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Money, Politics, and Public Education

September 25, 2014

One of the education blogs I receive included a link to this chilling report from the NPR station in New Mexico. It seems that Kathy Korte, a school board member in Albquerque, New Mexico, launched a grassroots organization called Stand4KidsNM, “…a statewide movement and social media campaign to oppose what they see as corporate standardization and an overemphasis on testing.” Because education has become intertwined with politics in NM, the group has effectively endorsed the Democratic candidate for governor, who shares their concerns. As a result, Ms. Korte is being slimed by members of the Republican party in the state and the attention of a “GOP opposition research group” from Washington DC. Monica Youngblood, a Republican members of the NM House of Representatives,  has “…alleged that the Stand4kidsNM group is in violation of the campaign reporting act, stating that the group “Raises, collects, expends or contributes money or any other thing of value for a political purpose… advocating the election of (Democrat) Gary King”, all without registering as a political action committee.”  

There is one problem with Ms. Youngblood’s assertion: Stand4KidsNM has not made any campaign contributions to Gary King. There is another problem for Ms. Youngblood and the opposition research group: Ms. Korte is not easily intimidated:

“I’ll be damned if anybody tries to bully me into quiet and submission” she says. “If I am a voice for a lot of  people who are afraid  then so be it, I’ll be that voice, I don’t mind being that voice. There are a lot of people who are afraid ” she says.

“It’s like you know what, if you don’t agree with this then you ought to have the ability to say that, without being scared that you are going to be fired” she says.

The title of this post— “Money, Politics, and Public Education”— reflects what is happening more and more with “reform” opponents like Ms. Youngblood and, as noted in earlier posts, progressives like Bill diBlasio: the people with money are willing to do whatever is needed to marginalize or quiet those who oppose the testing and privatization movement… and, as witnessed in NYS, Democrats are as complicit in this as Republicans.

I read a recent editorial lamenting the difficulty in recruiting qualified people to run for public office. When  outspoken local school board members like Kathy Korte are the focal point of national political organizations it is not surprising that people want to avoid public service… and those national political organizations could not thrive without “dark money”. We need to get money out of politics if we want good people to run for office and if we want to have an informed and reasoned debate about public policy.

 

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