The Boston Globe’s Scot Lehigh has a column today offering a sentimental perspective on charter schools, to which I have little to say because … read the disclaimer below. But in swaddling the self-victimized proponents of 2016’s Question 2 Mr. Lehigh wrote “And even, in the fevered imaginings of some charter opponents, as the cat’s paw of ‘corporate’ reformers supposedly hell-bent on the privatization of public education.” As someone who accurately identitied that raging fever I’ll concede that “corporate” reformers may not be the best description. Rather it was the hedge fund plutocrats of the Financial Privatization Cabal who were most responsible for seeking the privatization of public education.
Let’s start with my favorite image from the 2016 campaign, from Great Schools Massachusetts “60 day report” of contributors with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Scroll down and I’ll be back in a moment:
Mesmerizing, isn’t it? And it was repeated every subsequent reporting period, with only the feverish frothing few asking, “where in the hell is all that money coming from?” Though if you read this blog you had a pretty good idea – plutocrats masked by Strategic Grant Partners, the furtive winners of the WalMart ovarian lottery, etc. None of this became confirmed and generally publicized until ten months after the campaign when the Office of Campaign and Political Finance found that Families for Excellent Schools had illegally hidden the real contributors' identities and ordered the donors’ names disclosed. At that point the true sources of the funding became known and darned if they didn’t turn out to be a plutocratic cabal “hell-bent on the privatization of public education.”
Why deem the “corporate” reformers the Financial Privatization Cabal? Because most of the money came from hedge fund and other financial services titans. They ardently seek privatization. And as they knew transparency would be the death of their plot, their strategy depended on a secret cabal.
Just as I was picking up Mr. Lehigh’s column off my twitter feed came tweets that Keri Rodrigues, former state director of now Banned-in-Boston Families for Excellent Schools and present state director of Massachusetts Parents United is invited to represent parents at DESE. I confess I know little of this and won’t say anything about DESE because … read the disclaimer below.
But as I wrote in Why Massachusetts Parents United?, MPU is a front for the Walton heirs and other plutocrats tied up in the 2016 privatization campaign.
DESE’s promotion of the MPU state director is consistent with my argument in Why Massachusetts Parents United? in that the invitation confers legitimacy on the organization that may help it attract attention from the press and add members – all useful when it comes time for the Financial Privatization Cabal to offer up a “parents group” to call for more privatization, including charters.
It also reinforces the deep interlocking ties of the Baker administration with the Financial Privatization Cabal. And if as Mr. Lehigh writes, Massachusetts charter leaders are looking toward a more conciliatory path in their communities, the choice of Ms. Rodriguez indicates that the administration and Cabal are looking toward the next brawl.
Remember: Money never sleeps. Follow the money.
"Why wait for popular opinion to catch up when you could portray as ‘reform’ what was really slow-motion demolition through privatization?" – Professor Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Plan for America.
[Full disclosure: as an educator in the UMass system, I am a union member. I write about dark money (and other things). I don't write about education policy.]