Mommy, Where Does Education Policy Come From?
This is a question that can be answered in a number of ways …
…honey, in an ideal world, it is generated locally…
I don’t typically push a lot of national content on my blog, but yesterday’s blog on the Washington Post by Valerie Strauss is a must-read. In it she details links between Jeb Bush, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Chiefs for Change, ALEC, education vendors funding all three groups, and states implementing the approved menu of reforms. The article is a great read with links worth pursuing yourself, but I’ll summarize the findings in one sentence: Corporations fund the political system in order to enact reforms that require states to spend money with them. Politicians and bureaucrats, it turns out, are cheaper than advertising.
…well, sweetie, when a politician forms an educational foundation, it’s really just a way to keep his name in the spotlight for bigger, better things that may come later…
Bush has his hand in a lot of pies. By keeping his name associated with FEE and these other groups he promotes himself as an altruistic reformer. And for some reason, people believe Jeb Bush (and his brother), with their private school upbringing when they say “it’s for the children” more than they do when teachers, principals and superintendents do. For what it’s worth, FEE’s website lists the following tenets as their reform agenda:
- College and Career Readiness
- Digital Learning
- Effective Teachers and Leaders
- K-3 Reading
- Outcome-Based Funding
- School Choice
- Standards and Accountability
All of these are familiar talking points in Oklahoma except for Outcome-Based Funding, which made an appearance at a committee meeting earlier this week. Diane Ravitch’s blog explains how Arizona is trying to implement this. Basically, all schools would receive the same base funding, but then bonuses would be awarded to those receiving an A or B on the report card. The linkage between school letter grades and community wealth is well established, both by me and real researchers. And their methodology is widely regarded as flawed.
…from people who get paid lots of money to act like they have the best interest of children in mind…
Strauss included this quote from the Center for Media and Democracy to describe the entanglements between policy makers and corporations that benefit from education reform:
Aptly named FEE, Bush’s group is backed by many of the same for-profit school corporations that have funded ALEC and vote as equals with its legislators on templates to change laws governing America’s public schools. FEE is also bankrolled by many of the same hard-right foundations bent on privatizing public schools that have funded ALEC. And, they have pushed many of the same changes to the law, which benefit their corporate benefactors and satisfy the free market fundamentalism of the billionaires whose tax-deductible charities underwrite the agenda of these two groups.
…that’s really more of a grown up story…
You can go yourself here to search for emails between Barresi, SDE staff, and contacts with FEE and other groups. The database is completely searchable. My favorite search terms are “Barresi,” “Waiver,” and of course, “Report Card.” The funny thing about the documents available here is that all parties seem to be writing in the most guarded tones possible. Still, you get the sense that these poor Chiefs for Change, their masters, and their acolytes are a terribly persecuted lot.
I’m bookmarking my favorite emails from the bunch for a later post.
…when you think about it, pretty much the same place babies come from…
First somebody has to get … never mind – that’s a story for a different kind of blog.