Posts Tagged ‘Teaching Tolerance’

SPLC — Doubling down on the “Trump Effect”

November 29, 2016

In February of this year, Watching the Watchdogs reported on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s thinly disguised attack on then-candidate Donald Trump that claimed that “election-related” harassment of immigrant and minority children was surging in the public schools due to Trump’s caustic rhetoric. They called the report “The Trump Effect.”

At that time we noted that the SPLC, like all 501(c)(3) nonprofits, was strictly prohibited by IRS tax regulations from promoting or denouncing political candidates during a campaign. The SPLC slid around that regulation by claiming that it had “collected 5,000 comments from 2,000 educators” who responded to an online survey created by the company’s “Teaching Tolerance” wing, which purports to promote diversity in the K-12 classroom.

See, it wasn’t the SPLC attacking Trump, they were simply repeating what they were told by the 2,000 respondents. Get it?

As usual, the Media obediently regurgitated the SPLC’s nonsense without performing even the most rudimentary fact checks, with many of them transmogrifying the company’s claim of “2,000 respondents” into “a survey of 2,000 teachers” and the term “harassment” into “hate crimes.”

What most media outlets conveniently ignored was the clearly stated disclaimer on the “Trump Effect” web page that:

“Our survey of approximately 2,000 K-12 teachers was not scientific. Our email subscribers and those who visit our website are not a random sample of teachers nationally and those who chose to respond to our survey are likely to be those who are most concerned about the impact of the presidential campaign on their students and schools.”

Not only did the SPLC publicly state that their “survey” was not scientific because the respondents were not chosen at random, they can’t even verify that the alleged responses came from actual “educators.”

The same document also notes that “Teaching Tolerance magazine is sent to over 400,000 educators, reaching nearly every school in the country,” and yet the entire “report” is based on only 2,000 anonymous, unverifiable responses?

Either 398,000 “educators” ignored the survey email or the SPLC cherry-picked 2,000 “reliable” people who would give the “right answers.”

Either way, given the widespread media coverage given the “Trump Effect” the reaction among the donors must have been fantastic.

Never one to let a good thing go, on November 28, the SPLC doubled down on its “Trump Effect” cash cow by releasing a new and improved version of the “report,” this time freed from any IRS election-related restrictions.

The new report now claims that “Over 10,000 teachers, counselors, administrators and others who work in schools have responded,” with “more than 25,000 comments.”

As if stung by Watching the Watchdogs‘ observation that all of the alleged responses in the first “report” were anecdotal, anonymous and completely unverifiable, the company made a point of claiming that:

“Nearly all respondents identified themselves by name, email address, grade level and state. More than 1,500 signified a willingness to go on record by giving permission for Teaching Tolerance to share their contact information with the media.”

Despite this apparent willingness to actually document their claims, the 2.0 version of the “Trump Effect” is accompanied by alleged claims by the anonymous likes of “High School Teacher, New York,” and “Elementary School Teacher, Minnesota.” There’s not a single claim backed up the willing 1,500 mentioned above.

And while the company buried its disclaimer a little deeper into the text this time, the song remains the same:

“The results of this survey are not scientific. The respondents were not selected in a manner to ensure a representative sample; those who responded may have been more likely to perceive problems than those who did not.”

Once again, the “report” duly notes that “Teaching Tolerance magazine is sent to more than 400,000 educators, reaching nearly every school in the country,” and yet only 10,000 “educators” allegedly responded.

It’s worth noting that the National Center for Education Statistics estimates that there were more than 3.5 million full-time teachers in the US in 2014, the latest statistical year, meaning that less than three-tenths of a percent of them responded to the SPLC’s open “survey,” anonymously or otherwise. You do the math.

In the long run, it really doesn’t matter. The Media is already regurgitating the SPLC’s “10,000 educator” claims as fact the day after the “report” was released. Even though the company clearly states that its numbers are “not scientific” and has yet to produce one single verifiable respondent, the Media will repeat every last claim as if it were true.

Well played, SPLC. No doubt we’ll see record-breaking donation figures in your next IRS Form 990, as well as much-deserved raises in the six-digit salaries your all-white executives are pulling down.

In the meantime, Watching The Watchdogs will continue to watch and to document your latest fundraising antics. You read it here first.

 

SPLC Executive Suite 2015 — As White As Ever!

March 1, 2015

The mercurial month of March is often unpredictable weather-wise, but to those of you who take solace in certainty, we offer these unalterable truths: Spring is coming (Really!), the Southern Poverty Law Center will release its IRS Form 990 tax report and the Executive Suite of the “nation’s leading civil rights organization” will be as white as that hip-deep snow drift in your front yard.

