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Here We Go: Another Billionaire Push to “Remake” K12 Ed from the Koch Network

January 29, 2019

Some more billionaire experimentation with K12 ed, as the January 29, 2019, Washington Post reports (sort of— guinea pig districts still not revealed)– this time by the American legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) money funnel, Charles Koch:

THE BIG IDEA:

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — The donor network led by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch will launch a new organization next month to focus on changing K-12 education as we know it.

The effort will begin as a pilot project focused on five states with a combined school-age population of 16 million kids, but officials said Monday that they aren’t ready to identify them yet because they’re still finalizing partnerships with some of the country’s leading educational organizations.

The still-unnamed entity purportedly plans to focus on three buckets: changing public policy to address “the root causes” of failing schools, developing new technologies to promote individualized learning, and investing in teachers and classrooms.

The announcement came Monday at the end of a three-day seminar where 634 donors who have each committed to contribute at least $100,000 annually to Koch-linked groups gathered under palm trees at a luxury resort in the Coachella Valley.

The article later has the phrase, “questions their motives” in the same paragraph as’ “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been a longtime ally”– which does nothing to bolster confidence in this billionaire, the-world-is-our-laboratory, uh-oh:

[Koch chairman Brian] Hooks recognizes that many will question their motives, but he said the goal is to “really shake things up” by “coming alongside concerned teachers” to “find a better way.” Teachers union leaders, who are closely aligned with the Democratic Party, have accused the Koch groups of trying to undermine traditional public schools. Koch and his allies say the system is broken and requires wholesale changes. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been a longtime ally of the network.

Then, there’s “major Koch donor, Stacy Hock,” who adds, “Education should be getting way, way better and way, way cheaper, but the opposite is happening.”

Better and cheaper.

I’m sure that’s what billionaires look for in seeking schools for their own children.

If that were the case, then Sidwell Friends and Exeter Academy would have installed drive-thrus years ago.

mcd-drive-thru.jpeg

But there’s more. Tell me this is not an awful analogy:

Hock said the new Koch initiative, as it ramps up, will identify what’s working at the local level and push for those things to be replicated elsewhere. “What we’re seeing all across the country are little flames,” she said. “What I don’t yet know is how to throw gasoline on all those flames.”

Throwing gas on flames. 

At school.

thinker facepalm

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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

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4 Comments
  1. Laura H.Chapman permalink

    Good God where are you now? Koch and his allies say the system is broken and requires wholesale changes. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been a longtime ally of the network.
    “Koch’s allies” need to be fully exposed to view. They have no concept of education other than killing off so-called tradiyional school which never have been in a cookie cutter mold, and least of all before the TFAs and Feds said spend the money on tests and tests and lately multiple measures.. or you are in trouble. We do not need more millions of students sure to be miseducated by the latest hucksters of slogans who love education on the cheap for everyone except their own children. A three day seminar to recruit donors to WHAT?

  2. Laura H.Chapman permalink

    Also sorry the seminar program is behind a paywall.

  3. Because what could go wrong???

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