How Education Reform Ate the Democratic Party

Jennifer C. Berkshire :

In a Facebook post this summer, hedge fund billionaire Daniel Loeb took aim at the highest ranking Black woman in the New York legislator, Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “[H]ypocrites like Stewart-Cousins who pay fealty to powerful union thugs and bosses,” wrote Loeb, “do more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood.” The rant, which had the exquisite misfortune of appearing just days before the actual KKK took to the streets of Charlottesville to menace nonwhite people and their allies, struck a familiar Loeb theme. In a previous post he implored his peer to take up the fight against the teachers union: “the biggest single force standing in the way of quality education and an organization that has done more to perpetuate poverty and discrimination against people of color than the KKK.”

It would be easy to dismiss all this frothing as just Loeb being Loeb. This is, after all, the same crusader for justice who once lambasted a CEO for his imperial lifestyle, not an easy charge to level from a ten-thousand-square-foot penthouse. But the NYC financier is not just any hedge fund billionaire. As the chair of the board of Success Academy, New York’s largest network of charter schools, he is a leading force within the nexus of big money and self-proclaimed school “reformers” within the Democratic party. While Loeb doesn’t limit his donations to Dems (as his profile on the married-but-looking dating site, Ashley Madison, indicated, he is not one to be tied down), he exerts the kind of outsized influence that $3.2 billion in net worth reliably commands these days.