. Private Philanthropy Vs Public Education [Footnotes] | Ceasefire Magazine

Private Philanthropy Vs Public Education [Footnotes] On Corporate Power

The footnotes for the latest essay in the 'On Corporate Power' series.

New in Ceasefire - Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 2:37 - 1 Comment


These are the footnotes for the latest essay in the ‘On Corporate Power’ series, “Private Philanthropy Vs Public Education”.

Michael Barker explores the leading role played by private philanthropic foundations in the accelerating corporatisation of public education. Unless this relationship is understood and its impact resisted, he warns, we could be seeing the end of public education as we know it, with disastrous consequences.


[1] Saltman, The Gift of Education, p.1. The “Walton Family Foundation, Gates Foundation and Casey Foundation stand out among foundations giving major portions of their annual funding to privatization.” (p.47)

“Venture philanthropies such as New Schools Venture Fund and the Charter School Growth Fund are being financed by the large givers and aim to create national networks of charter schools, charter management organizations, and educational management organizations (EMOs).” (p.3) “

The largest EMO in terms of number of students, The Edison Schools (now Edison Learning), has been beset by numerous financial and accountability scandals that, as I explain in my book, The Edison Schools: Corporate Schooling and the Assault on Public Education, has less to do with corrupt individuals than with the impositions of privatization and the social costs of public deregulation.” (p.18)

To minimize public resistance, educational philanthropy also promotes “demand side” strategies through the creation and funding of fake grassroots (“astroturf”) groups to demand privatization.(p.59) For details of other groups involved in the corporatization of education in the United States, see here.

[2] Saltman, The Gift of Education, p.2, p.34.

[3] Saltman, The Gift of Education, p.1.

[4] Saltman, The Gift of Education, p.2. With regard to the commitment to cultural imperialism, Saltman cites two books, Robert Arnove, Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism, and William Watkins, The White Architects of Black Education. Later he writes: “Venture philanthropy continues the colonial legacy of cultural imperialism described by Arnove through a project of ‘civilizing the savages.’

In its updated form fostered by VP, “civilizing the savages” means the imposition of market discipline and corporeal discipline in the form of uniforms, heavy student discipline, standardized testing, and standardization of curriculum that is posited as universally valuable and that stands against the ‘cultures of pathology’ attributed to nonwhite students and particularly African Americans and Latinos.” (p.41)

[5] Saltman, The Gift of Education, p.65.

[6] “By giving to the foundation, particularly to the foundation that the philanthropist controls, the philanthropist essentially evades the bulk of public control over the use of tax revenue. This means that first, VP in education exists only through public financial subsidy; second, the forgone public tax revenue needs to be understood as being effectively, through the design of public policy, redistributed to the private controllers of the foundation; third, the foundation, which is almost always controlled or directed in its mission by economic elites, uses this public wealth for privately determined purposes; fourth, these purposes tend to align with the material interests and ideological perspectives of private elite power.” Saltman, The Gift of Education, p.44.

“In effect, then, the public pays to have its own educational system increasingly directed, controlled, dismantled, and owned by private interests.” (p.44)

[7] Saltman, The Gift of Education, p.40.

[8] Saltman, The Gift of Education, p.65.

[9] Saltman, The Gift of Education, p.101. Saltman writes that this “move for professionalization” is being “led” by Obama education campaign advisor and former trustee of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Linda Darling-Hammond. (p.101)

[10] Saltman, The Gift of Education, p.90.

[11] Saltman, The Gift of Education, p.121. Continuing his strange tirade against “purist” Marxism, Saltman writes: “The role of public schooling as a public democratic institution that prepares citizens for civic engagement is not central to the new old Marxian education any more than it is to neoliberal education because the Marxists imagine a post-revolutionary future that will be run as a dictatorship of the working class. For the Marxists as for the neoliberals, democracy receives lip service, but these unlikely bedfellows share a commitment to reducing education to economics. While the Marxists rightly attack the damaging structure of global capitalism and its human costs, they are left with no place to go as the alternative educational form can only be derived from class analysis.” (p.123)

[12] Saltman, The Gift of Education, p.123, p.172. Saltman adds: “This perspective is a comprehensible over-reaction to some of the worst excesses of the postmodern trend in educational theory that resulted in the depoliticized insistence on localism, a myopic identity politics, the rejection of the category of class and political economic analysis, cultural relativism, the rejection of any narrative of emancipation or progress, the celebration of desire in ways that merely reinscribed consumerism to name a few. Nonetheless, these Marxist authors ought to embrace the selective appropriation of diverse theoretical tools.” (p.173)

For a useful discussion of the evolution of educational theory, see Scott Davies, “Leaps of Faith: Shifting Currents in Critical Sociology of Education,” American Journal of Sociology, 100 (6), 1995, pp.1448-78; also for a powerful critique of a recently published overview of Marxist educational theory, see Curry Stephenson Malott,” Pseudo-Marxism and the Reformist Retreat from Revolution: A Critical Essay Review of Marx and Education,” Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 9 (1), 2011. http://www.jceps.com/index.php?pageID=article&articleID=206

[13] Saltman, The Gift of Education, p.146, p.147.

Michael Barker is a researcher and activist. His ‘On Corporate Power’ column appears monthly in Ceasefire. He tweets at @mbarker_mike

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Private Philanthropy Vs Public Education | Ceasefire Magazine
Nov 23, 2011 3:17

[…] here for the footnotes. __spr_config = { pid: '4ea978c1396cef4d6f0001fa', title: 'Private Philanthropy […]

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