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Abington PA School Board Accedes to Billionaire: Names New School For Him

March 29, 2018

Here, in it’s entirety, is an AP report on the Abington (PA) School Board’s decision to re-name it’s High School:

ABINGTON, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania school board has approved a plan to rename a public high school after Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman, an alumnus who is donating $25 million to the school.

Abington Senior High School would be renamed Abington Schwarzman High School under the plan approved Tuesday. The agenda for the school board meeting says Schwarzman agreed to make the donation in exchange for naming rights, among other things.

A news release announcing the gift last month made no mention of a name change. It said the move was part of a larger effort by Schwarzman to make public schools more open to private donations and to encourage other wealthy donors to support public education.

Billionaire’s substantial donations to their private college alma maters is nothing new nor is naming facilities and classrooms on campuses for those donors. Indeed, Leland Stanford, Andrew Carnegie, and Cornelius Vanderbilt have entire colleges named for them and countless business titans have graduate schools named in their honor. But public schools are supposed to be a different entity altogether. They are supposed to be funded exclusively by the public who, presumably, provides enough funding for the children in their State to fulfill the so-called American Dream where their hard work, diligent study, and positive attitude will enable them to advance economically. When billionaires begin supporting education, it will only make the equal opportunity for schooling more difficult than it is already…. and it is apparently nearing impossibility given the unwillingness of states to increase their broad-based taxes and unending willingness to provide incentives for low-wage businesses to build in their states and/or communities.

And one of the problems schools face is when they name a school after a generous billionaire, their school and community endorses that individual’s life style and the ethos of the corporation they led that yielded their fortune. Stephen Schwarzman, who was profiled a year again Vanity Fairmight not be the role model for aspiring students. And Blackstone’s business model, appropriately called vulture capitalism, might not be the ideal template for our economic well-being. But school boards hard-pressed to find the money for the kinds of renovations they need to make to be competitive in the 21st century need to take money where they can find it… and if that means districts with wealthy alumni can build better facilities and offer better programs than districts in poor areas, sobeit. If the American Dream is dying, public school’s reliance on the benevolence of billionaire philanthropist/alumni will ensure its demise.


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