Steve Perry Talks to White People

Dr. Steve Perry, America’s “most wanted educator,” thrilled Minneapolis by “bringing it” and “raising the roof.”

This week found America’s “most wanted educator” venturing to perhaps the reformiest place in America: Minneapolis. There, Dr. Steve Perry delighted the reformer-heavy crowd with his unique brand of high-octane, high-expectations roof raising, including referring to teacher unions as “roaches” and regaling the audience with tales of children who are literally dying from excuses. In this special guest post, an embittered veteran teacher (is there any other kind???) weighs in on what she and her low-achieving colleagues learned from Dr. Perry’s visit—or what they would have learned had they not been too lazy to attend. *

Imagine our delight when an email from Minneapolis Public School alerted us that the famed education motivational speaker, Dr. Steve Perry, was not only coming to Minneapolis to speak, but that we had a chance to win a free ticket!  Was it possible that we would get to see the man whose “heart pumps passion and produces positive change” in the flesh??? Our expectations were high—then came the excellent news. Thanks to the generosity of The Minneapolis Foundation, we were in!

We are pleased to be able to accommodate your request for a free ticket to “The Leadership Factor with Dr. Steve Perry,” the first in a series of Minnesota Meetings, on Monday, April 22, at 7 p.m. at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.  We are grateful to The Minneapolis Foundation for coordinating this free ticket opportunity as part of the RESET Education campaign. Thank you for your interest!

There was just one problem. The Minneapolis Foundation and team RESET clearly forgot we’re union teachers—with tenure— and hence, lazy, unmotivated, deficient in excellence and “part of the problem.” Also, we learned that wine boxes were not allowed in the auditorium, which caused our motivation to plummet. So we stayed home and followed the play-by-play on Twitter…Alas the scene was a familiar one as we know our local achievement gap score settlers all too well. Shall we introduce them now?

  • Beth Hawkins, a “reporter” for MinnPost,  published by Joel Kramer, who is the father of…
  • Eli Kramer, Executive director of Hiawatha Academies. Eli’s charter school coincidentally receives lots of good press from his father’s paper.  Eli is also a TFA alumni and his brother, Matt Kramer, is the new co-CEO of TFA. It’s a bit confusing, but if you’re a regular EduShyster reader, you already know that education rephorm phever is hereditary in Minneapolis
  • Eric Mahmoud, excellently compensated charter school entrepreneur who also has a lucrative side gig.
  • Dr. Steve Perry, who requires no further introduction.

Wine boxes at the ready, we watched #resetedu unfold on Twitter. The night began with a flurry of reformy platitudes keen observations about low expectations and “belief gaps” causing the achievement gap, that zip codes shouldn’t impact the education of our kids, who are literally being killed with excuses. We were sad not to hear Dr. Steve Perry referring to union teachers as roaches for ourselves, but we at least got to read about it later. The Minneapolis Foundation, one of the main funders of RESET Education, tweeted this during the event:

@mplsfoundation22 Apr@DrStevePerry on effective teaching & data: “I know you think you can teach, but let’s look @ your data.” #realtalk #ResetEdu

Too bad the Minneapolis Foundation didn’t look at Perry’s data—or at allegations from parents that Perry routinely counsels out challenging students and oversees a hyperdisciplinary culture where humiliation is routine. Not only is Perry an inflammatory speaker, but like so many education reformers, he misrepresents data about his school and its wild success. In other words, armed with sound bites and street cred, he is a perfect emissary to carry forward the disingenuous reform agenda of RESET Education.(For more on RESET Education, including its reliance on misleading statistics, propaganda and flawed pedagogy, read Teach for America alum Gary Rubinstein’s analysis).

Besides the Minneapolis Foundation and Minneapolis Public Schools, RESET Education is comprised of an alphabet-soup of education reformers, including Achieve Minneapolis, Teach for America and MinnCAN, all of whom happen to be using an urgent, crisis, “social justice” message to push for publicly-funded, yet privately managed charter schools. RESET’s corporate sponsors include General Mills, Medtronic, and Cargill, while media partners include Minnesota Public Radio and MinnPost. When audio becomes available a link will be posted and you can listen along and play the edreform drinking game and take a drink from your wine box whenever teachers and their unions are criticized. You will also have time to RESET your thinking about continuing to contribute to Minnesota Public Radio.

Thank you RESET Education for helping to bring us closer to privatizing public education in Minnesota. Who knew if could be so easy?

Note: after the event, our local teachers union published a letter stating, “Dr. Steve Perry, a magnet school principal from Connecticut, and noted anti-union activist, spent the evening abrasively trashing teachers and our unions. He went as far as to say “we need to call out the roaches” when referring to teachers unions. Dr. Perry went on to blame teachers for the literal death of children. It was truly beyond the bounds of acceptable dialogue.”  In response, Minneapolis Public School Superintendent, Bernadeia H. Johnson, urged Minnesotans not to dismiss Dr. Perry’s “overall message of acting urgently to save a generation of young people because of the sharp rhetoric he used during his speech and the subsequent panel discussion.” Read the entire exchange here.