Just as when Morris Dees opened the company for business in 1971, the team of the SPLC’s highest paid officers is all white for the 44th year in a row! Here then are your Doyens of Diversity, the Caucasian College of Multicultural Knowledge, those Titans of Tolerance… the 2015 SPLC All-Stars!

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You’ll recognize many veterans from previous rosters (here, here and here) but there are also several eager rookies in the lineup:

Richard Cohen — President/CEO — $359,300
Morris Dees — Founder and Chief Trial Counsel — $364,789
Joseph Levin — Director and General Counsel — $196,446

Wendy Via — Development Director — $202,426 — (+$19,308)*

Teenie Hutchison — Secretary — $169,547
Mark Potok — Senior Fellow — $162,755
David Utter — Juvenile Justice Strategist–  $161,379

And the newcomers:

Jerri Katzerman — Deputy Legal Director — $162,549
Lisa Sahulka — Chief Operating Officer
— $53,469**
Heidi Beirich — Director, Intelligence Project — $154,146***

Maureen Costello — Director, Teaching Tolerance — Salary unknown†

We should take a moment to clarify the numbers:

In past years, we have noted any significant increases in compensation, and, while the top three white guys on the team, Cohen, Dees and Levin did pick up minor raises in the $6,000 to $9,000 range (just as you probably did too), and Messrs Potok and Utter actually lost a few hundred dollars each, these changes represent insignificant fractions of their base compensation packages overall.

Wendy Via has good reason to smile on her trading card. This year’s $19,000 bump is her third 5-digit raise in a row! And why not? The SPLC’s Development Department (pronounced: “Fundraising”) has been setting records every year, despite the worst recession since the Roosevelt Administration, and team owner Dees knows how to reward his golden geese. More on those donor-dollars and cents in our next post.

Newcomer Lisa Sahulka’s paltry salary as Chief Operating Officer is not a misprint. These are the numbers reported on the IRS Form 990 but they obviously do not reflect the whole story.

Ms. Sahulka’s predecessor, Michael Toohey, was pulling down $230,000 in 2012, $234,000 in 2013… a year after he’d quit the team, and $148,000 in 2014… two years after he became a free agent!

SPLC COOs eat gooood and we have no doubt that next year’s Form 990 will reflect a significant increase in her salary, whether Ms. Sahulka still plays for the team or not.

While Heidi Beirich is hardly a rookie, having joined the SPLC in 1999, this year marks her debut on the monochromatic Highest Paid Officer list, something we have been actively arguing in favor of for years.

Dr. Beirich steps into Mark Potok’s large shoes (hip waders, actually) as Director of the extremely lucrative Intelligence Report fundraising rag.

Although we don’t think much of Mr. Potok’s propaganda sheet, you cannot deny that the Intelligence Report brings in tons of donor-dollars every year. It’s a necessary vice, just like the beer concession at your local ball park.

We are staunch believers in equal pay for equal work, though, no matter how dubious the output.

Congratulations, Dr. Beirich! You’re very welcome!

This year we have included Teaching Tolerance director Maureen Costello in the leadership lineup. While Teaching Tolerance, which purports to promote diversity in the K-12 classroom, doesn’t agitate the donors in to frenzied fits of giving, the way the Intelligence Report does, it is somewhat influential in the public schools.

While Ms. Costello’s salary doesn’t make the top officer list on the SPLC’s Form 990, she is a prominent member of the SPLC’s Senior Program Team, which we noted recently was only 95% white overall.

In 1994, long before Ms. Costello’s reign, the Montgomery Advertiser ran a story noting that not only was the SPLC’s Senior Executive Staff entirely white, (“Equal treatment? No blacks in center’s leadership“), it also reported:

“The Law Center’s ambitious new project, Teaching Tolerance, which is designed to promote racial and cultural justice throughout America’s schools, is produced by an eight-member all-white staff according to the Law Center.”

Teaching Tolerance does not identify its current staff other than its director, so there is no way of telling if anything has changed since 1994. Obviously nothing has changed in the SPLC’s Executive Suite and so it’s always amusing to read the many press releases Ms. Costello issues each year promoting “Mix It Up Day” in the grade schools, where kids are encouraged to sit with people different from themselves in the cafeteria one day a year.

One wonders what “Mix It Up Day” looks like in the SPLC’s cafeteria? Maybe they swap out the white rice for mashed potatoes or grits?

