Archives for category: Education Industry

In an interview, John White made it clear that he wants to keep his $275,000 job as state superintendent in Louisiana. Bobby Jindal pushed the state board to hire him after his brief stint as superintendent of the Néw Orleans Recovery School Diistrict. White loyally implemented Jindal’s agenda of vouchers, charters, for-profit schools, and attacks on teachers’ due process, as well as test-based evaluation. But then Jindal and White locked horns over Common Core. Jindal wanted out, White didn’t. (White’s only school experience is TFA. Also he attended the unaccredited Broad Superintendents’ Academy.)

Now one of the leading candidates for governor has said White has to go. Open the statement for links.

John Bel Edwards issued the following statement;

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: media@johnbelforlouisiana.com; 225-435-9808
Edwards: John White Will Never Be Superintendent On My Watch

BATON ROUGE, La. – State Representative and candidate for governor John Bel Edwards (D-Amite) responded to news that State Superintendent John White wishes to remain in his current position under the next governor’s administration.

“I have no intention of allowing John White, who isn’t qualified to be a middle school principal, to remain as Superintendent when I am governor,” Edwards said. “We have so many highly qualified candidates right here in Louisiana that we don’t need to go looking in New York City for our next head of K-12 education.”

White’s tenure as State Superintendent has been frought with controversy and accusations of wrongdoing. In 2012, White was embroiled in scandal after emails revealed political motives behind his fight to ensure that expanded school vouchers were approved by the Louisiana Legislature. Thanks to testimony by Rep. John Bel Edwards, the Louisiana Supreme Court later found the voucher scheme to be unconstitutional, because it did, as White denied, illegally divert funding designated for local city and parish public schools. Later, voucher schools approved under White’s watch were shown to lack a requisite number of teachers, lunch rooms, and other resources common to any proper school. In 2013, he was accused of having purposefully inflated letter grades for certain schools. For at least three years, White knew about inequities in special education funding which violated directives in the La. Constitution, but declined to take action to correct the problem even after the Legislature urged and requested that he do so in 2014. Under White’s watch per pupil funding for public k-12 schools was frozen despite many new unfunded mandates. During the same time period the per pupil amount paid to private schools through the state voucher program increased each year.

Citing these controversies Edwards said,”We need genuine leadership at the helm of the Louisiana Department of Education. We will have that when we elect a genuine leader as governor.”

White’s only formal training in educational administration was earned during six weekend trainings at the Eli Broad Superintendent’s Academy, meant to be an introduction to issues facing Superintendents at the local level.

Laura Chapman, a frequent contributor to the blog, comments here in response to an article in the Boston Globe about whether the Common Core was “killing” kindergarten:

THE BIG LIE: “The United States is falling behind other countries in the resource that matters most in the new global economy: human capital,” declared a 2008 report from the National Governors Association. Creating a common set of “internationally benchmarked” standards was seen as the best way to close the persistent achievement gaps between students of different races and between rich and poor school districts.”

THE BIG LIE: I have found only two international benchmarking documents in the early history of the Common Core. The first was in 1998 with comparisons of standards in two states and the math and science standards in Japan and standards available from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS). The second report in 2008. titled “Benchmarking for Success: Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World-Class Education,” was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates and GE Foundations. The author was a professional writer of reports. The advisory committee included seven governors or former governors, CEOs at Intel and Microsoft, three senior state and large metro area education officials, three advocates for minority groups, one foundation, and five university faculty, only two of these scholars in education. The most important source of information was the data analytics expert at the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). In this report, benchmarking is little more than a process of: (a) identifying the nations that score high on international tests, then (b) assuming the scores reflect higher expectations, and then (c) looking at some economic descriptors for those countries.

The result is a set of dubious inferences– high test scores and high standards are predicates for economic prosperity. Dubious should be written DUBIOUS, especially because this publication was rolled out with great fanfare in the midst of the 2008 crash of the world economy…for reasons that have no bearing on international test scores, no bearing on educational standards, no bearing on the nation’s children and teachers and public schools.

