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Over the past few years an ongoing discussion has developed over public education in the United States.  Certain factions in America believe public education is foundering and unable to deliver quality academia.  This belief has been advanced by others who understand there are huge profits that can be had through privatizing education – from elementary to college levels.  Differing opinions and beliefs have led to a major ongoing battle over whether or not to privatize our schools.

For more than 200 years our society prospered and flourished due to public education systems – basic education from early life through college.  Many of the evolving technologies that helped the U.S. prevail in the Second World War were developed by students who attended public schools and universities.  Our space exploration program was advanced in part by those who learned through public education and used that knowledge in this program.  More recently the computer software and hardware development industries were born out of public education and technologies crafted by graduates of our public school system.

Since the early 90’s there has been a relatively unknown network of foundations, think tanks, politicians and organizations (tax exempt) actively pursuing what can only be described as a take-over of public education.  The purpose behind this endeavor is access to and control of over half a trillion dollars spent annually on education.   In order for the public to endorse a switch from public to privately operated education it has been necessary to convince that public that there is a need for such a transfer.  This private education “network” I describe has used political connections to reduce funding for public education in every state in the U.S.  Subtly this changed the landscape of public education; by keeping it from evolving.  Freezing salaries to teachers, larger classes, less personal or one-on-one tutoring of students, reductions in transportation upgrades, charter schools, vouchers and fewer books are some of the initiatives used to attack public education.

The national spokes-organization for this attempt at privatization is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) with funding from Charles and David Koch and their family foundations.  Koch’s money is combined with funding from other foundations representing the interests and agenda pursued by conservatives – including privatization of public education; DeVos, Scaife, JM Olin, Bradley, Coors – and of late, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.   ALEC’s members include companies who will profit off of the software they manufacture for “long distance learning.”  A study by the liberal group ProgressVA, found that ALEC had been involved in writing bills that would:

Encourage school districts to contract with private virtual-education companies."
(One such company was the corporate co-chair of ALEC’s education committee.) The bill was signed into law (In Va. and elsewhere).

ALEC has written several pro-corporate model legislative bills to advance the education privatization goal – including at the college and University level.   They have pursued privatization of public school transportation services in Indiana, Michigan and elsewhere through lobbyists operating as “consultants” (Wendell Cox Consultancy) that wrote such model legislation for ALEC:

“…Principal author of a research project comparing public and private school bus operations for the American Legislative Exchange Council (1990).
ALEC worked for over two decades to cut funding, encourage home schooling, charter schools, education vouchers,  privatize school transportation and cafeteria services, lower teacher wages, eliminate collective bargaining and in support of “long distance learning”.  Each of these efforts has been to increase access to, and extract profits from, public education funding.  With each successful cut in state funding, school administrations have been forced to do more with less.  As funding cuts have reached the tipping point in this great recession, ALEC steps forward with “solutions” to the various failing education problems – with more privatization, not increased funding.

Recently another non-profit corporation surfaced that is providing “free” education to students worldwide on a non-profit basis.  On March 11th, 2012 “60 Minutes” did a segment on the Khan Academy, a non-profit operated by Sal Khan.  The segment extolled the virtues and wonderful work Khan and his academy are doing to educate children all over the world. Segment Producers found Bill and Melinda Gates supported Khan and his concepts as did Google with funding for developing and expansion of Khan’s non-profit program.

While watching the story, the name Sal Khan seemed familiar and triggered a red flag.  I sat down and went over my research and discovered the “red flag” concern was well founded.  I had run across Khan and his academy previously – but they were just names in a larger picture.   Khan was simply an unknown name I came across and dismissed as it didn’t directly relate to the story I was working on.  Now I sat back and began to go over the previous research and concentrate upon this Sal Khan and the Khan Academy and the connections to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Koch funding that was the target of my previous research.

The preliminary source of this Khan/Koch/ALEC connection was at a “2011 Philanthropy Roundtable”  where many of ALEC’s funding foundations, think tanks and others met to discuss philanthropic activities for 2012.  Attending and presenting at this meeting were:

•    Charles Koch,
•    Heritage Foundation
•    Basis Schools, Inc.
•    Goldwater Institute
•    Arizona Charter Schools Association
•    M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust
•    American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
•    John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
•    Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
•    Carnegie Corporation
•    DeVos Foundations
•    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
•    Koch Industries
•    The Federalist Society
•    Alexander Hamilton Society
•    Marilyn G. Fedak Capitalism Project
•    Alliance for Charitable Reform
•    National Center for Policy Analysis
•    Anschutz Foundation
•    Charles R. Schwab, chairman of the board, The Charles Schwab Corporation
•    Institute for Justice
•    Reason Foundation
•    Searle Freedom Trust
•    Sal Khan for Khan Academy
At the meeting, Board members of BSI presented on Charter School operations in AZ.  This was important to me as I had found BSI was looking to expand their operations in my state, Indiana. In researching them further, I discovered that key BSI officials had hard ties to ALEC, Koch and the Goldwater Institute.

