Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How Online Learning Companies Bought America's Schools

How Online Learning Companies Bought America's Schools
Lee Fang 

Clink on the link following to access the December 5, 2011 issue. 

This article was reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.

If the national movement to “reform” public education through vouchers, charters and privatization has a laboratory, it is Florida. It was one of the first states to undertake a program of “virtual schools”—charters operated online, with teachers instructing students over the Internet—as well as one of the first to use vouchers to channel taxpayer money to charter schools run by for-profits.

The frenzy to privatize America’s K-12 education system, under the banner of high-tech progress and cost-saving efficiency, speaks to the stunning success of a public relations and lobbying campaign by industry, particularly tech companies. Because of their campaign spending, education-tech interests are major players in elections. In 2010, K12 Inc. spent lavishly in key races across the country, including a last-minute donation of $25,000 to Idahoans for Choice in Education, a political action committee supporting Tom Luna, a self-styled Tea Party school superintendent running for re-election. Since 2004, K12 Inc. alone has spent nearly $500,000 in state-level direct campaign contributions, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. David Brennan, Chairman of White Hat Management, became the second-biggest Ohio GOP donor, with more than $4.2 million in contributions in the past decade.

Lobbyists for virtual school companies have also embedded themselves in the conservative infrastructure. The International Association for Online Learning (iNACOL), the trade association for EdisonLearning, Connections Academy, K12 Inc., American Virtual Academy, Apex Learning and other leading virtual education companies, is a case in point. A former Bush appointee at the Education Department, iNACOL president Susan Patrick traverses right-leaning think tanks spreading the gospel of virtual schools. In the past year, she has addressed the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, a group dedicated to setting up laissez-faire nonprofits all over the world, as well as the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

Copy and paste the link below to access the complete article.

Here is a quick list of supporter of the privatization of public schools:
David Koch
Dick DeVos
Heritage Foundation
Mackinac Center
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
Phillip Anshultz (who has been described as "a reactionary who makes the fascist friendly Koch Brothers look moderate in comparison)
American Enterprise Institute
Americans for Tax Reform
Cato Institute
Center for the study of Popular Cultures
Eagle Forum
Focus on the Family
Manhattan Institute
Hoover Foundation.
What do all these names have in common? They are the movers of the Conservative Movement--financiers, think tanks dedicated to the Koch Philosphy--using legislation written by ALEC.

Provided by Ron Rabatsky

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