Obama and the Charter School Sugar Daddies

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

As hedge funds spin their financial webs to spur charter school expansion and President Obama bullies states to lift caps on charters, "right-wing foundations are attempting to swallow whole the entire school district of Washington, DC." For a $65 million donation, the Wal-Mart family and other fat cats demand DC schools drop union rules - and threaten to take back the money if the voters change administrations.

Obama and the Charter School Sugar Daddies

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Hedge funds and bankers have become the Sugar Daddies of charter schools."

When it comes to the public schools, the Obama administration is allied with the most rapacious sectors of Wall Street and far-right foundations. That political reality is most evident in  the administration's campaign to establish a parallel national network of charter schools, with a heavy emphasis on inner cities. Obama and his education chief, Arne Duncan, have spent their first year and a half in office coercing states to expand charters or lose out on more than $4 billion in federal education money. Obama's allies on Wall Street invest heavily in charter schools, tapping into the public money stream to build their own vision of corporate education.

Historically, Wall Street is to Democrats what Big Oil is to Republicans. Hedge funds and bankers have become the Sugar Daddies of charter schools, using their clout with big city Democrats to give charters every advantage over conventional public schools.

Wall Street finds charters especially attractive, since bankers and hedge funds can exercise extraordinary influence on the schools while the public pays most of the tab. And profiteers have found numerous ways to turn charter schools into cash cows, where taxpayers finance private contracts over which the public has no control. Charter schools are a low-risk, fast buck dream, tailor-made for corporate exploitation and political manipulation.

RIch foundations have banded together to amass a mountain of money to ensure that charter schools have sources of funds that most public schools lack, plus a steady income from the taxpayers.

"If the voters get rid of Mayor Fenty, they can kiss the fat cats' money goodbye."

Rightwing foundations have become so emboldened in their privatizing campaigns, they are attempting to swallow whole the entire school district of Washington, DC.  Four foundations, led by the Wal-Mart owners' Walton Family Foundation, have offered DC almost $65 million to help fund the public schools - with plenty of strings attached. In addition to dropping important seniority system protections for teachers, the foundations demand that the city and school administration remain intact, or they'll take their money back.  That means, if Adrian Fenty, the corporatist Black mayor of DC, fails to win re-election this year, or his union-hating schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, loses her job, the Walton Family and the rest of the foundations think they can pick up their millions and leave DC to find some other way of paying for the schools.

This is blatant rule of the rich, an oligarchy of extortion by the worst elements of the ruling class - all under the guise of helping inner city school kids.

When you think of it, $65 million is a cheap price to pay for the foundations to control, not only the DC public schools, but the entire political process of the nation's capital city. If the voters get rid of Mayor Fenty, they can kiss the fat cats' money goodbye.

Actually, that's no more outrageous than President Obama making states jump through charter school hoops to get a piece of his $4 billion "Race to the Top" prize.  Obama is also a bully and an extortionist, in league with the Wal-Mart family's foundation and the bankers and hedge funds on Wall Street.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].
 
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