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Funding Frenzy

On the heels of my small world post, many readers have written and asked for more discussion of the mega-education funders.

Who are they funding? How broad is their influence? Should the funding priorities of a small number of foundations drive local education policy? Is Bill Gates our national superintendent, as Diane Ravitch has suggested?

For those clamoring for disclosure, academic institutions where I have worked and studied have received grants from the Gates Foundation, and I have undoubtedly benefited from those grants. My intent is not to villainize these foundations, but to wonder out loud whether it is a good thing for American education when local reform strategies are shaped so strongly by a small number of private, uber-wealthy foundations.

To get us started, here's a link to a spreadsheet with the grantees of the Gates, Broad, and Walton Foundations. I pulled these from data from the Foundation Center's database; these are not real-time data, so grants from 2006-2007 are not exhaustively represented here. You can follow these links for a more up to date list of Gates, Broad, and Walton grantees. I'll hit this myself tomorrow, but in the meantime, may a thousand blog posts bloom...

P.S. Be sure to check out this A-Rus post about the growing role of foundations in American education.

I have published research on all of this. If anyone wants it, or is having trouble sleeping, i'd be happy to send you copies.

If you want to learn more, you should check out David Gabbard's Knowledge and Power in the Global Economy, 2nd ed. It is an invaluable tool for understanding this mess.

I'm really grateful that you are getting this out for people to see.


oh...and i guess i can pimp our session at AERA, since it addresses this topic:

28.019 (Tuesday, 12:25)

Conservative Foundations and The Cultural Politics of Curriculum: Fighting the War of Position

Kristan Buras from Emory
Kathleen deMarrais (past president of AESA who has also done extensive research into the tangled web of those reconstructing "public" education.)
Deron Boyles from Georgia State

Alex Molnar is the discussant...he is also co-director of Arizona State's Think Tank Review Project:


Philip - Will you be talking about your alliance with the ultra-right as well? e.g., Susan Ohanian who brags about her work with the Eagle Forum? I'll be there.

Hmmm...that's problematic, I didn't realize Susan worked with the Eagle Forum. Given what she's written about them in the past, I do find it hard to believe.

As for my "alliance with the ultra-right," you'll be needing to provide some evidence of that I think. A link maybe?

Regardless, I'll be more than happy to discuss it with you in NY.

Will ahole be on your name tag, or will you have the courage to stand behind what you say and use your name?

Philip: you said: "will you have the courage to stand behind what you say and use your name?"

Was that a question for me? Or eduwonkette?

The following is straight from Ohanian's website. Copied and pasted. I guess you've never taken the time to read it?

Susan Ohanian according to Susan Ohanian:

"Are you a Republican yet?" My husband asked me that question a couple of months ago. Maybe his question was provoked by the volume of mail coming to our house from the Eagle Forum, the Thomas Fordham Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, the National Center on Education and the Economy, the Center for Education Reform, the Citizens for Academic Excellence, the MacArthur Institute, Foundations of Liberty, Free World Research, Freedom First, the Independent American, American Policy Center, Focus on the Family, Halcyon House, Harvest House Publishers, Harold Shaw Publishers, Abique Books, and so on and on. Publish it, and Ohanian's check will follow.

oh my...the question was for you, as eduwonkette isn't attacking anyone.

as for your "proof" ...WOW...

You may want to reread Ohanian's entire piece; it first appeared in PDK International.

Here's the next two lines that you left out (one shouldn't cut and paste out of context):

"That's pretty much been my practice in the last year as I tracked resistance to Goals 2000, which is to say I've been studying government meddling in local education policy.

I admit to being surprised at what I found. For starters, I found that we have something to learn from the grassroots right-wing whackos, who are a whole lot more organized and a lot more strategic than the ever-eclectic and often bickering left-wing whackos."

See...she's studying and critiquing those foundations, not working with them. The result was a ton of bulk mail from the foundations themselves.

The entire piece can be read here:


Read it closely and tell me she is working with the Eagle Forum, but do so on our blog, as I don't think eduwonkette wants her board tainted by a silly debate.


Philip - wrong.

First, she says she sent a check.

