A Look at Some of the Driving Forces behind the School Reform Movement and the Effort to Privatize Public Education

SchoolClassroomSubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

In recent years, we have heard and read a lot about the failure of public schools in the United States. “Our schools are failing” has almost become a mantra with members of the media, many of our politicians, and the advocates of school reform. I have seen few people who have questioned the assertions made by the media, elected officials, and school reformers that schools in this country are not adequately educating our youth and that our educational system is a total and abject failure.

Many of those who criticize our public education system offer charter schools and the privatization of public schools as solutions to the “education problem” in this country.

I’m a retired public school educator. I have known and am friends with many current and former public school teachers. I know that there are many fine classroom practitioners working in our public schools today…and many excellent schools where our children receive a quality education. I am aware that there are also many schools where children may not be receiving the highest quality education. (What often go unmentioned in the media are the real reasons—including poverty—why some schools in this country may be failing.)

One problem with the “our schools are failing” mantra—as I see it—is that  all our schools are lumped together in one basket labeled “failing.” How did this come to be? Do we Americans really believe that NO public schools in this country provide their students with an adequate education? Do we believe that all schools need to be reformed? If not, do we believe that even the schools which are actually doing an estimable job of educating their students need to be reformed?

I think it is time we start taking a good look at the individuals and organizations that are behind the push to establish thousands of charter schools and to use taxpayer money to fund private and religious schools as the means of raising the quality of education in this country.

ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council)

Last May, education historian Diane Ravitch wrote the following about one group that has been driving the school reform movement:

Since the 2010 elections, when Republicans took control of many states, there has been an explosion of legislation advancing privatization of public schools and stripping teachers of job protections and collective bargaining rights. Even some Democratic governors, seeing the strong rightward drift of our politics, have jumped on the right-wing bandwagon, seeking to remove any protection for academic freedom from public school teachers.

This outburst of anti-public school, anti-teacher legislation is no accident. It is the work of a shadowy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Founded in 1973, ALEC is an organization of nearly 2,000 conservative state legislators. Its hallmark is promotion of privatization and corporate interests in every sphere, not only education, but healthcare, the environment, the economy, voting laws, public safety, etc. It drafts model legislation that conservative legislators take back to their states and introduce as their own “reform” ideas. ALEC is the guiding force behind state-level efforts to privatize public education and to turn teachers into at-will employees who may be fired for any reason. The ALEC agenda is today the “reform” agenda for education.

Ravitch continued:

A recent article in the Newark Star-Ledger showed how closely New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s “reform” legislation is modeled on ALEC’s work in education. Wherever you see states expanding vouchers, charters, and other forms of privatization, wherever you see states lowering standards for entry into the teaching profession, wherever you see states opening up new opportunities for profit-making entities, wherever you see the expansion of for-profit online charter schools, you are likely to find legislation that echoes the ALEC model.

ALEC has been leading the privatization movement for nearly 40 years, but the only thing new is the attention it is getting, and the fact that many of its ideas are now being enacted. Just last week, the Michigan House of Representatives expanded the number of cyber charters that may operate in the state, even though the academic results for such online schools are dismal.

ALEC Exposed provides a wealth of information about how—through ALEC—“corporations, ideologues, and their politician allies voted to spend public tax dollars to subsidize private K-12 education and attack professional teachers and teachers’ unions…” (You can find the information in Privatizing Public Education, Higher Ed Policy, and Teachers–the ALEC report prepared by The Center for American Democracy.)

Michelle Rhee and StudentsFirst

In addition to ALEC, there is another organization called StudentsFirst that has been helping to spearhead the effort to “reform” our public schools. According to Stephanie Simon, Michelle Rhee, founder and CEO of StudentsFirst, has “emerged as the leader of an unlikely coalition of politicians, philanthropists, financiers and entrepreneurs who believe the nation’s $500 billion-a-year public education system needs a massive overhaul.” Simon added that Rhee, the former chancellor of the D.C. public schools, “has vowed to raise $1 billion” for StudentsFirst, and “forever break the hold of teachers unions on education policy.”

Simon continued:

StudentsFirst has its own political action committee (PAC), its own SuperPAC, and a staff of 75, including a cadre of seasoned lobbyists Rhee sends from state to state as political battles heat up. She has flooded the airwaves with TV and radio ads in a half dozen states weighing new policies on charter schools, teacher assessment and other hot-button issues.

To her supporters, Rhee is a once-in-a-generation leader who has the smarts and the star power to make a difference on one of the nation’s most intractable public policy issues.

