Excerpt from Greg Palast’s new book. He is the author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy – This one’s called Vultures Picnic
Another ominous view…
They have been contributing generously to lawmakers in hopes of creating a friendlier climate for charter schools. More immediately, they have raised a multimillion-dollar war chest to lobby this month for a bill to raise the maximum number of charter schools statewide to 460 from 200.
The money has paid for television and radio advertisements, phone banks and some 40 neighborhood canvassers in New York City and Buffalo — all urging voters to put pressure on their lawmakers.
Teachers unions have historically opposed charter schools — which receive taxpayer funds but are privately run, and whose teachers usually are not unionized — contending that they drain money from regular public schools.
The United Federation of Teachers, the New York City union, has taken notice. It is sending its own message over the airwaves: that fat-cat charter supporters are “spending over a million on false attacks against teachers and public schools.”
Before now, said Boykin Curry, a partner in Eagle Capital Management, who attended the breakfast with Mr. Cuomo, “A lot of hedge fund and finance people in New York had decided state politics was too dirty and focused on their philanthropy.” Mr. Curry, a founder of two Girls Prep charter schools in New York City, added, “I think there’s an awakening now that we can be a force in Albany, but we’ve got to play a tougher game than before.”
A quote from above linked article:
The Faces of School Reform
The Faces of School Reform
By John Tarleton
Retrieved at: http://www.indypendent.org/2010/01/29/faces-of-school-reform/
Led by a band of billionaires, the school-reform movement has gained increasing momentum during the past decade, spreading its reach into urban communities across the country. But instead of truly transforming public schools, private funders want to restructure them. They insist running schools like a business is the solution. At stake is not only control over hundreds of billions of dollars in local, state and federal funding, but also the future of the next generation of schoolchildren.
Net Worth: $50 billion
Using the Gates Foundation as his instrument, the Microsoft co-founder has channeled tens of millions of dollars into transforming large high schools through the schools-within-a-school model. Critics say boutique public schools tend to enroll (or “cream”) the best students while receiving more per-pupil funding than their large-school counterparts. Gates has also allocated large sums of money to help fuel the growth of charter schools.
During the 2008 presidential election the Gates and Broad foundations teamed up to spend $24 million to influence public education policy. Their shared message: Expand charter schools and tie teacher pay to student performance on standardized tests. President Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has tapped top Gates Foundation officers to be his chief of staff and to head the agency’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. Foundation officers are also spearheading the $4.35 billion Race to the Top program, which promises aid to cash-strapped states that eliminate caps on charter schools and agree to place even greater emphasis on standardized testing. “It is not unfair to say that the Gates Foundation’s agenda has become the country’s agenda in education,” says Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.