Thursday, February 20, 2014

When It Comes to American Politics These Days, You Can't Take ANYTHING at Face Value

You have to analyze every single outfit, and every outfit it is connected with, and every outfit the connections are connected with, and so on down the line. The forces to destroy the United States and its public institutions are everywhere, and they are all interconnected.

Just take a look at this post about Koch-backed ALEC and its connections to the Fordham Institute, both of which are among the many far right and neoliberal organizations that have as their goal to dismantle American public education in order to privatize it and transfer those trillions of dollars to the billionaire/Wall Street sector that desperately needs more money than the mere billions they already have.

Take a look at the comment following the post. It just boggles the mind:

I don’t think the Fordham Institute has EVER been “center-right.” Although that may be their pretext. Fordham has always been “ideologically conservative.” That ideology has always skewed the “facts” even as the Institute claims faithfulness to “quality research.”
The Institute has given awards to conservative “researchers” like Paul Peterson, Eric Hanushek, and Terry Moe.

Paul Peterson thinks public education “reform” consists of more charter schools, more testing, merit pay, and vouchers. Peterson is a man who put former Reagan Education Secretary William Bennett in the same category as Horace Mann and John Dewey as education “reformers.” Peterson is a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institute. His cronies there include “scholars” like Eric Hanushek, who infamously tried to debunk the Tennessee STAR class-size study because there were no achievement tests given to pre-kindergartners as “baseline” data BEFORE they started school.

Chester Finn, top dog at Fordham, admits that in the very short time he taught, he was a horrible teacher. Yet he pushed hard for NCLB and its test-based “accountability,” he supports Common Core, and he now sees fit to tell others what education “reform” looks like. It looks just like the kind envisioned by Paul Peterson, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Business Roundtable, and the other corporate “reformers.”

Fordham’s Board of Trustees includes Chester Finn, Rod Paige (who presided over a massive cheating scandal as superintendent in Houston, and like Arne Duncan, was a failure as Secretary of Education), Caprice Young of the right-wing Arnold Foundation, and Stefanie Sanford (who was once a director of policy for Rick Perry [yes, THAT Rick Perry], worked at the Gates Foundation, and now is the resident policy wonk at the College Board).

Where does Fordham get its money?

Major funders of Fordham include the following:

the Broad Foundation (known for its free market” “data-driven “ approach to “reform”);

the Walton Foundation (a big-time promoter of “competitive pressure,” i.e. school vouchers);

the Gates Foundation (a promoter of charters and “merit” pay, and Common Core.);

the Hoover Institute (the conservative “think” tank that pushes laissez-faire economics, puts out “research” by such ideologues as Eric Hanushek, Paul Peterson, Carolyn Hoxby, and is funded by conservative organizations groups like the Koret Foundation and the Bradley Foundation…Chester Finn is a “senior fellow” there);

* Ohio Business Roundtable (a group that promotes the myth that higher standards and achievement are critical to “competitiveness” and demands more tax cuts for big business);

* Koret Foundation ( Here is it’s foundational philosophy: “Milton Friedman believed that America’s broken educational system lies at the heart of our nation’s troubles, and directed his own foundation to work solely on the promotion of market-based K-12 education reform. The Koret Foundation agrees with Dr. Friedman.”);

* Bradley Foundation (an organization that purports to fund “wisdom, morality, and personal character” but which funds conservative causes and ideas almost exclusively, leading some to call it “the country’s largest and most influential right-wing organization.” It also funds the conservative American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Federalist Society, and the Hoover institute.);

* the Kern Family Foundation ( based on what it calls “the traditions of free enterprise…ordered liberty and good character.” The Kern Foundation applauds Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute for explaining in his book The Battle, the “free enterprise is fundamentally a system of moral values such as honesty, courage, diligence, thrift and service to others.” Tell that to all of those who were hurt and cheated and swindled –– and left without homes and jobs –– because of the rampant fraud and corruption on Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms.)

So, the Fordham Institute is right-wing, indeed. That it is now openly aligned with ALEC is disturbing, not so much because of Fordham itself, but because of who (see above)– and what (the Common Core) – Fordham is tied to tightly.

They are just one big happy, incestuous family.

How happy I am to see listed the good old Bradley Foundation, the one that literally brought us a blight on the body politic by the name of Cory Booker, now U.S. senator from New Jersey, and will likely be peddled as a "Democratic" Party presidential candidate in 2016 or even 2020. Excuse me while I gag.

1 comment:

WalterJesseSmith said...

Thank you for this very helpful article.

You have clearly indicated the importance of thinking through the contexts of what we altruistic folks most care about, as well as the contexts of what we confront and those groups we otherwise might suppose are allies. Unless we do this rigorously, we inadvertently bring religiously devoted enemies into the altruistic community every time we try doing anything.

Gregory Bateson tried to teach us about contexts and contexts of contexts, etc., as offering the most important ways of thinking about the things we care most about.

His book, Angels Fear, (completed brilliantly at his deathbed request by his daughter, Mary Catherine), is a brilliant introduction to how we all might think more clearly if we ever want altruistic being to fundamentally and coherently and confidently and effectively confront the Earth destroying selfish forces arrayed against all the altruistic forces we seem able to otherwise muster.

I hope we soon see more of your thinking here.