From the Daily Kos
by Laura Clawson
On the one hand you’ve got billionaire philanthropists like Bill Gates, pouring money into reshaping public education into whatever model they think best—and because they’re billionaires, they must know best about everything, right? On the other hand you’ve got the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), spreading toxic, corporate-authored model legislation around the states to push for anti-immigrant laws, voter disenfranchisement laws, anti-sick leave laws and more. Except, wait. This isn’t an on the one hand, on the other hand situation—they’re the same hand, spreading the influence of the very wealthy not just in what politicians get elected, but what laws get passed. And Bill Gates’ foundation is honoring that shared goal with a $376,635 grant to ALEC:
Purpose: to educate and engage its membership on more efficient state budget approaches to drive greater student outcomes, as well as educate them on beneficial ways to recruit, retain, evaluate and compensate effective teaching based upon merit and achievement
Sociologist Robin Rogers writes of this grant that it is:
to, essentially, influence state budget making — where the rubber hits the road in education policy. I heard some debate over whether this constituted a Republican takeover of the state budget process, a Gates Foundation takeover of ALEC or both. No one suggested it was a victory for democracy. […]
[T]he very nature of philanthropic giving has significantly changed in recent years. A handful of wealthy individuals and families control a large amount of this country’s wealth, and their “philanthropy” is beginning to feel more like governance.
It’s really the logical next step. You can only rent a politician, because they might decide that the will of the people, or, more likely, a higher bid from one of your competitors trumps what you’ve paid them. But buying legislation you like is more certain to last, a theory of governance today’s education “philanthropists” are clearly embracing.