war against teachers and other public-sector unions continues in the
open on January 21, 2016, after a night of inaugural celebrations on
and a stealth eight year assault by the Obama administration.
President Obama, President-Elect Donald Trump, and U.S. Education
Secretary-Designate, Betsy DeVos, are educationally-kindred spirits.
All three were enrolled in elite and private schools from K-12
through higher education: Obama in elite K-12 schools in Indonesia
and Hawaii, and elite private colleges on the mainland--Occidental,
Columbia, and Harvard; Trump at elite K-12 private schools in New
York and the elite Ivy League University of Pennsylvania; and Betsy
DeVos at the elite K-12 Holland Christian Schools and the Christian
Reform Church’s Calvin College in Michigan.
experience in K-12 education is framed through a private lens.
Moreover, they have been advised by friends and/or funders who
rigidly adhere to that perspective. Thus they are more alike than
different, except for party affiliation, and have an abiding
commitment to private education. (Obama had to feign an allegiance
to traditional public education in order to maintain his overwhelming
support from public- and private-sector unions).
the Cartel of private education reformers, to quote the crime
syndicate bosses from the Godfather movie who met in Cuba before the
overthrow of U.S.-backed President Batista in 1959, have power in a
U.S. government “… they can do business with.”
They control three branches of the federal government (the
executive branch, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S.
Senate) and will soon control the fourth branch of government when
President-Elect Trump appoints the ninth Justice to the U.S. Supreme
Court, giving Republicans and the education Cartel a 5-4 conservative
advantages will be used to wipe out the basic foundations of
unionism—automatic deductions, collective bargaining, the
recast of defined public-sector pensions into 401K options, and any
other laws/practices designed to facilitate union success. During
the holiday break, U.S. Education Secretary-Designate, Betsy DeVos,
who has been given carte blanche by President-Elect Trump to
shape his pro-privatization K-12 education policy, has gathered key
members of the billionaire education Cartel to plan a major attack on
traditional public education. She and/or her representatives have
met with Cartel billionaires and millionaires and grassroots, clergy,
civil rights, and political surrogates who will spearhead the
initiatives at the state level.
from the multi-billion dollar Gates, Bradley, Arnold, Walton, Fisher
Foundations, etc.; and the Koch Bros., all of whom provide funding
for corporate education reform in all 50 states, were pulled together
to finalize the master plan for the privatization of public education
via corporate charters and publicly-funded private school vouchers.
The objective is to first target states, where DeVos has used funding
from her American Federation of Children (AFC) to establish a public
education privatization infrastructure that can be quickly enhanced
to bring more corporate charter and voucher programs online.
national strategy is to increase discretionary funding for charter
schools to which Obama allocated more than a quarter billion dollars
during his term in office. This will be done via revisions to the
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The scheme also includes raiding
Title I funding (for disadvantaged students) to fund vouchers and
charters along with new legislation to be passed in the twenty-five
states where Republicans control the legislature and the governor’s
office, and half a dozen more where a Republican governor has aligned
with Democrats to pass education reform legislation through a
is at the top of the list because it has an aggressive system of
voucher and charter schools that DeVos funded during Mike Pence’s
term as governor, 2012-2016: raising the income level for families to
be eligible for vouchers, removing the requirement that students had
to be previously enrolled in a public school before being eligible to
receive a voucher (in 2016, 52 percent of voucher students had never
been enrolled in a public school), and having no financial reporting
requirements for private and religious schools receiving vouchers.
With another Republican replacing Pence in office, Indiana will be
off to the education reform races.
Jersey is another key target as the Democratic party boss, George
Norcross, has worked with Republican Gov. Chris Christie to get him
elected twice (2009 and 2013), downsize teacher pensions and
benefits, and to dramatically increase the number of corporate
charter schools with the aid of Obama’s Race to the Top (RTTT)
law. Norcross also used the collaboration to create his own
corporate charter empire in Camden and to effectively gain control of
the Camden City (Public) Schools where Christie has allowed the
state-appointed superintendent to essentially report to Norcross.
burnish his employment options after he leaves the governor’s
office in 2017, due to term limits and being thrown overboard by
President-Elect Trump, Christie has recently stacked the state board
of education with voucher and charter advocates to continue his and
Norcross’s privatization agenda after he leaves office.
Although a Democrat is expected to succeed Christie in office, it is
unlikely that much in education policy will change as it is widely
expected that Norcross’s current, handpicked president of the
New Jersey Senate, Sen. Steve Sweeney (D), will be reelected by his
caucus in 2017 with Norcross’s assistance and that the
projected Democratic governor is already negotiating with Norcross.
states where DeVos has longstanding privatization tentacles through
her millionaire proxies are: Florida where her AFC henchman, John
Kirtley, has a lengthy track record of developing voucher and charter
schools; Ohio where she has worked with David Brennan to expand
voucher and corporate charter schools through his White Hat
corporation since 1995 and who gave former President George H.W. Bush
enough campaign contributions to get him to propose a federal voucher
program in 1990 (that was defeated by Democrats); and North Carolina
where multi-millionaire Art Pope, who single-handedly flipped both
houses of the legislature and the governorship to Republican control
in 2012, lifted the cap on charters, and installed regular and
special needs voucher programs as the governor’s one
dollar-a-year budget director.
Wisconsin, former Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Howard
Fuller, whom DeVos has funded as the premier African American
national and statewide voucher and corporate charter advocate since
1995, will serve as a continuing education reform ambassador to
communities of color. He will be joined by Kenny Gamble, a black
former legendary R & B producer from Pennsylvania, who has
established a chain of failing corporate charter schools under the
Universal Academy banner which are among the lowest performing in
Philadelphia and Milwaukee as well as running fiscal deficits in both
cities, causing him to recently close several schools. Jeff
Spalding, former executive of the pro-voucher and pro-charter
Friedman Foundation and former head of the Office of
Legislative Administration, which determined the cost of legislation
for the Tennessee legislature, who steered school privatization
funding before being forced out as chair, was one of DeVos’s
most ardent disciples.
the Cartel and its stand-ins have begun to distribute funding to
participate in the elections of local and statewide candidates
running for union offices. Since former Washington, D.C. Public
Schools Chancellor, Michelle Rhee, was able to influence George
Parker, then president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
D.C. local, during 2007-2010 contract negotiations which resulted in
hundreds of teachers being dismissed or sanctioned. (A similar bad
deal was accepted by the Newark, New Jersey AFT local in 2013.)
DeVos and the Cartel have systematically begun taking advantage of
is readily apparent is that the U.S. Education Secretary-Designate
and the Cartel have employed a comprehensive organizing scheme that
has been supported by a bipartisan group of politicians and a diverse
array of grassroots and civil rights advocates. They are now
positioned to storm the castle of public education with a penultimate
school privatization arsenal. But more disconcerting is that DeVos
and the Cartel have formed footholds in the inner sanctums of
traditional public education stakeholders--NAACP, the United Negro
College Fund (UNCF), protestant churches, community grassroots
advocates (in addition to establishing their own), and have co-opted
public education leaders. There has been no corresponding
infiltration into Cartel groups by supporters of public education.