Privatization of Public Education: A Joint Venture of Charity and Power

A Report by People For the American Way Foundationa

Introduction

CEO America is now called Children First America

When good people give their own money to a child in need, the best of the human spirit is revealed. When our nation writes its laws and public policies, the spirit of the nation must be reflected in order to care for all children. The decisions we make today about the best way to educate our children must be conducted in the full knowledge that these decisions will shape our children’s future and our future as a nation.

These decisions are political in nature, and thus it is important to understand who stands to win, and who stands to lose. It is the complete overhaul of our system of education that is at stake in the debate over whether vouchers should be funded by public dollars.

The Children’s Scholarship Fund (CSF) is preparing once again to announce the winners of its scholarships to inner-city children to pay a portion of their tuition to private schools. Directing private funds to the education of our children is a worthy endeavor, and the philanthropists associated with CSF are to be commended for their interest in children. But the roots of the private voucher movement are buried deep in the fertile political soil of a proposal to dramatically change how our national education policy is designed and executed. This report examines the architects of this movement and the role and alliances of CSF and its closest ally, CEO America. The private voucher movement is fundamentally connected to the political campaign to win public funding for private school vouchers. Public policy change as pervasive and long-lasting as a major redefinition of the role and function of our public schools requires that we understand the work and vested interests of those who are bankrolling efforts to divert public funds to private schools.

This is a debate about the future of every child.

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