BSI is now expanding operations into Indiana.  Their concepts and curriculum appear to be simply a new form of educating based upon Charter schools and not affiliated with any political organization or entity.  However a closer look at BSI revealed disturbing facts: their board is composed of seven members; Craig R. Barrett, Ph.D. President and Chairman, Michael K. Block, Ph.D. Director, Clint Bolick, J.D. Director, Donald V. Budinger, Director, John Morton, Treasurer and Secretary, Terry Sarvas, Director and Steve Twist, J.D. Director.

Here is Michael Block's bio from BSI:

Michael K. Block -
"Michael K. Block serves as the Chairman of the BASIS School Boards. He is the co-founder of the BASIS Scottsdale and BASIS Tucson schools and is the Co-CEO of BASIS Educational Group, an educational management organization for BASIS Schools Inc. Prior to his involvement with BASIS, Dr. Block was a Professor of Economics, Professor of Law and Director of the Office of Economic Education at the University of Arizona. Dr. Block also held positions as a Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Fife Symington’s office, a Commissioner for the United States Sentencing Commission, and the Director of the Center for Economic Studies of the Justice System at the Hoover Institution. He has worked as a consultant to the World Bank, the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Arizona Corporation Commission’s Securities Division, and the Office of the State Attorney General’s Antitrust Division, among others."
Six of the BSI board have ties to several right wing conservative organizations and institutes; ALEC, Goldwater Institute, Institute for Liberty and Democracy, Institute for Justice and through those organizations to the Koch brother’s agenda and funding.  Steve Twist is the founder of Goldwater Institute - a conservative think tank operating out of Arizona affiliated with ALEC.

The Goldwater Institute is funded by Charles G. Koch and many other wealthy cabal members.  Twist and Block have direct links and ties to ALEC and one of its task forces, co-authoring an article for ALEC titled: "Run Away Loses" for ALEC's Criminal Justice Task Force and corporate member American Bail Coalition.  Twist’s SGA company, is headed by Peter Finch and one of Koch’s $1 million dollar donors.

Most BSI board members also have extensive backgrounds in economics – which is another key element of ALEC, conservative think tanks and corporate interests - especially supply-side economics.

Conservatives like to say that the involvement of ALEC or right wing organizations and entities receiving Koch money for particular initiatives is merely coincidental.  They like to suggest that because all associated with Koch and ALEC are "Conservative" and share similar interests about business and what's right for "our" country, it's natural their beliefs and policies coincide.

Time and again on every issue; healthcare, workers rights, unions, voter suppression and as in the instant case - education - the same players, institutes, foundations, individuals, organizations and legislators are equally aligned across the board.  Whether the issue is education, prison privatization, immigrant detention or attempting to privatize our mail service - all research leads back to this same set of players or “Cabal” who have established a modus operandi which we can follow.  
The discovery of Sal Khan and his Academy’s involvement with the Cabal raises significant concerns.  Is Khan simply another 501(c)(3) tax exempt entity that has fallen under the influence of this network?  Are Khan and his program intended to be used to advance this cabal’s overall narrow political policies regarding education?  Does the financial support provided to the Khan Academy by the Cabal come with strings attached – as in the case of Koch’s $5 million endowment to FSU’s Economics department? Only time and more research will tell.

A valid concern in this pursuit of profitization of public education is the lack of actual concern shown for the welfare and education provided to students.  This is particularly problematic to parents with students who have special circumstances; disabilities, are from lower income families or have other special needs.  For each special needs student the costs of education are higher, requiring more one on one tutoring, custom desks and provisions for recreation and attention to possible discrimination or bullying due to their physical or mental differences.  Public education has always made room and accommodations for such students and funding for this was included in annual appropriations without thoughts of “profiting” off of such programming.  Teachers are required to attend training seminars to understand how to instruct special needs students.

