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Est. April 5, 2002
May 24, 2018 - Issue 743

Dismantling Public Education
Wisconsin, New Jersey,
Pennsylvania and North Carolina

"In West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona,
and Colorado - all red states - the Cartel of
corporate education reformers is completing its
third decade of massive funding of efforts to
dismantle and privatize public education in both
blue and red states under Republicans and Democrats."

Trump Updates to the Midterms:

  • Donald Trump has taken another step in authoritarianism by demanding that the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigate the FBI and the Obama administration for spying on his presidential campaign without any evidence that it occurred.

  • He also continues to use Hillary Clinton as a whipping lady for a number of political and federal crimes she allegedly committed.

  • Trump’s consistently dominates cable network news with wild assertions of DOJ’s corrupt practices which feeds the anti-immigrant and xenophobic views of his base.

  • Republican House leaders are following in Trump’s footsteps by also asking for a Special Counsel to investigate the Mueller investigation.

  • Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, has quietly supported Trump while marshalling his right-wing federal district and appeals court judicial nominees through the confirmation process.

While teachers have been righteously protesting for better pay and benefits in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Colorado - all red states - the Cartel of corporate education reformers is completing its third decade of massive funding of efforts to dismantle and privatize public education in both blue and red states under Republicans and Democrats. Beginning in 1990, the Cartel pushed a voucher bill for the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) through the Wisconsin legislature under Republican Governor Tommy Thompson. Since that time, it has expanded the program to several other cities throughout the state. However, during the eighteen year tenure of the program in Milwaukee, along with the establishment of regular and corporate charter schools, the MPS student population has been reduced from 125,000 to approximately 65,000, a decline that parallels the terms of the eight superintendents who have headed the district since 1990. In 2010, Wisconsin’s current Governor, Scott Walker, pushed Act 10 through the legislature which severely limited the collective bargaining ability of teachers and other public-sector workers.

In New Jersey, teachers’ salaries were flat lined, their contributions to their benefits and pension packages were dramatically increased, and overall funding for public education declined precipitously under Republican Governor Chris Christie who reduced revenues in the billions of dollars during his eight-year term from 2009-2017. His Democratic successor, Phil Murphy, who was heavily backed by the state teachers’ union, based on his promise to restore funding for public education, has not honored his commitment during his first budget. But more disturbing is that the corporate charter schools are expanding at a rapid clip in New Jersey’s large, medium, and small districts. Newark’s charter school student population is nearly equal to the number of students enrolled in its traditional public schools, and they are being promoted by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who was recently elected to a second term. He has received more than a million dollars from Cartel members and allies during his two mayoral campaigns.

Jersey City has also ramped up its number of corporate charter schools, while the state is decreasing funding for the district which requires that it make additional cuts so that it can meet the required payments to the escalating number of charter schools in its service area. The Trenton and Camden City Schools are being systematically taken over by corporate charter schools as the Cartel has installed its own superintendents to spearhead its corporate charter school agenda. Hundreds of teachers have been terminated and/or forced to retire. An interesting parallel is that the Democrats, the supposed allies of teacher unions, have controlled the Assembly and Senate through Republican and Democratic administrations during the past twenty years while the disassembling and privatization of public education has occurred. The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), the state’s largest teachers’ union, is in a particularly vulnerable situation at present due to its attempt to defeat the Democratic Senate President, Steve Sweeney, in his 2017 reelection bid which he won in a landslide. During the current term, he has not posted several bills that would have benefitted NJEA, and Gov. Murphy, who is an NJEA ally, does not have the political clout to coerce him to do so.

Pennsylvania, under its previous Republican Gov. Tom Corbett (R), sponsored the massive proliferation of corporate charter schools in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Chester. Although current Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has increased funding for public education and worked to strengthen public schools and support teachers, the Republican control of both houses of the legislature has limited his ability to make major changes. Meanwhile, teachers in North Carolina, a non-collective bargaining state, launched a one-day work stoppage on May 16th to hold a rally at the state Capitol for better wages and working conditions. Republicans also hold veto-proof majorities in the legislature making it difficult for the new Democratic governor to actually initiate or facilitate any legislation on their behalf. Republicans have eliminated teacher tenure, laid off thousands of teacher assistants, cut public school funding, increased the number of voucher and corporate carter schools, and passed legislation to construct special districts for low-performing schools that will be run by corporate charter school companies. A North Carolina Cartel member also single-handedly funded the Republican takeover of the legislature in 2012, elected a Republican governor for one term in 2012, and facilitated eight Democratic African American State Representatives and Senators to hold a press conference to support vouchers and corporate charter schools in 2017 via sizeable campaign contributions.

The aforementioned school districts in red and blue states under Republican and Democratic governors and legislatures controlled by both parties are methodically privatizing public school districts across the country, placing public education in significant jeopardy.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series 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 served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell. 




is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

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