The old saying "follow the money" definitely holds true when discussing the education lobby in Mississippi, as it becomes apparent there is quite a bit of money at stake for these organizations. Wonder why they fight reform efforts so hard? Look at how much money is at stake in the diagram I created and posted below. The diagram will show the relationships and money flowing between these groups.
*All amounts of money are annual in nature and are not cumulative. They are taken from each organization's most recent tax return. The amounts you are reading are thus what they received in revenue for one year.
*An attempt was made to show the links between organizations through individuals. For example, Steve Williams moved from MDE to the Center for Education Innovation to lobbying for the Parents' Campaign.
*The NAACP and Southern Echo are not financially connected to these groups, but they inhabit the same education lobby universe. They are allies in the same efforts to stop charter schools and other reforms.
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*The Center for Education Innovation, formerly called the Mississippi Center for Education Innovation, realizes annual revenues of over $7 million. Board members and Executive Directors at times come from MDE. The current Executive Director is Rhea Williams-Bishop. She ran the Chidren’s Defense Fun Chapter in Mississippi prior to joining CEI. The Center pays her nearly $200,000 per year in salary and benefits. 4 people make over $100,000 per year in salary alone at CEI. Hank Bounds is the President of the Board of Trustees and has been for several years. CEI is a revolving door and slush fund for the educational establishment in Mississippi.
This is the web that seeks to stop charter schools from gaining a foothold in Mississippi. They travel along the same strands and help each other strengthen their web. They don’t mind donating money to The Cause nor do they mind providing foot soldiers when needed. True reform threatens their fat budgets and cozy little deals. These people fight as if their lives depend on it and to some extent, they do.