Audrey Watters asks the question that we should all be asking: is our democracy for sale to the candidate with the most billions? 

Apparently our schools sold out years ago when money was dabbled before them.

People who take money from that powerful education foundation — you know the one, the one that turns 20 years old this year — always insist to me that they’ve never been compelled to change their policies or practices. Of course, it doesn’t have to coerce its grantees to say and do things. People self-censor. They shape their initiatives to suit the foundation’s philosophy and its goals. They value the things the foundation says it values; they measure the way the foundation says it measures. Because if they rely on the foundation for funding, they know to fall in line. They needn’t be told. That’s how the power of philanthropy works. It sets the agenda. Personalized learning. The Common Core. Charter schools. Measures of Effective Teaching. It didn’t push for these ideas because that’s what people wanted. It helped convince politicians that these were the ideas that education needed. That is to say, education policy has not been shaped by democratic forces as much as it has been by philanthropic ones — by the billionaires who wield immense political power through their “charity.”

Actually, I don’t blame schools—few of whom had a say in decisions to follow the Gates money trail—so much as I blame the policy elites, who fell in love with the idea of sitting at the feet of billionaires and following their commands. The billionaires didn’t know what they were doing, but they were so confident in the virtues of testing, accountability, competition, choice. Who could resist?