Second, she wrote this this year:

"College Not Necessary for Many New Careers

Ohanian Comment: An article by Phyllis Schlafly has hot links to an article in US News & World Report which is worth checking out. Actually, the Schlafly article makes more sense. You will recall that I have been presenting evidence for years about the fact that "B.A. diploma holders 'are having trouble finding jobs that require college-graduate skills.'" That said, the job descriptions for "best careers" in the US News & World Report article are truly pathetic (or a hoot, depending on your mood). Simplistic beyond belief. I am really shocked that such stuff could get into print.

For example, they list "Ghostwriting" as a top career, suggesting this to the wannabe ghostwriter: "Contact a famous person you respect and ask if he or she would like you to ghostwrite an autobiography. If so, you develop an outline together and submit the proposal to publishers, usually through an agent. . . "

(Ohmygod, I've made my living, sort of, by freelance writing for the past 15 years. Clearly, the US News and World staffer who wrote this has no idea how difficult it is to get an agent, never mind making contact with famous people. Maybe what I need to do is contact Paris Hilton.)

Here are the criteria they say they used to choose "best careers":

Job satisfaction, defined as spending a high percentage of time on activities that many people would consider rewarding or pleasant.

Training difficulty, defined by the length of training typically required, adjusted by the amount of science and/or math involved.

Prestige, based on an informal survey of college-educated adults.

Job market outlook, based on data from the U.S. Department of Labor and professional organizations, with the career's resistance to being offshored considered.

Pay, with data provided by payscale.com, which has an extensive database of individual employee compensation profiles.

It is altogether good to get young people thinking about a broad array of careers and especially careers that are not college dependent. It is just unfortunate that the US News and World Reportcareer descriptions seem entirely loosey-goosey. There is no information as to whether these occupations are in short supply--just some odd descriptions of what might be fun about them.

Here's why they chose Hairdresser: "People tend to be loyal to their haircutter, so if you're at all pleasant, you can develop plenty of long-term friends or at least acquaintances. After all, there's a lot of time to chat while shampooing, cutting, and torturing hair so it curls or straightens."

Clergy: "Religion anchors millions of Americans' lives, and their clergyperson is their ship's captain."

Engineer: "How'd you like to design the next-generation iPhone? A better pollution control device? Or a machine that would more quickly decode a person's genome? If you're an inveterate tinkerer, with enough math and science ability to survive a five-to-six-year bachelor's degree, engineering could be your calling."

And so on. Schlafly makes more sense than US News. It's interesting that she offers information that should give one pause about choosing engineering as a career, one chosen "best" by the magazine.

by Phyllis Schlafly

U.S. News & World Report, which has made a name for itself by ranking and announcing the Best Colleges every year, is now ranking and listing the Best Careers for young people. A comparison of the latest lists shows a shocking disconnect and makes for dispiriting holiday reading.

While the price of a college education has skyrocketed far faster than inflation, many careers for which colleges prepare their graduates are disappearing. U.S. News' Best Careers guide concludes that "college grads might want to consider blue-collar careers" because B.A. diploma holders "are having trouble finding jobs that require college-graduate skills."

Incredibly, U.S. News is telling college graduates to look for jobs that do not require a college diploma. Among the 31 best opportunities for 2008 are the careers of firefighter, hairstylist, cosmetologist, locksmith, and security system technician.

Where did the higher-skill jobs go? Both large and small companies are "quietly increasing offshoring efforts."

Ten years ago we were told we really didn't need manufacturing because it can be done more cheaply elsewhere, that auto workers and others should move to Information Age jobs. But now the information jobs are moving offshore, too, as well as marketing research and even many varieties of innovation.

The flight overseas includes professional as well as low-wage jobs, with engineering jobs offshored to India and China. Thousands of bright Asian engineers are willing to work for a fraction of American wages, which is why Boeing just signed a 10-year, $1-billion-a-year deal with an Indian government-run company.

Society has been telling high school students that college is the ticket to get a life, and politicians are pandering to parents' desire for their children to be better educated and so have a higher standard of living. John Edwards wants the taxpayers to guarantee every kid a college education, and Mitt Romney says more education is the means for Americans to compete in a global economy.

But it doesn't make sense for parents to mortgage their homes, or for students to saddle themselves with long-term debt, in order to pay overpriced college tuition to prepare for jobs that no longer exist. Tuition at public universities has risen an unprecedented 51 percent over the past five years.