With charter schools and long distance learning, companies are able to employ non-accredited instructors for History, Math, Economics, Science and Chemistry classes.  These “instructors” merely have to meet proficiency standards of knowledge in their particular field.  In the case of Sal Khan, he is a former Hedge Fund analyst with no teaching credentials.  Those he is now able to employ through the funding from Gates and the cabal also are not required to have certification as educational instructors for purposes of long distance learning.  As the 60 Minutes segment reports, he is hiring “engineers and designers” to further develop his Academy curriculum.

A side effect of this type of non-profit privatized learning is how this is used to generate corporate profits and further divert students from formal public education.  Consider that ALEC’s corporate members include companies manufacturing and selling the software for long distance learning, companies that provide internet access services, computer companies and companies involved in privatizing public transportation.  Each one has an interest in increasing sales and profits, and otherwise benefitting from a “front” organization such as the Khan academy.  ALEC’s nearly 2,000 state lawmaker members have been advancing this pro-corporate agenda through model bills introduced and passed state by state.

Parents wishing to participate in the Khan program need computers, paid access to the internet and time allocated to providing proper supervision to assure their children are “attending” classes rather than surfing the web or internet gaming.  Many of the responsibilities historically provided by public schools are now being transferred to the parents by these changes from public to private.  Whether stated or not, this reinforces home schooling over traditional education.  The annual internet access alone for millions of students who enroll in such cyber studies is in the tens of millions.  As a long time and key member of ALEC; AT&T, Time Warner and Comcast stands to profit hugely from new customers needing ISP access.  What about those who can’t afford internet access at home?

According to the 60 Minutes video, class studies are done at home the night before “school” by accessing studies over the internet.  Next day at school, students log on to the Khan site and the teacher no longer teaches from a black board or approved and screened educational books   – Instead, instructions from Khan’s software are taught.  The classroom teacher provides individual tutoring if needed.

The future of America is in the hands of today’s students.  Industry, manufacturing, technologies, science and arts have always been apolitical and provided in a manner to allow young minds to rationalize and form their own opinions based upon a broad spectrum of teaching in every subject.  To allow a very politically-minded network access to the education of our children provides students with a slanted curriculum based upon a certain ideology held by a minority of Americans.  This form of teaching will replace accepted broad and diverse narratives of economics, environment and history with a narrow view held by a single political faction.  Education becomes programming.

The following excerpt is taken from “The Integration of Theory and Practice: A Program for the New Traditionalist Movement”, written by Eric Heubeck from the teachings of ALEC’s founder, Paul Weyrich:

New Traditionalists Must Concentrate on Students and Young Adults

“The new movement will inevitably be geared toward children and young adults, especially their education. We will accomplish the goal of retaking our country only when large numbers of young people are educated outside of the indoctrinating environment of many public and private schools, universities, and of course, the popular culture. At this point in their lives, many of their ideas are still in the formative stage, the more so the younger they are. Furthermore, young adults (of college age and above) should be given a large role in the organization of the New Traditionalist movement…

“…College students must be a key audience for our movement..., [We] should consider creating alternative fraternities where traditionalists can live, interact with each other, learn from each other, and socialize with each other. New Traditionalist fraternities can help replicate lifestyles from the past--emulate "civilized" behavior from the past…Members of the fraternities and collegiate study groups should build each other up in every possible way: in terms of public speaking skills, debating skills, physical fitness, intellect, manners, aesthetic sense. It is imperative that our ideas be lived and not merely discussed.

A basic problem is that most bright, creative, dynamic, energetic young people with leadership skills become leftists, and this is why most student leaders--who eventually become the leaders of society--tend to be leftists. New Traditionalist fraternities and collegiate study groups can help reverse that tendency.

The foregoing is a basic tenet of ALEC and their members.  For more than a decade they have pursued this philosophy, as demonstrated by the many legislative bills they’ve disseminated on privatizing education, charter schools and advancing their style of economics, history and environment.

The conclusion I’ve reached is; while the concepts of the Khan Academy may be beneficial to education as a supplement, it should be examined from the perspective of the curriculum offered and those providing it – not at the “free” cost provision.  As shown, those involved in pursuing and advocating the Khan Academy, BSI and similar profitized educational services have a specific agenda.  To them, the message is more important than turning a profit.  

Their concepts follow an ideology of economics, environment, history, religion, evolution and government which are currently unaccepted by a majority of Americans.   To provide education in this way is irresponsible and in a multinational world puts Americans in jeopardy of, for example, appearing ignorant when they proclaim that climate change is unproven science.

