Archives for category: Privatization

Sweden decided to open the floodgates of school privatization in 1992. Twenty-three years is a good long time to see the effects of vouchers and for-profit corporations running schools.   As this article in The Daily Kos shows, the results are not pretty. Test scores have fallen, segregation of all kinds has increased, one of the private corporations running schools went bankrupt, stranding students and wasting millions.

The gains are hard to discern.

Montclair, New Jersey, is a beautiful suburb, not far from New York City, which has long had a reputation for its good schools and its successful racial integration. But lately its schools and parents have been in turmoil. The town is split between supporters of public education and supporters of “reform” (aka privatization and testing). Recently the “reformers” have subpoenaed emails of those who support public schools, looking for a nefarious plot, for sources of funding, undue influence by teachers’ unions, or for any contacts with that notorious critic of corporate reform, Diane Ravitch. Apparently, their search turned up nothing. No national plot; no outside funding; no contact with me. Just local parents trying to fight off privatization and high-stakes testing. The corporate reformers filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for more than 1,000 emails written by Michelle Fine, who is a professor the City University of New York and a vocal critic of privatization and high-stakes testing.

 

Why Montclair? Montclair not only has parents devoted to their local public schools, it also is home to some of the most celebrated luminaries of the corporate reform movement. Voila! A clash of David and Goliath!

 

As Stan Karp explained in this article contrasting the two faces of “reform” in Newark and Montclair, Montclair adopted a mayor-appointed board to maintain its integration policy. But times changed, and in the current political context, the appointed board brought in a Broad-trained superintendent, whose actions deepened the divisions.

 

Karp wrote:

 

As the policy context for education reform has changed, the appointed board has become increasingly contentious.
It was against this backdrop that, in the summer of 2012, as Cami Anderson was hollowing out Newark, Montclair hired a new superintendent. Penny MacCormack was new to the state, had never been a superintendent, and wasn’t known to many in Montclair. But those who track state education politics knew she had been a district official in Connecticut who was recruited by Cerf to be an assistant commissioner in Christie’s DOE. The department had received several grants from the Eli Broad Foundation and was staffed with multiple Broad “fellows.” MacCormack, Cerf, and Anderson all have Broad ties.
MacCormack was at the N.J. Department of Education for less than a year when she suddenly resurfaced as the new Montclair superintendent without any public vetting, a clear sign the board knew this was a controversial hire.
Her welcome reception began with a video about the origins of the magnet system in the struggle to integrate the town’s schools. Some honored town elders who had played key roles were in the audience. MacCormack awkwardly attempted to connect her vision to the compelling town history framed in the video. Despite the town’s commitment to equity, she said, wide “achievement gaps” remained, and addressing those gaps would be her No. 1 priority.
MacCormack didn’t pledge to restore the equity supports that had been eroded in recent years or challenge Christie’s budget cuts. Instead, she announced that the Common Core standards and tests, and the state’s new teacher evaluation mandates, would “level the playing field” and “raise expectations for all.” “And,” she said, “I will be using the data to hold educators accountable and make sure we get results.”
After she finished, a latecomer took the floor and told the audience how lucky Montclair was to have MacCormack come to town. It was Jon Schnur, the architect of the Race to the Top. He also lives in Montclair. We later learned that Schnur was MacCormack’s “mentor” in a certification program she enrolled in after being hired without the required credentials to be superintendent.
In Montclair, there was no formal state takeover and no contested school board elections. Instead, the long reach of corporate education reform had used influence peddling, backdoor connections, and a compliant appointed school board to install one of their own at the head of one of the state’s model districts.

 

Over the next few months, MacCormack’s plans took shape, drawing on a familiar playbook. There was major shuffling at central office; experienced staff were replaced by well-paid imports. Half the district’s principals were moved or replaced.
The new superintendent created a multiyear strategic plan: a 20-page list of bulleted goals, strategies, and benchmarks. One stood out. MacCormack wanted to implement “districtwide Common Core-aligned quarterly assessments in reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, and science” from kindergarten through 12th grade.” The proposal quickly became a dividing line.