And that’s the roundup for this year’s SPLC Senior Executive Staff All-Star Team. As usual, it’s an all-white roster, but some “civil rights” outfits are superstitious, just like ball players who always wear the same socks or have a “lucky” bat.

The Caucasian Country Club has been bringing in millions of dollars a year for decades so why change things now? It’s not like anyone in the Media is going to notice.

The Many (White) Faces of the SPLC

January 24, 2015

It’s always informative to peruse the Southern Poverty Law Center’s web site, as you never know what you’ll find. Here’s what the Senior Program Staff page of the Who We Are tab looks like:

Senior Staff1Senior Staff2Senior Staff3

We found it a bit odd that there were so many missing photos, as it sure left a lot of white space on the page. Just out of curiosity we simply Googled the names and found photos for everyone.

So here, in no particular order, are the missing faces of the SPLC’s Senior Program Staff, click on any image to enlarge it:

MissingStaff1MissingStaff2MissingStaff3

As it turns out, if the web designers at the SPLC actually had filled in all the missing photos there would still be a lot of white space on the page.

No doubt even the most die-hard donors would catch on if all of the photos were published.

Twenty-one of the SPLC’s Senior Staffers are white, or about 88% of the team. Seems a bit odd for “the nation’s leading civil rights organization,” especially since its headquarters are located LITERALLY in the back yard of Dr. Martin Luther King’s own Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, the birthplace of the American Civil Rights Movement.

When you account for the fact that four of the Senior Staffers, including two of the three blacks on the team, live out-of-state, the percentage of white staff in Montgomery jumps to 95%. The sole exception is Lecia Brooks, who works as a fundraiser. Ms. Brooks joined the SPLC in 2004 and has never broken into the ranks of highest paid officers, even when the list included salaries as paltry as $70,000 a year.

Still and all, as dismal as the diversity of the Senior Staff is, it’s better than the makeup of the SPLC’s executive officer team, which is composed 100% of white millionaires, just as it has been for every year since the SPLC opened for business in 1971.

Even the SPLC’s “Teaching Tolerance” program, which purports to promote diversity in the K-12 classroom, is led by whites, as it has been since its inception in 1991.

“Diversity,” like taxes, it seems, is for the little people. No hypocrisy here, SPLC.

SPLC — Bribing Teachers into Indoctrination

March 12, 2014

A recent news story in the Hawaii Reporter exposes the Southern Poverty Law Center’s latest indoctrination scheme: Pay teachers $250 bucks a head to attend “Teaching Tolerance” training sessions.

“Teaching Tolerance” is the SPLC sub-unit that purports to promote diversity in the K-12 classroom. As we’ve reported here for years, “Teaching Tolerance” has been led by “whites only” since its inception in 1991.

Fortunately, State Rep. Bob McDermott got wind of the dubious scheme and has filed an ethics complaint against the Hawaii Dept. of Education.

“Are Hawaii teachers being bribed to promote a specific point of view in these materials to their students?” McDermott asked.”

This story bears watching.

The SPLC and “Mix it up Day”

October 4, 2012

It’s that time of year again when the Southern Poverty Law Center promotes its annual “Mix It Up At Lunch Day” extravaganza.

This event, promoted under the aegis of the SPLC’s laughably named “Teaching Tolerance” arm, is designed to promote diversity by pressuring school kids to sit at different tables in the cafeteria at lunch and to “mix it up” with kids they don’t usually hang out with.

The irony, (read: “hypocrisy”), of this program coming from the SPLC is stunning. As longtime readers of this blog are well aware, NOT ONE of the SPLC’s top executives is a minority.

In fact, despite being located LITERALLY in the back yard of Dr. Martin Luther King’s home church in Montgomery, the SPLC has NEVER hired a person of color to a highly paid position of authority in its entire 41-year history.

Even the  “Teaching Tolerance” program has been led by “whites only” for 20 of its 21 years.

Who exactly do the white millionaires who run the SPLC “mix it up” with at lunch? The landscaping crew? The cleaning staff?

Fortunately, not everyone is taken in by this crude fundraising ploy. Recently, an education blog, the Missouri Education Watchdog, (no relation to Watching the Watchdogs), posted a superb piece that examines the spurious claims behind “Mix it up Day,” even without getting into the decidedly “un-diverse” leadership of the SPLC.

Interestingly, SPLC’s page on Mix It Up At Lunch Day confirms their own bias. On it they state “Cafeterias are the focus of Mix It Up because that’s where a school’s social boundaries are most obvious. Breaking down these barriers can be an important step for students who don’t have many opportunities in school to interact with someone unlike them.”

