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Est. April 5, 2002
November 12, 2015 - Issue 629

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Connecting the Dots
The Cartel Surrogates
in the
Privatization of Public Education
Part I

"The conventional wisdom is that the Republicans
are the major culprits in efforts to privatize public
education. However, the Cartel has long supported
a cadre of Democrats who are equal contributors to
some or all of the privatization of public education
initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels."

Click here for links to all parts of this series

The Cartel pro-privatization of public education corporations, Wall Street financial institutions, and conservative wealthy individuals--led by the Koch Bros. and the Broad, Gates, Walton, Bradley, Arnold and other Foundations--has created an inter-locking syndicate of surrogates to advance its agenda.

Unfortunately, public education stakeholders, teachers, and teacher unions are frequently unaware of and/or unresponsive to the Cartel’s privatization efforts: systematically increasing the number of charter school organizations; rapidly expanding the number of charter schools, virtual charters, and voucher schools; installing Broad Superintendents Academy (BSA)-trained and/or mentored public school superintendents (now numbering nearly 200 throughout the nation from diverse racial and gender backgrounds); raising state and federal funding for charter and voucher schools; and reducing budgets for traditional public schools in most of the fifty states.

These initiatives are implemented via Democrat and Republican federal elected officials, majority and minority Broad public school superintendents, and a comprehensive marketing and organizing strategy. Below is a description of the linkages between the proxies in this scenario which reveals that the Cartel is on the cusp of dismantling public education unless an aggressive counter effort is developed.

Democrats and Republicans: The conventional wisdom is that the Republicans are the major culprits in efforts to privatize public education. However, the Cartel has long supported a cadre of Democrats who are equal contributors to some or all of the privatization of public education initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels. Cory Booker (D-NJ) owes his 2013 election as New Jersey’s first African American U.S. Senator to the Cartel and its allies. Starting with his election to the Newark, New Jersey City Council in 1998 (which it funded), Booker has consistently campaigned for charter and voucher schools, having made the trip to Milwaukee (the shrine for school vouchers) in the late 1990s where he was indoctrinated by the Bradley Foundation under the tutelage of Dr. Howard Fuller, the Cartel’s primary national spokesperson for its public school privatization plan.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2013 (and elected in 2014) as the first African American from the South since Reconstruction, was also funded by the Cartel and likewise champions public school privatization. (It is interesting, indeed, that the two African Americans in the U.S. Senate for the first time since Reconstruction are both pursuing and supporting policies that undermine public education.) They are joined by fellow Democrats, Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and other Democrats, on a bill by bill basis in concert with the overwhelming majority of Republican Senators.

Former Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN), the key Democratic vote in the passage of the 2004 Washington, D.C. voucher bill, was funded by Chris Whittle, founder of the Edison Project, an educational management company which morphed into a charter school company before going out of business. The Cartel has elected pro-privatization Republican governors in thirty-five of the fifty states, including Gov.-elect, Matt Bevin (R-KY), a week ago. And it has also backed Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) who has aggressively expanded corporate charter schools and has promoted the evaluation of teachers via students’ standardized test scores while reducing public school budgets for student instruction. Elsewhere, the Democratic-controlled legislature in New Jersey has endorsed pension and benefits reform at the expense of teachers; increased per capita funding for charter schools, as well as public subsidies for charter school construction; and sanctioned teacher evaluation via students’ standardized test scores, enabling Republican Governor Chris Christie to gain a national reputation for education reform.

This pattern has been replicated in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York, and Wisconsin when Democrats, who collaborated with their Republican colleagues to privatize public education, were in charge. These efforts are being buttressed by superintendents who also embrace transferring public schools and services to the free market.

Broad Superintendents Academy (BSA): As noted in previous columns, the Cartel through the Broad Superintendents Academy (BSA) has created its own training facility to produce superintendents who view public schools as a business and who endeavor to award large-scale contacts to the private sector for testing, software, consultants, and personnel who share their views. Unaccredited, largely staffed by non-educators, and the brainchild of billionaire industrialist, Eli Broad, who serves as the Cartel’s minister of education, the BSA has used its resources and the influence of the Cartel to strategically select and place majority and minority males and females in large and small school districts, targeting urban districts, to carry out its program.

The BSA has also aligned itself with superintendent search firms and has co-opted school boards to position its graduates as the last two finalists for superintendent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Trenton, Newark, and Camden, New Jersey; Wake County, North Carolina; Prince Georges County and Baltimore City, Maryland; and a host of smaller school districts. In other words, Broad and the Cartel have been able to manipulate and compromise the superintendent search process without being caught. However, last summer, after the Montgomery County, Maryland School Board had offered the superintendency to Andrew Houlihan, who served as chief academic officer (deputy superintendent) to Dr. Terry Grier, superintendent of the Houston Independent School District (HISD), and is a Broad acolyte. After a group of local African American leaders and the local NEA affiliate made Houlihan’s Broad connection public, and their intense opposition to his appointment, he decline to accept the job; the school board then agreed to reopen the search. But far too often, public education stakeholders are oblivious to the fact that their district has been taken over by a BSA surrogate until after s/he has begun to disassemble it. Montclair and Highland Park, NJ; Chicago, IL (twice); Rochester, NY; Charlotte, NC; New Orleans, LA; Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, CA; Milwaukee, WI; Cleveland, OH; and numerous other districts have been victims of Broad seizures since 2000. And tens of billions of public dollars have been shifted into private hands, utilizing slick advertising and organizing schemes.

Marketing and Organizing Strategies: The Cartel has supported public school privatization via comprehensive ground and print and broadcast media tactics: door-to-door canvassing of low-income parents to recruit them to enroll their children in voucher and charter schools, sponsoring neighborhood forums and socials for inner city residents in which traditional public schools are negatively contrasted with their private-sector counterparts, generating questionable research studies that allege, without third-party verification, that students enrolled in voucher and charter schools have higher academic outcomes than those in traditional public schools, and the affirmation of these findings by columnist and straight news reporters in national and regional newspapers: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune.

One research example is the detailed study of the KIPP Charter Network by Gary Miron, et. al., a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), that revealed that forty percent of African American males were counseled and/or pushed out of KIPP charters between grades 6 and 8, dispelling the myth, purveyed by KIPP and its supporters, that KIPP has unparalled success in educating black and other students of color. In addition, anchors and contributors on the major cable networks, Fox News (Juan Williams, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, etc.); CNN (Dr. Steve Perry, S.E. Cupp, Don Lemon, etc.); and MSNBC (Joe Scarborough, Harold Ford, Chris Matthews, Eugene Robinson, Jonathan Alter, etc.) have also championed public school privatization as the solution to the challenges of public education.

Thus, the Cartel and its allies are continually bombarding the general population with positive messages about public school privatization from both liberal and conservative perspectives. Although the majority of the U.S. population has historically backed public education, the constant barrage of the alleged merits of school privatization is gradually shifting support to the latter. Public education stakeholders, teachers, and teacher unions are not effectively making the case for the survival of public education. They are not consistently reaching out to their natural constituencies with a counter-argument and advocacy against the Cartel and its surrogates. Additional Cartel proxies working to privatize public education will be examined next week. Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has appeared on the Today Show with Matt Lauer and National Public Radio’s The Connection to discuss public school privatization, and he has lectured to parent, teacher, and union groups throughout the nation. Contact Dr. Farrell. 

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