It is not my custom to spend time on an article from American Thinker, a conservative publication whose political editor brags about appearances on the Dennis Miller show, but Unsolved Mystery: D.C. Public Schools Cheating Scandal by M. Catharine Evans and Ann Kane is informative and important. I’m interested not so much in the D. C. cheating scandal as I am in the exposure of  “Chicago connections”—-the connections and what they mean for the rest of us.  For me,  their article was mislabeled. For me, it is not so much a a story about the D. C. cheating scandal as it is a story of the corporate connections that grease one person’s career path. And the real story is missing here. The real story is the Chicago teachers whose careers were ruined and the neighborhoods that lost their community schools so the mayor could have some areas of gentrification. The real story is who’s next  in line for assault by Wireless Generation.

New York Times, USA Today,  and Washington Post take note: Investigative pieces in   Substance News,  whose masthead is Defending the Public Schools for More than 30 Years,  are sourced several times by Evans and Kane. While the Chicago Sun-Times and Tribune were running puff pieces on the Mayor Daley-Arne Duncan school reform, Substance  was at the board meetings and in the schools telling the real story.

The focus in the American Thinker article is on Hosanna Farr Mahaley Johnson Jones, but  the “Wireless Generation”connection is mentioned.  My website  offers lots of info and outrage on this  Murdoch-owned data delivery system that’s taking over the education world.  For starters, in 2009, Jay Spuck in Texas and I in Vermont summed things up to that time,  giving a detailed account of the Mahaley Johnson-Wireless Generation togetherness in Connecting the Dots.

Please note then-Senator Barack Obama’s role here. Few people remember that he sat on the Senate Education Committee, where he could have done some good, had he chosen to do so.

He didn’t. Inviting Hosanna Mahaley to speak provides one more specific example of whose pocket he was–and is–in.

Yes, we’ve read most of this before–in bits and pieces. But here, we get a timeline on Hosanna Farr Mahaley Johnson Jones that is well worth studying.

Hosanna Mahaley Johnson Timeline

BS in History, Marquette; K-12 teaching credential, California State University; MA in Education Leadership, University of Illinois–Chicago; Executive MA in Business Administration, Kellogg School, Northwestern.

1999: summer intern in Mayor Daley’s office. From here, her career (and salary) soars.

2001:  Deputy Chief of Staff, Chicago Public Schools

2003:  Chief of Staff for Chicago Public Schools CEO, Arne Duncan

2005: Still Duncan’s chief of staff, Mahaley Johnson becomes executive officer of New Schools in Chicago. She was part of Duncan’s $100,000 Club, staff receiving well over $100,000 in pay.

2007: Then-Senator Barack Obama invites Mahaley Johnson to testify on NCLB Reauthorization Act before the Senate Education Committee on which he sits. Here’s the context in which a bulletin from the Feb. 12, 2007 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Legislative & Policy update described it:

HELP Committee Holds NCLB Roundtable Discussion
While the House of Representatives held numerous hearings on the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) during the 109th Congress, last Thursday’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee roundtable discussion titled “NCLB Reauthorization: Strategies that Promote School Improvement” marked the first official Senate action. Roundtable discussions are intended to be more informal than a hearing, with panelists and Senators sitting around a large square table together and engaging in more of a dialogue than strictly timed questions and responses.

Opening the discussion, Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) spoke of NCLB’s indisputable impact and said that hearings and roundtables will be utilized in order to gather information on how best to allocate federal resources and improve existing law to turn around struggling schools. “Obviously we must do better, fortunately we know we can,” stated Kennedy. Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) concurred with Kennedy’s thoughts and added that NCLB “…has provided a strong framework” and:
1) there is a need to learn more about what’s working to turn around schools and disseminate the information;
2) Congress should support school improvement activities that are authorized in NCLB; and
3) improvements can be made within the current NCLB structure to improve teacher training and professional development.

In addition to Kennedy and Enzi, participating in the roundtable were Senators: Jack Reed (D-R.I.); Barack Obama (D-Ill.); Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio); Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.); Pat Roberts (R-Kan.); and Wayne Allard (R-Colo.).

Representing educators from the school, district and state levels, the eight panelists included:

* Dr. Martha Barber, Alabama Reading Initiative Regional Principal Coach, Birmingham, Ala.;

* Dr. Yvonne Brandon, Associate Superintendent for Instruction & Accountability, Richmond Public Schools; [her message to the Committee seemed different from the one she gave NPR one month earlier.]

