|Progressive candidate Emily Sirota (at left) lost the election to Anne Rowe who was financed by corporate front groups.|
It's long been an accepted fact, even by the least cynical amongst us, that national elections are the playgrounds of the rich. Especially with recent court rulings that "corporations are people," corporate interests, secretly and openly, have flexed their muscles by backing pro-corporate, anti-union candidates and lobbying against environmental and other market regulations. But who would have dreamed that these same forces, operating with virtually unlimited funds at their disposal, would begin targeting local school board races?
Mike Elk at In These Times reports that increasingly, large donations from wealthy individuals and corporations are pouring into schools board races around the country to enact an agenda that attacks collective bargaining rights of teachers unions and increases the privatization of public education through charter schools and vouchers. Increasingly, it appears that outside corporate groups are becoming involved in school board races across the country from Illinois to Louisiana to Denver. Denver was their most recent target with their front group Alliance for Choice in Education serving as their conduit.
The fingerprints of national corporate organizations coordinating the money from companieslike Wal-Mart are all over the Denver School Board Race, writes Elk.
A corporate reform group called A+ Denver hired a prominent supporter of school vouchers named Van Schoales to be its executive director. Schoales previously worked for the national privatization reform group called Education Reform Now, which pushes vouchers and which is funded, in part, by Rupert Murdoch and was run by Murdoch’s top aide former NYC School Board Chancellor Joel Klein. In addition, the slate of pro-reform candidates has also been endorsed by the national organization Democrats for Education Reform (DEFR). “DFER’s endgame has little to do with learning and everything to do with marginalizing public-sector unionized workers and bringing down the cost of taxes for social programs.”