Who Is Using Political Pressure to Drive Privatization of Public Education?

Who Is Using Political Pressure to Drive Privatization of Public Education?

Groups Bringing Political Pressure

November 7, 2012: Who paid for campaigns for campaigns for ballot issues in Georgia and the state of Washington to expand authorization of charter schools?

October 17, 2012: Matthew Cunningham-Cook, in The Nation, explores Why Do Some of America's Wealthiest Individuals Have Fingers in Louisiana's Education System?

November 17, 2011: Lee Fang explores who's pushing the privatization frenzy in Selling Schools Out.


Venture Philanthropy

The nation's largest philanthropies have been making grants to support the privatization of public education. Researchers note particularly the role of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.

May 28, 2013: Gates Foundation Funds Group to Help Charter Schools.

April 30, 2013: From the NY Times, NewSchools Fund Attracts More Capital.  "NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit that started out channeling philanthropic donations to charter schools... is entering into a partnership with a new venture capital fund that could result in millions more in financing."

March 19, 2013: How School Reform Became the Cause Celebre of Billionaires.

March 2012: Abby Rapoport writes, No Funds Left Behind: As States Slash Education Budgets, Private Foundations Have Picked Up the Slack—and Pushed Some Controversial Reforms.

Winter 2011: Joanne Barkan reports that three large foundations are driving public education policy in Got Dough? Public School Reform in the Age of Venture Philanthropy.


Students First

Students First is Michelle Rhee's nationwide PAC that opposes due process for teachers and promotes privatization including charters and vouchers.

July 8, 2013: In Reforming Michelle Rhee, Jeff Guo in the New Republic describes Students First's investments in Tennessee school board politics.

July 2, 1013: Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst Missed Its Fundraising Goal, Tax Documents Reveal according to Joy Resmovits at Huffington Post.

May 20, 2013: Nicholas Lemann, writing for the New Republic, tells How Michelle Rhee Misled Education Reform.  A very important analysis.

May 16, 2012: Reuters tracks the work of Students First in Activist Targeting Schools, Backed by Big Bucks.


Foundation for Excellence in Education

This is Jeb Bush's advocacy organization that invests in advocacy for grading schools on an A-F scale based on standardized tests; the "Third Grade Guarantee" that holds students back in third grade until they can pass the state tests, and rapid expansion of charters and on-line education.  The organization's executive director is Patricia Levesque.

May 31, 2-13: Valerie Strauss documents Jeb Bush's Disdain for Public Education, as expressed at the May 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference.

May 29, 2013: Joy Resmovits at Huffington Post reports Jeb Bush Attacks Public Schools: "They Dumb Down Standards."

April 3, 2013: Tampa Bay Online: Critics Rap Actions of Jeb Bush's Education Foundation.

November 27, 2012: Stephanie Simon reports for Reuters that Jeb Bush, With Cash and Clout, Pushes Contentious School Reforms.

November 17, 2011: Lee Fang explores who's pushing the privatization frenzy in Selling Schools Out.

Democrats for Education Reform

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) was founded by a number of New York hedge fund managers as a PAC to support the expansion of charter schools across the states.

Spring 2011: Kevin Welner, Director of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Education, critiques Free-Market Think Tanks and the Marketing of Education Policy.

DFER-Watch is a website that tracks and critiques the work of Democrats for Education Reform.

American Legislative Exchange Council

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is an organization formed, according to its website, to promote the free market and limited government. ALEC's membership includes approximately 2,000 state legislators who work with representatives of member corporations to craft model leglislation that is then introduced in legislatures across the states. In recent years ALEC has supported not only the Stand Your Ground laws like the one that George Zimmerman cited in his own defense after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Florida, but also laws supporting vouchers, cyber-charters, the so-called parent-trigger laws, and laws that attack teachers' rights and due process.

Here is the website of a Center for Media and Democracy's project designed to explore and critique the workings of ALEC,  ALEC Exposed.

2012: In depth report released from Right Wing Watch at People for the American Way: Predatory Privatization: Exploiting Financial Hardship, Enriching the 1%, Undermining Democracy.

May, 2013: Julie Underwood, Dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin warns: School Boards Beware: Influential National Network Calls for Elimination of School Boards.

December 11, 2012: Michigan passes "Right to Work" containing verbatim language from ALEC model bill.

October 8, 2012: Blogger Audrey Walters explores ALEC, Ed-Tech, and the Privatization of Education.

September 27, 2012: Here in this video, The United States of ALEC, Bill Moyers explores the reach of the American Legislative Exchange Council across the statehouses.  It is a scathing video report.

September 2012: From In the Public Interest: Profiting from Public Dollars: How ALEC and Its Members Promote Privatization of Government Services and Assets .

September, 2012: In her Washington Post blog, "The Answer Sheet," Valerie Strauss asks, What is the "United States of ALEC?" The article is filled with helpful links.

July, 2012: Here is a short video that reports on ALEC's efforts to promote K-12, the for profit, virtual on-line education company.  The narrator is Julie Mead, the dean of education at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  Karran Harper Royal is a founding member of Parents Across America.  Gary Miron, of Western Michigan University, wrote the National Educaiton Policy Center's report on K-12.

June 19, 2012: While NY Times Columnist Joe Nocera focuses on cuts to municipal services that are part of ALEC's playbook, in When ALEC Takes Over Your Town, the same philosophy undermines support for all public services, including public education.

May 1, 2012: Diane Ravitch explains What You Need to Know about ALEC.

April 20, 2012: In Controversial Policy Group Casts Long K-12 Shadow, Andrew Ujifusa explores the role of ALEC for Education Week.

July 14, 2011: ALEC Exposed: Starving Public Schools, by Julie Underwood, dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, summarizes ALEC's agenda regarding public education.

There are other ALEC-like organizations that engage in stealth lobbying under the guise of providing state legislators with education about the issues—education largely crafted by member corporations in their own interest.  Here are articles written to expose these lobbying efforts that are unregulated and unknown: Uncovering the Other ALECS, and Exposed: The Other ALECs' Corporate Playbook.


Bradley Foundation

The Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee has been a long supporter of the privatization of public education.  Here is a description from Right Wing Watch.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal describes the Bradley Foundation.