School reform players, politics: A view from the left

Editor's note: This piece was submitted by Angela Engel, the author of the book, "Seeds of Tomorrow; Solutions for Improving our Children’s Education" and the director of Uniting4Kids a new national non-profit promoting quality neighborhood schools through parent, teacher and student leadership. National interests are investing heavily in Colorado's school board races. The players are many, the politics ugly, and the possibilities well… The Players Stand for Children established a Colorado Chapter in 2010 in order to push legislation that tied teacher evaluations to test scores. Their investors include The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and New Profit Inc. - a "national venture philanthropy fund." Democrats for Education Reform, DFER, is a newer organization that promotes charter schools, alternative certification training, and performance pay, and in addition promote mayoral control. ACE Scholarships originated in Colorado in 2000. ACE members made significant campaign contributions to the Douglas County school board responsible for directing private dollars away from some of the most high-performing public schools in the state. Several other funders have also joined the ranks, and the one thing they all have in common are trustees and board members with corporate connections and very deep pockets. The Politics So why are corporate executives and wealthy entrepreneurs suddenly interested in public education? Because they like to make money and recent education reforms along with "new tax credits" and Education Management Organizations, EMO's, have provided ample opportunity to make a dollar. Here's how they do it: