Educational Opportunity and Creative Development


The Billionaires’ War Against Public Education
Truth-Out | July 8, 2013 
“….the two most recent high-profile films about public education – the documentary Waiting for Superman (2010) and Hollywood’s Won’t Back Down (2012), starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis – portray our public schools as beyond reform and redemption.

…It is no accident that both films promote similar themes. Both were produced by Walden Media, which is owned by Phil Anschutz, a right-wing businessman who owns two of the nation’s premier conservative publications (the Weekly Standard and the Washington Examiner) and whose foundation has donated $210,000 to the antiunion National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund. Anschutz is also a backer of Americans for Prosperity, the political war chest founded by the right-wing Koch brothers…

…Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates – America’s richest man, who has donated a substantial part of his fortune to various efforts to privatize public schools and appears in Waiting for Superman – helped fund the film and sang its praises at various film festivals.

… Murdoch has long hoped to get a piece of the education system, which he once described as a ‘$500 billion sector in the US alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed.’” Read more…

Venture Capitalists Are Poised to “Disrupt” Everything About the Education Market
Truth-Out | September 29, 2014 

“[T]he education market is ripe for disruption.” said the head of a Wall Street venture capital firm in 2014. An article about this plan for disruption in The Nation noted that: “The explosion of investor interest in education raises a number of questions, among them: What kind of influence will the for-profit education sector attempt to exert over education policy? And if school reform is crafted to maximize the potential for investor profit, will students benefit, as boosters claim—or will they suffer?”

Writing about the head of another venture capital firm, GSV Capital, The Nation reported in 2014: “Like any sweeping manifesto, his education reform blueprint sets the stage by listing massive social upheavals—the Arab Spring, the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Spanish Civil War—and asks, for the ‘Second American Revolution,’ one fought to decide the fate of education policy, ‘Which side of history will we be on?’

“The revolution GSV goes on to describe is a battle to control the fate of America’s K-12 education system. Noting that this money is still controlled by public entities, or what’s referred in the document as ‘the old model,’ the GSV paper calls for reformers to join the ‘education battlefield.’” [Emphasis added.] Read more…

How Wall Street Power Brokers Are Designing the Future of Public Education as a Money-Making Machine
Truth-Out | December 11, 2013

“This is about corporate control of taxpayers’ money,” says Verdaillia Turner of the American Federation of Teachers. The private sector “already has part of the military, some of the roads, that kind of thing. The new money pot is education. Valued at $1.3 trillion, the U.S. education market is more like a giant cauldron, and many of the individuals stirring it have a long track record of funding pro-charter candidates for state government across the country.

“As [Rocketship Education’s] investments in the Atlanta Public Schools race indicates, they’re setting their sights even further down the food chain, pumping big money into local school board elections, which have historically been the stuff of door-to-doors visits, town hall meetings, and fundraisers that yield a few thousand, or even just a few hundred dollars in campaign funds. As a result of their interest, it’s increasingly common for pro-charter school board candidates to outspend their opponents six to one, in races that are fast becoming the new front in the battle to privatize public education.” Read more…

Education For Sale
Public Goods Post | May 2017

“For the past several decades, Wall Street, venture capitalists, and private-for-profit education companies have been working diligently to privatize American public education … The diligence of the privatizers is paying off for them. For-profit charter schools and voucher systems have taken hold in communities across America. Between 1996 and 2012, the number of for-profit companies running charter schools grew twenty-fold from five to ninety-seven.

Losing Our Libraries
Public Goods Post | September 2017

Public libraries are one of our most easily recognizable public goods. Most everyone knows that local public libraries are free to all, and most understand that this is because these libraries are supported collectively, by our taxes. But until citizens voted in the 1800’s in the U.S. to support the first public libraries, access to collections of books depended upon one’s wealth.

This Post is prompted by the potential loss or degradation of yet one more public library in the United States – in this case the one in Escondido, California, which may be privatized.

Privatizing public libraries does not mean that taxpayers stop paying the cost. No. What it means is that the operation of the library is contracted out to a private, for-profit corporation. Taxpayers keep paying —  but in order to meet the profit requirements of the newly engaged private operator, one of two things must happen: either the cost to taxpayers must go up or the quality of services must go down. Read More …

The Quiet Revolution and a Submerged Para-state
Public Goods Post 
Under normal circumstance, it would be safe to assume that “public goods” are delivered by public agencies.  But current circumstances are far from normal.  Over the last several decades, more and more public goods have been delivered by a para-state, a privatized government virtually hidden from view. We taxpayers still pay, but our money goes to a growing army of corporations on the public payroll.

Private corporations operate programs, deliver services and even manage other contractors. Some citizens receiving public services encounter only private contract workers, so are unaware that they are receiving a government service. While some forms of contract procurement have been in place since the nation’s birth, the very nature of contracting has changed as it has grown in scope. Basic governmental functions are now outsourced to for-profit corporations. Read more…