More Common Core salespersons’ salaries

In a previous post, I summarized recent Form 990s—the financial reporting documents required of large US non-profits by the Internal Revenue Service—filed by three organizations. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the Alliance for Excellent Education, and the National Center on Education and the Economy were and are paid handsomely to promote the Common Core Standards and affiliated programs.

Here, I review Form 990s for three more Common Core-connected organizations—Achieve, The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and PARCC, Inc.

PARCC, the acronym for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, represents one of two Common Core-affiliated testing consortia. I attempted to find Form 990s for the other testing consortium, Smarter-Balanced, but failed. They would appear to be very well hidden, inside the labyrinthine accounting structure of either the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) or the University of California system.

The most recently available documents online for each organization included below emanate from either the 2013 or 2014 tax and calendar year. According to Achieve’s filing, it spun off PARCC, Inc. as “an unrelated entity” exactly midway through 2014.

Now for the salaries…

Achieve, Inc.
Achieve2013 – Achieve claimed four program activities for the year, all associated with “college and career ready initiatives”. Six employees, including President Michael Cohen and Senior Math Associate Laura Slover, received financial compensation in excess of $200,000, and twenty in excess of $100,000. Another $195,000 went to Common Core Standards writer Sue Pimentel living up in New Hampshire, as “consultant”. Public Opinion Strategies received over $175,000 for “research”. “Council of State Science Supervisor” “consultants” collectively absorbed half a million.

Oddly, Achieve listed zero expenses for “lobbying” and “advertising and promotion”. Instead, it categorized almost $5 million under “Other professional fees”. Almost a million each was spent on travel and “conferences, conventions, and meetings.”

Council of Chief State School Officers
CCSSO2014 – CCSSO received over $2.5 million in member dues, primarily from states paying for places at the table for their state chief education officers. Not many years ago, these dues, plus whatever surplus income it kept from annual meeting registrations, paid its rent and salaries.

In 2014, however, “contracts, grants, & sponsorships” income exceeded $31 million, twelve times the amount from dues and meetings. CCSSO in its current form could easily survive a loss of member dues payments; it could not survive a loss of contracts and grants—read Common Core promotion payments. The tail now wags the dog.

Twenty-six CCSSO staffers received salaries in excess of $100,000 annually. At least another six took home more than $200,000. The CEO, Chris Minnich, got more than a quarter million. Over half a million was claimed for “lobbying to influence a legislative body (direct lobbying)”, but $0 as “lobbying to influence public opinion (grass roots lobbying).” Yet, at another juncture, a “grassroots nontaxable amount” of $250,000 is declared.

CCSSO spent over $8 million on travel in 2014, more than on salaries and wages.

So much money flows through CCSSO that it earned almost a quarter million dollars from investments alone in 2014.

PARCC, Inc.
PARCC2014 – According to Achieve, PARCC, Inc. began life on July 1, 2014. Nonetheless, its top officers seem to have earned healthy annual salaries: seven in excess of $100,000 and two in excess of $200,000. Laura Slover, last seen above as Senior Math Associate at Achieve in 2013, became CEO of PARCC, Inc. in 2014, with over a quarter million in salary. PARCC spent $1.242 million on travel in 2014.

PARCC’s revenue consisted of $66 million in government grants, and $0.6 million from everywhere else. PARCC’s expenses comprised $34.8 million to NCS Pearson and $6.4 million to ETS for test development, and $1.3 million to Rupert Murdoch’s and Joel Klein’s Amplify Education and $0.8 million to Breakthrough Technologies for IT work.

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