But critics say Rhee risks destroying the very public schools she aims to save by forging alliances with political conservatives, evangelical groups and business interests that favor turning a large chunk of public education over to the private sector. She won’t disclose her donors, but public records indicate that they include billionaire financiers and wealthy foundations.

In January the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign published its review of Rhee’s StudentsFirst State Policy Report Card for 2013:

Here’s an excerpt from the summary of the campaign’s review:

On Monday, the pro-privatization education group StudentsFirst, led by former D.C. public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, released a State Policy Report Card, ranking states and giving each a letter grade based on their implementation of a slew of education reform policies. Rather than focus on issues facing students and families, particularly those affected by unequal access to school resources, the policy benchmarks in the new report reveal StudentsFirst’s obsession with charter schools and de-professionalizing the teaching profession. The report pushes policies that are either untested or disproven — but happen to be welcome in the halls of right-wing think tanks and politicians.

The National Opportunity to Learn Campaign listed five reasons why the StudentsFrirst Report Card is “a veritable wish list for privatization advocates and a recipe for failure for everyone else”:

1.      Ironically, It Ignores The Needs of Students

2.      It Opposes Personalized and Student-Centered Learning

3.       It Argues That We Don’t Have Enough Quality Teachers… While Advocating That We Lower the Bar for Teacher Preparation

4.       It Continues the Disastrous High-Stakes Testing Drumbeat

5.      It Advocates “Equal Funding” and “Equitable Access” for Charter Corporations and Private Schools, Not Students

The DeVos Family

In May of 2011, Rachel Tabachnick wrote an article for AlterNet about the DeVos family, a wealthy family that has “remained largely under the radar, while leading a stealth assault on America’s schools” that has the “potential to do away with public education as we know it.”

Quoting Tabachnick:

Vouchers have always been a staple of the right-wing agenda. Like previous efforts, this most recent push for vouchers is led by a network of conservative think tanks, PACs, Religious Right groups and wealthy conservative donors. But “school choice,” as they euphemistically paint vouchers, is merely a means to an end. Their ultimate goal is the total elimination of our public education system.

The decades-long campaign to end public education is propelled by the super-wealthy, right-wing DeVos family. Betsy Prince DeVos is the sister of Erik Prince, founder of the notorious private military contractor Blackwater USA (now Xe), and wife of Dick DeVos, son of the co-founder of Amway, the multi-tiered home products business.

According to Tabachnick, the Devoses, who are big contributors to the Republican Party, spent millions of dollars “promoting the failed voucher initiative in Michigan in 2000.”  Following that defeat, Tabachnick claims that the family decided to alter its strategy.


Instead of taking the issue directly to voters, they would support bills for vouchers in state legislatures. In 2002 Dick DeVos gave a speech on school choice at the Heritage Foundation. After an introduction by former Reagan Secretary of Education William Bennett, DeVos described a system of “rewards and consequences” to pressure state politicians to support vouchers. “That has got to be the battle. It will not be as visible,” stated DeVos. He described how his wife Betsy was putting these ideas into practice in their home state of Michigan and claimed this effort has reduced the number of anti-school choice Republicans from six to two. The millions raised from the wealthy pro-privatization contributors would be used to finance campaigns of voucher supporters and purchase ads attacking opposing candidates.

Dick DeVos advocates “stealth” strategy, Heritage Foundation, December 3, 2002

Last April, Daniel Denvir wrote an article for City Paper about the push for a school voucher program in the state of Pennsylvania. He said that names on the fliers of “legislative hopefuls” sounded like the names of “homegrown” candidates. He said that a “different picture” emerged when one followed the money:

that of a statewide campaign, funded by wealthy donors, to stack the Pennsylvania primary battles on April 24 in favor of those supporting school vouchers, which allocate taxpayer funds for private and religious school tuition. The pro-voucher political action committee (PAC) Students First — funded by Pennsylvania hedge-fund managers and American Federation for Children, a Washington, D.C., pro-voucher group headed by Amway heiress and major right-wing donor Betsy DeVos — emerged on the state’s political scene with a bang for the 2010 elections. And they are back to spend big in 2012.

Lawrence Feinberg, co-chairman of the anti-voucher Keystone State Education Coalition, said, “I see a move by essentially a handful of very wealthy people who want to privatize public education for a wide variety of reasons. Not the least of which has to do with crushing labor unions, but they also want tax dollars going to private and religious schools.”