The possibility that such outlets are being used to advance a political agenda through educational programming is simply too dangerous to future generations.  To allow or support this kind of education without further critical examination and research would be negligent – and dangerous.  I believe producers of the 60 Minutes segment on Sal Khan failed to thoroughly research the program and its backers and promoters.   Would the 60 minute report have been as supportive if proper researching revealed the ties between Khan, Koch and ALEC’s conservative agenda?  I’m hoping the answer to that is a resounding NO.

My state (Indiana) has made significant cuts to education under the Mitch Daniels administration - to the point that last year it enabled ALEC members to push educational vouchers, charter schools and related legislation down our throats, saying public education has become inefficient and must be replaced through privatization.  The constant cuts to funding of public education in Indiana led to the appearance of inefficiency from financial starvation efforts of the GOP led legislature.

Now we Hoosiers have discovered that the state lost (their word, not mine) $506 million dollars since 2007 by misplacing it in an e-account with the DOR.  First Governor Daniels "found" $300 million last December and then another $206 million earlier this year.

This money was found by Governor Daniels' administration just in time to make some of it available to corporations now moving into Indiana to operate charter schools, and for those same companies who are even now taking over our public schools that have been deemed "inefficient" through a lack of funding.  Daniels cut education funding by $600 million during his tenure...nearly as much as has recently been "found" that could have been used for scholastic purposes and kept the "need" for privatization from happening.  But of course, that would not have fit in with ALEC's agenda.

Lest we forget that Daniels is an admirer of ALEC...take a look at this video:

Daniels speaking at ALEC - 2008

Watch part one of the three part Daniels presentation to ALEC here.

So here in Indiana (as elsewhere) we have an ALEC-friendly Governor and GOP legislature dominated by ALEC members, pushing for privatization of education.  Our Superintended of Schools is on the road lobbying on behalf of Job Bush's non-profit "Chiefs of Change" and ALEC's model legislation.  He is working closely with ALEC's Education Task Force in his lobbying efforts...

...and all of this systematic attacking of education is being done by 501 (c)(3) tax exempt "charitable" organizations operating under a flag of conservatism.  All the money raised and used for this lobbying is tax deductible to the corporations, to ALEC and disallows disclosure of where the money is coming from.  It appears that similar to the huge PAC's who are able to use anonymous funding to direct our elections, ALEC is doing the same in the case of education and other important or key issues - including corporate funds used to pay for legislative member "scholarships" to travel to and attend ALEC's meetings and task forces.

I'm thinking education is seriously at risk and will be forever altered unless we get a grip on ALEC's pursuit of this privatization and abolish them once and for all.  If this issue is of interest to you, please see my previous diary on this at:

Originally posted to Bob Sloan on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:57 AM PDT.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project, Education Alternatives, and In Support of Labor and Unions.


Can we save public education from privatization?

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Comment Preferences

  •  And there's the appeal to immediate self interest (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Sloan, Larsstephens

    as well. At some income level reliance on public education has largely fallen off. Now there seems to be a much greater exhibition of the mindset that says, "why should we keep paying for a whole group of government services that we make no use of." And defunding public education serves to accelerate conversion to this more self centered approach to society. There is a certain logic that supports the thought process that says "parents should be allowed to self direct the tax dollars that they pay for education". Unless, of course, the understanding is constantly reinforced that allowing this will ultimately result in nothing less than the death of public education.

    (On the other hand, think about how cheap and easy it will be to find servants if we allow this permanent social stratification to fully set in.)

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 11:42:54 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello, tardis10, Larsstephens

    I believe we need to have discussions, serious ones, about what happens when businesspeople, following a business model, take on "reform" of public education. "Follow the money," is a watch phrase for me, in understanding who backs "choice" and "accountability" in k-12 schooling, and what the movement toward these paradigms is really intended to bring about.

    At the same time, I'll be the first person to say that I don't regard "the need to reform education" as simply a matter of funding it better. It's what the education unions are shrieking about, but it's just not that black-and-white. With all due respect to the knowledgeable and good-hearted people involved in the local teachers' union--ones who have helped me personally over the years--the teachers' union in my city is what can only be described as a sclerotic organization. In many ways, it reinforces the very district bureaucracy it decries. It hasn't been nearly concerned enough, in my view, with policing its own ranks for teacher quality, with professional development for teachers, and with new-teacher recruitment. A lot of would-be sympathizers and activists are seriously in the dark as to the efficacy of union-sponsored actions against abuses by the top-heavy and corrupt school district. Grassroots would-be education reformers, who generally side with the union, lack institutional memory. To really know where we're going, we need to know where we've been, and it just looks to many like "the forces of good" wage one tedious "emergency" battle with the district after another, with no context, no perspective.