 

The school board backed McCormack’s plan for Common Core and more frequent testing; a large number of residents pushed back against the quarterly tests, forming a group called Montclair Cares About Schools (MCAS). The parents held public forums and collected signatures for petitions.

 

But then things took a bizarre turn:

 

A few days before the first quarterlies were to be given, things went completely off the rails. Emails began circulating that some of the tests had been found on an internet scavenger site, GoBookie, which robotically scoops up and sells documents without authorization.
The news traveled quickly. The board called an emergency meeting to initiate an investigation, not just into the source of the released tests, but also into “other incidents of conduct that may be contrary to the board’s best interest.”
The board began issuing subpoenas. It sought one board member’s private emails and phone records, and warned teachers not “to destroy any emails or documents related to the investigation.” It even went after anonymous critics on local social media sites, issuing subpoenas for their internet addresses so the critics could be questioned.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey stepped in and told the board their subpoenas were a gross violation of free speech rights. Still, the board pressed its investigation through months of turmoil and mounting legal fees. Finally, a state agency quietly confirmed that the tests had been posted online in error. The furor was fueled by a mistake, not an act of sabotage.
The episode dealt a serious blow to the board’s credibility. It also reflected the distorted priorities of corporate reform. As LynNell Hancock, journalism professor and grandmother of a 5th grader, wrote on Valerie Strauss’ education blog: “This is a Montclair I hardly recognize. It’s not the children, the quality of the schools or the town’s democratic values that have changed. It’s a paradigm shift in school leadership, a top-down technocratic approach that narrows its focus to “fixing” schools by employing business strategies—more testing, more administrators, limited interference by the public or the teacher union.”

 

As matters heated up, with charges and countercharges, Superintendent McCormack abruptly resigned to accept another job.

 

But the avengers of corporate reform did not give up in their battle for control.

 

Mark Naison wrote this week:

 

In Montclair NJ, a strong coalition of parents and educators has resisted, and pushed back corporate reform. This in the very town where so many of the national ed deformers live.

 

After a two year struggle, the Broad Academy Superintendent resigned, leaving behind an $11.5 million dollar deficit. Within a week, the mayor, the President of the Montclair Teachers Association and the Board of School Estimate resolved the budget crisis with little loss to staff positions. And by the end of the year, we enjoyed a 48% opt out rate on the PARCC, a new pro-public education interim Superintendent and Board of Education. Education may be back in the hands of educators.

 

But in this town where national reform luminaries live, they have not swallowed defeat gracefully.

 

With substantial funding, they formed Montclair Kids First and hired Shavar Jeffries, who ran for mayor in Newark and lost on a pro-charter platform, as their lawyer. Jeffries went to work bringing ethics charges against a progressive town councilman, relying upon the Open Records Act to extract emails of key progressive board members, principals and the President of the teachers union and FOILed more than 1000 of Michelle Fine’s emails over two years.

 

Watch out, hide the kids. MCAS and CUNY are coming after Montclair Schools!

 

MKF (and the MSW laundered emails on their blog) came looking for the union(s); external funding; a national game-plan; a proxy relationship to Diane Ravitch. They found no money or funding, just parents and a community organizing to save public schools from the tentacles of reforms. These are the tired tactics education reformers use: They live in a world of opposition files created for their critics. They throw money to fund their reforms; they throw money to silence their opponents. But when they find nothing, they resort to tactics like this—their latest propaganda piece, a movie version of private emails.
But propaganda can be a tricky thing. MSW posts are no more accurate now than they were before they had access to private emails, full of misattributions and ideas out of context. Expensive glossy MKF mailers bring on the tired reform narrative of failing schools only to be corrected by parents and school officials; and their recent propaganda film has popped up, like a jack in the box clown, above Michelle Fine’s many wonderful talks on race, justice, and privatization of education—an unintended counterpoint to their silly video. And if MCAS weren’t enough, they now claim CUNY is after Montclair Schools! Cue up the eerie music and dial up your paranoia. Enjoy the sounds and images of desperate reformers looking for your support.

