Saturday, April 23, 2011

These loony billionaires want to destroy public education

The charming DeVoses.
Many Americans despise the Koch brothers because of their tireless efforts to destroy the middle class. But there are other rich families that deserve our derision for the same reason -- the Coors heirs, the Walton heirs, the Mellon heirs. And Michgan's own DeVos family.

Richard DeVos made his billions on a pyramid scheme -- Amway. Now his son Dick and daughter-in-law Betsy are trying to eradicate public education. She is the former chair of Michigan's Republican Party; Dick ran for governor of Michigan in 2006.

According to People for the American Way,
Dick DeVos has used his family's fortune and status to create an intricate national network of non-profits, political action committees and federal groups known as 527's that effectively fund the political arm of the school voucher movement...Nowhere is the impact of the DeVos family fortune greater, though, than in the movement to privatize public education.
Dick DeVos lost the 2006 campaign for governor, in which he said nothing about his support of school vouchers (kind of like Scott Walker saying nothing about destroying unions when he ran for governor of Wisconsin).

DailyKos speculates the DeVoses
...realize that they are better off hiding behind their astro-turf organizations in states where they aren't so well-known...
And so we can just barely see their fingerprints in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Washington, D.C. and Wisconsin.

Talk to Action exposes their phony grass-roots efforts to "improve" education by -- well, attacking teachers, unions and public schools. Reports Talk to Action:
A new wave of school voucher bills is sweeping the nation...these new bills are largely promoted and funded by the billionaire DeVos family and a core group of wealthy pro-privatization supporters. They include Pennsylvania SB-1, soon coming to a vote in the PA Senate, and the "Vouchers-for-All" bill approved by the Florida Senate Education Committee on April 14. Betsy DeVos is at the helm of organizations that have set the stage for both bills, but you would never know it based on the propaganda being marketed to Pennsylvanians.
Betsy DeVos hid one of her anti-public education groups behind the neutral-sounding name, "All Children Matter" -- until it was fined $5.2 million for illegal campaign funding in Ohio and fined for misconduct in Wisconsin.

"All Children Matter" became "American Federation for Children," which (no surprise here) gets Koch money. And "American Federation for Children" campaigned against recall efforts for the eight GOP senators who supported Koch whore  Gov. Scott Walker's attacks on workers.

In Pennsylvania, the DeVoses and fellow Koch whores put vast sums of money behind candidates who support school privatization. Now, Gov. Tom Corbett proposes huge cuts in the state's education budget. The Senate will be voting on SB1, which gives vouchers to poor kids and costs the state hundreds of millions of dollars. Corbett won't tax gas drilling in Pennsylvania, though, because it would be unpatriotic.

In Indiana, "All Children Matter" put $700,000 into political campaigns, and now they're reaping the rewards. Reports the Journal and Courier,
Legislation to cut tens of millions of dollars from Indiana's public schools over the next two years -- giving it instead to private schools and home-schooled "virtual" students -- was only slightly weakened as a result the Democrats' walkout. Legislation to spend tens of millions more to expand charter schools remains intact as well, even though 80 percent of those schools are currently performing in the bottom 33 percent of all Indiana public schools.
In Florida, school choice is moving through the Legislature with the help of American Federation for Children.  The DeVos's got their tentacles into the Washington, D.C., schools with the recent expansion of a voucher program.

In Ohio, "All Children Matter" still hasn't paid its $5.2 million fine, but TribToday reports
Ohio Gov. John Kasich pushes a $55.5 billion budget proposal that would continue to expand school choice, doubling the number of school vouchers in the state and lifting a cap on community schools.
And just so we're all clear on this, the privatization folks' darling is former DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. Rhee is now mired in a cheating scandal. (We're not the teensiest bit surprised.)

Oh, and Dick DeVos has a Faceook page. You might want to comment on it.