Betsy DeVos Announces PA Governor Tom Corbett Will Keynote Pro-Voucher National Policy Summit
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 11:21:52 AM EST
Vote on SB-1 could take place in the Pennsylvania Senate as early as today. [Author's Note 4/27/11: The vote did not take place! Apparently there was not enough support in the PA Senate as of yesterday for the bill to pass. Please help to get the reports - Part One and Part Two - on the astroturfing campaign behind this and other state voucher bills, to your local educators, legislators, and journalists.]

Betsy DeVos and American Federation for Children (AFC) announced yesterday that new Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (R) will be the keynote speaker for their National Policy Summit on May 9.  AFC is at the center of funding and promotion of school voucher bills, which allow public school dollars to be used to fund private and religious school students.  This is a nationwide campaign which parallels the Koch-funded war on unions. American's United's Rob Boston has described AFC and the DeVos-led crusade as a  "deceptive behind-the-scenes war on public schools and separation of church and state."  Nevertheless, the vote in the PA Senate could take place as early as today, and Pennsylvanians may lose this battle to the small, but heavily-funded, pro-voucher camp.

The American Federation for Children press release states,
"The event will inform and encourage school choice supporters to promote school choice programs in their own states and communities and will feature some of the nation's leading public policy-makers and analysts—including former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, renowned pollster and political analyst Frank Luntz, and Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony Williams, a chief sponsor of Pennsylvania's Senate Bill 1"
 In 2010, an affiliate organization of the DeVos-led AFC was established in Pennsylvania and raised  $6.5 million dollars, most of it from three partners in one investment firm, and an additional $1.2 million from other AFC affiliate PACs.  Students First led a classic "astroturf lobbying" effort, funding Republican and Democratic candidates and an intense media campaign.  

Repeated in states throughout the country, the media blitz serves to create the impression that taxpayers are clamoring to send students to private and religious schools with public school funds.  Most evidence in Pennsylvania and elsewhere is to the contrary, and when voters are allowed to make the decision, they have overwhelmingly defeated voucher initiatives in state after state. (Graphic above is from the Detroit Free Press reporting a two to one defeat of a voucher initiative in 2000, despite a two to one advantage in funding by the pro-voucher campaign.) Pennsylvanians across the spectrum, from liberals to Tea Party members, have vocally opposed the bill for a variety of different reasons.  Nevertheless, the loudest voice in the political dialogue has been that of the well-funded Students First PAC campaign.

See two extensive reports on this issue at Talk2action:

Part One
Voucher Advocate Betsy DeVos, Right-Wing Think Tanks Behind Koch-Style Attack on Public Schools
http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/4/20/232844/831

Part Two
Pro-Voucher Astroturfing:  Campaigns Across Nation Coordinated by DeVos, Funded by a Few Mega-Donors
http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/4/24/22559/1547


The graphic on the right is a mailer with "Paid for by Students First of Pennsylvania," printed at the bottom.  American Federation for Children affiliates have sponsored similar attack ads and mailers in other states, including Florida and Wisconsin.

The mailer was sent to residents represented by state Sen. Daylin Leach,  (17th senatorial district) who strongly opposes SB-1.  Text from the mailer includes the following:


"Why would Daylin Leach be against legislation that helps so many Philadelphia children?  Unfortunately, it may be because Leach is listening to teachers union leaders who oppose SB-1 and have contributed a fortune to people like Leach."

"Demand Daylin Leach support SB-1.  Call him at xxx-xxx-xxxx and tell him not to let politcal contributions sway his vote."

"The question is will Leach listen to you, or to the teachers union leaders who are giving him big contributions, and want him to oppose school choice."

There are demonstrably false claims in the mailer, but it is most notable for the theme which has been echoing across the nation.  Financed with millions, the pro-privatization camp has blanketed the country with the image of themselves as a grass roots movement and altruistic little guy in the battle against the big, bad, and selfish teacher's unions. The idea that public school teachers are "big special interest money" obstructing the rosy future (toward privatized education), has become firmly embedded in the psyche of many Americans.

