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Education Opinion

Hedge Funders Get What Parents Allow

By Walt Gardner — March 27, 2015 1 min read

I don’t like to devote this column too often to events in any one locale, but what is taking place in New York State is so outrageous that I make an exception (“9 Billionaires Are About to Remake New York’s Public Schools - Here’s Their Story,” The Nation, Mar. 19). According to an investigation by The Nation, Families for Excellent Schools, which is controlled by nine billionaires, has succeeded in making its vision of education reform a virtual certainty.

Readers can acquaint themselves with the details, but suffice it to say that what the nine billionaires and their ilk primarily want is to privatize education in New York State and emasculate its once powerful teachers’ union. They’ve found a kindred spirit in Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has made it his mission to cut school funding and base half of a teacher’s evaluation on standardized test scores.

What I don’t understand is why more attention is not being paid to the role that parents play in enabling the movement to go forward. It certainly can’t be for lack of information. As a result, I’m forced to conclude that most parents are too disaffected with traditional public schools to voice opposition. In other words, they don’t like hedge fund billionaires, but they like the school choices that the hedge fund billionaires promise.

This goes back to what I believe will be the most important issue in education in the next few years: the right of parents to send their children to the school they alone believe provides the best education. I’ve warned about the downside of parental choice. But in the final analysis, parents are going to act in their best self-interest.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.