School Reform and The Profit Motive

In his Salon article The Bait and Switch of School “Reform,” David Sirota writes about the profit motive behind some of the reforms being advocated by “Big Money” interests.


As the Texas Observer  recently reported in its exposé of one school-focused mega-corporation, “in the past two decades, an education-reform movement has swept the country, pushing for more standardized testing and accountability and for more alternatives to the traditional classroom — most of it supplied by private companies.”

A straightforward example of how this part of the profit-making scheme works arose just a few months ago in New York City. There, Rupert Murdoch dumped $1 million into a corporate “reform” movement pushing to both implement more standardized testing and divert money for education fundamentals (hiring teachers, buying textbooks, maintaining school buildings, etc.) into testing-assessment technology. At the same time, Murdoch was buying an educational technology company called Wireless Generation, which had just signed a lucrative contract with New York City’s school system (a sweetheart deal inked by New York City school official Joel Klein, who immediately went to work for Murdoch.

Such shenanigans are increasingly commonplace throughout America, resulting in a revenue jackpot for testing companies and high tech firms, even though many of their products have not objectively improved student achievement.

At the same time, major banks are reaping a windfall from “reformers’” successful efforts to take public money out of public schools and put it into privately administered charter schools. As the New York Daily News recently reported:

“Wealthy investors and major banks have been making windfall profits by using a little-known federal tax break to finance new charter-school construction. The program, the New Markets Tax Credit, is so lucrative that a lender who uses it can almost double his money in seven years…

“The credit can even be piggybacked on other tax breaks for historic preservation or job creation. By combining the various credits with the interest from the loan itself, a lender can almost double his investment over the seven-year period.

“No wonder JPMorgan Chase announced this week it was creating a new $325 million pool to invest in charter schools and take advantage of the New Markets Tax Credit.”


Ravitch: A primer on the group driving school reform (Washington Post)

Activist targeting schools, backed by big bucks (Reuters)

5 Ways Michelle Rhee’s Report Puts Students Last (National Opportunity to Learn Campaign)

The DeVos Family: Meet the Super-Wealthy Right-Wingers Working With the Religious Right to Kill Public Education (AlterNet)

Right-Wing Campaign to Privatize Public Ed Takes Hold in Pennsylvania (AlterNet)

Big corporate money in support of school vouchers hits primary races statewide. Will it tip the scales in Philly? (City Paper)

The bait and switch of school “reform” (Salon)

The Deep Pockets Behind Education Reform (Forbes)

Privatizing Public Education, Higher Ed Policy, and Teachers (The Center for American Democracy)

433 thoughts on “A Look at Some of the Driving Forces behind the School Reform Movement and the Effort to Privatize Public Education”

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  7. Correction: I meant if a student started at a rank of 20%, and dropped to the 10% rank; with lower ranks being worse grades, then the teacher has neglected that student by letting them fall even further behind than they were. (I accidentally said 20% twice in a row, not 20% then 10%.)

  8. Elaine: Speaking as a professional, the proper statistic for how good a teacher is will not be self-referential as Gates claims (if they do good two years in a row), the system offers a clear independent check: A third grade teacher is “good” if, on average, her students are prepared for the FOURTH grade; and that is measured by the average of how well her students DID in the fourth grade, relative to their peers.

    Since the fourth grade teacher is essentially a random choice (or could be, in my grade school days there was no attempt to keep our home rooms together from year to year), and the kids she teaches in the third grade are essentially chosen at random, we can measure all sorts of performance criteria in this way.

    In the fourth grade as a whole, there will be an average grade; no matter what scale you use, and the effects of poverty and other externalities will be factored into that. The specific third-grade teacher will be responsible for having advanced, say, 150 students to the fourth grade. That is enough to represent a fair distribution of good and bad students, and we can measure their average for fourth grade, and compare that to the overall average, to see how well her students did, Relative to their own rankings (among all students in that school) when they began her class; applying the same idea to previous grades.

    A poor student (for whatever reason) may rank low at the beginning of her class relative to peers; for argument say in the bottom 20%. If that student is still in the bottom 20% after the fourth grade, she didn’t change their rank much, that is not indicative of being a bad teacher or good teacher (relative to her peers in that school). If that student drops to the bottom 20%, she neglected him. If he rise in rank to the 30% level, still dismal but she was a good teacher for that student, she made up some ground.

    The average change in rank (positive or negative) of her 150 students is her “grade” as a teacher. For first grade, a standardized test of ability can rank students so we have a point of comparison for how well first-grade teachers performed. (We need to give some sort of test like that anyway to identify special needs children.)

