What We Talk About When We Talk About the Corporate Education Agenda

“Corporate education agenda” gets thrown around a lot. But what does it really mean? In the latest episode of the Have You Heard podcast, we talk to economist Gordon Lafer, whose book The One Percent Solution, offers a comprehensive account comprehensive account of legislation promoted by the nation’s biggest corporate lobbies across all fifty state legislatures. The top topic of all of that legislation? Education. Lafer explains why major corporations – household names like Kraft Foods or United Airlines – have become active players in the realm of education policy. Warning: #29 may be our bleakest episode yet! And here’s the full transcript if you prefer to consume your podcast in readable format.

Teachable Moment

A Massachusetts charter school suspends its controversial discipline policy. But parent complaints about the state’s largest charter are nothing new and are usually ignored…

Related imageBREAKING: that Massachusetts charter school that was disciplining Black students for the way they braid their hair, and using equity-ish ling as justification has officially backed down. Trustees voted last night to suspend the controversial and nonsensical policy. Their decision wasn’t exactly a surprise; seemingly every single legal advocate, including Attorney General Maura Healey, had weighed in. But Mystic Valley’s change of heart also raises a question, or make that hundreds of questions. Over the years, the state has amassed hundreds of complaints from parents about the way that the trustees run this school, and those complaints seem to have gone exactly nowhere. To your personalized learning device, reader. It’s teachable moment time. Continue reading →

The Bleak Friday Interview

In which I sit down with political economist Gordon Lafer to enjoy a slice of *grim pumpkin* pie…

tiny pumpkin pieEduShyster: Now I know Black Friday is usually thought of as a day for bargain hunters to mob Walmart stores and their minimum-wage-ish associates, but can I just point out that by swelling the Walton family coffers, these shoppers are actually helping to create more opportunities for low-income youth? Wait—why are you laughing?

Gordon Lafer: Because it’s preposterous—you can’t be an adult and say that with a straight face. First of all, the thing that correlates most clearly with educational performance in every study is poverty. So when you look at the agenda of the biggest and richest corporate lobbies in the country, it’s impossible to conclude that they want to see the full flowering of the potential of each little kid in poor cities. To say *I want to cut the minimum wage, I want to prevent cities from passing laws raising wages or requiring sick time, I want to cut food stamps, I want to cut the earned income tax credit, I want to cut home heating assistance. Oh but, by the way, I’m really concerned about the quality of education that poor kids are getting*—it’s just not credible. You’re creating the problem that you now claim to want to solve.  Continue reading →