*EduShyster is not responsible for any spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors  contained above. If you actually attended the event and would like to share your thoughts or “sprinkle some Tabasco” write to


  1. Here’s hoping that Steve “America’s Most Wanted Educator” Perry will soon making an appearance on a WANTED poster.

    1. You mean as in WANTED for excellence, high expectations and extraordinary achievements? I believe he is already on that poster! In fact I’m pretty sure that after last week there are a number of young reformers in Minneapolis who have that poster hanging on their bedroom walls!

  2. “When audio becomes available a link will be posted and you can listen along and play the edreform drinking game and take a drink from your wine box whenever teachers and their unions are criticized.”

    Holy cow – do you want people to die of alcohol poisoning?!

    1. And there’s a fan club too:

      “Working hard to get my fill,
      Everybody wants a thrill
      Payin’ anything to roll the dice,
      Just one more time
      Some will win, some will lose
      Some were born to sing the blues
      Oh, the movie never ends
      It goes on and on and on and on ”

      I bet it bothers Dr. Steve Perry that Steve Perry the singer from Journey comes up before him on a Google search.

      1. Arnel Pineda will be filling in at his next speaking gig at a charter school conference in Michigan.

        I’m getting my lighter ready for “Faithfully.”

      2. Journey’s Steve ‘Stoney Love’ Perry seems like a lot more fun than Steve ‘Tough Love’ Perry.

        1. I suspect Steve Perry the singer would have a better idea of meaningful school reform.

  3. Looks like the corporate reformer excrement has hit the fan in that town. Duck and cover, y’all!

  4. Everyone here in CT knows Perry is all about Perry…just a pompous ass who promotes himself 24/7. We are embarrassed he represents our state. He really isn’t a “good fit” here either, just like the kids who don’t test well. Even CNN got rid of him.

  5. One small quibble – the Koch brothers are vying to purchase the LA Times and Chicago Tribune, among others; NOT the Star Tribune – that paper is owned by an unknown group of hedge funders.

  6. I had a lengthy back and forth exchange a month or so ago with someone who clearly isn’t just drinking from the Perry punch-bowl, but also has a keen awareness of how to enter and exit a debate while attempting to defend Perry. The “Why don’t you wan’t to help kids?” takes the lead, suggesting that any questioning of “reform” motives and results equals opposition to basic human rights for children, and an unwillingness to teach. The fact that Perry’s admin experience and hard-nosed high expectation style (where you deny admission or remove the undesirables) is not a luxury available to public schools and teachers that accept all is met with deflection. This Perry-bot responds with “what is it you are unable to do?” The return that clearly I can do more because I don’t cherry pick students and eliminate challenges drives the conversation to how “your system” hasn’t worked for “us”…it got a little strange.
    It’s all packaging and presentation. Perry is a well backed attention getter, and the soldiers stand ready to parrot the insanity. Get the Kochs in there and you have a media lock too.

  7. Tabasco is such a flavorful seasoning for fomenting, extra tasty when used to help destroy a public school system

  8. Could it be that they are grooming this Perry cat to take the place of the Rheeject?? Seems to have many of the same personality traits and “brash” style.

  9. I would like to ask a favor of the Edushyster community. Here is the email for Perry’s publicist (yeah, he runs a school and he has a publicist).

    Can we send some email requests asking Perry to apologize to the teachers in our country:

    Thanks for visiting the site. I love hearing from my readers! If you have read my books or attended one of my speaking engagements, please let me know your thoughts by clicking the contact button. Your feedback is appreciated. .

    Speak up and be heard. I make it a point to do my best at contacting anyone who takes the time to reach out to me.

    Thank you and much love.

    Dr. Steve Perry

    Yusuf Salaam

  10. Since I heard the speech and live in St. Paul, here are a few comments:
    1. The speech was not given in Minneapolis. It was given in St Paul.
    2. Not sure where the headline came from “Steve Parry talks to white people.” The audience was quite racially mixed.
    3. Referring to people as “roaches” accomplishes nothing. It was an inappropriate and unwise comment.
    4. The panel also included a Minneapolis Public Schools Assistant supt. Not sure why this was left out.
    5. The Minneapolis Foundation also coordinates a task force that is strongly encouraging the state legislature to provide more $ for high quality early childhood education. With their leadership, and a number of others (including me) saying the same thing, it’s likely that millions of additional $ will be allocated for this purpose. Both Mn House and Senate already have included millions of additional dollars in early childhood funding in their bills which are nearing final adoption.
    6. The Minneapolis Foundation, along with Cargill and other funders mentioned, also funds an array of programs to help strengthen families and the communities in which they live. More info here:
    Full disclosure – our organization received funds a decade ago from Mpls Foundation and we currently have a grant from Cargill.

