The Teat: Sandy (Alexander) Kress

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I am beginning a new series on Cloaking Inequity called The Teat (the protuberance through which milk is drawn from an udder or breast) to trace financial support which various entities receive that are involved in the current educational policy debates.

First up: Sandy (Alexander) Kress

Okay, first fun.

My Bovine hero,

from high atop the mountain,

strong and wise and proud.

-Clover

Let’s begin.

Sandy Kress wrote a Sept. 29 column for the Austin American-Statesman entitled “Kress: The Facts on School Accountability.” Sandy Kress is known as a key architect of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education reform passed in 2002. He has written various other opinion pieces and lobbies vociferously for the current regime of high-stakes testing and accountability.

I was recently asked by a parent group to draw up a response to Sandy Kress because they posited that he is not an independent advocate for high-stakes tests and accountability. They relayed that they believe his suppositions about NCLB are just flat out wrong. In today’s The Teat, I will address the former. I have submitted an opinion piece the Austin American Statesman to address the latter. It is my hope that they publish my response to the inaccuracies in his arguments about NCLB and test scores. If they refuse, then I will post the response here on Cloaking Inequity soon. Edit 1/28/13: Statesman said that high-stakes testing is old news— huh!?. Anyways, here is the Kress piece to address the latter.

So let’s get to it. Below is the definition of independent from Mirriam-Websters Dictionary

: not dependent: as

: not subject to control by others : self-governing (2) :not affiliated with a larger controlling unit 

: not requiring or relying on something else : not contingent <an independent conclusion

: not requiring or relying on others (as for care or livelihood)

Is Sandy Kress independent and not subject to control by others? Who is he beholden to for his livelihood?  Let’s follow Sandy Kress’s larger controlling units. A public information search (Thanks to Karen from Houston for heads-up on this data) of Kress benefactors in 2011 produces the following:

Kress, B. Alexander  (00032037)

(512) 499-6200

300 West 6th Street, Suite 1900  Austin, TX 78701

Abraham Trading Company

Moody Building / Second & Main Street P.O. Box 7  Canadian, TX 79014

Type of Compensation: Prospective

$25,000 – $49,999.99

Client Start Date: 01/01/2011

Client Term Date: 12/31/2011

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

300 West 6th Street, Suite 1900  Austin, TX 78701

Type of Compensation: Prospective

Less Than $10,000.00

Client Start Date: 01/01/2011

Client Term Date: 12/31/2011

Citizen Schools Inc.

Museum Wharf 308 Congress Street  Boston, MA 02210

Type of Compensation: Prospective

$10,000 – $24,999.99

Client Start Date: 01/01/2011

Client Term Date: 11/10/2011

Edvance Research Inc.

9901 IH-10 West, Suite 1000  San Antonio, TX 78230

Type of Compensation: Prospective

Less Than $10,000.00

Client Start Date: 01/01/2011

Client Term Date: 12/31/2011

Global Financial Aid Services Inc.

10467 Corporate Drive  Gulfport, MS 39503

Type of Compensation: Prospective

Less Than $10,000.00

Client Start Date: 01/01/2011

Client Term Date: 12/31/2011

Governor’s Business Council

515 Congress Avenue, Suite 1780  Austin, TX 78701

Type of Compensation: Prospective

$25,000 – $49,999.99

Client Start Date: 01/19/2011

Client Term Date: 12/31/2011

Pearson Education

1 Lake Street  Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458

Type of Compensation: Prospective

$50,000 – $99,999.99

Client Start Date: 01/01/2011

Client Term Date: 12/31/2011

Teach For America

315 West 36th Street, 7th Floor  New York, NY 10018

Type of Compensation: Prospective

$10,000 – $24,999.99

Client Start Date: 01/01/2011

Client Term Date: 12/31/2011 

Texas Business Leadership Council

515 Congress Avenue, Suite 1780  Austin, TX 78701

Type of Compensation: Prospective

$50,000 – $99,999.99

Client Start Date: 01/01/2011

Client Term Date: 12/31/2011

Texas Instruments Incorporated

12500 TI Boulevard  Dallas, TX 75243

Type of Compensation: Prospective

$50,000 – $99,999.99

Client Start Date: 01/01/2011

Client Term Date: 12/31/2011

Tutors With Computers LLC

701 Brazos Street, Suite 500  Austin, TX 78701

Type of Compensation: Prospective

Less Than $10,000.00

Client Start Date: 01/01/2011

Client Term Date: 11/10/2011

Wireless Generation Inc.

55 Washington Street, 9th Floor  Brooklyn, NY 11201

Type of Compensation: Prospective

$10,000 – $24,999.99

Client Start Date: 01/01/2011

Client Term Date: 12/31/2011

Kress has been busy— in 2011 he made somewhere south of $500,000 per year as a lobbyist just in Texas.

The public record shows that he is a handsomely paid (~$100,000) lobbyist for Pearson Education. Pearson is a testing company which gets nearly $100 million a year for creating Texas high-stakes exams and will have received $1 billion by 2015 according to recent media reports. Thus, Kress has a vested interest in seeing the current system remain.

Notably, he also receives ~$25,000 as one of FIVE lobbyist for Teach For America at the Texas capitol. I have discussed TFA as A Glorified Temp Agency in the New York Times and previously here at Cloaking Inequity.

CI does not bemoan a man of making a good living. But it is clear that Sandy Kress has an agenda, and he is well paid to convince policymakers and the public that it is valid. Thus, to believe that his various opinion pieces on high-stakes testing and accountability are independent would be fallacy.

Edit: Kress got a raise for the 2013 Texas legislative session. Now he makes from $100k to $150k. TFA? What no raise for Kress?! TFA, is your turn on The Teat tomorrow.

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Categories: Accountability, High-Stakes Testing, The Teat

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.

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