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Fri May 17, 2013, 04:16 PM

A Handy Reference Guide on Who is Donating to Corporate-Style Education Reform

http://www.alternet.org/education/handy-reference-guide-who-donating-corporate-style-education-reform?page=0%2C1

The way some of them throw around the green stuff, you'd think corporate style education reformers were made of money. Oh, wait. Some of them are. As Big Money plays a bigger and bigger role in shaping public education, it can be hard to keep all the players straight— from wealthy individuals, to foundations, superPACs, astroturf groups and corporations. Here's a handy reference guide:

1. Individuals

Some of the wealthiest people on the planet are pouring their money into corporate-style education reform. Some are doing this through foundations (see below) and others are happy to invest their millions in politics to shape policy, or directly into charter schools as money-making investments. Some have a profit motive and others seem more ideologically driven (to privatize public goods, oppose union rights, etc.). One thing all of these folks have in common? Not one is an educator or education researcher. And none of their ideas is based on evidence of what actually works for kids.

Start here in Pennsylvania with charter school operators like Van Gureghian, Governor Corbett’s largest campaign donor. He makes so much money that he and his wife bought beach front property in Florida worth $28.9million, while he’s been fighting for years to keep his salary a secret. [See “ Soaking the Public”]

Recall that 4 of the top contributors to all political races last fall in our state had ties to charter school operators. Wealth advisors are on record recommending that people add charter schools to their investment portfolios, especially in places like Pennsylvania. [See “ Charters are Cash Cows”] Cyber charter schools are particularly lucrative investments, as the public taxpayers are currently over-paying them by $1million every single day. [See “ One Million Per Day”]

. . .

2. Foundations

The “big three” foundation are Gates, Broad, and Walton. Education historian Diane Ravitch calls them the “billionaire boys club,” though each has a slightly different emphasis. And there are others.

The Gates Foundation is currently funding teacher evaluation systems throughout the country. As I have argued before, not only does this focus on the wrong thing, by avoiding the issue of poverty (or even early childhood education where many agree we might most effectively concentrate our resources), it starts with the faulty assumption that we have a plague of bad teachers. Though the foundation itself has warned that teacher evaluation should not be based solely on high-stakes-testing, this is exactly what is happening all over the country (or in many places, student testing is being used for a large portion of teacher evaluation). The Gates Foundation is so large and distributes so much money that it can essentially set policy through its grant making. And combined with the Great Recession, school districts and other beneficiaries have not been able to say no to the money nor been willing to point out that the emperor is not wearing any clothes (i.e. that his “reforms” don’t work). Gates has also launched a clever campaign to shift public opinion, by strategically targeting grants to community organizations (for example, over a half-million to A+Schools this year) and astroturf groups (see below) in communities where they are working.

. . .

3. Super PACs

The Citizens United ruling opened the door to massive spending by corporations in politics and ushered in the era of superPACS. Without spending limits, now we are seeing just how much influence money can buy in politics (where education policy is set).

Students First PA PAC (not to be confused with Michelle Rhee’s national organization, see below), started in 2010 by three Philadelphia investment brokers to funnel millions into the state races of pro-voucher candidates. Co-founder Joel Greenberg is on the board of the American Federation for Children, a national group run by Betsy DeVos with mega-wealthy (and ultra-right) backers including the Koch brothers, who have used the super PAC to channel their out of state dollars into Pennsylvania politics. [See “ It’s All About the Money, Money, Money”] And Gov. Corbett tapped Joe Watkins, the chairman of Students First PA, to be the Chief Recovery Officer for the struggling Chester Uplands school district last year – a bit like putting the fox in charge of the hen house, since he now has the power to hand those public schools over to charter operators. [See “ Taking the Public out of Public Education”]

. . .

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Reply A Handy Reference Guide on Who is Donating to Corporate-Style Education Reform (Original post)
Addison May 2013 OP
Smarmie Doofus May 2013 #1
HiPointDem May 2013 #2
femmocrat May 2013 #3

Response to Addison (Original post)

Fri May 17, 2013, 08:15 PM

1. Kick, Rec and thx to Addison. n/t

 

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Response to Addison (Original post)

Sat May 18, 2013, 03:55 AM

2. kr

 

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Response to Addison (Original post)

Sat May 18, 2013, 10:02 AM

3. K & R

Please cross-post in the Pennsylvania group:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=forum&id=1074

The connections to Corbett will interest many over there! Thank you!

Welcome to DU, Addison!

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