The Department of Education and school districts throughout the United States are working with billionaire families such as the Waltons and Hastings to undermine public education, Dustin Bielke reports. Instead of defending public education in pursuit of equity for all students, the Department of Education (DoE) is working with organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—an alliance of corporate lobbyists and state legislators—as well as local chambers of commerce to encourage the conversion of public institutions into private charter schools.
A December 2015 DoE presentation showed that the federal government had spent over three billion dollars of tax-payer money to boost charter schools, supporting an uncritical assessment of how effective charter schools actually are. Beilke describes the 25-slide overview of the DoE’s charter schools program as “an uncritical PR document embracing a magical idea of charter schools.”
According to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), although many charter schools have failed and closed in the last twenty years, the DoE continues to provide significant funding to promote them. An October 2015 CMD investigation, “Charter School Black Hole,” uncovered how much the federal government has invested in charter schools, as well as the DoE’s ties to ALEC. As Beilke reports, a slide from the December 2015 DoE overview of its charter school program acknowledged that it had spent $3.3 billion to “to “fund the start-up, replication and expansion of public charter schools.” However, Bielke reports, “CMD was unable to extract this number from DOE despite inquiries and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests since 2014.” The actual figure may be higher, because the list of charter schools receiving DoE funding appears to have been incomplete, Beilke reports.
As he concludes, “the Department of Education’s charter school agenda matches that of the anti-education, pro-privatization movement that funds and promotes so much of the misinformation about public education.”
Source: Dustin Beilke, “Feds Cheerlead for Charter Schools, Aiding Private Philanthropy’s Takeover of America’s Public Schools,” PR Watch, January 20, 2016, http://www.prwatch.org/news/2016/01/13019/feds-cheerlead-charter-schools-aiding-private-philanthropy’s-takeover-america’s.
Student Researcher: Karina Seiler (College of Marin)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)