HuffPost Story Details Koch-Backed Free-Market Education Program

By Mark Walsh — July 17, 2014 2 min read
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The Huffington Post has a lengthy story revealing that the Charles G. Koch, one of the wealthy brothers behind various right-wing causes, is the funder of a program whose “underlying goal,” the publication says, is to “impart Koch’s radical free-market ideology to teenagers.”

HuffPost’s reporters learned many of the details of the program through some enterprising newsgathering: A team of associates working on the project at the Charles Koch Foundation communicated for a time using a Google group “that it had left open to the public,” the report says.

The associates “would design and test what they called ‘a high school free market and liberty-based course’ with support from members of the Koch family’s vast nonprofit and political network,” says the July 16 HuffPost report by Christina Wilkie and Joy Resmovits. “A pilot version of the class would be offered the following spring to students at the Wichita Collegiate School, an elite private prep school in Kansas where Koch was a top donor.”

After surveys showed that students at the prep school “largely failed to absorb [the program’s] libertarian message,” the developers and Koch lieutenants “hashed out strategy to infiltrate public schools,” the HuffPost report says.

The group of Koch associates, which dubbed themselves the “Wu-Teach Clan,” concluded in a memo (linked in HuffPost’s story) that many other groups already provide basic economics curricular materials for schools.

“What is lacking is a decidedly philosophical approach to the study of economics, which would explain the foundations of prosperity,” the Wu-Teach Clan memo states. “We have concluded that a philosophical approach is necessary in the study of economics in order to teach students about the foundations of prosperity.”

The story goes into considerable detail about the effort, beginning around 2010, to expand a long-running program funded by Charles Koch called Youth Entrepreneurs, as well as other efforts funded by Koch and his brother, David H. Koch.

“Youth Entrepreneurs is just one piece of the Kochs’ slow creep into America’s schools,” the HuffPost report says. “The larger Koch effort pushes forward with think tanks, university programs and teacher seminars as well.”

Among other efforts, the Koch brothers are financing advocacy groups that are battling the Common Core State Standards, HuffPost said, linking to a Politico story from last September.

HuffPost says the Charles Koch Foundation declined to comment for its story. I also called the Arlington, Va.-based foundation, but did not immediately hear back.

The developers of the economics program appear to have learned one lesson of their own: Their Google group is no longer open to the public.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.