I was reading this New York Times article (Uncertainty on Obama Education Plans) and this got my attention:
One former Teach for America official who has been outspoken is Whitney Tilson, a New York mutual fund manager.
In a recent blog entry, Mr. Tilson said of Dr. Darling-Hammond, “She’s influential, clever and (while she does her best to hide it) an enemy of genuine reform.”
Mr. Tilson is on the board of Democrats for Education Reform, a political action committee based in New York.
Mr. Tilson is a top tier education DINO. He advocates an anti-Union, data and test driven version of “accountability” based on a market, business, privatization model (see here for more on this mindset).
His expertise is based on a short stint in the classroom via Teach for America and his “success” in the financial industry.
I thought it would be good to examine that “success.”
According to the latest available report from Tilson Mutual Funds (dated April 30, 2008, well before the current meltdown), one of the funds he controls underperformed in comparison to both the Dow Jones Wilshire 500 and the S&P Total return indices both in the prior year and since its inception. In fact, this fund lost 10.03% of value after taxes . You would have done better stashing your money in an old sock than investing in this fund.
The other fund did a bit better, losing only 4.44% of value after taxes and outperforming the Dow Jones, but not the S&P. The old sock would still have been a better choice.
The year to date on one fund is -23.48%; on the other it is -45.19%. That old sock is looking better and better.
Tilson isn’t even good at his “day job.”
Why would anyone listen to these people on education? Why would anyone think that “market driven education reform” as pushed by the very people who profited while creating our financial crisis was a good idea?
I don’t get it.
Thomas J. Mertz
3 responses to “Why would anyone listen to these people?”
DINOs and RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) are just two sides of the same coin. As someone who was born and raised in Madison, I don’t know why anyone would listen to any of the pseudo-pundits about education anymore. Much of my experience in Madison’s K-12 system (and Undergrad at UW-Madison) were good – but too often poor teachers and ideology interfered with educational excellence. I was surprised to re-educate myself at UW-Madison at things that in hindsight appeared to be pro-Union propaganda (e.g. about the great depression).
In fairness, too often parents place too much blame on teachers and administration and not on the actions they take before and after school to nurture learning. US Parents are a pale comparison of support to Chinese, Indian, and Singaporean mothers and fathers.
At the same time, the empirical evidence for US-based government-run schools is appallingly bad. I wouldn’t call Aldo Leopold, Cherokee Heights Middle, or Madison West High Schools “home school”, but I can’t ignore the science on the success of home and other private schools. Government-run education is especially poor when compared with Singapore, and even developing countries like India. After spending significant time out of the US, I’ve decided that we dramatically overpay for the education levels we get in the US. If we had full immigration reform for teachers as we did circa 1900, we could hire fantastic Indian teachers with terrific affective and skill-based student outcome track records – for a fraction of what we currently spend.
Our children are far too important to run schools with the efficiency of the DoD and with all the empathy of the IRS. How much of the current economic crisis is due to the failure of American education to teach our children to save, invest, and continuously learn? More here http://blog.scientificleader.com/2008/12/02/suffering-from-human-capital-distortion/
Here is one answer to the titular question: In 2008, Mr Tilson’s reported federal campaign contributions totaled $34,555. That is more than the 2005 income of about 38% of the households in the United States.
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