President Bush calls the loss of U.S. jobs "the pinch some of you folks are feeling." I guess his words are designed to show his "compassionate conservatism," but the reality is far more than a pinch.

U.S. News offers this advice for the nerds who still spend five to six years earning an engineering degree despite increasingly grim prospects of a well-paid engineering career: "Look for government work." Or maybe you can be an "Offshoring Manager" and be part of the process of shipping your fellow graduates' jobs overseas.

A Duke University spokesman said that 40 percent of Duke's engineering graduates cannot get engineering jobs. A Duke University publication suggests that the best prospect for good engineering jobs is for the U.S. government to start another major project like going to the moon.

U.S. News warns us that "government is becoming an employer of choice." Corporations are getting leaner, but government can continue to pay good salaries, with lots of vacation days, sick leave, health insurance and retirement benefits, because government rakes in more tax revenue in good times and can raise taxes in bad times; and if the Democrats win in 2008, we can expect government to expand even more.

Presidential candidates have gotten the message from grassroots Americans that we want our borders closed to illegal aliens. Headlines now proclaim "Immigration Moves to Front and Center of G.O.P. Race" and "G.O.P. Candidates Hold Fast on Immigration at Debate."

But G.O.P. candidates haven't yet gotten the message that jobs are just as big a gut issue as immigration. The Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey conducted December 14-17 reports that, by 58 to 28 percent, Americans believe globalization is bad because it subjects U.S. companies and employees to unfair competition and cheap labor.

Where are the limited-government fiscal-conservatives when we need them to refute the notion that the best an engineering graduate can hope for is a job with the government? Are the fiscal-conservatives too busy chanting the failed mantra of "free trade" even though it has resulted in millions of good American jobs being shipped overseas?

When are we going to call a halt to the way globalism is destroying U.S. jobs by foreign currency manipulation, theft of our intellectual property, shipping us poisonous seafood and toys, and unfair trade agreements that allow foreign subsidies (through the so-called Value Added Tax) to massively discriminate against U.S. producers and workers?

Read this column online.

Eagle Forum
PO Box 618
Alton, IL 62002

Phone: 618-462-5415
Fax: 618-462-8909
E-mail: [email protected]

— Phyllis Schlafly
Eagle Forum & U. S. News and Worldl Report


Pages: 306
[1] 2 3 4 5 6 Next >> Last >>

okay. you win. Susan Ohanian works with the Eagle Forum and I work with the ultra-right.

I thought a post about think tank interconnectedness made an interesting companion piece to this one. Cheers.

Ahole has badly misinterpreted Susan Ohanian.
I also send checks to right wing organizations - I subscribe to their journals and get their publications. I rarely agree them, but now and then, I do.
Ohanian's website (susanohanian.org) is in my opinion the center of gravity for the resistance in education. And her books are amazing, eg Whatever Happened to Recess?

The problem with these debates about networks and their influence is that they attract all kinds of extremists and wackos as well as the obvious partisans. What's ironic is that all these kinds of opponents do is provide the perfect defense for the networks.

Members of the network don't even have to say something like "look at these partisans and nuts, are they at all credible?" - the average reader does it for herself.

Crazies and partisans divert attention for more sophisticated arguments about the control over part of the policy spectrum, mutual protection of privileges, and the impact of this on policy in a democratic society.

It doesn't take too much in the way of rhetorical skill for members of the network to place reasonable people - yes, like me, eduwonkette, and TWIE in the same boat as the two engaged in this Ohanian-Schlafly comedy routine.

Maybe the conclusion of the disinterested eduwonkette, eduwonk, TWIE or edbizbuzz reader will be that this network is unreservedly good. But that conclusion should be arrived at after mulling over the facts, reading the analysis, and participating in the debate.

All these nutcases do is encourage readers to click through to something serious.

So, children, please go play outside. The adults are trying to have a conversation.

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • Marc Dean Millot: The problem with these debates about networks and their influence read more
  • Stephen Krashen: Ahole has badly misinterpreted Susan Ohanian. I also send checks read more
  • Steve: I thought a post about think tank interconnectedness made an read more
  • Philip Kovacs: okay. you win. Susan Ohanian works with the Eagle Forum read more
  • ahole: Philip - wrong. First, she says she sent a check. read more




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