Christina Kishimoto Plays Both Ends Against the Middle with Betsy DeVos

Christina Kishimoto has made it a point to go her own way during her two plus years in Gilbert. GPS Governing Board members can barely figure out what she’s doing, let alone what vision the superintendent is pursuing … other than her overarching quest for her *national reputation.* It was clear that Kishimoto was counting on stepping onto a larger stage, but then the 2016 elections intervened.

Now that she’s picking up the pieces of her shattered crystal ball and grandiose plans, Christina Kishimoto has become Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. That’s a person who is vastly different in moral character from one situation to the next. Christina Kishimoto does not understand that citizens of the Town of Gilbert are seeing her true character as she chases that *national reputation* unicorn.

“Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.”  Abraham Lincoln

Christina Kishimoto recently cast her *national reputation* net into new waters. Which brings up the question, “Does the board know what Christina Kishimoto is doing in the name of Gilbert Public Schools?” We think not: a few months ago, Kishimoto joined a new national group called Chiefs for Change, which is basically an organization for urban schools. So what is Christina Kishimoto doing there? She’s helping her pals celebrate that Denver Public Schools has an *improved* graduation rate of 67.2%.

As soon as she joined, Chiefs for Change promptly put Christina Kishimoto’s photo on their website with this quote: “I’m an educator, but I’m not a traditionalist.” That choking sound you just heard is GPS teachers spitting out their beverages as they read those words. [We’ll wait while they clean up their screens.] Everyone knows Kishimoto has never taught in any school, has never been an administrator in any school and cannot get a superintendent certificate in Arizona. Chiefs for Change, or C4C, gave some love back to their new member by giving her some *national* exposure:

Christina Kishimoto / Gilbert, Arizona
“Chiefs for Change is an organization of thought leaders who are willing to think critically about effective school design, policy structures, and governance. Their collective goal is to ensure strong leadership focused on education access, equity, and engagement for all students. It is a point of pride and commitment to join this group of national leaders of excellence.”

That’s it! Kishimoto figured out that C4C is a *group of national leaders* and she wanted in! Whatever this group is doing, it doesn’t bode well for Gilbert, Arizona, which is not an urban district that celebrates 60% graduation rates.  What C4C is, in the words of a REAL educator:

Pity the Chiefs for Change. They were destined to be part of the superstructure of educational reforminess that would help sweep Jeb! Bush into power, then be poised to cash in on uplift US education once he got into the White House. But now the Jebster’s Presidential hopes have gone the way of Betamax tapes and the Zune, and Chiefs for Change is on the last leg of a long, downhill slide.

So that means the Chiefs are now a group of seven school district superintendents allied with some former state chiefs and a handful of barely-in-power education leaders. Chiefs for Change were going to be Educational Masters of the Universe. Now they’re more like one of those padded ghost band versions of some sixties rock group playing county fairs and mall openings.

Chiefs for Change is an offshoot of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a reform group founded by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. This time, it appears that Kishimoto is thinking big: the group’s membership had dipped from a high of nine members in 2012 to four in May 2016. Kishimoto joined in September 2016. <snark>

Since its creation, Chiefs for Change has represented a small group of state education officials who have loudly promoted an agenda shared by Bush: Common Core State Standards, using test scores to evaluate teachers, A-to-F report cards for schools, expanding charter schools and online learning, among other things.

For example, the foundation and Chiefs for Change have pushed states to embrace digital learning in public schools, a costly transition that often requires new software and hardware. Many of those digital products are made by donors to the foundation — and funders of Chiefs for Change — such as Microsoft, Intel, News Corp., Pearson PLC and K12 Inc.

The more you read about Chiefs for Change, the more you understand that Christina Kishimoto doesn’t think for herself: pretty much everything she advocates these days comes right from the website of this C4C group. Chromebooks? Check. New software? Check. We haven’t seen reports that Renaissance/Accelerated Reader corporation is a donor to C4C, so that might be why Christina Kishimoto cut off GPS funding for their products. Sheeeesh.

Having read this far, you new board members must be shaking your heads. This is Arizona, the frontier of school choice, you say. Right you are! But Christina Kishimoto is a PUBLIC school superintendent, and she’s b*tching a blue streak complaining mightily that local charter schools are *stealing students* from GPS. It’s all their fault, she proclaims, that GPS lost thousands of students in just the past few years (including every year under her *leadership*). Sure, those thousands of student losses and hundreds of teacher losses have nothing to do with the way Kishimoto and her Top Dogs are running the formerly A rated district into the ground, right?

More Jekyll and Hyde: ASBA is fighting against Betsy DeVos’s nomination but C4C thinks she’s perfect for the job. It would be a good thing to share this information with the Arizona Education Association [Joe Thomas, President of AEA when he gets back from the women’s march in D.C.; maybe the Phoenix march wasn’t a big enough stage] and the Arizona Schools Board Association [Timothy Ogle, ASBA].

Things always get worse when it comes to GPS top level administrators knifing teachers in the back. Now we get to the real crux of why Christina Kishimoto joined C4C: it could be her ticket to a national job! We’re sure she’s relieved, since all that money she spent on the Association for Latino Administrators and Superintendents seems to have been wasted. Her pal John King was just dumped from his job as Secretary of Education, dashing Kishimoto’s hopes for a job with her buddy in the Hillary Clinton administration. Karma.

In this case, Jeb! and Christina Kishimoto may have the last laugh, in the form of the newly nominated Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

Bush allies are reportedly in the mix to be DeVos deputies, including Hanna Skandera, New Mexico’s public education secretary who is one of the “Chiefs for Change” that are part of Bush’s foundation.

Betsy DeVos’s family organization has contributed at least $150,000 since 2012 to Jeb!’s foundation and Chiefs for Change:

Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education discloses its donors by contribution level; among the higher levels of giving in recent years are the News Corp., the DeVos Family Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, K12 Inc., and Pearson PLC. The foundation also lists a number of other education technology and textbook companies and major corporations as donors, primarily in support of their annual national summit, including GE, McGraw-Hill Education, Amplify and Joel Klein, Scholastic, ACT Aspire LLC., Intel, ETS, ExxonMobil, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.* Tax filings reveal that the foundation has received nearly at least $150,000 from the DeVos Family Foundation since 2012.

One thing about Christina Kishimoto and her two-sided moral compass, i.e. Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde: no one can accuse her of being classy!  Check out this tweet: who in the world thinks *incomes* is a good descriptor of U.S. military veterans? Does she think we’re all one step away from being homeless? Sheeeeeesh.


Big Fat Asterisk: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is where Christina Kishimoto’s paramour former Executive Director of Technology landed after their *alleged* inappropriate relationship became public knowledge. Sure, Steve Smith got that job based on his *talents and experience,* right?

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