The Koch Brothers’ plan to privatize schools our education system was dealt a serious blow by the highest court in Colorado, which ruled that conservative families in affluent neighborhoods could not use public funds to send their children to religious charter schools.
In addition to pouring millions of dollars into political campaigns, the Kochs also use their money for their voucher program pet projects, buying school board election campaigns all over the country through their Americans For Prosperity PAC. The Douglas County election, which AFP spent $350,000 on, sparked their interest because it gave them an opportunity to hit teacher’s unions and dismantle public schools, injecting free market fascism into the last place that it is welcome- education.
POLITICO reports that “The conservatives who control the board have neutered the teachers union, prodded neighborhood elementary schools to compete with one another for market share, directed tax money to pay for religious education and imposed a novel pay scale that values teachers by their subjects, so a young man teaching algebra to eighth graders can make $20,000 a year more than a colleague teaching world history down the hall.”
The ruling is a huge win for the teacher’s unions, the ACLU, and other progressive forces fighting to protect the separation of church and state. But the issue itself is a harsh reminder that the war against the Koch Brothers’ and their twisted plans for America is far from over. They use their money to interfere in local affairs that interest them all over the country- “including statehouse races in Arkansas and Kansas, judicial contests in Florida and North Carolina, and mayoral ballots in Lakeville, Minn., and tiny Coralville, Iowa.”
On top of all of that, the Koch Brothers have set up programs that pay students to attend free-market indoctrination courses, where they are taught about the “benefits” of low taxes, deregulation, and the evils of social safety net programs. These programs are an attractive prospect for students in poor school systems, whose funding has been sliced by Republican governors or have had their funds shunted towards voucher programs by Koch-funded organizations.
The Koch Brothers and their pernicious network are a pox on our nation, a blight on everything we stand for and everything we’ve ever worked for. We must not allow them to burn our public institutions and restrict opportunities to the wealthy whites of America.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.