John Thompson here writes about his reaction to the annual conference of the Network for Public Education, where the implicit theme was that David is beating Goliath, but Goliath just keeps stumbling forward, crushing public schools and advancing privatization, with no evidence of success. I argued, in the opening address of the conference, that the Reformers are akin to Goliath, and that Goliath has failed and failed again but is so powerful that he continues to wreak destruction on communities. He is among the Walking Dead. He is, in fact, a zombie.

Thompson was a teacher in Oklahoma; he recently retired. He lives in the belly of the beast, a state where Goliathians control the legislature and the governorship. At least they don’t pretend to be “progressives.” They are DeVos-Trump extremists, with links to ALEC and the Koch brothers.

Thompson admits that he was slow in realizing that the Reformers are intent on undermining public schools and that they were acting in concert. But he is convinced now, not only that they are doing so, but that their promises have not been kept and that, in fact, they have failed wherever they set their sights.

He ends with this:

Knowing that Indianapolis is at the heart of the dying, but still dangerous corporate reform movement, I expected that Chalkbeat would choose its words carefully and make sure that its reporting didn’t threaten its donations from Goliath. Chalkbeat Indianapolis didn’t cover the NPE conference but Matt Barnum of Chalkbeat New York has been covering Indiana’s Mind Trust and its successor, the City Fund. (Chalkbeat Indiana has since linked to WFYI Indianapolis’s report on one of the city’s 20 “innovation schools” which is receiving $1.3 million in management fees.)

This leads to the biggest question that I brought to the NPE. We Oklahomans have failed to communicate with our state’s edu-philanthropists on how their science-based, holistic early education and trauma-informed instruction programs and the Indianapolis Goliath are inherently incompatible. We know that the City Fund seems to have its eye on Deborah Gist’s Tulsa Public schools. We could use some help from NPE conference participants in explaining to Tulsa philanthropists why their “portfolio model” is likely to undermine their contributions to high quality pre-k, just like it did in New Orleans.

As a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood and a board member for the ACLU/OK, I developed great respect for the Kaiser and Schusterman foundations and other Tulsa philanthropists. I still struggle to understand how those leaders could not see how their humane, evidence-based programs are threatened by Goliath’s data-driven, reward and punish corporate reforms. But one of the first people I saw in Indianapolis was Tom Ultican, and he gave me information on the $200,000 Schusterman donated to California privatizers such as Antonio Villaraigosa and Marshall Tuck. If nothing else, I would like to explain to the philanthropists why educators can’t lower our guard and stop defending ourselves against their scorched earth tactics. I’d appreciate any help the NPE can provide in explaining why we will fight Goliath to the end.

Imagine that. Chalkbeat has an outpost in Indianapolis, but did not think it was worth its time to send a reporter to cover a conference of 500 educators from across the country that took place in Indianapolis! Is that media bias? Would their funders (Walton, Gates, etc.) have objected if they sent a reporter to write about a major event in their city?