 

Video
https://youtu.be/Q7uBr7TnCQM

 

 

 

The Wisconsin legislature is considering a bill sponsored by two suburban Republican legislators that would allow a state takeover of the city’s lowest performing schools, which would be turned into charters or voucher schools. None of this is new to Milwaukee; it has had a charter sector and vouchers schools for 25 years. The public schools outperform the other sectors. Well, let’s see what happens? Does Governor Scott Walker and the Legislature listen to the citizens of Milwaukee or do they listen to ALEC and the Koch brothers?

The Milwaukee Common Council overwhelmingly passed a resolution opposing the state takeover:

Milwaukee Common Council Adopts Resolution Firmly Opposing Kooyenga/ Darling MPS Takeover Proposal
Filed under: MPS Takeover 
Introduced by Alderperson Tony Zielinski and adopted by the Milwaukee Common Council on June 21 2015

Resolution opposing the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program proposal currently pending in the Wisconsin Legislature.

This resolution expresses the City’s opposition to the provisions of the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program proposal currently pending in the Wisconsin Legislature.

Whereas, The proposed Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program currently pending in the Wisconsin Legislature provides that the Milwaukee County Executive oversee the turnover of up to 5 struggling Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) district schools to public charter or private voucher school operators; and

Whereas, The proposed program would diminish the power of Milwaukee City residents to control their public school district by allowing non-City residents to indirectly control the operation of certain City public schools by playing a part in the election of the Milwaukee County Executive who would have the authority to intercede in MPS operations; and

Whereas, Turning over struggling MPS schools to public charter and private voucher school operators is no guarantee of success given the fact than many public charter and private voucher schools have been no more successful than MPS in improving the performance of low-performing schools; and

Whereas, A change in governance of struggling MPS schools offers no promise to remediate the root cause of poor performance in low-performing public schools and seems a thinly-veiled attempt by the state to privatize public schools; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, By the Common Council of the City of Milwaukee, that the City of Milwaukee opposes the provisions of the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program proposal currently pending in the Wisconsin Legislature; and, be it

Further Resolved, That the City Clerk shall forward copies of this resolution to members of the City of Milwaukee’s delegation to the State Legislature and Governor Scott Walker.

A comment from Florida:

 

 

Making public education unbearable is all part of the privatizers’ plan to destabilize public education. I hear parents discussing alternative placements for their children other than public schools here in Florida because the public schools are “mostly about testing.” This is Jeb Bush’s legacy. Recently Jeb Bush met with Governor Scott in what the media termed an “education summit.” It was probably like a couple of hyenas trying to decide which end of a fallen zebra to strip first.

Bob Braun reported it first, and Jersey Jazzman tells the rest of the story: The hot rumor in New Jersey is that Cami Anderson will resign as the state-appointed Superintendent of the Newark Public Schools and be replaced by Chris Cerf, who most recently worked for Joel Klein at Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify and before that was State Superintendent for New Jersey (who appointed Cami Anderson). It is a tight little circle.

 

Why would Cerf leave Murdoch’s Amplify? Murdoch’s $1 billion investment earned only $15 million in the first quarter. Amplify is cutting costs and laying off employees, and apparently Cerf lost his chair in the game of musical chairs.

 

Bob Braun writes:

 

Rumors of her impending resignation have been echoing throughout the school system for the last few weeks–sparked primarily by her apparent decision to empty her office. Employees at 2 Cedar Street have said her office has been empty for days. Cerf’s departure from Amplify Insight fed the rumors.

 

Still, there has been no confirmation from Trenton and the last word from Gov. Chris Christie on the subject of Newark is that he is not “changing my opinion.”

 

In the last few days, Anderson also has caved in on significant decisions–to make both East Side High School and Weequahic High School, both iconic institutions in the city, so-called “turnaround” schools.

 

The sources who reported Anderson’s resignation and Cerf’s appointment say they expect a formal announcement Monday or Tuesday. The Newark school board is expected to meet Tuesday night at a regular monthly meeting. Anderson has not attended a public session of the board since January, 2014.

 

No one can say for sure if this will happen, if Cami will resign, if Cerf will be appointed, or if it will make any difference in the state’s determination to charterize the entire district.