Nevertheless, “The executive summary (p.6) calls for the following:
Action 1: Upgrade state standards by adopting a common core of internationally benchmarked standards in math and language arts for grades K-12 to ensure that students are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to be globally competitive.

This is a very big lie. It is a dangerously misleading one when tossed into a discussion of kindergarten. There is no way to internationally benchmark standards or tests for every grade or subject because the meaning of “internationally benchmarked” is limited to test scores on international tests in at most three subjects, no international tests yet in kindergarten.

On top of those insistent misrepresentations from the nation’s governors and those involved in the whole Common Core Experiment to save the economy is it not strange that we find no demand at all for more and better knowledge of geography, cultural history including the arts, political history, and world languages–all of which might actually bear on functioning with savvy and grace on an international stage?

If the only or the prime value of our nation’s children and youth is economic, we are back to the same wretched outlook on children as that which existed before child labor laws. The Governors are still using this appalling rhetoric, treating the nation’s children and youth as more or less useful and productive for the economy. The same for their teachers. What will it take to get a reversal of this narrow and attitude that “It is perfectly OK to think of kids as economically worthless, or worthwhile, or somewhere in between?

The real causes of the so-called achievement gap are the result of thinking that test scores are objective…when they are not. It is the result of thinking that humans should all be thoroughly standardized to perform in the same way, at the same time, to the same level on a set of test questions that only predict scores on other tests. And those tests and scores are the marketing tools of choice for the unregulated testing industry.

Test scores have been a major weapon in the arsenal of federal and state policies designed to produce, reproduce, and not to reduce the huge disparities in income and opportunities in this nation and to distract attention from real fraud and abuse. Children are not responsible for the fate of the economy. They did not tank the economy in 2008. Nor did their teachers.

This nation is in desperate need for more ample education and for more generous views of humanity than has come from the National Governor’s Association, the Secretary of Education, corporate leaders, billionaires, and the press. The press has become too lazy. This piece about kindergarten does little more than recycle talking points from easy to find and ready-made sources.”

A comment by a reader:

 

 

Education and the Industrial Imagination

 

 

Prof. Ravitch and followers of her blog are of course right to underscore the fact that for-profit colleges and universities must be understood in the broader context of an increasingly dominant business or industrial model of education. It is helpful to spell out that model more precisely, so that our criticisms can be more clearly and forcefully targeted. Let me take a stab at that here.

 

On the industrial model, educating whole persons for lifelong growth is replaced by education as just another industrial sector, on a par with any other sector. Education’s job is to manufacture skilled labor for the market in a way that is maximally efficient. Knowledge on this model is a market commodity, teachers are delivery vehicles for knowledge content, and students are either consumers or manufactured products. Educational institutions on the industrial model are marketplaces for delivering and acquiring content, tuition is the fair price for accessing that content, and the high-to-low grade differential is the means for incentivizing competition. It is not clear where growth, community, and democracy come into the picture.

 

 

A school may train more students with fewer teachers, and an industrial sector may produce more clothes, cars, or animal protein to meet market demands with lower overhead costs. These products can then be used, or put to work to produce more things. The industrial imagination stops here, with efficient production. This is arguably useful, but what else has been unintentionally made, to which industrial thinking is oblivious? Have we made narrower lives? Have we embittered and disabled? Have we anesthetized moral and ecological sensitivity? Have we, in John Dewey’s words, made life more “congested, hurried, confused and extravagant”? If the answer is a qualified yes, then these are questions that should be central to public deliberation about education. It would be a tragedy that trivializes all of our successes if we continue unchecked down a cultural path in which schools—or industries—gain efficiency and increase productivity by frustrating human fulfillment.

 

 

Steven Fesmire, author of Dewey (Routledge, 2015)

In displaying readiness for college, grade point average matters more than a score on a college admissions test like SAT or ACT. Even the testing companies acknowledge that this is the case. But they are businesses, and they compete with one another for numbers and dollars. So they are always on the lookout for new avenues by which to serve their customers (the colleges, not the students).

 

The ACT, Mercedes Schneider reports, will offer a new service to colleges (not to students). It will not only test the student, but it will give the college confidential advice about his or her readiness, based on subtest scores. This information will go to the college, but not to the student.