    For the 12th grade, a standardized exit exam (like the SAT) can serve as the benchmark for 12th grade teachers.

    For both of those tests, even though “standardized,” the point is not the absolute scores the children make, the point is the relative scores, how they changed the rankings for kids within their own cohort. That prevents us from comparing rich schools to poor schools, rich kids to poor kids, etc. All the kids in one school are from the same neighborhood and roughly the same culture and economic background.

    A severe decline in class ranking, grade to grade, is also an indicator we might use to identify children at risk or with problems that might need investigation and addressing (nutritionally, financially, emotionally, or involving substance abuse).

    This approach does not dictate what you must teach at each grade; it does not dictate standardized scores to be achieved. The school should have some leeway in tailoring its curriculum based on their resources and socioeconomic positioning. But we can still compare relative improvement from school to school that are close on those parameters, to identify best practices that result in more relative improvement.

    It does rely on teachers ranking (grading) the performance of their students without just giving them all As (or all Cs), and dictating some minimum level of dispersion in ranking seems necessary to me. In my work (which is NOT kids) I’d suggest (for a class of 30) a minimum of six ranks be populated; with at least two kids in each.

    The measure of a “good teacher” is not how well their kids do on tests, it is how much improvement they made in kids for taking the next step in their lives; and the best way to measure that in school is to see how well they did (on average) in the next step of their lives, which for them is the next grade.

  9. A Strange Deference to Gates Foundation at Education Nation
    by Anthony Cody
    September 26, 2011 by The Answer Sheet Blog

    Last September, NBC brought us the first Education Nation, programming developed in coordination with the release of the pro-charter school documentary, Waiting For Superman. The network caught flak when it was pointed out that panels were loaded with school reform “superheroes,” such as former D.C. Schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, while largely absent were voices of reform critics, such as education historian Diane Ravitch and classroom teachers.

    This year, NBC has made an effort to be a bit more balanced and inclusive of teachers’ voices, and the Teacher Town Hall yesterday made a start.On a stage journalist Brian Williams interviewed mostly teachers, while his colleague, Tamron Hall, took comments from the crowd. The teachers’ comments are worth a listen, but what most caught my attention was an interview with philanthropist Melinda Gates.

    Here are some of the things Williams said about Melinda Gates and her husband, Bill, who, together, have the largest private foundation in the world and have donated billions of dollars to projects — some of them controversial — in the education world.

    At the top of the show, we were told:

    We’re also going to be joined by Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates Foundation, one of the sponsors of this event, and the largest single funder of education anywhere in the world. It’s their facts that we’re going to be referring to often to help along our conversation.

    Then, in his introduction of Melinda Gates, Brian Williams said:

    You could refer to our guest as the top funder of education in the world. A partner and sponsor of this year’s gathering. Also spending half a billion dollars to devise a way figure out what makes a great teacher, what makes them most effective. The estimates are the Gates Foundation has already spent, obviously a record for any education spending, spent or committed to spending five to seven billion dollars.

    But I want to focus on what Mrs. Gates said, because there is something deeply disturbing about the way the issues have been framed. And since this foundation is, according to Brian Williams, the source for the very facts that are guiding this conversation, it seems crucial to understand the thinking that is behind their work.

    Brian Williams asked:

    You and your husband have always said this all comes back to a single relationship a student and a teacher. What have you learned about what makes a great teacher?

    Melinda Gates responded:

    Everybody says ‘you can’t just look at test scores at the end of the year, because there are so many factors, there’s poverty and other things that go into this.’ But nobody had done the research to say ‘how do we know that a teacher’s making a difference in a student’s life?’ So we set out to do this enormous piece of research. Three thousand teachers signed up in six different districts. We videoed the teachers, and we said ‘at the end of the day, what is predictive of great teaching? What besides that test score?’ And it turned out a teacher who’s good one year is good usually in the second year. It turned out you could look at the test scores and see in terms of value added, how had they moved kids up in the system. But then you could also look at student perceptions. It turned out that student perceptions of a teacher were also predictive of how they would do at the end of the year and whether they learned all that material.

    Brian Williams:

    How do you keep that from becoming a popularity contest?

