Houstonians to Oppose Non-Profit Designed for Corporate Takeover of HISD

WHO: Houstonians and groups including HISD Parent Advocates, Black Lives Matter Houston, Indivisible Houston, Pantsuit Republic Houston, Public Citizen, FIEL, Public Citizen

WHAT: Opposing the formation of a City of Houston Non-Profit designed to charter-manage HISD schools, starting with four schools in black and brown communities

WHEN AND WHERE: City of Houston City Hall, Tuesday, 2 PM

Houstonians are firmly opposing the intentionally misnamed nonprofit “Coalition for Excellence and Equity in Education”. This new organization, whose registered agent is City of Houston Education Czar Juliet Stipeche, has been crafted at a time when HISD schools are under threat of corporate takeover. The board of this non-profit comprises charter privatization profiteer Stephanie Nellons-Paige; third generation dark money oil and gas/coal baron and climate change denier Corbin Robertson; and real estate investor Trini Mendenhall.

Paige is the legislative head of the education committee for ALEC, an organization known for privatizing gains and subsidizing losses on taxpayer dollars through city and state corporate takeover campaigns. Her career includes littered experiences at testing companies, education management corporations, and other institutions that stand to maximize profits through privatization. She is married to former Secretary of Education Rod Paige.

Robertson is the leading figure and funder of the anti-climate science movement. He owns Quintana, a corporation with more coal reserves than any other source in the United States outside of the US government, and has worked fervently to roll back environmental regulations. Robertson is a large donor in the Koch donor network.

None of the three board members have any significant public education experience or knowledge of compassion-based education.

The effort marks the weaponization of philanthropy, echoing many of the tactics used in Jane Mayer’s best-selling book Dark Money. It also contrasts with the Mayor’s Climate Action Plan, announced in September of this year.

Please find bio fact sheets on the three board members below. CONTACT

Daniel J. Cohen


832-489-7643 —————————- FACT SHEET: Meet the players the City of Houston has tapped to take over HISD.

Stephanie Nellons-Paige – Corporate Charter Privatization Lobbyist

  • One of the leading lobbyists for education privatization in the United States.
  • Spent her career profiting off of industries driven by high stakes testing, compliance technologies, and charter schools. She has served in bottom line executive positions or board spots for testing companies and other education profiteers, including Blackboard (education tech company), Edison Learning (charter consultant), Can Academy (charter schools), Scantron (testing), USA Funds (aggressively entrepreneurial research institution), and Ancora Education (corporate training).
  • She currently works with Strada Education, a weaponized philanthropy group that produces research and programs that support for-profit privatization motives in a tax-deductible way.
  • Education point person for ALEC, an organization known for transforming dark money donations into corporate ROI through privatization. ALEC lubricates profits for corporate entities by popularizing pro-charter, business-oriented ideas in schools, communities, and legislatures so it can take over state and local governments.

Corbin Robertson – The Dark Money Founder of the Anti-Climate Science Movement

  • Oil and coal magnate billionaire who controls the largest privately owned coal reserve in the US – over 21 billion tons only second to the US government’s 92 billion tons. The reserves owned by Robertson’s parent company, Natural Resource Partners, Inc., could fuel the entire US demand for over 20yrs.
  • Deep ties to the Koch Brothers and the Republican Party, regularly donating to politicians such as Greg Abbott ($25k in 2018, $25K in 2016), Rick Perry, and Joe Barton.
  • Main money opposition to climate science.
  • Director of for-profit and non-profit corporations such Plants Need CO2 and CO2 is Green and other astroturfed entities that sued the EPA.
  • Once Donald Trump was elected president he immediately began listening to climate change deniers and holding court with powerful oil and coal executives. While attending a climate policy summit a reporter with Inside Climate News was report this Robertson quote: “Don’t waste this golden opportunity… I personally have got 20 billion tons of coal, 180 feet of the Earth’s surface that could be mined and used for power at a $1 per million BTU,” he said. “It could be turned into 60 million barrels of oil, but it’s a stranded asset. America has got huge resources, if you unleash those powers, it’s just going to be fantastic.”
  • No experience in K-12 education. He has very little personal connection to HISD and no connection to the communities in 5th Ward that he would be creating policy for.

Trini MendenhallLocal Grocer and Real Estate Investor

  • Trini Mendenhall has contributed to Republican candidates and sits on a wide variety of mainstay board in the Houston community.
  • She has no special experience in education.