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Money Buys Access to Power and Businessmen are Getting A Good Return on Their Investment

February 23, 2015

Diane Ravitch reported in a blog post yesterday that in New York State the Charter Lobby spent more last year than unions did. Most of Ravitch’s post is drawn from a Capital article that provides a detailed accounting of the spending by public education lobbies, and it proves that the organizations representing practitioners are being vastly outspent by private investors. What the article fails to mention is that the businessmen who are spending their own funds are getting a good return on their investment. Not only are they getting free rent for their charters, they are getting tax breaks that help their bottom line and they are framing the terms of the debate.

As I noted in a comment I left, here’s what is especially problematic: even Democrat Governors, who should be on the side of labor unions, do not want a picture of them meeting with the State teachers union president to appear anywhere in print. They might be seen with the Executive Director of the School Boards Association but even the State Superintendents Association would be hard pressed to get on the schedule of the Governor. Conversely, Governors would gladly appear with the head of the State’s Business Roundtable or a leader of the State’s “reform” movement in education. As a result of this access, the State’s Business Roundtable President will get the ear of the Governor in private while the union president won’t even get a photo op… and the businessmen will eagerly tell the Governor who should be appointed to the State Board or a “Blue Ribbon Committee” on schools while the unions’ thoughts– OR those of the State School Board Association or State’s administrative organizations are not actively sought or valued.

The bottom line: Governors and legislators are hearing only what businessmen tell them and aren’t giving practitioners the time of day… and with 31 Republicans in Statehouses and the majority of the others are neo-liberals like Cuomo I don;t expect to see a pushback against reform any time soon… and I also expect these statehouses to be eagerly awaiting their opportunity to introduce “flexibility” into the Federal mandates.

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