Education Reform

UnKoch My School! The Koch Attack on Public Schools

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The attached report was prepared by Unkoch My Campus and SOS Arizona. Unkoch My Campus is an activist organization that exposes the nefarious influence of the Charles Koch network in higher education. It decided to examine the Koch effort to capture K-12 education and teamed up with SOS Arizona. The result is a brilliant, informative, important critique of a billionaire-funded attack on American public education. Please read it.

Executive Summary

The Koch network’s massive and targeted “investments” are reshaping K-12 education. According to the Washington Post, in early 2018, Koch officials announced plans to “fundamentally transform America’s education system,” including K-12. Stacy Hock, a major Koch donor, called K-12 “[t]he lowest hanging fruit for policy change in the United States today[.]”

In order to influence K-12 public education, the Koch network has financed local, state, and national mechanisms to create multiple crises — only to turn around and cite these same crises as reasons to adopt their free market solutions.

*Supporting the seating of state legislators who intentionally defund public education

*Destabilizing state funding in schools to promote policies that divert funds away from traditional public schools to charter schools, private schools, and online education under the guise of “school choice”

*Funding higher education centers that create the curriculum and textbooks being used in some K-12 programs

*Astroturfing moral panic about ideologies that critique their idea production and theory of change as regressive and racist (Critical Race Theory)

The Koch network has made no secret about the critical role that public education plays as an ideal arena for influencing U.S. policy and culture.

Through a variety of tactics — charter schools, vouchers, curriculum, textbooks, trainings, using state politicians to engage in culture war against progressive ideas and more — the Koch network is able to ensure the spread of their ideas, including climate disinformation and free-market favoring economics philosophy.

All public institutions are a threat to the Koch network’s free market economic agenda. In their assault on public education, the network has taken actions to increasingly privatize and corporatize K-12 institutions. In doing so, they’ve created a lot of waste, pushed to close “failing” schools, favored CEO-like superintendents, aggressively cut costs, and more.

Lack of public accountability and transparency surrounding private and charter schools, as well as privately created curriculum and textbooks, leaves little room for parents and educators to take action against undesired and harmful agendas. Privatized education institutions are often not subject to audits, regulations that create standards for educators, and can lack standards for curriculum and assessment.

The Kochs’ infiltration of K-12 education harms students, teachers, and our democracy. Students are losing access to quality public-school education. Teachers are losing access to resources and the support needed to create a healthy, generative public-school ecosystem. Finally, our democracy is harmed as students are taught with Koch-funded curriculum that promotes regressive and ahistorical ideologies that contribute to myths of meritocracy, normalizes extractive economic practices which

See the pdf here.

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