More on “Education Non-Profit” WakeEd Partnership – #nced #ncpol

CC ED Potemkin VillageAs previously reported last month, WakeEd Partnership penned a newsletter protecting the Common Core by way of demonizing the General Assembly.

The newsletter, entitled ‘How To Advocate for Common Core‘, is short but attacks the legislature for actually listening to the public they represent by creating a commission to review the highly controversial Common Core Standards.

Business certainly has a place in education discussions, however the trend we’ve seen becoming more and more prevalent in the last 5-10 years is that of business entities demanding a place at the education discussion table by buying the table and all the chairs around it.

So who is this ‘WakeEd Partnership’ anyway?

Founded in 1983, their main mission appears to be to take business directives and turn them into education policy in North Carolina. Sounds familiar.

Our Mission

To engage, inform, and mobilize the business community and community-at-large in collaboration with the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) providing every student with excellent educational opportunities, highly effective teachers, and strong leaders.

Wake Education Partnership’s work is made possible each year by investments from businesses, individuals, and foundation grants with the understanding that public education is central to a vibrant and healthy community. Contributions to the Annual Campaign for Public Education help WakeEd’s focus on systemic improvements for our schools that ultimately improve the achievement of all students. 

While well-intentioned, this is seems to be yet another example of how business does an end-run around the public despite claims of ‘community’ engagement.  Whenever I see that label, ‘community engagement’, I take pause. 9 times out of 10 that means ‘controlled engagement’ and subsequent selective hearing.

I can applaud their activity on school buildings and teacher grants, as for the rest, it ventures into areas one might consider to be subjective.  So long as the Powerpoint is flashy and the right buzzwords are used… all is well.

The biggest complaint from teachers has been lack of supplies and materials. To date, not a single one these ‘ed non-profits’ has addressed this. Perhaps their hundreds of thousands would be better spent there than on promoting a set of experimental and failing standards like Common Core? But what do I know? I’m just a member of that ‘community’ WakeEd claims to engage who shells out wads cash every year to help stock my kid’s classroom so the teacher doesn’t have to.

Lobbying Outfit or Education Policy Outfit?

Their ‘policy Agenda’ section is actually labeled ‘advocacy‘.   Currently, WakeEd is ‘advocating’ for the hotly debated Common Core, yet wants a revision of the lopsided  A-F School grading report. Good for them on the latter.

Their ‘Funding’ advocacy is basically the same as that of the Wake County School Board. Shocker, right?

WakeEd’s last self-produced “report” on their website is dated 2008 and is about supporting ‘diversity’ in Wake County schools.  Similarly, the latest “publication” was produced in 2009.

There are no reports or publications on their website that support their current ‘advocacy’ positions, perhaps this is why last year WakEd was forced to look in the mirror:

With the help of $51,000 from the John Rex Endowment in two separate grants, the partnership went through an extensive organizational assessment, performed by independent consultant Armstrong McGuire. It determined that the Partnership desperately needed a bold vision with clearly articulated goals. While that wasn’t exactly pleasant to receive, “As leadership, we needed to hear that,” says Steve Parrott, the partnership’s president.
 – BizJournals 9/4/15

Follow The Money

As I said in an earlier article, after looking at WakeEd Partnership’s IRS 990’s  — they appear to have become more of a lobbyist group masquerading as a ‘education advocacy  non-profit’. I would encourage folks to download and look at their records.

Contributions have been their main source of revenue; around 90% consistently. They have a long list of corporate donors and ways to donate on their website.

Looking at the most recent and available 990, FY Ending June 2013, it shows revenue of $724, 652 but expenditures of $739,060, which meant a net loss of $14,408.

“Other Salaries and Wages” appeared to have swallowed 57% of the budget that year – $422,214 to be exact.  The breakout of which had the lion’s share of  $327,561 in the ‘program service expenses‘ column.

The largest expenditure for the June 2013 990 was $286,284, which went to “Community Outreach & Board/Chamber relations”.  I would imagine a translation of that to be PR and Chamber of Commerce courting.

So Who is Running This Show?

In a nutshell, it is as I said before — Business people driving education policy. Given their current policy advocacy agenda, one has to ask if they took lessons at the Helen Keller School of Driving?

Steve Parrot is the current President.  According to his LinkedIn profile, he has no education background and is all business – mainly in telecom. I looked into the other top staffer and found that more than not were all business, no education — with the exceptions of Dr. Julie Crain and Teresa Pierrie.

Their PR/Media person is a former reporter.  Was he responsible for that political smear job of a newsletter?

The 2013 990 form showed Parrot is one of two employees who receive compensation at a rate of $144,964. Broken out, that’s 129,800 from WakeEd and $15,164 from related organizations.

The other compensated employee is Heather Campbell, the finance director, at a total of $18,000.

Who is ‘On Board’ With WakeEd

Some big names here, including many entrenched in the policy and funding of Wake County Public Schools, as well as being ardent supporters of Common Core.

Board of Directors Members Of Note (2015-16):

Chair, Doug Sprecher,Senior Vice President – Branch and Consumer Sales StrategyFirst Citizens Bank

Caroline McCullen, SAS
Jim Merrill, Wake County Public School System
John Hummel, WLFL/WRDC TV
Monica Barnes, ABC-11 WTVD

Hardin Engelhardt, Wake County PTA Council

Leadership Council Members of Note (2015-16)

Chair, Doug Sprecher,Senior Vice President – Branch and Consumer Sales StrategyFirst Citizens Bank

Dick Daugherty, IBM, Retired
Sandy Fain, News & Observer, Retired
Lynne Garrison, North Carolina New Schools
Jessica Holmes, Wake County Commission
Christine Kushner, Wake Co. Board of Education
Caroline Sullivan, Wake County Commission

More Background For Those Interested:

NC Secretary of State Record: http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/Search/profcorp/4676993
NC Secretary of State Filings: http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/Search/filings/4676993
Registered Agent: Millie Herget
Original Registrant: George Rogister (601 Deveraux St. Raleigh NC 27605)
Incorporated: 03/01/83
Initial Board of Directors: Cressie H. Thigpen, Jr., William E. Sherratt, N. Neil Kuvin
DBA Title Change: 5/30/95, “Wake Ed Partnership”, paperwork signed by Millie Herget, President.
Name Change: 06/25/98, “The Wake County Education Foundation”, paperwork signed by M. Anthony Habit as President.

NOTE:Tony Habit” has been the head of another ‘education non-profit’ called NC New Schools since 2003 and has been advising the NC Large District Superintendent Consortium behind the scenes since 2013. In June 2015, he launched an offshoot of NC New Schools called “Breakthrough Learning

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About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor at American Lens. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina and is the founder of LadyLiberty1885.com. Her past writing can also be found at IJ review, Breitbart, FOX news, Da Tech Guy Blog, Heartland Institute, Civitas Institute and StopCommonCoreNC.org. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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