    Melinda Gates:

    We learned you have to have multiple measures of what make a great teacher. Right now teachers are observed by their principals at regular intervals. We need to have peer observations. But we need to know that the tool that we’re using — there are ten different tools for peer observations. But which ones actually predict whether the students learned the material at the end of the year? So we need to test the peer observations, and the principal observations, and we need to look at the scores at the end of the year, and we need to look at the student data. When you ask the students did you have an effective teacher, you ask specific questions, ‘did the teacher help you when you didn’t understand the homework, or what you missed on your homework? Did they go help you learn that? Did the teacher get a sense of when he or she didn’t explain the information well, and help get your class on track? Did your teacher manage the classroom well? It turns out there are about six questions you can ask the students – not ‘did you like the teacher,’ but what they did in the classroom that actually measures and correlates to whether the test scores got better at the end of the year.

    Do you notice what is bothering me? Gates begins by acknowledging that good teaching cannot be reduced to a test score — or at least that this is often said. She then asserts that the half a billion dollars that her foundation has spent on research in this area have uncovered a number of things that can be measured that allow us to predict which teachers will have the highest test scores. A great teacher is defined over and over again as one who made sure students “learned the material at the end of the year.”

    If you look closely at how she describes peer observations, the method at work is even clearer. Teachers tend to support peer observation, because it can be a valuable basis for collaboration, which yields many benefits to us beyond possible test score gains.

    But what does Melinda Gates say about it? It can be worthwhile, BUT: only the models of peer observation that have been proven to raise test scores should be used. And presumably we can count on the Gates Foundation to provide us with that information.

    It appears that the Gates Foundation is laboring under the same logical fallacy that doomed No Child Left Behind. Employing circular reasoning, they have defined great teaching as that which results in the most gains on end of year tests, and then spent millions of dollars identifying indicators of teaching that will yield the best scores.

    The most deceptive strategy is how they then try to pretend that these indicators are “multiple measures” of good teaching. In fact, these are simply indicators of teaching practices associated with higher test scores. The things she describes that supposedly go beyond test scores –peer observations, student perceptions — are only deemed valid insofar as they are correlated with higher test scores.

    Melinda Gates begins with the question “How do we know a teacher’s making a difference in a student’s life?” That is an excellent and complex question. However, when we look at her answer, we find she commits the logical fallacy known as “begging the question.” One begs the question when one assumes something is true, when that is actually a part of what must be proven.

    The question she begs is “what defines great teaching?” This is not answered by finding teaching methods associated with higher test scores. This question remains hanging over the entire school reform enterprise. Until we answer that question, we are devising complex mechanisms to elevate test scores assuming this will improve students’ lives, when this is manifestly unproven.

    This episode should remind us of the crucial need to teach critical thinking in our schools — and apply such thinking to the dilemmas we face.

    The other thing that was rather disturbing was the omnipresence of the Gates Foundation’s largesse. Towards the end of the show, Brian Williams offered this advice to viewers:

    This is a couple who have decided to give away their fortune. I heard two educators earlier today, one said to the other, “they never set out to do anything other than put money into education and help kids.” So thanks to our audience for being mindful of that.

    There was some pushback, however, and NBC deserves some credit for giving space for some differing views. New Haven teacher Matt Presser was one of the winners of an essay contest, and he offered his thoughts:

    Too often school reform is something that is happening to our students as opposed to with them or for them, and so many decisions are being made by people in board rooms, people in the White House, when the real people who know what our students need are the people here today, the people in our classrooms every day.

    This must have seemed to be a bit ungrateful to Brian Williams, because he then said:

    We just had Mrs. Gates here. This is a guy, I think the Forbes latest figure is $60 billion … here’s the Gates family, spending upwards of $7 billion so far, haven’t broken a sweat yet, trying to talk to you guys, ask you questions, including students, asking questions about what’s working, what’s not working. Do you support their efforts? Do you think it’s money well spent?

    Matt Presser replied,

    I think it’s a shame that we have to rely on philanthropy to support our schools, to make up for an educational debt that has accrued for generations. I think certain communities, especially in urban areas, have been neglected by education for so many years, we have so much to make up for – not just in education, but in housing policy and job discrimination. In so many areas across the country, that even those efforts to get more money into our schools, there needs to be more a holistic approach, instead of just something that is thrown at our schools.

  10. http://dianeravitch.net/2013/03/13/charter-hype-from-florida-doe/

    Diane Ravitch’s blog
    A site to discuss better education for all
    « Why California Tightened Oversight of New Teachers
    The Day the Teachers Said No »
    Charter Hype and Spin from Florida DOE
    By dianerav
    March 13, 2013 //

    One of the saddest consequences of the merger of education with partisan politics is that we now no longer can trust pronouncements from many of our state and local departments of education. Instead of accurate data, we are apt to get spin, hype, distortion, and outright lies, all in the service of someone’s political agenda.

