April 2, 2012

Democrats For Education Reform Head Says Charter Schools Should Use Per Pupil Dollars For Lobbying

Democrats For Education Reform Head Says Charter Schools Should Use Per Pupil Dollars For Lobbying
DFER's Joe Williams (from DFER's website).

One of Big Money’s last targets for privatization is America’s public schools. Using a variety of policy schemes ranging from school vouchers to for-profit charter schools, the education privatization movement seeks to take over America’s largely public K-12 education system and put it in the hands of some of the very same people who caused the financial crash on Wall Street.

One group that has been successful in pushing this wave of privatization is Democrats For Education Reform (DFER), a group of largely finance industry Democrats who advocate for expansion of charter schools and high-stakes testing, among other policies.

Dissent Magazine uncovers a conference that DFER executive director Joe Williams spoke at in 2010. At that conference, Williams actually advocated for charter schools to spend money on advocacy organizations and lobbying through their “per pupil dollars” — meaning the very same funds that are supposed to be used to educate students. Williams justified this by saying that charters are an attempt to run a school “as a business” and that businesses of course allocate their funding “right off the bat” to “lobbying, advocacy work“:

Another of Williams’s comments reveals what is so misguided about this brand of education reform: “I think charter schools should be paying advocacy organizations for their advocacy work out of their per pupil dollars. If you think of running a school as running a business, any sound business is going to allocate right off the bat a certain percentage of their funding towards lobbying, advocacy work.”

William’s comment is revealing. DFER appears to view education as no different than any other for-profit business. And just as America’s other big industries spend enormous amounts of money to influence our politics, DFER appears to have no problem with charter schools digging into funds that should be used for student education to seriously impact public policy.