Corporatism, Education — February 18, 2015 at 7:22 am

UPDATED: Dow Foundation gives $1 million grant to anti-public schools corporatist front group to “fund education policy research”


The anti-union, anti-teacher corporatist group Mackinac Center for Public Policy has a long history of promoting the demise of teachers unions and public schools. They prefer a world where children are taught by non-unionized teachers in charter schools that profit from our tax dollars. Which is why it’s bizarre to the point of being Orwellian that they have granted $1 million by the Dow Foundation to “fund education policy research”. Chad Phillips at the Michigan Populist Blog has the story:

While it is great that the Dow Foundation is donating a million dollars for educational research, it is troubling that the Mackinac Center for Public Policy is the organization conducting the research. The Mackinac Center lacks the necessary credentials to be conducting bonafide educational research. The Mackinac Center’s Director of Education Policy is Audrey Spalding. Spalding is a journalism and economics major who previously worked as a reporter. Spalding works under Research Director Michael Van Beek. Van Beek holds two degrees in history. It’s not just that the Mackinac Center lacks trained personnel to conduct educational research, it is that they also support initiatives that would be damaging to public schools. For instance, the Mackinac Center supports the use of tax payer money for vouchers for private schools according to Van Beek. However, 69% of Michiganders opposed vouchers when given a chance to vote on them in the year 2000. Additionally, the Mackinac Center oppose government collective bargaining, a right most public school teachers hold dear.

Keep in mind that this is the same group that exploited Teacher of the Year (and Eclectablogger) Gary Abud, Jr. without his consent to justify changing our state law regarding how teacher compensation is determined.

It’s really hard to see how handing over $1 million to an anti-teacher, anti-government, anti-public schools organization whose education wing is staffed by people with no background in education is a smart use of education research dollars. Unless, of course, you are supportive of the effort to destroy teachers unions and divert tax dollars to for-profit charter schools. It’s worth noting that the Mackinac Center is fond of simply calling for-profit charters “public charter schools” as if their for-profit status is irrelevant and profitizing the education of our kids is A-OK.

So now we know where the Dow Foundation stands on education.

Chad has started a petition asking Dow to rescind their grant HERE.

UPDATE: I received the following note from Dan Quinn, the Executive Director of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice:

Those interested in education research and policy could always make a tax deductible donation to the Great Lakes Center, a 501c3.

We only work with Ph.D researchers and all work is thoroughly peer reviewed and includes scholarly citations.

If fact, we fund the only watch dog project looking into “research” pushed out by groups like the Mackinac Center think tank. See the Think Twice project, a project of the National Education Policy Center, funded in part by the GLC.

Additionally, the GLC director is a teacher and Ph.D student.

That’s only if people want high quality, scholarly work driving education policy.

Please support this fine organization, particularly if you have $1 million to spare.

[Peace Monument photo credit: Anne Savage, special to Eclectablog]