Education

Walker Promotes Education Privatization in D.C. Amid Protests

Teacher ProtestIt seems wherever Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker goes, protesters seem to follow. This rule held true earlier this week in Washington D.C., when Walker used his newly burnished credentials as an extremist to address a forum promoting the privatization of public schools.

The American Federation for Children (ACF) promotes school privatization and voucher schemes that take away critically needed funds for public education to fund private schools. Inside the Marriott, The American Federation for Children's "School Choice Now: Empowering America's Children" policy summit attracted voucher boosters like Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Michelle Rhee, the former controversial head of the Washington D.C. public school system. Outside the Marriott, there were around 200 protesters with signs that read "Public Education Not Privatization," "Save Our Schools," and "Vouchers Aren't the Answer."

Big Money Behind Push for "School Choice" in Pennsylvania

School vouchers

FreedomWorks, the Washington, D.C.-based group chaired by Dick Armey that does not disclose its corporate funders, has been aggressively promoting a measure in Pennsylvania that would divert taxpayer funds to support religious and private schools. FreedomWorks has hosted town hall meetings, run a state-wide radio ad campaign and organized phone call and letter writing campaigns to support SB1, a measure to phase in a new educational system that would give parents taxpayer-funded vouchers to pay for their children to attend private and religious schools. The bill would also increase funding for an existing state program that gives businesses tax credits if they donate to private and religious schools. In addition to FreedomWorks, industry lobbying groups like the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association support the "school choice" measures. A group called Students First, which draws membership from FreedomWorks, recently conducted a "school choice" rally at the state capitol that revealed the group has access to cash and professional organizers. The rally included T-shirts, lunches and posters for hundreds of attendees, and the group uses a professional media adviser and veteran political ad man from Pittsburgh to help organize its events. The Students First PAC, funded by wealthy Philadelphia-area businessmen, first drew media attention after it poured millions of dollars into the campaign of Pennsylvania state senator Anthony Williams, who was running for governor. Williams made school vouchers a cornerstone of his campaign. Williams also co-authored the school voucher bill now before the state Senate.

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The "Badger Advocates": Corporate Advocates, Not UW-Madison Advocates

Madison, Wisconsin -- A new lobbying firm, the Badger Advocates, has opened on Capitol Square.

According to its newly-minted website, the Advocates "are dedicated to supporting the University of Wisconsin-Madison ... [and] will promote greater accountability through enhanced autonomy for this unique institution." This lobbying effort is similar to efforts afoot in other states to use state budget issues to privatize public higher education institutions and put more assets and power at the disposal of powerful corporate interests.

The lobby shop's PR description closely mirrors the title of the Wisconsin Public Research Institute's December 2010 report titled, "Making the University of Wisconsin More Accountable Through Greater Autonomy." WPRI is heavily funded by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a right-wing neo-conservative think tank.

The Looming Assault on UW-Madison

Op-Ed by Steve Horn, Madison, Wisconsin -- This is a story about Scott Walker and Biddy Martin's efforts to dismantle the University of Wisconsin-Madison. To complete the corporatization of the public's university is an important piece of what is happening both in Madison and nationwide. This story must be told before it is too late to save the university that belongs to the people of Wisconsin, and while democratic momentum is still on our side at the University, in Madison, and in the state of Wisconsin. Although seemingly specific to the UW, this is a case study about the future of public college education nationwide.

Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools

The cost of K–12 public schooling in the United States comes to well over $500 billion per year. So, how much influence could anyone in the private sector exert by controlling just a few billion dollars of that immense sum? Decisive influence, it turns out. A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels. In the domain of venture philanthropy -- where donors decide what social transformation they want to engineer and then design and fund projects to implement their vision -- investing in education yields great bang for the buck.

March as "One Nation" on October 2, 2010!

Join as "One Nation" on October 2, 2010 for a giant march in Washington D.C. to demand good jobs now. One Nation describes itself as "a movement of individuals and organizations committed to putting America back to work and pulling America back together." Their key demands are job creation, equal justice, and quality public education for all. Only the Banksters would disagree with that agenda. Learn more about the civil rights, labor and consumer groups supporting this giant mobilization and where you can find your seat on a bus.

Will the Department of Education Crack Down on For-Profit Colleges?

student debtOn every TV channel, commercials for schools like DeVry and the University of Phoenix blare promises of better-paying jobs. Every year over a million Americans respond to these sales pitches. All too often these students receive tens of thousands of dollars in debt and very little else. The Department of Education was expected last week to release new "gainful employment" regulations that would limit the ability of such for-profit colleges to charge exorbitant prices for illusory job gains. Now it seems that the Obama administration is wavering in the face of aggressive industry lobbying. For-profit education is big business in America, and big business means political clout.

For-Profit Schools Leading Students into Debt

student debtAds for private, for-profit colleges and trade schools like the University of Phoenix, ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges, Inc., lure students by leading them to believe that after graduation, they will land well-paying jobs that will help them get to a solid middle-class life.

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