 

Schneider writes:

 

Thus, ACT is intentionally shifting its role from reporting test scores to advising postsecondary institutions regarding admissions decisions.

There’s more:

Students will not be privy to the advice ACT is offering regarding ACT’s predictions of student success. None of this info will be part of the student score report. Such info will be between ACT and postsecondary institutions.

And not only does ACT believe it has a right to both form and communicate its opinions of student success to colleges and universities; ACT is fine with forming some of its judgments based upon unverified, volunteered student self-report information.

 

So, get this. The students pay to be tested; ACT reports the results to the students and to colleges. But then ACT gives the colleges information about the students and recommends whether or not they should be accepted. This advice is not shared with the students who paid to be tested.

 

Does this strike you as outrageous? ACT is not your guidance counselor. What nerve!

Jeannie Kaplan discovers that Denver ranks #1 on a scorecard compiled by the Center for Reinventing Public Education, an outpost of corporate reform.

 

Denver has faithfully complied with most elements of the reformster agenda, but what has its compliance done for Denver students, she asks.

 

And she answers: nothing.

She writes:

“Way back in 1972 there was a committee whose acronym was CRP. CRP stood for Committee to Re-elect the President, who at the time was Richard M. Nixon. Because CRP became integrally involved in some creepy activities including Watergate, its acronym morphed into CREEP. A creepy committee funding some CREEPy goings on. (On a personal note, I worked at CBS News in Washington, D.C. during this time. While I thought some of the activities were CREEPy, I loved the political intrigue).

“Fast forward to 2015 and my continuing involvement with Denver Public Schools. Another creepy organization has touched my life: Center on Reinventing Public Education or (another) CRPE, a University of Washington research center funded in part by Bill and Melinda Gates. It turns out this creepy organization has provided the blueprint for all that is happening and has happened in DPS over the last ten years.

“This creepy CRPE has tried to lead us to believe that a business portfolio strategy can somehow be successful in the public education world. Strategies and phrases such as “risk management,” “assets,” “portfolio rebalancing and managing,” “ridding yourself of portfolio low performers,” “monoploy” dominate the conversations with these folks. And because DPS has been so successful and diligent in adopting these elements it has finally, finally, reached the top of a reformy chart. The problem with this achievement is that it only represents success as it relates to implementation of some convoluted business strategy.

“Remember, a portfolio strategy requires constant churn, for the investor is always ridding his portfolio of low-performing stocks while looking for higher performing ones. This may be a good strategy for business, but schools, children, families and teachers are not stocks and bonds. They should not be treated as such.

“And so far implementation of this strategy has had virtually no impact on improving educational opportunities or outcomes for Denver’s children. So after being national exemplars for choice (or as I like to call it chaos), funding, talent (see here and here for Chalkbeat’s take) and accountability, Denver Public Schools still shows no growth in 2014 standardized tests. Proficiencies across the district slog along at 57% for reading, 47% for math, and 44% for writing with achievement gaps increasing in each subject. Even with a slight increase ACT scores are still only 18.4 (a 26 is needed to enter the University of Colorado) and the overall graduation rate is still at only 62.8%. Sadly, even after ten years, DPS has failed to transfer implementation into outcomes.”

Peter Greene has discovered that Campbell Brown, scourge of public schools, teachers, unions, and due process, has just created a new vehicle to advance her cause.

With funding from various billionaires who share her passion to destroy public education, she has started a new organization.

Greene writes:

“Today the Wall Street Journal is announcing that Campbell Brown is launching a new education site that “won’t shy away from advocacy.” Which is kind of like announcing that Wal-Mart is opening a new store and will not shy away from marketing or that Burger King is opening up at a new location that might sell hamburgers.

“Sadly, there are no surprises in this story. The site, called The Seventy Four in reference to the seventy-four million students in the US (and not say, the seventy-four gazillion dollars Campbell and her friends hope to make from privatizing education)….

