Former NBC and CNN anchor Campbell Brown has launched The Seventy Four, a non-profit news website on education reform. The website will provide non-partisan news on education reform and takes its name from the 74 million estimated school-age children in the US.
Brown, an ardent education reform advocate since 2011 and an award-winning journalist, said during an interview:
“There are a lot of entrenched interests that are standing in the way of some the best possibilities for innovation” in education. “We want to challenge and scrutinize the powers that be.”
Her education reform advocacy has disturbed teachers unions who say her efforts aim to dismantle New York City’s ed unions altogether. Brown has openly rejected this criticism, stating that her mission is to reform an education system that no longer supports children.
As Brown explains on her site, which launched July 13, it will be an education news site that is non-partisan yet advocacy-informed.
“Sometimes there aren’t two sides to every story,” she said. “If the union is standing for something that is clearly wrong, we will hold them accountable, but if we believe the union is right on something, we will support them.”
The mission of 74million.org is “to lead an honest, fact-based conversation about how to give America’s 74 million children under the age of 18 the education they deserve.”
The project, which employs 13 individuals, has an annual budget of $4 million made up exclusively of donations. Unlike most other media and news organizations, The Seventy Four won’t be selling advertising.
Campbell has been criticized in the past for not disclosing her beneficiaries. However, in the case of 74million.org, Brown has come clean, disclosing that among the project’s supporters are The Walton Family Foundation, the Bloomberg Philanthropies led by former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation.
All these backers are in favor of charter schools, an education option largely criticized by teachers unions, Lukas I. Alpert of The Wall Street Journal reports.
Campbell Brown’s husband, Dan Senor, is a board director of StudentsFirstNY, a NYC-based organization that supports charter schools and wants to improve the “fundamental policies and politics of education in New York.”
Brown is also the founder of the Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ) that advocates for charter schools. Brown says that special interests in K-12 education have pushed the well-being of students aside and that:
“We are long overdue for an honest conversation about what works and what doesn’t work. That’s why we started The Seventy Four, a newsroom with an unapologetic point of view that will serve as a platform for those without a voice.”
Steven Snyder, former Assistant Managing Editor at TIME magazine, will serve as Editorial Director for the news site. Cynthia Tucker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, and Michelle Bernard, CEO of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics, and Public Policy, will be among its major contributors.
“By digging deep to uncover the facts, The Seventy Four will bring the truth about America’s education system to light,” Romy Drucker, co-founder and CEO of The Seventy Four said. “And by not being afraid to take a stand on issues that are controversial and polarizing, The Seventy Four will be a driving force in inspiring others to demand change,” he added about the organization’s vision.