Friday, March 7, 2014

Billionaires co-opt minority groups into campaign for education reform | Cloaking Inequity

Billionaires co-opt minority groups into campaign for education reform | Cloaking Inequity:



Billionaires co-opt minority groups into campaign for education reform

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Under the mantra of civil rights, billionaires such as Eli Broad, Bill Gates and the Koch Brothers and the powerful corporate-funded lobby group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are using venture philanthropy and the political process to press for school reforms in the United States.
The ongoing Vergara law case in California in which nine students are suing the state over teacher tenure laws, is backed by Student Matters, a non-profit that has received donations from the Broad Foundation and the Walton Foundation, run by the Walton family that founded supermarket chain Wal-Mart.
The driver behind the case is a campaign to loosen labour rules in order to make it easier to fire “bad” teachers, under the argument that their presence discriminates against disadvantaged children. Opponents of the case argue that it is a blatant attempt to change the conversation from the realities of California’s divestment in education — the state is 46th in the nation in spending per student in 2010-11, and 50th in the number of students per teacher.
What these organisations and other others such as the the Koch brothersBradley FoundationHeritage FoundationStudents First and Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education – all supposedly supporters of school reform – have as a common denominator is a vision of a profit-based market approach to education.
School vouchers are one of the primary education reform policy approaches pressed by the billionaires and the business lobby. Voucher programs, which provide public funding for students to attend private schools, have become more popular in the US in the past several decades.
Most existing school voucher programs in the US have been small-scale and targeted at low-income students, such as the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program, and the 

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