“The new site will launch with thirteen employees and a $4 million dollar budget, courtesy of backers that include Bloomberg Philanthropies (as in former anti-public ed NY mayor Michael Bloomberg), Walton Family Foundation, Johnathan Sackler, and the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation– in other words, the usual group of charter school backers….

“As usual, I am struck by just how much money reformsters are willing to pump into the cause. I’m here with my staff of one (me) and a budget of– well, I guess you could claim that my budget today is about 75 cents because while I was sitting here working on this, I had a bagel and a cup of orange juice.

“At any rate, brace yourselves boys and girls– here comes the next wave of faux progressive teacher bashing and charter pushing by privatizers who will not rest until they’ve cracked that golden egg full of tax dollars. Because that’s the other reason they’re willing to sink $4 million into something like this– because while that may seem like a lot of money to you or me, to them it’s peanuts, an investment that they hope will pay off eventually in billions of tax dollars directed away from public education and to the private corporations that are drooling at the prospect of cashing in on education.”

Will the reformers ever learn that everything they promote has already failed? Hey, Campbell, the highest performing states on NAEP (Massachusetts, Néw Jersey, and Connecticut) have strong teachers’ unions. The highest performing districts have teacher tenure. The highest performing nations have strong PUBLIC schools, not vouchers or charters. Your children at the Heschel School will not be affected by the Common Core or high-stakes testing (I know, two of my grandchildren went there).

Campbell, please read “Reign of Error.” You are misreading the data. Test scores and graduation rates are at their highest point in history. Dropout rates are at their lowest point ever. Where scores are low, children live in poverty. Please make the war on poverty your focus and drop the war on teachers and public schools.

Film-maker Brian Malone has just completed a major documentary about the corporate raid on public education. Get a copy and host a viewing for your friends.

 

Anthony Cody reviewed the film here and says it is an eye-opening expose of the big money that is trying to privatize public education.

 

Cody writes:

 

A new documentary will be released in community-based screenings across the country on August 14th. This film could provide a powerful boost to local efforts to organize resistance to the corporate takeover of public schools. It is called Education Inc, and it tells the tale all too familiar to many of us – that of the drive to privatize one of the few public institutions left in our withering democracy.

 

If you are frustrated by what you see happening in your local schools, if your school board is beset by billionaire-sponsored candidates, and charter schools are starving neighborhood schools of funding, this film might give you a much needed rallying point. The film’s creator is making it available for community showings, and is building for a one-day national release on August 14. A film showings can provide a focal point that brings people together and inspires further actions…..

 

But first, a bit of background on this story. I met Brian Malone a couple of years ago, when some parent activists brought me to Douglas County, Colorado, to talk about what was happening with corporate education reform. It was just a week or two prior to a major election that pitted those who supported public schools against a pro-privatization slate backed by ALEC and big money from outside of the area. There was all sorts of skullduggery in this election. The District used taxpayer funds to commission a pseudo-academic “white paper” by the head of the American Enterprise Institute, Rick Hess. His paper, and accompanying blog post, described Douglas County as “the most interesting district in America,” because it was a wealthy district experimenting with school choice. This paper was released in the middle of the campaign, and put a rosy glow on the candidates who supported this approach. It came out later that the school district paid Hess and his co-author $30,000 for their praise.

 

This money was just the tip of a much bigger iceberg that threatens to sink public education in communities across the country.

 

Brian Malone writes:

 

“Friday, August 14th, 2015

 

“American public education is in controversy. As public schools across the country struggle for funding, complicated by the impact of poverty and politics, some question the future and effectiveness of public schools in the U.S.

 

“For free-market reformers, private investors and large education corporations, this controversy spells opportunity in turning public schools over to private interests. Education, Inc. examines the free-market and for-profit interests that have been quietly and systematically privatizing America’s public education system under the banner of “school choice.”

 

“Education, Inc. is told through the eyes of parent and filmmaker Brian Malone, as he travels cross-country in search of the answers and sources behind the privatizing of American public education, and what it means for his kids. With striking footage from school protests, raucous school board meetings and interviews with some of the most well known educators in the country, Malone zooms out to paint a clear picture of profit and politics that’s sweeping across the nation, right under our noses.

 

“Education Inc.

