districts, including districts with high numbers of black, Latino and immigrant students, Campbell Brown was nowhere to be seen. She has never raised a finger to fight state budgets that failed to meet the constitutional standard set in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit—the lawsuit where the state’s highest court ordered the state to fund our school to provide a “sound basic education.” In fact her board members have actually fought against more funding for schools with high rates of poverty and high percentages of black and brown students.
The Real Campbell Brown should have no role in the debate over the future of education.
One need look no further than Campbell Brown’s lawsuit against teacher due process to see the depth of her misunderstanding or outright misrepresentation of the facts.