The Money Behind the Lunacy: Removing the Sheep's Clothing from Albertsons
As her shrewness observed last night, investigative ap reporter, John Miller, has connected some more dots, exposing the association of, and the pecuniary interest in, the radical school reform legislation, by Joe Scott and the Albertsons Foundation. In so doing, a picture is coming into sharp focus of for profit companies gradually hijacking the public education system, seeding the infrastructure necessary for the private takeover to be complete. They've persuaded legislators, over time, to allocate precious resources to building the infrastructure network and all that remains is to get the state to buy laptops for every "customer" in Luna's "customer-driven" plan.
Of course, legislators must get rid of teachers to pay for it. Overhaul proponents seek to use Idaho education to generate income to their shareholders much is likely to be as abysmal as private prisons, which will surely have to be utilized to a greater degree, given the likely "product" this takeover will achieve. Moreover privatization further spirals Idaho into economic turmoil by funneling Idaho tax dollars out of state, destroying 770 jobs at the outset of this plan, instead of stimulating our economy here.
Luna is in the center of this maelstrom. His connections, while already apparent, are promised to be illuminated by Dan Popkey in tomorrow's Statesman. Luna is trying to get in front of this, defending against Popkey's article before it arrives. Indeed, the Governor, another benefactor of K-12 money, has deployed his wife and former teacher, Lori Otter with an op-ed in support to be published simultaneously. Tom Luna already looks a lot like K-12's Harold Hill. Miller's piece is the appetizer to Sunday's promised Popkey article and you'll need to read more than this teaser, in order to be up to speed.
For nearly a decade, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation has chipped in millions toward Idaho’s online public education system. One of those online schools, the Idaho Virtual Academy, has, in turn, directed tens of millions of public dollars into K12’s company coffers, for services ranging from curriculum to administration.
K12 was founded in 1999 by former U.S. Education Secretary William Bennett.
With debate over expanding Idaho’s Internet-based education system now dominating the 2011 Legislature, Scott, who is Joe Albertson’s grandson, and an avid skier with his own helicopter, isn’t staying on the sidelines, either.
And should you need a reminder who Bill Bennett is, he's the former Republican education secretary, who built a lucrative ideological right wing punditry career based upon self proclaimed virtue and social conservatism, who just happens to have a severe gambling problem. Bennett is the model for all con men seeking profit from his ideological supporters in government.
No person can be more rightly credited with making morality and personal responsibility an integral part of the political debate than William J. Bennett. For more than 20 years, as a writer, speaker, government official, and political operative, Bennett has been a commanding general in the culture wars. As Ronald Reagan's chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, he was the scourge of academic permissiveness. Later, as Reagan's secretary of education, he excoriated schools and students for failing to set and meet high standards. As drug czar under George H.W. Bush, he applied a get-tough approach to drug use, arguing that individuals have a moral responsibility to own up to their addiction. Upon leaving public office, Bennett wrote The Book of Virtues, a compendium of parables snatched up by millions of parents and teachers across the political spectrum. Bennett's crusading ideals have been adopted by politicians of both parties, and implemented in such programs as character education classes in public schools--a testament to his impact.
But Bennett, a devout Catholic, has always been more Old Testament than New. Even many who sympathize with his concerns find his combative style haughty and unforgiving. Democrats in particular object to his partisan sermonizing, which portrays liberals as inherently less moral than conservatives, more given to excusing personal weaknesses, and unwilling to confront the vices that destroy families. During the impeachment of Bill Clinton, Bennett was among the president's most unrelenting detractors. His book, The Death of Outrage, decried, among other things, the public's failure to take Clinton's sins more seriously.
His relentless effort to push Americans to do good has enabled Bennett to do extremely well. His best-selling The Book of Virtues spawned an entire cottage industry, from children's books to merchandizing tie-ins to a PBS cartoon series. Bennett commands $50,000 per appearance on the lecture circuit and has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants from such conservative benefactors as the Scaife and John M. Olin foundations.
Make no mistake, privatization will lead to politicization, an attractive feature to this radical legislature. Removing teacher tenure, de-professionalizing them and their administration, and destroying collective bargaining has little to do with saving Idaho money. Removing these legal protections to the profession of education makes teachers vulnerable employees enabling a school board to exert its political will in the classroom by threatening teacher jobs without consequence. Prepare for Texas style text books and Dover style school boards pushing creationism to begin the political indoctrination of Idaho children.