 

National Grass Roots Screening

 

Friday, August 14th, 2015

 

“Be part of the national movement to open up the conversation of outside money behind education reform.

 

“Host your own house party. Rent out a community center. Show the movie and then have an open and honest conversation about school reform and all of the dark money behind it.

 

“Get your DVD here!”

 

http://edincmovie.com/

Brian Malone
Malone Media Group

This teacher blogger has compiled a list of some of the most recent charter school scandals. It is not an exhaustive list; the scandals just keep coming. [For a more exhaustive summary, go to “charter school scandals,” a website maintained by Oakland, California, parent activist Sharon Higgins (with no subsidy from corporations,foundations, unions or anyone else.)

 

 

This teacher blogger memorably writes:

 

As I see it, “corporate” is to “education” as “cigarette manufacturer” is to “public health and well-being.

 

And then on to recent scandals, like charter schools inflating enrollment to pad their payments by the state.

 

He finds:

 

In other words, with stunning regularity, corporate education boiled down to one simple word. And that word was: Greed.

 

Why is anyone really surprised?

 

Many of us have written, for example, about the giant cesspool that is the for-profit college industry. It’s a great gig, after all, when five top executives of Corinthian College can pull down $22 million in salary over a two-year stretch—at the same time saddling students with high-interest loans—providing low-quality course offerings—and finally going bankrupt this spring.

 

How about the five top executives at K-12, Inc., a for-profit chain of elementary and secondary online schools? They divvied up a cool $35.4 million in salaries and bonuses in 2013 and 2014.

 

For fun, put that in kid-centric terms.

 

Those five individuals took home enough cash to hire 354 teachers (at $50,000 each), for two years to actually work with kids in grades K-12.

 

Greed is good, isn’t that right?

 

Then there are corporations like Pearson, which spend millions lobbying politicians to keep high-stakes testing required. It’s all about the kids.

 

The scandals keep on coming:

 

Go ahead, Google away yourself. You’ll find endless examples to tickle your fancy. But let’s end with perhaps the biggest scam of all. Let’s hear it for the University of Phoenix, a money-making juggernaut, a company so successful at piling up $$$$ it was able to pay the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL $154.5 million for naming rights to their stadium! Good advertising? Sure! Too bad the school had to pay a fine of $67.5 million, plus $11 million in legal fees, for defrauding students!

 

Too bad a U. S. Senate investigation showed the school spent a mere $892 per pupil each year to actually educate students.

 

Hey, not to worry! Company founder John G. Sperling raked in $263.5 million in a little less than a decade in salary, bonuses and stock sales. And his son, Peter, did better still: $574.3 million.

 

It’s a new world, with surprising ways to make a profit by running schools.

Civil rights attorney Wendy Lecker writes here about the disastrous education policies of Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. Although he is a Democrat, he gives first allegiance to the charter school industry, whose patrons are the powerful hedge fund managers in the state’s tony suburbs.

 

She writes that Malloy “slashed funding for social programs, gave no increase for public K-12 education, despite a pending lawsuit alleging that the state owes almost 2 billion dollars to its public schools, and threatened to veto the state budget unless the legislature agreed to fund two charter schools in communities that vehemently opposed them….”

 

Governor Malloy’s tenure has been characterized by denigrating teachers, vigorously opposing adequate funding of public schools and vastly increasing financial support for privately run charter schools which fail to serve the state’s neediest children, including English Language Learners and students with disabilities, have disturbingly harsh disciplinary policies, increase racial isolation, drain public money from needy public schools and have even been implicated in fraud and theft.

 

Why would Malloy favor these questionable privately run schools over underfunded public schools? One answer lies in an article reported on by the Hartford Courant, piggy-backing off the years of reporting blogger Jonathan Pelto has done on this issue.

 

The Courant reported that this year, unprecedented amounts of money were spent to push the charter agenda by ConnCAN, the charter lobby; Northeast Charter Network, another charter lobby founded by disgraced Jumoke leader Michael Sharpe and others; and a newer group operating in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts: Families for Excellent Schools (FES).