    1. Greetings Minnesota friend! Thanks for your reply. Since this was written by a Minneapolis teacher (but helpfully introduced by yours truly) I can’t say why she misidentified the location of the talk. I’d blame laziness but St. Paul seems much less taxing to type than Minneapolis. The headline came from me and was inspired by the incredible exchange of “views” that followed Beth Hawkins’ “reporting” on Dr. Perry’s visit. In the exchange, some very white people seem to justify Perry’s extreme language and views as part of his “straight up style.” As for information that was inadvertantly left out of the report from the embittered veteran teacher who chose not to attend, let me add another. One of the gentlemen on the panel, Eric Mahmoud, is the head of a school that is repeatedly held up as a model for the Minneapolis Public Schools to emulate. The post mentions that he makes what some consider an inordinate amount to run a school ($250,000) and has an unfortunate bit of mortgage fraud in his backstory. But the writer inadvertantly left out the fact that ZERO PERCENT of students at Harvest Prep consistently score proficient in science. Let me repeat that: ZERO PERCENT. Yet Harvest Prep and its best practices are at the very heart of the RESET project of which the Minneapolis Foundation is the lead sponsor. As for companies like Cargill that have also leapt on the Minneapolis rephorm express, do they envision a future without science? I’m guessing not. But a future without unions would smell pretty good…

    2. Joe Nathan loves him some Dr. Steve Perry. Perry and Rhee are Nathan’s ideal education leaders, showing us the way forward in American education with their lies, spin, exclusion, cheating, attrition, and blame-gaming. Joe Nathan will be the last man defending the ditch as it fills with raw sewage from the lies they tell.

    3. Yes – and Mussolini made the trains run on time! So if you do a few good things…i.e. programs to support families..then you can be forgiven for funding a malicious, dishonest and unethical movement to destroy public education. That’s the kind of thinking Joe Nathan is known for. Nathan is the velvet covering of the iron fist of deformer money. Don’t buy his disingenuous pap.

  11. Makes no matter that Superintendent Johnson was there, does not legitimize the event. It’s no secret that she has been bought on the the corporate reformer$. Lots of $upes have, just ask Michelle Rhee.

    The event may have been in St. Paul, but the majority of attendees there were from Mpls and are after the Minneapolis system.

  12. This is some of the best informational writing I have ever read. It is done in such an informative yet funny manner with the best wordsmithing. Thank you for the great information and I laughed with glee all the way through it.

  13. A little more about Steve Perry:

    “But here’s the thing: he’s got a hell of a lot of nerve bad-mouthing “failing” schools and “failing” teachers when he clearly owes at least some of his success to teaching a different student population than the schools around him.

    If the superintendent of New Canaan’s schools – the richest town in Connecticut – walked around bragging about the superiority of his schools compared to Hartford’s, we would all find him to be totally obnoxious. If he claimed he had the answers to education’s ills, and that he had the right to pontificate because of his success, we would rightly shun him. And would he ever be granted a regular platform on national television to spout off about the evils of teachers unions?”

  14. Update on Capital Prep and Steve Perry:

    I attended a defending public education forum today at CCSU in CT. In a small group session a former Capital Prep teacher spoke about her experiences working for Perry. She said that he stressed getting buy in from his staff. He constantly spoke about “adding value” and how they were going to franchise the school and spread out nationwide.

    They never discussed the kids when teachers met in groups. They looked at data. They were told to placate the parents, so they could attract more more middle class students. He would say at many meetings and this is a quote: “We want it to snow in here.” She took this to mean we need more white people and middle class students.

    She was eventually let go being told she wasn’t a “good fit”, but they offered her a position as a community outreach rep, which she turned down.

    She also said teachers and students would disappear throughout the year…she used the word vanish often and no one knew where they went.

    Have you heard Perry use the “we want it to snow in here” line on CNN? I guess he has many acts and sideshows depending upon who he is appealing to at the time.

    1. I’m not an educator- I’m a Michigan resident who linked here from a post at Balloon Juice that quoted from your story about the (latest) grift Snyder is trying to run in our state. I thought I’d check out some of your other work while I was here.
      Perry was unknown to me until I saw him several weeks ago on Chris Hayes show. The guys bullshit was pretty blatant, so much so that the identifier that periodically displays onscreen announcing guests credentials and/or affiliations would have been more honest and accurate if it had just read “Con Man”. Thanks for this post confirming my instincts are still to be trusted.
      Joe Nathan isn’t the same guy who pitched for the Twins, is he? I know MLB has a disproportionate number of reactionary Republican assholes in it’s ranks, but I would have thought Nathan was too busy coming out of the bullpen for the Rangers to be actively sabotaging the public school system in Minneapolis.

  15. Minnesota Public Radio, or MPR (Money Public Radio) just had him on today over the lunch hour. Time to cancel your sustaining membership! I just did.

  16. just a stupid worthless parent here, enemy of the griftocracy, using some critical thinking kapow pow pedagogy and deeply engaging with all the above text, wondering if he was in his brothers movie Big Momma’s house?

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