Have these people ever stepped into a classroom? American education’s literal love affair with the collaborative process puts these kids in situations where they are forced to work with someone they are not like All The Time. The lunch room is one of the last bastions where they can hang out with their friends.

As with all SPLC promotions, the point of the exercise has little to do with social engineering and everything to do with fundraising.

This Kumbaya Initiative costs the white millionaires at the top very little, garners untold dollars in free publicity and allows the SPLC to make the claim to the donors that they are somehow “fighting hate.”

The last “Whites Only” sign in Montgomery hangs in the Executive Boardroom of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Maybe it’s time for them to end the hypocrisy and to actually practice what they preach.

Teaching Tolerance… SPLC Style

January 4, 2012

The Southern Poverty Law Center has got to be one of the most ironic places on the planet. It’s incredible enough that not one of “the nation’s leading civil rights organization’s” top executives is a minority, and that this deplorable situation has existed for the entire 40-year history of the SPLC, so it’s probably not much of a shock to learn that the SPLC’s “educational outreach” division has been led by “whites only” for 19 of its 20-year history too.

Teaching Tolerance” created in 1991 “is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation’s children,” according to the current TT web site.

An earlier iteration of the TT homepage, from 1998, claims:

In 1991, Teaching Tolerance began supporting the efforts of K-12 teachers and other educators to promote respect for differences and an appreciation of diversity.

Oddly, the term “diversity” has been removed from the organization’s current mission statement all together, perhaps because there was so little diversity to be found at Teaching Tolerance.

In 1994, Dan Morse of the Montgomery Advertiser, the SPLC’s hometown newspaper, first noted the lack of black executives at the Center. He also noted that all eight staff members of Teaching Tolerance were white, as well.

The Advertiser ran a follow-up story two-years later, noting that nothing had changed in the SPLC’s Executive Suite. Teaching Tolerance does not publish the names of its staffers, so we do not know if there have been any changes in demographics since 1996, but if a review of the company’s directors is any indication, it’s still business as usual at the SPLC.

Teaching Tolerance’s first director from its inception in 1991 was Sara Bullard:

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Ms. Bullard was followed by Jim Carnes, sometime around 1997:

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Mr. Carnes was succeeded by Jennifer Holladay, who served as Director from roughly 2002-2008:

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When Ms. Holladay received a six-digit promotion in 2009, she was replaced by interim Director Lecia Brooks:

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Ms. Brooks served for about a year before becoming Director of SPLC’s Civil Rights Memorial Center, a position that does not appear among the six-digit salaries of the SPLC’s top executives.

Ms. Brooks kept the seat warm during the interregnum, making way for Teaching Tolerance’s current director, Maureen Costello:

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So much for diversity at Teaching Tolerance.

Ironically, (there’s that word again…), one of Teaching Tolerance’s flagship efforts is its annual “Mix it Up at School Day,” which encourages K-12 kids to sit with someone new in the school cafeteria. A noble and worthwhile experiment without doubt, but one has to wonder with whom do the all-white executives of the SPLC and Teaching Tolerance mix it up? “Do as we say, not as we do…”

One final note, the Teaching Tolerance home page brags about the many awards garnered by its “teaching materials”:

“Our teaching materials have won two Oscars, an Emmy and more than 20 honors from the Association of Educational Publishers, including two Golden Lamp Awards, the industry’s highest honor.

As noted in an earlier WTW post, the Association of Educational Publishers is a public relations outfit. Non-profits are encouraged to join the association in order to “stand out in a crowded marketplace” and “maximize your ROI [return on investment]”

According to the AEP, “Industry awards are surefire way to give your product and your brand a one-up over your competitors.

Your membership in the AEP entitles you to a 50% discount on entry fees for the awards! You actually have to pay cash, (from the donation pot, no doubt) to “enter” the contest against other “entrants” who also paid for the privilege of “competing.” Now there’s a wide field of contenders. What if no one else paid to enter your particular event? Instant winner!

Well, the TT page does call it “the industry’s highest honor, and that’s pretty much what Teaching Tolerance is all about… maximizing ROI for the white millionaires who run the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Teaching Tolerance does not list its editorial staff on its web site and never has, (for obvious reasons, no doubt). Therefore the names and dates for this post had to be gleaned from archived publications and web sites, mostly created by the SPLC.

If anyone knows of any errors or omissions in the Teaching Tolerance timeline presented here, please notify Watching the Watchdogs and we will correct the matter immediately.


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