 

The Courant further noted that the same millionaires and billionaires who copiously donated to Malloy’s campaigns are also major donors to charters and charter lobbyists. This list includes Greenwich millionaire Jonathan Sackler, the founder of ConnCAN and original board member of the Achievement First charter chain; Greenwich hedge funder Steve Mandel, who funded the players behind the illegal takeover of the Bridgeport Board of Education; embattled SAC Capital chief Steven Cohen and his wife; ConnCAN board members Arthur Reimers and Andrew Boas; Andrew Stone, a board member at Success Academy charter chain, a close ally of FES; and ConnCAN donor Marianna McCall. FES even hired two public relations firms that employ Malloy’s recently departed top aides: Roy Occhiogrosso and Andrew Doba.

 

The web of charter money is so thick it must have blinded Malloy to the needs and wishes of constituents from Stamford and Bridgeport.

 

There is much more. Read the full article to view the copious links. And to think that Malloy was supported by the state’s teachers when he ran for re-election!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please read this report and send it to everyone who cares about the future of public education in the United States. Send it to your friends, your school board, your legislators, your editorial boards, and to anyone else who needs to know about the money that is committed to demolishing public schools and turning the money over to private hands.

 

Common Cause has released an important new report about the dramatic increase in funding and lobbying by groups in New York State committed to privatization of public schools. The report contrasts the political spending of the privatizers to the political spending of the unions, and it is a fascinating contrast.

 

 

The report is titled: “Polishing the Apple: Examining Political Spending in New York to Influence Educational Policy.”

 

The report rejects the term “reformers” and uses the term “privatizers.” It explains here (p. 3):

 

 

We use the terms pro-privatization and privatizer to describe PACs and coalitions whose central mission is “education reform”—increasing funding and support for alternatives to standard public education, market-based educational programs, decentralizing control of education policy from government, advancing charter schools, supporting private schools, and private school tax credits. Examples of the groups we identified and analyzed as pro-privatization are Students First, Democrats for Education Reform/Education Reform Now, the Foundation/Coalition for Opportunity in Education, and Families for Excellent Schools. When we describe union spending, we include funding from unions such as New York State United teachers (NYSUT) and United Federation of Teachers (UFT), public school teachers, school board leaders, school administrators and other public school employees. Their primary policy goals have related to education budget allocations, teacher evaluations, protecting teacher tenure, testing regimes, mayoral control of schools and, more recently, education investment tax credits.

 

The report points out that 2014 was a watershed year. It was the first year in which the spending by privatizers exceeded spending by unions by over $16.8 million. (p. 4).

 

Before 2014, privatizer contributions averaged $3.9 million annually; in 2014, privatizers’ campaign contributions “jumped to $11.2 million.”

 

The top three recipients of privatizer campaign contributions were: the New York Senate Republican Housekeeping account ($5.06 million); Cuomo-Hochul 2014 ($3.06 million), and The Independence Party Housekeeping account ($1.2 million).

 

The top three recipients of union campaign contributions were: the New York State Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee ($916,600), the Working Families Party ($874,550), and the NYS Senate Republican Campaign Committee ($772,387).

 

Where the money comes from:

 

“Pro-privatization campaign contributions totaled $46.1 million raised through 5,700 contributions from less than 400 wealthy individuals, associated organizations, and PACs. The top five individual pro-privatization political campaign contributors were Michael Bloomberg ($9.2 million), James Simons ($3 million), Paul Singer ($2.2 million), Daniel Loeb ($1.9 million), and David Koch ($1.6 million).”

 

“Union campaign contributions totaled $87.6 million raised through at least 75,000 contributions to Union PACS from well over 18,000 individuals, associated organizations and PACs. Union assert that dues are separate and not used on political spending. The top five union PAC contributors were: New York State United Teachers ($56.1 million), American Federation of Teachers / United Federation of Teachers ($22.8 million), National Education Association ($443,000), Buffalo Teachers Federation ($269,000), and Say Yes To Education ($242,000)….”

 

 

The pro-privatization bills introduced in New York are based on bills developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council as part of its national education agenda.