* Richard Coleman, Sr., Director, An Achievable Dream Academy, Newport News, Va.;

* Michael P. Flanagan, State Superintendent of Instruction, State of Michigan;

* Hosanna Mahaley Johnson, Executive Officer, Office of New Schools, Chicago Public Schools;

* Kimberly Johnson, Principal, Briggs Chaney Middle School, Silver Spring, Md.;

* Alana Dale-Turner, Teacher, Easton High School, Easton, Md.; and

* Paul Reville, President, Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy.[ here, here, here. There’s ton’s more; it is significant beyond words that Kennedy would invite Reville.]

While news headlines across the country still ring of negative impressions and implications of NCLB, each panelist discussed the law and its impact in positive terms.

You can read everybody’s testimony here.

Mahaley Johnson Bio Continued

On Feb 28, 2007, the Chicago Board of Education issued this resolution honoring Johnson.

2007: Leaves Chicago to become president of Atlanta Education Fund, where she formed alliance with the business community and Atlanta Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall,  funneling millions from the Fund into Atlanta schools (Most notably $22 from General Electric). Hall  was forced to resign in 2011 when USA Today articles touched off an investigation showing that 178 teachers and principals in 44 schools were involved in cheating on standardized tests.

2007: Named by The Aspen Institute and NewSchools Venture Fund as Fellow for inaugural class of the  Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Fellowship Program  [Larry Berger, CEO of Wireless Generation was in this same class, as were Russllynn Ali, Chris Barbic, Richard Barth, Michael Bennet, Phoebe Boyer, Susan Colby, Gretchen Crosby-Sims, John Deasy, Lauren Dutton, James Forman, Jr., David Harris, Kaya Henderson, Kristen Kane, Dan Katzir, Jeremy Nowak, Dr. Anthony (Tony) Recasner, Ref Rodriguez, Jon Schnur, Jim Shelton, Elisa Villaneuva Beard, and Joanne Weiss]

2009:  Named Vice-Chair National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA)Board of Directors

2009: Joins Wireless Generation as Executive Director, Social Justice and District Innovation

2009: Named Broad Superintendent Academy fellow

2011: Named State Superintendent of Education, Washington D. C. Public Schools

Previous D. C. State Superintendents:
Deborah A. Gist–June 2007–April 2009, then became Rhode Island superintendent of schools. Former Senior Advisor on Education to President George W. Bush.

Kerri Briggs: from April 2009 to Sept. 2010; formerly assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education. Texas native had been working in Department of Education since 2001. After superintendency, she became Director for Education Reform at the George W. Bush Institute

Feb. 2011:  NACSA President and CEO Greg Richmond testified before the District of Columbia City Council in support of Hosanna Mahaley’s confirmation as State Superintendent of Education

Dec. 2011: Hosanna Mahaley missed five out of nine D.C. State Board of Education meetings since taking office Jan. 10, including four of the past five.–Bill Turque, D.C. education agency’s progress questioned, Washington Post

The Dec. 1 Washington Post contained this snippet: State Superintendent Hosanna Mahaley, who just married, has been out of town on her honeymoon. Board member Mary Lord (Ward 2) said she admires Mahaley but adds: “You can’t find who’s in charge of anything. It’s been a disaster.” She said Mahaley has “been getting colossally bad advice.”

So maybe she missed the meetings because she was on her honeymoon.

Or maybe she was at lunch. Item from Washingtonian Dec. 2011:  At a luncheon recognizing Washington’s most powerful women, each honoree was invited to bring a guest–someone with talent and tenacity to watch in the future. PricewaterhouseCoopers sponsored the event at DC’s St. Regis hotel.

Or maybe she was in Brazil. . . on a Pearson paid-for jaunt for superintendents. (See Associated Press Wire, Oct. 13, 2011, where besieged Kentucky superintendent says Mahaley was there too.)

Or maybe looking for second job to make up for the “salary adjustment announced to staff by the mayor March 18, 2011: Mahaley’s went from $185,000 to $179,096, Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson makes $275,000.

Alternate theory: Maybe Hosanna Mahaley  is too busy working on her resume to attend meetings.