    To change the subject somewhat, here is a concrete good that "education reform," as it's currently understood, has introduced: the notion that all students, regardless of background, have the ability to learn and excel, given the proper supports. Truly, this idea had gotten lost. Now, for wherever anyone wants to go with it, it's back.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 11:51:17 AM PDT

    •  Education is one of many . . . (6+ / 0-)

      . . . components of a civil society that should never be given up to the maw of financial profit.

      Money cannot be the only measurement of benefit; the financial market is only a part of our values.

      ALEC is possibly the most effective tool of the amoral, so far. ALEC has a decades-long head start in the battle for control of our Constitutional government, and the effects of their work are showing.

      What you do with your research is arm the public with facts, the only weapon that works. Carry on.

      The furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals. John Adams, 1776.

      by semiAdult on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 12:07:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have some agreements and disagreements (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy, Larsstephens

      with your comment.  Yes, there is a definite need for reform of our school system(s) - public and private.  I will grant that there are some teachers who are really under-qualified, lack the necessary skills to truly "teach" our children...and I'm sure there are those who are riding out their tenure to retirement without attention to actually "teaching" their assigned students.

      Unfortunately we have this same dysfunctional type of person (and system) operating within many of our public services across the country.  However, that being said, long distance learning and installing school programs that allow non-accredited personnel to take over the education of our youths is not the answer.

      All too often we have a black and white argument over problems with programs and services; i.e. this doesn't work so let's replace the entire program with another type or style.  With education, we need not look to reinvent the wheel (as ALEC and their partners are trying to do) rather we need to understand the parts that aren't working and address them, while continuing public ed programming.  It isn't necessarily the programming that is the complaint, rather the expertise of those teaching...yet lowering standards and eliminating arts and restructuring our science studies seems to some to be the answer.  Additionally, the argument now - on more than education - is that for some reason workers across the board are responsible for the economic downturn we're facing; public sector workers across the board are receiving salaries that are too high, Unions should be abolished so wages can be lowered, private sector workers should be replaced with inmate laborers.

      It is the "option" advanced by ALEC and those who support them that I object to.  If my car needs repair, I take it in for service and make the necessary repairs - I don't have it towed off to the scrap yard and start over again.  But this is what ALEC is trying to bring about - scrap the entire system and replace it with their vision for the future.  If we realize that along with the new system they are pushing for curricula that teaches creationism alongside evolution, replaces known economics with supply-side economics and replaces teachers with instructors who are not certified, then we further recognize the dangers this replacement brings.

      I lived in Florida when Jeb Bush pushed for charter schools and saw first hand the private schools operating out of strip malls with students having to share books and desks...and saw some of the educational studies they were given.  From that I developed an understanding that if that kind of system is put into place on a wider scale, our science, manufacturing and business education will completely change for the worse.

      So if we have teachers not performing as necessary, we should replace them - not the entire system with something that benefits minority political interests.

      "Inmates should be reformed - not recycled"

      by Bob Sloan on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 01:07:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting point about (0+ / 0-)

        the forces of neo-liberalism and the un-checked marketplace, claiming "public education doesn't work the way it's set up," only to declare it a "failure," and seek to destroy it and rebuild it from the ground up, when a less-radical solution would do better. This is how they operate, for sure; we've seen it in other contexts. They always try to starve something they don't like out of existence, then throw up there hands and say, "See? It doesn't work. We need to get rid of it." Generally, I agree with you about their "solutions," e.g., distance learning, being pretty crackpot.

        But that doesn't erase the question I asked: If the politicians start giving in to every single demand of the teachers' unions, will public education necessarily be "fixed"? I'm just not sure we can make that claim.

        ALEC is a slimy organization. Its tentacles need to be exposed and examined at every turn, as you're doing. But let's not downplay the complexity of the situation.

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 01:31:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  What is most astounding to me (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bob Sloan, karmsy

        is that in the end, these plutocrats are even working against themselves.  Dumb down the population and lower their wages and what do you get?  A more dependent populace, unable to purchase and completely incapable of mining the brain power that has brought us economic growth so often in the past.

        Sometimes I think the 1% has been seriously in-breeding.

        Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

        by Gustogirl on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 03:41:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Check this out (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This is a ranking of high schools in California, public and private. Notice that the top 6 are all public. (My kid's is #19!)

