Home > Uncategorized > Vulture Philanthropists Overshadowed by Tech Philanthropists… and They Like it That Way

Vulture Philanthropists Overshadowed by Tech Philanthropists… and They Like it That Way

September 17, 2018

Peter Greene, who writes the Curmuducation blog, recently wrote a post titled “Stop Calling it Philanthropy” that decried the so-called generosity of the technology moguls who are trying to “reform” education.

In theist he describes the recently widely publicized “reform” efforts of Mark Zuckerberg, Lorene Jobs, and Bill Gates, each of whom has donated substantial sums of money to persuade schools to invest in strategies that will arguably increase their corporation’s profits. But Peter Greene’s protest is more heartfelt. AS a public school teacher he resents seeing some technology titan imposing his or her will on his life’s work in a way that allows them to take credit without assuming any responsibility:

…(the philanthropists) get to feel like philosopher kings and queens without having to do any of the hard parts. And they get to avoid the part where someone of lower stature says, “Your ideas are bad and destructive and dangerous.” It lets them have control without responsibility or consequences for their bad choices.

But I think the situation is even worse than Peter Greene describes… because a lot of the “reform” money is coming from hedge fund philanthropists who made their $$$ as vulture capitalists. These “philanthropists” dodge federal, state and local taxes which starves public schools of the money they need to operate effectively. These same “philanthropists” then invest in “grassroots” tax-exempt organizations, some of whom promote the notion that market competition is the solution to all problems and others of whom promote the notion that standardized test scores are the ideal proxy for “success”. These “philanthropists then persuade the public that they have a “product” that can improve the “failing” schools. In some cases the “product” is a technology-based solution like ECOT, but in most cases the solution is the same blunt instrument they’ve used in the private sector: outsourcing the work to lower wage employees who can deliver the same product for a lower cost.

The hedge fund philanthropists view “failing” public school districts the same way they view “weak” corporations. Their plan is to take them over the same way they’ve taken over businesses in the private sector: by getting enough seats on the boards to dictate the “corporate policy”. They are using their vulture capitalism skills to take over the school boards… then replace experienced teachers with high legacy costs with low-wage charter school chains or CAI companies they operate. They can then pocket the “profit” and use it to start the cycle all over again. These vulture philanthropists look at the tax dollars currently going into public education as a pot of gold… and they are going after the big fish in the urban pond first knowing that eventually the smaller fish will follow.

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