    One of the worst offenders is the Florida Department of Education. For years, under Jeb Bush and now Rick Scott, the department has been incapable of impartial analysis or self-criticism. Instead, its goal is to parrot the party line of testing, accountability, charters, vouchers, and online learning.

    The latest embarrassing public relations stunt from the state DOE is a “study” claiming that charter schools in Florida outperform public schools. This is intended to help the privatization movement–for-profit and nonprofit–get a bigger market share.

    The latest “study” was not conducted by independent reputable scholars but by the Department itself. That explains a lot.

    Consider that only four months earlier, an independent study concluded the opposite: that public schools perform the same or better than charter schools.

    The key finding in that study was:

    “The average charter school is doing about the same as the non-charter school when no adjustments are made for poverty and minority statuses. When the adjusted scores are considered, the average charter school performs significantly worse than the average non-charter school.”

    An investigation by the Miami Herald determined that most charters do not accept severely disabled students.

    Half of the F-rated schools in the state are charters.

    Charters were seven times more likely to be rated F than were public schools.

    Reputable studies have reached the same conclusions: Charters in Florida perform about the same or worse than public schools.

    One study concluded that their achievement growth is lower than that of regular public schools, but that after five years, charters produce similar gains.

    The Credo analysis found that Florida charter schools performed significantly less well than their public school peers.

    Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. reportedly has a “big contract” with the Los Angeles school district, and this week, the company dumped money into the Los Angeles election, reportedly to protect a News Corp-friendly school superintendent. Ben Dimiero surveys the situation: http://mm4a.org/13Dsjro
    A SAD, “NEW” LOW ?
    News Corp. Puts Its Thumb On The Scale Of LA Elections
    Blog ››› March 5, 2013 2:27 PM EST ››› BEN DIMIERO
    “News Corp. subsidiary News America Inc. has pumped a quarter million dollars into today’s Board of Education elections in Los Angeles. Rupert Murdoch’s corporation is not merely an interested onlooker in the elections; fellow News. Corp subsidiary Wireless Generation has a contract with the school district.

    According to the Los Angeles Times, “a relatively small group of major donors” has given big last-minute financial support to a political action committee called the “Coalition for School Reform.” The PAC reportedly aims to help current Los Angeles schools superintendent John Deasy survive the elections by supporting board candidates that favor keeping him in the position.

    Among the major donations listed by the Times are $250,000 from News Corp. subsidiary News America Inc. and an additional $25,000 from News Corp VP Joel Klein, who heads up Amplify, the corporation’s education division.”

  12. “In 2010 and 2012, the Peterson Foundation gave a combined $3,032,596 to Teachers College at Columbia University to develop a curriculum in order to push the foundation’s message of fiscal austerity in high school classrooms…”

    ” Fiscal Summits: “Journalists in the Service of Pete Peterson”

    The Peter G. Peterson Foundation has sponsored high-profile annual conferences called “Fiscal Summits” each spring since 2010. In 2012, speakers included President Bill Clinton, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Senator Alan K. Simpson, and other politicians, journalists, and organizational leaders.[91] A January 2013 article in Remapping Debate describes them as follows: “An essential and successful element of the Peterson strategy is to create an environment where it is widely if not universally believed that there is no alternative to his vision. In this view, it’s ‘not realistic’ to believe the country can afford the same programs it once did. . . . A review of the proceedings of the Fiscal Summits of the last three years makes agonizingly clear that most of the journalists who conducted interviews or moderated panel discussions both reflected and amplified the Peterson worldview — entirely unselfconsciously, it would seem.”[92] For example, CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo asked Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chair of the House budget committee, during the 2011 summit, “I wonder if you had dealt with Social Security that perhaps you would not have to have some of the other spending cuts that you are talking about — on education, food stamps, cutting services on the people who desperately need those services.” And during the 2012 summit, CNN’s Erin Burnett asked House Speaker John Boehner, “Do you think that democracy is part of the problem? That in a democracy people are always going to vote for more things, they are never going to vote to take them away. Now the payroll tax is down; good luck ever having it go back to the way it was. Good luck with a lot of these things. Is democracy going to be what sends us over the cliff?”[93]”

    Peter G. Peterson (tax free) foundation preaches austerity and seeks not only the demise of social security but pension funds that he refers to as “entitlements” in a derogatory way.
    PGP is a professional predator & scavenger…the quintessential revolving door entrepreneur of hostile takeovers…now cleaned up as Private Equity.

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