Dr. Martin Luther King reanimator week is almost over. Before we close it out, let’s acknowledge one of the more penetrating questions asked during this solemn season of remembrance.
Education comedian and union contractor Jennifer “Edu$hy$ter” Berkshire asks…
— EduShyster (@EduShyster) January 15, 2016
It isn’t a weekday if someone funded by unions isn’t suggesting the only reason to reform America’s awesome public schools is for greed. To suggest that schools can do better, and teachers can be better matched to students, is to be exposed as a doltish automaton for the 1%.
If unionists on Twitter are to be believed, I am said to be just such a robot.
My opponents see themselves as the online proletariat fighting an altruistic battle for the soul of educational democracy. The rest of us are mere digital prostitutes working on the Mustang Ranch of corporate bazillionaires.
The money funding a nation of organizations to speak with one voice and one mind in defense of poor quality public schools is invisible, odorless, and tasteless.
When Edu$hyster was on my Rock The Schools podcast I told her that former employer (the American Federation of Teachers) spends a lot of money on communications and marketing.
She pushed back:
“I have spent the last three years trying to find money for myself and for others that are doing important work and there is literally no one to even ask.”
I said the money is out there. Maybe she just wasn’t searching very hard.
“I’ve been doing this for three years, I think I know about as much as anyone does about this world and I’m telling you there are no places to go to find money. There’s a huge funding imbalance. This is not a matter of opinion. There are a handful of foundations that fund the kind of organizing work that I’m interested in.”
Was she joking? Did she really not know about the cascading waterfalls of funding for a national strategy against school accountability, teacher evaluation, school improvement, and charter schools?
But, if she can’t see the money for the trees, she should ask her friend Jeff Bryant. He’s a successful for-profit communications consultant hired by labor aligned organizations to send America one message: teachers are perfect; schools need more money and less accountability; and charter schools invented the concept of fraud.
In past blog post I pointed out Bryant is big pimpin’. He’s made over a million dollars from just one client, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
In 2013 he made over $260,000. That won’t put him in the 1%, but it isn’t exactly working-class either.
Read the list of “articles” he has done for Salon.com and you’ll see a guy capable of incredible message discipline, if not logic, reasoning, argumentation, or writing.
Bryant sells class warfare schtick through Salon.com, a publicly traded publication that tells investors its readers are…
“affluent, well-educated and highly influential”
$92,000 household income
76% college educated
Median age is 36
lured by luxury brands like Cadillac and Lexus
Bryant’s employer, the Campaign for America’s Future, is at the center of even bigger money makers. They’re not transparent about their donors, but they get money from folks with names like Soros, Rockefeller, and Getty.
Their parent organization, the Institute for America’s Future, even gets money from the Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund, the Arca Foundation (tobacco money), the Ford Foundation, and The Stewart Mott Foundation.
There’s a whole bunch of 1% capitalism cash going into these organizations that rail against both the 1% and capitalism. It’s kind of like teenagers raging in their parent’s basement about not having cable.
If you “follow the money” upward you’ll eventually end up at a private club of ultra-wealthy “progressives” who hold secret meetings out of the view of regular people. They decide what The Agenda is going to be for all of us, and who will get their money. It’s all the things their grantees down stream say they’re against: top-down reform, billionaires trying to buy government, and end runs around actual democracy.
Now, Berkshire is not about that life. She isn’t rubbing elbows with financial titans. Yet. But, as a writing fellow under Jeff Bryant at The Progressive, she’s getting closer. Even that hyper-lefty publication gets funding from the 1%.
Let’s answer her question “If MLK came back today, which billionaires would fund his important work?”
That’s easy: I suspect a lot of corporate donors would line up as they do for Jesse Jackson (you know, the civil rights leader who sent his kids to private school but marches with teachers unions against school choice).
His sponsors include Citigroup, Coca-Cola, AT&T, General Motors, IBM and Boeing.
I’m confident the Ford Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, Arcus Foundation, Tides Foundation, Mott, Casey, and many others would fund Dr. King too.
It’s true that very rich people invest in school reform and believe it will change education for the better.
It’s also true that folks like Berkshire and Bryant are beneficiaries of the other plutocracy.