Home > Education "reform", Money changes everything > New NY Education Commish Fits Billionaire Boys Club Model

New NY Education Commish Fits Billionaire Boys Club Model

There’s a powerful personal story in the appointment of Dr. John King, Jr., to be New York’s new state education commissioner, the first African-American and first Puerto Rican to hold the post. King’s parents both died before he turned 13, and he credits public-school teachers with encouraging him on a path to undergraduate study at Harvard, a law degree from Yale and a doctorate from Columbia.

Chancellor of the NYS Board of Regents Meryl Tisch was fulsome in her praise for King:

“John has dedicated his career to closing the achievement gap and raising the level of achievement for all,” she said in a statement. “He has a deep, passionate, personal commitment to public education and will be an outstanding commissioner for all New Yorkers.”

What might be on King’s agenda as commissioner? Look at his background and take a guess: he co-founded a charter school in Boston and was managing director with Uncommon Schools, described as a non-profit charter management organization. Think he might be favorable to more charter schools in public education?

Is anyone surprised that an advocate of education “reform” ideas got this job? Could it be related to incredible levels of spending by the Billionaire Boys Club to advance an agenda that includes charter schools, mayoral control, and teacher evaluation and pay tied to student test scores?

According to blogger Dana Goldstein, the Gates, Walton and Broad foundations combined to spend almost $400 million on education “reform” in 2005 alone. And they weren’t bashful about what they were trying to accomplish.

Often working in tandem, the New Big Three exercise an enormous amount of sway over national education policy-making. In a typical year (one without a stimulus bill), the federal Department of Education has just about $20 million in discretionary funds to play with outside of its big, pre-defined funding streams, such as Title I and IDEA. But in 2009, the last year for which data is available, the Gates Foundation gave away over $373 million to American education, and the Walton Foundation donated approximately $134.1 million to school reform efforts.

Bill Sez: That’s right — the billionaire boys are spending more than 25 times as much as the federal government on education “reform.” You can hardly expect anyone who disagrees with their priorities to get a top job in public education, can you?

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