Students First PAC is an organization which was registered in the state on March 10, 2010 by a Republican strategist.  It is affiliated with American Federation for Children, the name now used for PACs across the nation since DeVos' All Children Matter lost its legal appeal and was fined $5.2 million dollars in Ohio for breaking campaign finance laws. Betsy DeVos and AFC have duplicated this money and media blitz in states across the nation, funded by a few wealthy pro-privatization supporters.

Students First PAC spent an unprecedented amount of money in the Pennsylvania elections in 2010, dwarfing the contributions to candidates by the state's teachers unions.  These unions represent hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians working in schools across the state.  The Students First PAC contributions are from a group of people who could fit around a medium-sized conference table, plus $1.2 million from other AFC affiliates. Most came from the Indiana affiliate whose contributors could also fit around a conference table and include the three Pennsylvania mega-donors.  (See Part Two of this series for sources of funding to the Indiana affiliate PAC.)

The funders of Students First PAC and other AFC affiliates serve on the boards and finance right-wing think tanks that are ideologically opposed to public education.  These institutes have spent years preparing sophisticated strategies for privatizing education in America.

Who is the "big special interest money" in this battle?




Display:
Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. I'd prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don't mind. Natually I'll give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.madeira plastica | plastic lumber | Ssangyong | hyundai hb20so681S

by dennishobson on Mon May 27, 2013 at 01:46:17 PM EST


WWW Talk To Action


On Christmas Day, in the Morning
In recent years at Christmastime, I have posted a response to the preposterous-but-malevolent claims broadcast on Fox News and elsewhere that there is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Hallelujah, Mike Huckabee, Hallelujah
Fox News personality Mike Huckabee had a defining moment in the wake of the Newtown massacre. One that as we enter the 2016 presidential......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Moses And Michele: Departing Member Of Congress Spreads More Misinformation
The Religious Right's Moses fixation continues to grow.As you might recall, the Texas State Board of Education recently demanded social studies textbooks that highlight......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Christian Right Silent about Bob Jones U Sex Abuse Report
One of the deep scandals of our time, and apparently times past, is that sex abuse, particularly of children, has been so tolerated and......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Boot These Bigoted Bans: Movement Seeks To Remove Anti-Atheist Bias From State Constitutions
Eight states still have provisions in their constitutions that either bar atheists outright from holding public office or require people to believe certain things......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
James Madison and Tax-Supported Chaplains
In light of former Sen. Rick Santorum's recent silly declaration that “the words ‘separation of church and state’ is not in the U.S. Constitution,......
By Chris Rodda (0 comments)
Death to Obama; Death to "Homos"; What's Next?
When the Obama administration was young, threats against the president were common, and sometimes quite public. One notorious such incident was that of Rev.......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Rick Scarborough's America
When Stand Up Sunday was convened by Mike Huckabee in Houston it was to feature the leading spokesmen for the Religious Right agenda.  The......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
The Republican Diversity Program... Is Working
I don't usually write directly about electoral politics, but sometimes I bring an outsider's perspective to how the inside looks to some of the......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
American Christian Right Leaders in Rome
The remarkable and growing alliance between conservative Catholicism and protestant evangelicalism was on prominent display at a recent event at the Vatican. My colleague......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Religious Supremacism on the Rise Against Marriage Equality
This is a crosspost of an op-ed I recently published at LGBTQ Nation.  -- FC Christian right undermines marriage equality with religious supremacism FREDERICK......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
The Author of Loathing Lincoln Explains Why Some on the Christian Right Loathe Lincoln
One under-reported result of the 2014 elections was the rise of Neo-Confederate politics in the U.S. This included the election of unabashed apologist for......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
A Catholic Theocracy Grows in Florida
Catholic Right pizza mogul Tom Monaghan and his Ave Maria School of Law are back in the news.  Journalist Eleanor Bader has a new......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
Mississippi Madness: Group Wants To Designate An Official Religion
A group in Mississippi is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to change the state constitution in several ways.The proposal put forth by the......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
I Stand Sunday Part 2
I Stand Sunday took place in Houston, Nov. 2, 2014, motivated by the cities' mayor who subpoenaed sermons from local pastors.  The host church......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)

Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (5 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (4 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else © 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.