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Why Public Schools May Be Lost — And Unions Too

Here’s why, via Booman Tribune:

You may have noticed that the right is engaged in this fight on a structural level. They go after the people who register voters. They pass laws making it harder to vote. They attack the unions. They attack MoveOn.org. They go after anyone in the media, be it Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, Phil Donahue, or Dan Rather who expresses any skepticism about the right. They built their own cable news station and took over the radio spectrum. They make it so corporations can give unlimited money anonymously. They are coming after us with real aggression, trying to make it impossible for even middle-of-the-road Bill Clinton-style Democrats to get elected in this country. If we want to defend ourselves and ever see real progressive change in this country, we have to fight on this structural stuff. In the meantime, we’re playing defense. And we can’t do much more than that.

Don’t shrug. That’s exactly right. Let me share some numbers with you.

In 2009, 10 conservative foundations1 gave nearly $89,000,000 to think tanks,  non-profit charter school associations, online charter school learning groups, and state policy institutes supporting school choice.

That’s one year. 10 foundations. Eighty-nine million dollars.

This is not counting whatever the Gates Foundation might have contributed to the charter school effort, or the individual charter schools supported by these foundations, which likely adds up to another $200 million or so.

This is what they do. They have an entire infrastructure carefully built over the last 30-40 years, all with non-profit foundations. That means the income and the contributions are tax-deductible. They’re also designed to avoid estate taxes at death. And they’re using this money to build a movement with media, policy papers, tailor-made films, and whatever other tools they can create or co-opt.

So when you get upset because everyone wants to talk about cutting taxes AND spending, please remember that the $89 million mentioned for school choice is being spent in equal or greater amounts for union-busting efforts, college recruitment, university professorships, to groom PhDs, and more.

They consider it an investment. If they succeed, they win. We have nothing close to an organization like this, and if they successfully de-fund unions, they will have successfully defunded the small fragile infrastructure we, the people, have left.

We’re fighting a Goliath. It’s a good time to ready the slingshot.

1 By private foundations, I mean family foundations or family-controlled foundations, like the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation, the Walton Foundation, and others, not think tanks

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