Sunday, February 23, 2014

Everybody Has a Price

Once upon a time, the organization Stand for Children, an organization that started in Portland, Oregon, actually was a reputable one. It had as one of its goals the preservation of public education. Its founder, Jonah Edelman, is a son of the famed activist Marian Wright Edelman. How could such a would-be great organization have gone so wrong as to have gone over to the dark side? It's only been in the past five or six years the organization went from being a grassroots organization concerned with children to an astroturf, front organization for privatization interests.

Why did this happen? Easy: It started taking money from the likes of the Walton and Gates foundations:

What happened? How did Stand morph from an organization with a focus on children’s health issues, nonschool factors, and research-based school improvements to an organization that pushes core elements of the corporate destruction of public education?

Stand has seen an enormous influx of corporate cash. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation began by offering a relatively modest two-year grant of $80,000 in 2005. In 2007, Stand for Children received a $682,565 grant. In 2009, the point at which Stand’s drastically different political agenda became obvious, Gates awarded a $971,280 grant to support “common policy priorities” and in 2010, a $3,476,300 grant.

Though the Gates Foundation remains the biggest donor to Stand for Children, other players in the world of corporate education reform have also begun to see Stand as an effective vehicle to push their agenda.

New Profit Inc. has funded Stand since 2008—to the tune of $1,458,500. According to its website, New Profit is a “national venture philanthropy fund that seeks to harness America’s spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship to help solve the country’s biggest social problems.”

The Walton Family Foundation made a 2010 grant of $1,378,527. Several other major funders are tied to Bain Capital, a private equity and venture capital firm founded by Mitt Romney.

Everybody has a price. That's why I say every single outfit pushing an agenda cannot be taken at face value. You have analyze where the money is coming from, and whether or not that group is actually a front group.

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