    These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people... -Abraham Lincoln

    by HugoDog on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 12:02:25 PM PDT

  •  And we have confirmation... (0+ / 0-)

    Of Romney's attack of teachers.  

    We don't need public educators, we need to privatize.*

    *This campaign message brought to you by ALEC.

  •  Khan Academy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Sloan, antirove

    is a great resource for people who want to brush up on a concept or review something. It is not a replacement for a standard curriculum let alone a teacher. And it turns out kids don't like watching the videos.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 01:31:27 PM PDT

  •  This (0+ / 0-)

    "The future of America is in the hands of today’s students.  Industry, manufacturing, technologies, science and arts have always been apolitical and provided in a manner to allow young minds to rationalize and form their own opinions based upon a broad spectrum of teaching in every subject. To allow a very politically-minded network access to the education of our children provides students with a slanted curriculum based upon a certain ideology held by a minority of Americans.  This form of teaching will replace accepted broad and diverse narratives of economics, environment and history with a narrow view held by a single political faction.  Education becomes programming."

    does not ring true to me. I put the part that jumped out at me in bold.

    I'm not suggesting ALEC-provided curriculum is the answer. Just that we shouldn't pretend the current or past curriculum choices were without serious flaws and/or influenced by politics.

    Another piece that jumped out --

    "Public education has always made room and accommodations for such students and funding for this was included in annual appropriations without thoughts of “profiting” off of such programming."

    As I understand it, funding for special needs students is an annual struggle, never being fully funded.

    Again, not suggesting ALEC-inspired funders would rush to fill the gap. Just that the current system is not meeting these needs as well as might be hoped.

    There's a lot of information here and I need to read through it all again. First time I have read that students were not enjoying/using the Khan videos. . . interesting. . .

    "The conclusion I’ve reached is; while the concepts of the Khan Academy may be beneficial to education as a supplement, it should be examined from the perspective of the curriculum offered and those providing it –"

    Has there been any effort to analyze the Khan curriculum for political slant/agenda?

    •  I certainly agree that current and past (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      curriculum have/had serious flaws...however over the past decade those flaws have been capitalized upon by one faction, while another tried to find ways to repair the problems.

      Your question about Khan's curriculum and the relationship to a political slant/agenda, goes directly to the heart of the issue...I say that because as a long time researcher and part of the ALEC Exposed project, I often times forget that others do not have the same information or knowledge that I have.  I apologize for that and would provide the following for reinforcement of why I am so dead set against ALEC and the pursuit of privatized public education...

      Charles Koch and many of ALEC's members, enablers and educational partners met at the 2011 Philanthropy Roundtable.  Sal Khan was there representing his academy.  Take a brief moment to glance through the list of attendants, the subjects and you'll see it was a virtual whos-who of RW foundations, organizations and institutes.  In particular you'll note that the hottest topics at the meeting was education - k-12 through college.

      I know from years of researching, that anything Charles or David Koch support, fund or pursue is lacking in any societal value.  Everything they do is ideologically driven and their pursuit of privatizing education is no different.

      At that meeting with Sal Khan was Jeff Raikes, chief executive officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and representatives of the BSI Charter School corporation.  Gates and Google funded nearly $15 million dollars to Khan over the past couple of years.  From the stories and corporations identified over the past year we know that Gates, Google, Koch and many of those attending that meeting, were all members, supporters or contributors to ALEC.

      ALEC is the conduit which has been used by their legislative members to defund public education in every state - through model legislation introduced by ALEC members.  With each cut, teacher pay became frozen, class size increased dramatically, supplies and books became harder to acquire and with each cut, states one by one turned to charter schools and privatization as the sole answer to the problems created by the lack of funding.  As I said in the diary, Daniels here in Indy cut education by $600 million and that decrease in funding created huge problems here.  Last year he "fixed" the problem through signing several pieces of legislation (introduced and supported by ALEC) that opened the door to charter schools, vouchers and the ability to "turnaround" public schools who appear to not be succeeding.

      In NC the Wake Co. school board was taken over by Koch funded candidates for school board.  Once they secured election, they immediately turned around and moved to segregate the schools of Wake County.  So we know the agenda of the Kochs and must assume their efforts regarding schools and education will play out the same in each case where they prevail.

      So yes, there are issues with our teachers and schools, but the answer is not the agenda offered by ALEC, Koch and the Khan Academy.  Keep in mind Khan is now "teaching" to millions of kids worldwide, he is not a teacher (a former hedge fund manager) and today his long distance learning software is in beta testing in CA.

