|Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton gave $1.7M. (Mug Shot)|
Valerie Strauss at the Answer Sheet posts:
To get an understanding of how America’s wealthiest people are using some of their fortunes to drive school reform, take a look at a list of the contributors to the pro-charter school initiative on the Washington state ballot in November. The first few pages — the ones with the biggest donations — is a who’s who of billionaires.
This all helps illustrate what education historian Diane Ravitch referred to as “the billionaire boy’s club” (which apparently has expanded to include females) in her bestselling book, “The Life and Death of the Great American School System,” and her in subsequent writings. In this post, she wrote:
“Today, the question of democracy looms large as we see increasing efforts to privatize the control of public schools. There is an even more worrisome and allied trend, and that is the growing influence of money in education politics at the state and local levels.”Friedman's market theory doesn't work
The Answer Sheet also carried a post worth reading by Marc Tucker, president of the non-profit National Center on Education and the Economy, called "Why the ‘market theory’ of education reform doesn’t work."
The theory doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in theory (because most parents don’t place academic performance at the top of their list of things they are looking for in a school) and it doesn’t work in practice, either. How do we know that? Because, when we look at large-scale studies of the academic performance of charter schools versus regular public schools, taking into account the background of the students served, the results come out within a few points of each other, conferring a decisive advantage on neither. It is certainly true that some charter schools greatly outperform the average regular public school, but it is also true that some regular public schools greatly outperform the average charter school.