Monday, October 07, 2013

STERN: Rethinking Johnson’s gift | Yale Daily News

STERN: Rethinking Johnson’s gift | Yale Daily News: Unqualified praise further obscures the fact that this donation was also part of a larger, and potentially disturbing, trend. In the last couple decades, the largest donators to education went from nonprofit institutions to privately funded foundations. Education, public and private, is increasingly funded by billionaire philanthropists such as the Gates and Walton families.

While few are denying the generosity of these individuals, their influence is extremely troubling. The rise of private philanthropy in education is the rise of very few people having an inordinately loud voice in setting policy. The Gates Foundation, for instance, has no public accountability at all and has a specific political agenda; the Foundation opposes teacher tenure and strongly supports charter schools. Because of the massive amounts of money given, these positions tend to become increasingly adopted by both the public and policymakers, including by the Obama administration. Thus, a very few well-heeled individuals steer national policy. And as the gap between the poor and the uber-wealthy gets larger and larger, fewer and fewer people will have a say.

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