What’s going on in Chicago, as the teachers’ strike enters its second week?
According to David Warsh,
The Chicago teachers strike was an interesting skirmish in what Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson last week described as a civil war within the Democratic Party. As far as I could tell, the walkout was a contest between the Billionaire Boys Club, its program fronted by Mayor (former Wasserstein Perella investment banker and ex-White House chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel, and a tough-talking union chief, Karen Lewis, who had no difficulty mustering a 95 percent strike vote.
Warsh discussed the Billionaire Boys Club back in 2010, in the context of discussing Diane Ravitch’s book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System:
Ravitch is especially good on the influence of what she calls the “Billionaire Boy’s Club” – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (the Microsoft fortune), the Walton Family Foundation (Wal-Mart), and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation (home-building and finance) – that have eclipsed the older foundations long associated with education policy (Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie and Annenberg) as the powerful big givers. Sometimes described as “venture philanthropies” or exponents of “philanthrocapitalism,” meaning their methods are borrowed from start-up finance and management, the Gates, Walton and Broad foundations see their grants as investments, designed to produce measurable results. And though they preach accountability to teachers, they receive relatively little scrutiny themselves – or even much dissent, given the power of their interlocking grants to exclude critics. All that money buys a lot of silence, Ravitch says, not to mention admiring friends.
Last week, I discussed the role of the Stand for Children foundation in attempting to weaken teachers’ unions and pushing forward its own well-financed education reform agenda.
Does anyone smell a rat?