Given that pedigree, it is not surprising when EdPost promotes charters and choice. What's a teensy bit surprising is whom they've teamed up with this time to do it. This contest runs the full gamut of reformsters from A to B.
|So maybe we actually are kind of similar|
The Choices in Education contest has its very own website, and the premise looks similar to Jeanne Allen's "Let's Show John Oliver He's big Doodyhead" contest from last year. Just make a video with your phone about how choice changed or your life (or why you desperately need it in your state) all in order to "elevate the story" of people's choices. Three top winners get $15K, three more get $5K, and there's a pair of people's choice awards for $5K each-- so a cool $70K. The contest encourages you to shoot the video with your phone, perhaps because they want that "real people support us" look and in part because a slick looking ad would just draw attention to the fact that reformsters have tons of money to throw around on PR stunts. I can't even imagine a world in which public schools could wave a giant wad of money around and holler, "This stack of cash goes to the people who do the best job of saying nice things about u."
But a closer look makes this contest even more interesting. First of all, instead of focusing only on charter schools, this contest is to promote a broader agenda:
There is no “one size fits all” school or educational model that works for everyone. That is why it is important for students and families to have the freedom to choose the pathway that best meets their needs, whether that is a different public school, charter, magnet, private school, virtual/blended, or homeschool.
That moves us away from the strictly-charter advocacy and into something more closely aligned with, well, the agenda of Betsy DeVos. Plenty of charter advocates have cast a leery eye on voucher systems-- but this contest loves it all. And EdPost is promoting it.
Whose contest is this, exactly?
Well, the main address on the site is that of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, the Florida-based group that, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, was going to provide a platform to help launch Jeb Bush to the White House. FEE has actually changed its name, at least in some places, to ExcelInEd, a group that includes all the same players and still calls itself the Foundation for Excellence in Education in the fine print on its site. I bring ExcelInEd up only because they are nominally the launchers of this contest. Mostly I am just dying for them to open an Ohio branch so that we can call them EiEiO. FEE/EiE is one of the older, more well-entrenched reformy groups with a Who's Who of deep-pocketed donaters including Gates, Walton, Broad, Kellogg, Bloomberg, Schwab, News Corporation and Dick and Besy DeVos.
Also sponsoring the contest? American Federation for Children, Betsy DeVos's advocacy group. AFC is a dark money group that has been working hard to push privatization of education in this country (for the children).
Also? EdChoice, the advocacy group previously known as the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the group launched by Milton Friedman.
National School Choice Week, the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning, Agudath Israel of America, and Classical Conversations (that last group provides content materials for homeschooling parents focusing on the three C's-- classical, Christian, and community).
So while this contest does represent more of the same old, same old, it has certainly drawn together an assortment of bedfellows. And as was the case with Jeanne Allen who used to think Trump and his administration was awful, but then she got over it, more and more reformsters, even the supposedly progressive ones, are more and more willing to align themselves with the DeVosian agenda after all. While folks in the reform movement may try to put some distance between themselves and other elements, it seems they can still bridge the tiny gaps tat sort of separate them.
In the meantime, your entry should only include you and your family members, and it has to be under two minutes. Grab your smart phone and record what you think about school choice today! Maybe you'll win $15,00o. In the meantime it's heartwarming to know that voucher vs. charter, free market vs. social justice, GOP vs. Democrats, reformsters don't have all that much trouble putting their differences aside in order to pursue the privatization of American education.