John Katzman wants to figure out how to make as much money off your kids' education as possible.

Reuters has the scoop on an event that took place earlier this week where nearly a hundred education profiteers — ranging from executives at testing companies to private equity moguls eager to invest in education technology — met at a swanky Manhattan club to cheer on the privatization of the U.S. education system:

The investors gathered in a tony private club in Manhattan were eager to hear about the next big thing, and education consultant Rob Lytle was happy to oblige.┬áThink about the upcoming rollout of new national academic standards for public schools, he urged the crowd. If they’re as rigorous as advertised, a huge number of schools will suddenly look really bad, their students testing way behind in reading and math. They’ll want help, quick. And private, for-profit vendors selling lesson plans, educational software and student assessments will be right there to provide it.

Reuters goes on to note that education has become a huge business in just the past seven years. In “the venture capital world, transactions in the K-12 education sector soared to a record $389 million last year, up from $13 million in 2005.”

The policies that have allowed for these education profiteers to get involved with the system have been pushed by politicians from both parties, and many of them — such as the aggressive expansion of charter schools and high-stakes testing — have been endorsed both by President Obama and Mitt Romney, although Romney appears to be much more supportive of outright privatization.

Many of the privatization architects who attended the Manhattan confab are also political donors. According to Federal Election Commission data, Lytle was a Romney donor in 2007, giving $500. Meanwhile, Princeton Review and 2Tor’s John Katzman has spread thousands of dollars over numerous politicians from both major political parties, giving $4,800 to Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) while also donating tens of thousands to Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sam Brownback (R-KS), and others over the past decade.

Katzman has been particularly insistent in his desire to see large chunks of the education system privatized. At the event, he apparently “urged investors to look for companies developing software that can replace teachers for segments of the school day” — a convenient way for schools to do away with a number of their teachers altogether.

If politicians take his advice, it will no doubt be thanks at least in part to cash he and other education privatizers are dumping into the political system.


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Filed under: Plutocrats

April 14, 2012
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  • Really_seriously_now

    I’m all for privatizations as long as they don’t expect the Governmnet to fund them with our tax money. I don’t like paying my taxes to support public serices to go to people/corporations to make them rich. Just another scheme. Our money should be going to fix our education system and keep these Government tit suckers out of it. You want to get into the education system open a private school and let people pay for it out of pocket and then allow them to deduct the tuition from their taxes.

    • Phil Hanson

      A tax deduction is just another way of subsidizing them with other taxpayers’ money. If people want privatized education, they should pay for it privately on their own dime. That said, privatization of the things people need always produces inferior goods or services at higher cost.

    • Tjshea

      Charter schools are publicly funded, and since the success level is even with or slightly above regular public schools the major difference seems to be what are the costs to poorly educate students. Cost per student can be kept down if teacher unions can be sidestepped. Pay less for failure seems to be the charter schools business model..

      • CatKinNY

        Actually, the success rate of charters is slightly below that of conventional public schools, and when you consider that they get to pick who they take (and everyone they take is the child of a parent motivated enough to apply), we end up paying the same for the delivery of a vastly inferior product, since the public school has to take all the kids the charter rejects. The cost savings incurred by paying less to teachers is not passed on to taxpayers, but goes towards the multimillion dollar salary of the CEO who runs the company and the dividends paid to investors.

        When you pay a living wage and benefits to a bunch of teachers, far more of it gets recycled back into the economy in the purchase of food, clothes, furniture, refrigerators, etc, than if you knock them out of the middle class and into the lower middle class so you can elevate a few individuals from the top 2% into the top .05%. While it’s great for those elevated, it’s bad for everybody else, and since it’s bad for students, lets just move on. But can we finally admit that privatizing things, of neccessity, involves making a profit, and that may not be the best way to spend tax dollars?

      • Abigail00

        Tjshyea….. you need to do some serious research. Academic studies have repeatedly shown that charter schools have underperformed our regular public schools. Further, just as our prison system became privatized and then more expensive, costs for charter schools have krept up—see Michigan for example. The charter schools that have excelled are typically ones where public funds plus private funds have allowed for significantly higher expenditures and an increase in programs, including health and food.

        • Tjshea

          Abigail -& CatKin – The statistics used in any study you omit to cite suffer from a comparison of apples and oranges. A study done in Ohio cites negligible gains while one undertaken in Kansas shows strong gains. . And yes there is a connection between success rates and additional(private funding) as shown in the Harlem School project. For some reason you misread my post as backing charter schools . I don’t . Mostly because I don’t believe educational reform starts with a profit motive. The discussion of who and what as education serves is consistently by passed. That said I believe there is a push by the financial sector to find any money stream including education. I am deeply cynical of outside ,private funding for charter schools as it represents to me not altruism on the donors part but a way to launch a better PR program.

      • Notocharter

        The Stanford study shows only 17 percent of charter schools do better than public.

        See Paragraph 2 in Link below

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