School Choice Week and Its Funders

It’s just a few days until “National School Choice Week,” a collection of events advertised as “independently planned by a diverse and growing coalition of individuals, schools, and organizations…allow[ing] participants to advance their own messages of educational opportunity, while uniting with like-minded groups and individuals across the country.”

Participants in National School Choice believe that parents should be empowered to choose the best educational environments for their children. Supporters plan events that highlight a variety of school choice options — from traditional public schools to public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning, and homeschooling.
— quotes from SchoolChoiceWeek/about

In fact, the week is sponsored by corporate lobbyists, including ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which crafts and promotes legislation on Charter Operations, School Vouchers, and other privatizing efforts; by individual corporations including the for-profit K12 Inc., purveyors of virtual schooling products; and by a variety of non-profits promoting school privatization, including Democrats for Education Reform, Michelle Rhee’s Students First, and Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education (see also PR Watch). Be sure to peruse the full sponsor list for this “diverse and growing coalition.”

This year’s week is kicked off by an event featuring Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee. (Here’s School Choice Week’s press release; every story I’ve found on-line exactly replicates this, so no point in quoting anyone else.)

Choice, Privatization, and Equity

In advance of last year’s program, AlterNet published a thorough examination of National School Choice Week. Morna McDermott, who has appeared several times on the Education Town Hall, told AlterNet that most of the organizations affiliated with School Choice Week “have direct connections with, or strong ties to, a right-wing agenda to privatize many American institutions including education.”

This upcoming week is a great opportunity for those who have not done so to examine the concept of “school choice” as it is used in the public education arena, to look at who is organizing and funding the push for choice, and to consider how equity in educational opportunity has been faring in the face of this well-funded campaign.

Start with the Kristin Rawls’ piece (also cited above). See also, for example:

Please share additional resources and your own thoughts!


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