 

o The major pro-privatization donors in New York are also political contributors to education privatization efforts in other states.

 

o Pro-privatization lobbying includes “dark money” contributed through c4 advocacy organizations and foundations.

 

The top 2 recipients of contributions from privatizers (Senate Republicans and Gov. Cuomo) have introduced more extreme versions of education tax credits than those in other states.

 

o New York’s proposed bills would advantage affluent tax payers and scholarship recipients over low and middle class New Yorkers.

 

o It would be difficult for everyday New Yorkers to access credits due to unique procedural requirements and application timing.

 

o New York’s proposals have unusually high income eligibility for scholarships: $500,000 family income limit in Senate bill is almost 400% higher than highest income limit in other states.

 

o There would be no caps on private school tuition costs, which in New York can top $40,000 annually.

 

o New York versions of proposed education tax credit programs lack oversight and accountability measures enacted in states such as Arizona, Florida and Georgia, or even those contained in ALEC model bills.

 

The report gives a brief history of the privatization movement, then says this:

 

The current trend of market-based education proposals can be seen as interrelated to the ideology and policy goals that contributed to the pre-2008 deregulations of the financial industry and to the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC. Using a long term, multi-pronged strategy, the self-styled “education reform” organizations (whose boards are populated by the very hedge fund executives who have dominated Super PAC contributions since the Citizens United decision) are framing this issue. They have used their wealth to access and infiltrate the policy landscape on almost every front except one: the teachers’ unions. 13 In an increasingly polarized debate, these camps are battling for ideological control of the future of education policy at all levels of government.

 

Seeing Gold in the Schools

 

Adoption of federal programs, such as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 and the Common Core State Standards Initiative contained in the Race to the Top Fund (RTTT) (2010), pushed states—using threats to funding as incentive—to establish standards akin to a corporation’s bottom line and employ the burgeoning field of “big data” to determine who was reaching benchmarks or not.

 

The push to look at education benchmarks in a “bottom line” fashion bolstered a rapidly growing market for nonprofit and for-profit test publishing, test analysis, test preparation, student data management and— for schools who failed to make adequate yearly progress—tutoring, interventions, and alternative school options. Hundreds of new for-profit and nonprofit organizations, from test prep to consulting to charter schools, have opened in the past ten years to meet the demands that NCLB and Race to the Top created. This wave of market-based educational interests has been financed by powerful national foundations and wealthy private investors who, as discussed below, are major political contributors across the country, including in New York. These “venture philanthropists” have been positioning themselves on several fronts: funding research institutions, reframing the national debate in the media, positioning sympathetic leaders into educational regulatory bodies, and lobbying policymakers to enact their desired educational policies.

 

The Role of the American Legislative Exchange Council

 

Through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), some of the nation’s largest companies invest millions of dollars each year to pass state laws putting corporate and private interests ahead of the interests of ordinary Americans. ALEC’s membership includes some 2,000 state legislators, corporate executives and lobbyists. ALEC brings together corporate lobbyists and state legislators to vote as equals on model bills, behind closed doors and without any public input, that often benefit the corporations’ bottom line. These model bills are then introduced in state legislatures across the country. ALEC and its member corporations often pay for legislators to go to lavish resorts to participate in ALEC meetings. Among ALEC’s legislative portfolio are bills to privatize public schools and prisons, weaken voting rights, eviscerate environmental protections and cripple public worker unions.

 

Common Cause has filed a “whistleblower” complaint against ALEC with the Internal Revenue Service, accusing the group of violating its tax-exempt status by operating as a lobby while claiming to be a charity.

 

 

The group’s tax exemption allows its corporate supporters to take tax deductions on millions spent each year to support ALEC’s activities, in effect providing a taxpayer subsidy for its lobbying.

 

Addressing the market demand created by NCLB and Race to the Top, ALEC’s Education Task Force has issued 29 model bills dealing with K-12 education since February, 2013,16 including The Great Schools Tax Credit Program Act,17 and the Parental Choice Scholarship Accountability Act,18 which provide models for state scholarship tax credit programs. ALEC model bills appear to have been the basis for education bills introduced in New York.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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