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Bill Phillis: Beware Privatizers Running for Local School Boards!

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Bill Phillis, founder of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding, warns that privatizers run for local school boards, as they have in Atlanta and other cities. Teach for America has a special outfit called “Leadership for Educational Equity,” which trains its recruits to go into politics and helps to fund their campaigns.

Bill Phillis writes:

Anti-public school advocates run for seats on boards of education to attempt to completely privatize districts

Privatization of the public common schools takes many forms:

·        Charter schools

·        Vouchers

·        Tuition tax credits

·        Education savings accounts

·        Portfolio districts

·        State takeover that can eventually result in turning the district over to private operators

 

The most ruinous privatization tactic is for privatizers to take control of boards of education

 

Michelle Dillingham, with the Cincinnati Educational Justice Coalition, reports that some “fierce” school choice candidates are running for board of education seats in Cincinnati. The Justice Coalition has published a list of “qualities” that voters should look for when choosing a candidate. Topping the list of “qualities” is “a deep commitment to public education.” Public education is the adhesive that has held the American social order together. The education privatization craze has contributed to the fragmentation of our social order.

Phillis links to an article that explains what is happening in Cincinnati, where a TFA alum is running for the school board.

This November, voters in the Cincinnati Public School District will elect four members to the seven-member Board of Education. One contender, Ben Lindy, the founder and director of the Southwest Ohio Teach for America, has drawn significant controversy among supporters of public schools.

In his recent guest column, “Be proud of schools’ progress, but don’t settle,” (Aug. 31), Lindy’s repeated his use of the term “equity” and a “quality education for every child” are hard to swallow. The controversy surrounding Lindy comes as no surprise to those who follow the influence of Teachers for America and their agenda on public school districts.

TFA is a multi-million-dollar national organization whose main operation is to place non-education major college grads into temporary two-year teaching assignments in urban classrooms with less than two months of preparation. After their two years, the majority of TFA candidates abandon teaching and move on to other fields.

It is not hard to see why professional educators, who have invested in and achieved significant graduate and undergraduate education training, oppose this business strategy for staffing classrooms.

In the last several years, TFA has extracted over $600,000 in “finder’s fees” from our school district. Yet, a majority of TFA recruits do not stay with Cincinnati Public Schools after their two-year contract ends. TFA operates like a temp agency, paying a $5,000 “bounty” per recruit for a two-year commitment. It would make more sense to spend recruitment monies with higher education partners who can refer actual education majors.

School districts in other states have already figured out TFA is not a good return on their investment. Districts in Texas, South Carolina, California and Pennsylvania have all recently ended their contracts with TFA.

The TFA lobby has successfully diverted millions of taxpayer dollars, meant to educate the children of Ohio, to their company. Lindy was not successful in his run for state representative in 2016, but he was able to extract millions of public education tax dollars from the state legislature for TFA.

In April 2019, his joint testimony before the Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee of the House Finance Committee helped secure another $4 million in the upcoming biennial budget for “support for ongoing development and impact of Teach for America alumni working in Ohio.” I guess he thinks TFA recruits who only spend two years in our urban classrooms now deserve another $4 million for their alumni’s “development.”

TFA is funded by billionaire elites, including the Bill Gates, Eli Broad and Walton Family Foundations. This helps explain Lindy’s confidence that he will be able to raise $250,000 to campaign for a seat whose pay is capped at $5,000 per year. It is well documented that TFA’s most influential alumni are proponents of school district takeovers, high stakes student testing, for-profit charter schools, and anti-union efforts – the most familiar to readers is likely Michelle Rhee (whom Lindy directly worked for), but there are others.

TFA, she writes, is closely tied to the Trump-DeVos privatization agenda.

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