Laura Chapman Finds “Philanthrogovernance by Stealth” in Dozens of Cities: But This is the Tip of An Iceberg
Education blogger Laura Chapman’s research on the long reach of the Broad Foundation was shared in a post yesterday by Diane Ravtich, and Ms. Chapman’s characterization of the foundation’s work as “philanthrogovernance by stealth” is apt. Suspicious of the recent creation of a “local” reform group in Clark County in her home state of Nevada, Ms. Chapman did some digging and found that website of this “local” reform minded group, “Opportunity 180″, indicated it was “…part of the national network of “Education Cities,”… and who was providing the seed money for this organization?
Surprise. Surprise. Surprise. There is the Broad Foundation, not exactly local. If you want to see where else this intended capture of public schools is being engineered, go to the Education Cities Website http://education-cities.org/who-we-are/
A visit to the Education Cities Website showed that Clark County was one of 31 cities where “grassroots” organizations are seeking reform of public schools. And the ultimate source of funding should be no surprise to anyone who follows the privatization movement:
Education Cities are cities where unelected nonprofits, foundations, and civic groups are organized for the purposes of controlling the governance of public education, substituting their judgment for policies and practices forwarded by professionals in education, elected school boards, and citizens whose tax dollars are invested in public schools.
The national work of Education Cites is supported by the Broad Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. http://education-cities.org/who-we-are/our-contributors/.
But as indicated in the title, this is the tip of the iceberg. Because the philanthro-capitalists have won the public relations argument when it comes to “reform”, their ideas of turning public schools over to private charter operators have caught fire and any Chamber of Commerce or local “Leadership” council seeking to impose entrepreneurial ideas into the public sector have sprung up like well fertilized mushrooms in a dark forest.
In the 1990s I worked in Maryland and one of the local businessmen was enamored with the nascent charter school movement in NYC. He bought everyone on the local Chamber of Commerce and the Leadership Hagerstown board copies of “The Miracle in East Harlem” describing the work of Sy Fliegel, a MacArthur genius grant recipient who operated charter schools in NYC. He then arranged to have Mr. Fleigel come to our area and give an address to a group of local business leaders and got the local media to cover the event. While many of the businessmen were drawn to the idea, Fliegel’s ideas did not get traction. In retrospect, I think one of the reasons was because at that time there was not sufficient evidence that the schools in the State or our district were “failing” and in need of some kind of dramatic turnaround. Indeed, at that time the district was showing steady improvement in the indicators the State used in the Maryland State Assessment and Performance Plan. Finally, at that time the notion equity among schools in the State and county was dominant making the notion of “choice” an anathema…. and vouchers, the end game of the “reformers”, were considered to be an extreme vision that would have no applicability whatsoever to either our district or our State.
As I write this I am surprised to realize that these events took place over two decades ago, when MD was led by a forward thinking Governor and excellent State Superintendent. I will be interested to see how MD responds should Ms, DeVos secure the nomination for Secretary of Education. I would not be surprised to find that Mr. Fliegel’s arguments for “…“creative noncompliance” with teachers’-union work rules and the bureaucratic red tape” resonate in 2016 thanks to the insistent drumbeat for “reform” that has dominated discussion since the passage of NCLB.
The bottom line in all of this: the Broad Foundation will not need to go into every district in America to get its message out: the “failing schools” narrative has taken hold and the argument for equity has vanished.