Turnaround Children Inc. and its Campbell Brown lack transparency

Posted in the Elizabeth Forum

Ted Cohen

South Portland, ME

#1 Jul 19, 2013
By Ted Cohen

The top school official in a major American city as part of an education-reform initiative is bringing in yet another nonprofit foundation, yet as little is known about Turnaround for Children Inc. as is known about how it fits into Supt. Cami Anderson’s plan to modernize Newark, New Jersey’s schools.

Anderson refuses to respond to open requests for information, and Turnaround officials - where the secretive ex-newsie Campbell Brown sleeps on the board ( http://gawker.com/5936190/campbell-brown-is-i... )- are equally evasive.

Brown’s lackings also caught the sharp eye of Karoli Kuns.( http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/campbell-bro... )

Attempts to contact New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf have been met with similar silence.

As a longtime newspaper reporter, I find transparency hard to come by. Nonprofits should make transparency their middle name.
In fact, Guidestar.org is helping promote transparency, announcing recently its intent to “encourage nonprofit transparency on a national scale.”

Now, Turnaround For Children is interviewing schools in Newark for September. What is Turnaround and what is its proposed role in Newark? The best source for information would be Turnaround, right?

Wrong.

Turnaround has refused to provide information about its failed foray into Orange schools and whether that experience foretells problems in Newark. That’s not the way to run a nonprofit.

Turnaround’s entry into the reform movement began with Orange, N.J., as well as New York City and Washington, D.C.

But as soon as the Orange effort began, it failed.

Tax documents filed with the IRS by Turnaround – accessible through Guidestar.org – disclose the program's unexpected suspension.

"Management decided to terminate its three-school program earlier than planned," Turnaround officials told the IRS.

In their IRS filing, Turnaround officials blamed the short-lived program's demise on what they vaguely described as a "shift in organizational priorities."

Turnaround officials say they suspended their request for the remaining funding they were to receive for the Orange project, but they made no mention of the amount of funding they had already received and the amount they were still due.

Turnaround officials issued a prepared statement defending their Orange pullout.

“Our hope was to expand the partnership, to deliver a significant amount of professional development to teachers and to increase our engagement district-wide,” said Kate Felsen, vice president of communications.“Unfortunately, Orange Public Schools did not have the capacity to take on the professional development we had to offer."

If Orange school officials are to blame for Turnaround’s failure in their schools, then they are apparently taking the accusations in stride.

Orange Supt. Ronald Lee refused to respond to questions. He submitted a statement finally after receiving a formal open-records request.
He said,“Turnaround proposed to expand its program to a transformational model that encompassed academic, foundational and behavioral elements. At the same time, the district was launching significant initiatives to improve instruction. We concluded the district’s initiatives would require the full focus of the district. We discontinued the program to allow innovations.”

Felsen will not go beyond her prepared statement. Asked who funded the Orange effort and who will fund the Newark plan, Felsen replied,“You have my statement.”

Attempts by journalists to procure information from this so-called “transparent” group – as described by GuideStar.org – have been met with silence.

To garner and cultivate pubic support, i.e., more dollars, nonprofits need to be open, accessible.
Ted Cohen of Maine is a veteran reporter who follows national issues.

“Veteran reporter”

Since: Jul 13

Location hidden

#2 Jul 27, 2013

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