      The vast number of stories informing us that crime was rampant and our property, lives and welfare were in jeopardy was a ruse used in the face of documented declines in crime, to instill the thought in our mind that there was a genuine need for mass incarceration with long sentences.  At the same time, those pushing this story went to work cutting corrections funding, making it appear necessary to privatize our prisons.

      Because of that, private prison companies, phone companies, and private prison healthcare providers amassed billions in profits.

      Today the focus is on education, and the same MO is being used to make us believe our schools are failing our children, while budgets are cut to support that argument.  So far, many companies are capitalizing off of this pursuit.  As with the prison issue, healthcare, medicare and medicaid, all of it is paid for with tax dollars.  The huge pool of that resource is targeted to turn tax dollars into corporate profits.  There is no room in education for profiting...just as there should be no profitization from incarceration.

      "Inmates should be reformed - not recycled"

      by Bob Sloan on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 04:57:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bob, what can I say ? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Sloan

    Thank you, sir, for a connect-the-dots masterpiece. I spend half my time on this site arguing with well-intentioned people who appear to actually believe that "education reform" is a good-faith effort to improve the public schools. It is not. It's all about the $$$. Have they not read Milton Friedman ? or Naomi Klein ? Have they been living in Tibet ? Everything in this country is about the $$$.
    Why am I so sure of this ? Well, like a lot of nasty ideas, the anti-public school, privatization campaign began here in Arizona. I've been following the issue since the late 90s. Of course, back then, we had no freaking clue what ALEC was, but we heard a lot from the Goldwater Institute. In those days, they were more frank about their intentions. Their education proposals and propaganda were issued from the Goldwater Institute's Center for Market-based Reforms in Education.
    They have since dropped that last part of their name.
    On the subject of this scoundrel Craig Barrett, not only is he CEO of Basis school, Arizona's showpiece Potemkin charter, he also sits on the board of K12 Inc., the Milken Bros' for-profit "virtual schools" scam.
    Thanks again for this, and all your work. I will pass this on.


    The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    by Azazello on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 02:58:10 PM PDT

    •  Thanks Azazello. There's more to come involving (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the Gates Foundation, education and ALEC.  We all wondered why they dumped ALEC so quickly in the first round of corporate abandonment...I now know they were trying to avert further investigation of their activities involving ALEC...they were much more than a foundation that contributed $360 k+ for education.

      How about $71 million!?

      "Inmates should be reformed - not recycled"

      by Bob Sloan on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 05:00:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I had a feeling ALEC was behind this... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Sloan, antirove, Azazello

    I am a public school teacher having just completed 21 years. I have seen the effects of this operation first hand.

    Taking away funding and unions, and vilifying teachers. Convincing parents and the public that public schools suck so that no one questions or complains when funding is cut (please don't even get me started on how standardized testing is making our kids brains rot inside their skulls...probably what the Cabal wants anyway...)

    But it is a steam roller. It's this slow moving machine with it's sights on crushing public schools. What makes me so out of my mind mad is that most people refuse to see it is coming let alone stop it.

    I confess I'm beyond demoralized right now. Looking for another career.

    Warning: That light at the end of the tunnel just might be an oncoming train.

    by history first on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 05:03:40 PM PDT

    •  Thanks History first for this insightful comment (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      history first, antirove, Azazello

      on the education issue.  I have been researching the pursuit of privatizing education by ALEC and their cabal for more than a year now.  It is insidious, well planned, organized and being pursued vigorously.  As I said in an earlier comment it is the same MO they used to amass 2.3 million of us in prison, keep them the longest and legislate for privatization of everything associated with incarceration; housing, medical care, food service, banking, phone services to inmates, transportation and prison industries (partnered with other corporations).

      Just as there is no valid reason for profiting off of incarceration, there is similarly no valid reason for profiting by privatizing our education system.  Sadly in their pursuits, the children are those who are suffering the most, and the cabal and corporations don't care one whit.  Schools have been forced to cut athletic, music and art programs, increase class sizes and all the while teachers are having to fight to keep their already low wages and union representation.  It is all a terrible agenda driven by one faction and too frequently ignored by the rest of us - until it's too late.

