Exposed: The Billionaire-Backed Group Strong-Arming Parents into Destroying Their Kids' Public Schools
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Very quickly it became apparent a whole lot of parents had been duped, and would happily rescind their signatures if they got a chance.
“We called hundreds of lawyers, but no one would help us. They didn’t even refer us to the right lawyer who could help us,” Lori explained, shaking her head. “Meanwhile, Parent Revolution had a slick legal team working for them pro bono.”
Anti-trigger parents were grasping at straws, and felt totally alone. Local teachers couldn’t help them; they were afraid to even talk. The union told them to stay quiet because it was afraid of legal action from Parent Revolution. Anti-trigger parents say that, in the end, the only real help came from California’s teachers union, but even that was mostly restricted to legal advice on how to properly collect statements from parents so that Parent Revolution would not be able to challenge them in court.
“We got no real help from anyone,” said Lori. And that included the press, which tended to smear anti-trigger parents as union stooges and thugs out to intimidate low-income minorities into submission. LA Weekly ran a series of particularly nasty articles, specifically attacking Lori for doing the bidding of corrupt teachers who care more about “cushy union contracts” than their students’ education. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial features editor (and son of raging neocon Douglas Feith) David Feith published a string of pieces attacking the efforts of anti-trigger parents to push back against Parent Revolution’s astroturf campaign. Feith smeared their genuine grassroots organizing as a “systematic and legally questionable pressure campaign waged against parents” on behalf of the “hostile unions” and the “education establishment.”
Lori started to feel surrounded by intrigue. She says, “I would do these interviews with these people and reporters and journalists and bloggers. Anyone that would call I would talk to because I need to get this information out because people need to know this. And then I'd get the article and I'd be like this has nothing to fucking do with what I said. I got to the point when I started thinking, do they — and by they, I mean Parent Revolution — do they own everything? Do they own the fucking editors, do they own the newspapers?"
Lori’s paranoia-sense was not that far off the mark.
Parent Revolution might not own the press, but the people and companies who fund groups like Parent Revolution and stand to profit from school privatization, well . . . they quite literally do own the press. Sometimes they are the press.
Among the major investors in privatizing education is Rupert Murdoch.
It was Murdoch’s 20th Century Fox that put out “Won’t Back Down,” Maggie Gyllenhaal’s parent trigger film bankrolled by Phillip Anschutz, the right-wing oil billionaire who funds everything from anti-gay ballot initiatives and Christian Identity, to teaching creationism in schools. Anschutz is also a major backer of ALEC, the right-wing lobby group that pushed through the “Stand Your Ground” vigilante laws that resulted in Trayvon Martin’s murder. ALEC is also spearheading parent-trigger laws in states across the country.
Murdoch recently announced his plans for aggressive expansion into the private primary education sector, saying, "When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed.”
Murdoch’s News Corp media empire is vast. The Washington Post Company — which owns The Washington Post, Slate.com, Foreign Policy magazine, among other news media holdings — relies heavily on its for-profit education subsidiary, Kaplan Inc, which generated 62% of the company’s revenue in 2012. Then there’s The Financial Times and The Economist, both of which are owned by Pearson, a multinational mega-media company that’s also heavily involved in private education.