 

Newark matters for the nation because it has been under state control for 20 years. Privatizers latched on it as a source of fun and profit. Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift disappeared into the pockets of consultants and entrepreneurs. Cory Booker ascended to the Senate.

 

Newark is a symbol of the corporate reformers’ belief that school districts in urban areas are different: They cannot govern themselves; they must be controlled by the mayor, the governor, an emergency manager, or handed over to entrepreneurs.

 

At the annual conference of the Network for Public Education, Jitu Brown of Journey for Justice called this neocolonialism. In her book Charter Schools, Race and Urban Space: Where the Market Meets Grassroots Resistance, Kristen Buras describes the process of privatization thus: First the state (controlled by the white majority) underfunds the majority-black district; political leaders condemn the district as failed and corrupt; then the state determines that it must take charge of the district (in this case, New Orleans); the state changes the rules for declaring “crisis” and “failure,” and turns large numbers of public schools into charter schools, run by white entrepreneurs; the white leadership hires black spokesmen to celebrate the success of privatization; as control shifts from the black majority in the district to white entrepreneurs and privatizers in the state capitol, hundreds of millions of dollars flow freely to the new charter schools to prove that privatization works. With control of the state department of education, the corporate reformers own the data, and no one has independent data to challenge their claims. And that is what Jitu Brown calls “neocolonialism.”

Julian Vasquez Heilig urges you to watch Shannon Puckett’s “Defies Measurement.” Like Peter Greene, he says it is a terrific film about the way that corporate reformers are destroying public education.

 

I watched it too. It is a comprehensive look at corporate reform and how it destroyed one very successful school. It is now destroying thousands of public schools that are the heart of their communities.

 

The film is online and free.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The latest poll shows that most Hoosiers want a new governor. 54% want a new governor. Less than a third say they want to re-elect Pence.

Two issues loom over Pence. One was his early support (and then retraction) for a bill that would have allowed people to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation (it was only when major corporations threatened to leave Indiana that Pence changed his views on the bill). The other is education, where Pence has continued hhis predecessor Mitch Daniels’ agenda of privatizing public education.

Go, Hoosiers! Get a new governor who cares about children, public schools, and the future of Indiana and the nation!

Matthew Pulver, writing at Salon.com, describes Jeb Bush’s dangerous belief in privatization and free markets in education.

It is not so much a belief as an ideology, one that is impervious to evidence. The many studies showing thAt privately managed charters do not get higher test scores than public schools do not register with Jeb. The numbers of charters that open with grand promises and soon lose their doors with big debts does not affect his belief system. He is a zealot for school choice, period.

Not even the failure of the charter school he founded in Liberty City, a poor black neighborhood, dampens his passion for charters and vouchers.

Writes Pulver:

“There’s nothing else as large in all of society. Not the military—nothing—is bigger.”

“That’s how Randy Best, Jeb Bush’s business partner, sees public education, as an untapped market where untold billions are to be made when kids and their families become educational customers. Touting his impressive assault on public education while Florida governor in yesterday’s announcement of his 2016 candidacy, Bush may become the loudest proponent yet of turning public education into a for-profit enterprise.

“Before getting into Bush’s record and financial interests in for-profit education, a full understanding of the dystopian horrors of for-profit, privatized education is necessary. Bush offers it with a handful of Milton Friedman-esque catchwords and focus-grouped slogans, and it may be that the proposals sound innocuous and vaguely innovative until the slightest scrutiny is applied to the ideas — at which point, it’s difficult to imagine much worse than public education turned into a for-profit market. Because the most basic and collectively understood truisms about markets, when applied to children, take on a horrifying character.”

It should be noted that Bush’s partner, Randy Best, was one of the biggest beneficiaries of Reading First, the ill-fated program enacted as part of NCLB but eventually discontinued because of sweetheart deals and conflicts of interest. Best, an entrepreneur, not an educator, created a commercial reading company (Voyager Learning), which he later sold for $360 million. Best admits that he can’t read, that he is acutely dyslexic. But he knows how to make money.

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