No Metaphor Here: The WalMartization of Public Education

by Martin Kich

Walmart_2_croppedAlthough the more overtly political spending of the Koch brothers has received much more attention, the Walton Family Foundation has, not surprisingly, been one of the major supporters of right-wing think tanks and public-policy experiments. Long a major donor to the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the Walton Family Foundation has also become the major source of private funding supporting the development of charter-school alternatives to public schools, contributing more than $1 billion to charter schools over the past decade. Nationwide, more than one-quarter of the new charter schools have received “start-up” grants from the Walton Family Foundation. In the April 25, 2014, issue of the New York Times, Motoko Rich reveals these facts, among many others, about the Walton Family Foundation’s funding of what amounts to extensive Far-Right social engineering. [The full article is available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/26/us/a-walmart-fortune-spreading-charter-schools.html.]

This funding has insured that some of the charter schools have been tremendously successful—for instance, the four schools operated by D.C. Prep in the nation’s capital. But studies are now providing much concrete evidence that there is a very substantial gap between the performance of the most successful and selective charter schools–typically highlighted in materials promoting charter schools–and the majority of the charter schools, which are operated by for-profit corporations rather than by non-profit foundations. These would include most of the charter schools that now educate about half of the students in Washington, D.C. (There is a parallel, here, in the advertising for on-line for-profit universities, which typically features already successful professionals seeking additional credentials though those students are hardly typical of the majority of students at those institutions, who are seeking certificates and associate degrees.)

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Faculty Organizing into Unions – Podcast of Ideas and Experiences

Bill Barclay

Bill Barclay

by Bill Barclay, Oak Park DSA branch (of Chicago DSA)

The Chicago December DSA podcast featured two faculty active in their unions, but at very different stages in the history of organizing on their respective campuses.  Holly Graff is Professor of Philosophy at Oakton Community College (Chicago) and Senator in the Illinois Education Association chapter at her college.  Joe Persky is Professor of Economics at University of Illinois at Chicago and President of United Faculty.  United Faculty is affiliated with both the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors, in itself an unusual organizing model.

Oakton CC’s faculty union is an old one while UIC’s is brand new – not even a contract yet.  Both participants discuss how they and their unions can help defend higher education, stressing the importance of a vision of post-secondary education that is democratic and accessible to all in today’s political economy. They also talk about the ways in which their unions have been involved with other organized staff on their respective campuses as well as their interaction with the Chicago Teachers Union during the fall 2012 strike.  Finally, there are some interesting differences as well, particularly near the end of the podcast, when they talk about their respective bargaining strategies.

Episode 22, Recorded 12.08.2012:

For other excellent political economy podcasts, see: http://northshoredsa.org/talkin_socialism.html

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YDS Organizes a week of student protests

English: New, simple logo for YDS.

Image via Wikipedia

YDS mobilizes to participate in protests during National Student Debt Week, Feb.27- March 2, across the country.  Over 170 members of the Young Democratic Socialists met in New York City along with Dr. Cornel West  over the weekend of Feb.17-19, and planned their participation in the escalation of protests during National Student Debt Week.

Cornel West wants you to join the Week of Action. http://vimeo.com/37209329

Student debt exceeded $1 Trillion in 2011- exceeding even U.S. credit card debt.  For too many students access to college is being closed by  unsustainable debt  burdens. College tuition and fees have quadrupled fro 1982- 2007, far exceeding the rate of inflation.  Deregulation of the finance industry, particularly student loans, budget cuts to higher education, threats to privatize programs in  public colleges and universities, and the recession and loss of career and job opportunities  for the young  have created a crisis for thousands of students. Continue reading