      "Inmates should be reformed - not recycled"

      by Bob Sloan on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 05:12:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  May I call you a 21st century Muckraker? :-) (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ohiodem1, Azazello

        and I very much appreciate your dogged research on these 2 important topics. As you say it's the Cabal with an agenda and an unlimited pit of money.
        The only thing that gives me hope is that America was on the brink before. I can't help but think of the Turn of the 20th Century Robber Barons like Rockefeller, Morgan, Frisk, etc. It is possible to reverse this downward spiral. That's why I called you a Muckraker. May the spirit of Ida Tarbell smile upon you  :-)

        Warning: That light at the end of the tunnel just might be an oncoming train.

        by history first on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 05:30:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you for the compliment, history first. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ohiodem1, history first

          The wife describes me in that manner to everyone - me, I just see it as doing a civic and necessary duty.

          Two years ago I was considered a conspiracy theorist (like Hillary) because of my dogged pursuit of calling these people out, providing the documents, linked relationships and agenda.  Thankfully others have come along, believed and helped expose it all.

          Unfortunately with this issue of education and the pursuit of the cabal to gain access to the public tax dollars available for it, I find some of the same folks who now understand about ALEC and Koch, are resistant to the thought that what they've been hearing about our failing education is nothing but propaganda...designed to make us support their pursuit of privatization.  Seems to be the same game over and over again, and society has difficulty recognizing their agenda for what it is.

          I agree that we can overcome this as our great grandparents did at the turn of the last century.  We fought for unionization, fair wages, racial equality, choice in reproductive rights...and we won...and have been refighting all those battles now for generations.  That faction refuses to accept the will and voice of the majority.

          If I'm not mistaken Ms. Tarbell's greatest accomplishment was a book about Standard Oil just after the turn of the century?  Thanks for the reference to such a great Muckraker! :-)

          "Inmates should be reformed - not recycled"

          by Bob Sloan on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 06:56:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  the further they get (0+ / 0-)

    the harder it will be to get it back later

    when I see a republican on tv, I always think of Monty Python: "Shut your festering gob you tit! Your type makes me puke!"

    by bunsk on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 09:45:26 PM PDT

    •  You're right and that's why we keep digging (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      up material, sending out FOIA's to state legislatures for documents, protesting and blogging what we find.

      The better informed Americans are on all issues this bunch are working on, the better suited we are to pushback and fight their legislative attempts.

      "Inmates should be reformed - not recycled"

      by Bob Sloan on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:15:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  agreed (0+ / 0-)

        and thank you for your efforts. I make sure to try and connect these dots for a few people when I read about alec. Walker likely has the welcome mat out here in WI for these kind of scams

        when I see a republican on tv, I always think of Monty Python: "Shut your festering gob you tit! Your type makes me puke!"

        by bunsk on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:21:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is a great piece... (0+ / 0-)

    ... again from Bob. Very solid narrative and content, and the links into Khan very interesting.

    NOTE: When following ALEC into Higher Education issues, follow the ALEC 'academic' spokesman of choice Richard Vedder, out of Ohio (Adjunct Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Mackinac Center (Heritage in MI) "Scholar") where he ran an educational institute dedicated to bashing public universities, called "The Center for College Affordability and Productivity".

    See also this Source Watch entry on Vedder.

    One list of Vedder's tripe HERE.

    Like the LINK used for "New Traditionalist" document as well. We need to use and float that one.

    Great work, as usual.

    For the occasional reluctant tweet

    by Hector Solon on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 06:26:42 AM PDT

  •  Khan Academy (0+ / 0-)

    It's pretty ridiculous that you are bad mouthing Khan Academy. It's a FREE tutoring service that allows students of any age to learn, better understand, or refresh their memory on everything from math to history. I used it to help refresh my memory on some math principles. Millions of people use it.
    Why are you attacking them? Because if students weren't educated for free by Khan the local school districts might get some money by having the student repeat the class?

  •  In the early 90's (0+ / 0-)

    Is when they started mainstreaming the children with learning disabilities, leading to disruptions in classes and more difficulties for teachers who were not trained in how to work with so many different disabilities all at the same time.

    It was right after that when the right wingers started screaming about the test scores going down in the public schools, and that something should be done right now about it. They conveniently didn't mention about the fact that the children with LDs were being mainstreamed, supposedly so they would learn more "normal" behaviors and be less likely to be treated badly by other children that way.

    In reality, what has happened is they have become the victims of bullying, and we ended up with a bullying epidemic.

    Could all this be because they want to privatize, so make a profit and be able to go back to segregation again? After all, many of these right wingers are big on keeping the whites separated from the people of color, so they won't marry and "dilute" the white genetics.

    Women create the entire labor force.

    by splashy on Wed Jun 20, 2012 at 01:44:58 AM PDT

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