Saturday, June 10, 2017

When Philanthropists Rule: Part Two of a Review of "The Givers" - Living in Dialogue

When Philanthropists Rule: Part Two of a Review of "The Givers" - Living in Dialogue:

When Philanthropists Rule: Part Two of a Review of "The Givers"

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By John Thompson.
As explained in this previous post, I began David Callahan’s The Givers with a commitment to avoid confirmation biases. As he notes, plenty of teachers (like me) detest corporate school reform. But, even if Callahan had concluded that education philanthropists produced significant gains in student performance, his narrative would have raised alarms about the longterm growth of the new donor class.
Second, despite the damage done by the new edu-philanthropy, I remain an incorrigible optimist. I wasn’t prepared for such a persuasive case that a new type of donors was leading to a “benign plutocracy.” But, Callahan shows how they’ve created “a clash of philanthropic titans, with ordinary Americans on the sidelines.”
The Givers begins with the first politicized think tanks of the 1960s and 1970s, such as the American Enterprise Institute. The AEI may have been one of the more intellectually honest of the conservative alternatives to academic research, but it is still a shame that it didn’t abide by the rules of evidence that apply in universities.  These first generation think tanks were designed to “excel at framing the terms of public debates” and “wage big-picture ideological warfare.”
The success of right wing advocacy organizations contributed to the “income chasm” and the inequality of our “Second Gilded Age.” Federal domestic discretionary spending is the lowest in five decades, meaning that there is more need for private donations. The conservative movement won tax breaks, as well as the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. This has enabled elites to “buy megaphones that often drown out the voices of ordinary people.”
The rise of Silicon Valley prompted the growth of what ProPublica’s Jesse Eisenberg called “a society of When Philanthropists Rule: Part Two of a Review of "The Givers" - Living in Dialogue:
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