NEA Political Organizer Cynthia Kain delivered the luncheon address today at CEA’s Summer Leadership Conference. She raised teachers’ awareness of the groups and organizations that have launched an attack on public education. See below for a must-read list of resources that add to her comprehensive presentation today.
Kain said that NEA is committed to building a movement for real progressive education reform, but it also needs to expose the real motives and anti-democratic nature of the corporate reformers and privateers. She said these groups are well organized and coordinated, funded by the Walton Family Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and the Gates Foundation.
According to NEA, many of corporate and elite reformers in today’s education reform dialogue are focused on gaining access to the nearly $600 billion that supports the nation’s public schools. It’s all about money, despite the fact that many of the backers of the movement are hedge fund millionaires.
The corporate elites want to scale back government and reduce the cost of public education in general. They make scapegoats out of teachers and unions as they try and deflect attention from their own motives. Kain offered Michelle Rhee and her group, Students First, as an example.
According to Kain, new groups are springing up such as Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). It is known as one of the most anti-union, anti-teacher “education reform” advocacy groups in the country. Democrats for Education Reform is not associated with the Democratic Party.
Kain asked the group, “What do you do with this information?” We need to create stronger allies and community groups, according to Kain. The “other side” has lots more money so we need to link up with other like-minded groups. “We need to redouble our efforts,” Kain said.
Kain mentioned a group with significant history: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Its corporate lobbyists affect public policy in every realm of our society — including education. Those who want to privatize education are willing to spend lots of money and effort to push their agenda. One of the main ways they are doing this is through ALEC.
ALEC has pushed education vouchers, which use public funds to pay for private schools, for years. They undermine educators’ capacity to create great public schools in every neighborhood, by diverting scarce resources that public schools desperately need. Vouchers are only one side of ALEC’s education agenda. If they can’t get public funds for private schools, they try to privatize the public schools.
Summer Ed Reform Reading List
Private firms eyeing profits from U.S. public schools
Jeb Bush, with cash and clout, pushes contentious school reforms
Activist targeting schools, backed by big bucks
Outside Advocacy Groups Target Local School Board Elections: Campaign-cash impact felt close to home
A Smart ALEC Threatens Public Education: Coordinated efforts to introduce model legislation aimed at defunding and dismantling public schools is the signature work of this conservative organization.
Michelle Rhee’s right turn: The school-reform advocate touts her “bipartisan” bona fides, but more and more of her allies are conservatives