Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

March 4, 2014

WE THE PEOPLE: Reforming education? (Part II)

CROSSVILLE — Last month, I promised to enlarge upon the forces that are attempting to overthrow our locally-controlled public education system. “Following the money” helps, as it does with almost all issues of political importance.

Americans spend about 600 billion dollars per year on the public schooling of their children. Presently, that money flows fairly efficiently from taxes to our public schools. Many covet a slice of that pie.

Consider the “Thomas B. Fordham Institute,” which was founded in 2007 by Michael Petrilli and Chester Finn. It has no connection with Fordham University. Wikipedia describes it as an “ideologically conservative American nonprofit education policy think tank.”

The Fordham Institute promotes Common Core Standards. You can glimpse the concern Fordham has for the impact of CCSS on your children by watching a “YouTube” clip featuring Mr. Petrilli (go to YouTube and search for “What Does Gadfly Say”). I apologize to those of you who don’t have access to YouTube, but words cannot do this video justice. Perhaps you could use a public computer at the library.

The Fordham Institute “joined” the “Fordham Foundation,” a corporation that sponsors charter schools (promotes and funds startups). Mr. Finn is president of both organizations, and Mr. Petrilli is on the board of both. That’s correct. An outfit pushing “Common Core” for public schools is closely linked to a foundation interested in expanding the Charter School network.

Charter schools usually get at least as much taxpayer money (per pupil) as public schools, plus extra money from other sources. Some are “for profit,” others “not-for-profit,” but in either case their officers typically make far more money than public school administrators. You see, as corporations, charters are not as open to local accountability and the usual public scrutiny. They use the same (or more) public money without local, public oversight. Hey! What’s not to like?

To date, despite 15 years of effort and based on their own, preferred method of evaluation (standardized test scores), charters that serve equivalent populations of students have failed to show any advantage over the “failing” public schools they replaced. Those few charter systems that claim success “counsel out” or don’t accept students who are poor test-takers. Many charters have disappeared in the middle of the school year, leaving the local public school system (taxpayers) to pick up the poorly served students and clean up the mess.

Is disrupting the traditional public school system in order to reduce local control Fordham’s original idea? Fordham is only a tentacle, one of many similar “institutes” and “foundations” seeking the same goal. A look at Fordham’s funding allows us to get closer to the central nervous system.

The list of financial backers has some surprising members. Charles Schwab? John Templeton Foundation? The Hoover Institute? The US Chamber of Commerce? “Education Reform Now” (having a Board entirely composed of Wall Street financial guys)? Bill and Melinda Gates? The Walton Family and Eli Broad?

Those last big three sources control (together) almost 200 billion dollars in wealth, and they seem to be common funders of all “School Reform” organizations pushing Common Core.

Why do billionaires, Wall Street investment money and “Big Business” fund the rush to Common Core through front organizations like Fordham?

More next month.

• • •

This column represents alternative thoughts to other published columns in the Crossville Chronicle. “We the People” is published each Wednesday. Opinions expressed in “We the People” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact John Wund, editor, at jwund@frontiernet.net.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Lion and the Lamb: A promised land?

    Back in biblical times there was a group of people who believed that God had promised them a segment of land on this planet that would be theirs forever. Who could have known back then that this ancient promise and territorial justification would be used by their descendants today to claim the same segment of land?

    July 29, 2014

  • We the People: Bring back the American dream

    Our economy continues to expand. The stock market is at record levels, yet many ask why so many of us are struggling?  Barely half of us believe the American dream is attainable.

    July 29, 2014

  • Tidbits: Taking a low-tech break

    Feeling increasingly strangled by my electronic leash, with phone, text messages, email, social media and a variety of other forms of communication always at my side, I took the weekend off.

    July 28, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Governing before and after mass corruption

    Laws in America were originally written simply. Every citizen could read them quickly and understand their meaning. The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States, none of which was longer than 4,500 words.

    July 28, 2014

  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014