Corey Booker: A Clear and Present Threat to Public Education

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

What media call "philanthropy" for the public schools are actually seed monies to establish a private "market" in publicly-financed education - an enterprise worth trillions if successfully penetrated by corporate America. Cory Booker, one of the "New Black Leaders" financed by the filthy rich, is key to creating a "nationwide corporate-managed schools network paid for by public funds but run by private managers."

Cory Booker: A Clear and Present Threat to Public Education

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Booker remains determined to make Newark the national showcase city for corporate education."

Eight years ago, when Cory Booker made his first bid for mayor of Newark, New Jersey, I exposed him in the pages of The Black Commentator as a product of the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation and its network of right-wing think tanks. Back in 2002, Booker was a one-term Newark City Councilman and advocate of publicly-funded vouchers for private schools. Millions of dollars in contributions from his many friends on the Right allowed Booker to vastly outspend the incumbent mayor - but he still lost. I like to take a little credit for Booker's defeat, the first time around, for having warned Newark voters that Booker was a Trojan Horse for corporate right-wingers who were determined to privatize the public schools.

Booker won his second attempt to capture Newark City Hall, in 2006, and former Mayor Sharpe James went to prison for corruption. There wasn't too much Mayor Booker could do to privatize Newark's schools, since they've been under the control of the State of New Jersey since 1995. Then, last year, Booker got very lucky. New Jersey elected Chris Christie, a fiercely reactionary Republican, as Governor. Cory Booker - still the same Trojan Horse for the rich right-wingers that have funded his career - had found a political partner in his mission to turn over the public schools to corporations. Booker was already tight with the Black right-wing billionaire, Oprah Winfrey. It was on Oprah's show that fellow billionaire Mark Zukerberg, the FaceBook owner, announced a $100 million gift to Newark schools, to be administered jointly by Booker and the Republican Governor.

"Booker is still the same Trojan Horse for rich right-wingers that have funded his career."

Booker has since gotten commitments for another $40 million from Microsoft's Bill Gates, a New York hedge fund manager, and an educational investment corporation. Cory Booker is rolling in the dough and poised to make his right-wing dreams come true.

Just as I warned, back in 2002, Booker remains determined to make Newark the national showcase city for corporate education - only now, he's got the cash. And he is now part of a full-blown network of capitalists whose mission is to turn American education into a market, for power and profit. The billionaires are circling public education like birds of prey, seeking to transform charter schools into an interlocking, national, for-profit business, worth trillions of dollars. That's what the hedge funds are after, and that is the mission of Booker money-bag John Doerr and his California-based New Schools Venture Fund, whose goal is to "build an entirely new sector of public education" through private investment. They want nothing less than to create a nationwide corporate-managed schools network paid for by public funds but run by private managers.

Cory Booker and Newark are central to this project, as was Washington, DC, where the viciously anti-union schools chief, Michelle Rhee, will soon be fired after the recent defeat of her Cory Booker-like boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty. The Wal-Mart family and other super-rich right-wingers attempted to take over the DC system through millions in contributions with political strings attached. Oprah Winfrey is using her television platform to boost Michelle Rhee for superintendent of Newark schools. Rhee also has the backing of the Obama administration, through Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Booker, Fenty and Obama. Corporate Trojan Horses, all of them, and deadly enemies of public education.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].

 
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