Conservative Philanthropies and Organizations Shaping U.S. Educational Policy and Practice
Published: July 2020
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Published: August 2020
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Published: September 2020

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Published: September 2020
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6" x 9"
Language: English

A 2021 SPE Outstanding Book Award Winner

American public education has been under assault for the last few decades as a “broken” system that needs a complete overhaul. In large part, these opinions are offered by people and organizations who know little about schools. But who are these influencers? This book is about conservative philanthropies, the organizations and individuals within their networks, and the strategies they use to shape educational policy and practice in K-12 and higher education. Each chapter examines a philanthropy, philanthropic network, or corporation focused on pushing an agenda of individualism, privatization, and conservative ideologies. Based in extensive research, including the tax filings of specific philanthropic foundations, the authors demonstrate how the philanthropic elite work within federal, state, and local governmental contexts to influence policy and practice. Within a global context of increasing wealth inequality, the authors question the motivations of these privileged few to withhold tax dollars from the US treasury where duly elected representatives can determine how tax dollars are used to benefit society. By allowing these philanthropic organizations tax exemptions under the guise of assumed benevolence, are citizens giving up their ability to hold these organizations accountable for how the money is spent? This book, aimed at a general audience of educators, provides the in-depth knowledge necessary to understand and resist private control of public policies and institutions.

Perfect for courses such as: Politics of Education | Philanthropic Studies | Policy Studies and Higher Education | Social Foundations of Education | Critical and Contemporary Issues in Education | Education Policy Seminar | Sociology of Education | Managing Educational Organizations in a Diverse Society

Table of Contents:

List of Tables and Figures



1. Benevolence or Tax Avoidance? A Primer for Understanding How Philanthropic Foundations Work—Kathleen deMarrais, Brigette Herron, and Janie Copple

2. Ideology and the Education Debate: Examining the Powell Memorandum’s Influence on Education Policy and Neoliberal Reform Models—Jamie C. Atkinson 

3. Lochner’s Redeemers: How the Federalist Society and the Institute of Justice Impact the School Privatization Movement—Brian Dotts 

4. The Myth of Educational Freedom: The DeVos Family’s Influence on Educational Policy—Jamie B. Lewis 

5. Tracking Catholic School Funding From K-12 Through Higher Education—Kevin J. Burke 

6. The City Fund Takes It to “The People”: How Top-Down Reforms Imposed on New Orleans Will Be Bankrolled as Bottom-Up Initiatives in Cities—Kristen Buras 

7. The Walton Family Foundation: Key Players, Initiatives, and Its Growing Influence on Colleges and Universities—Kathleen deMarrais, Brigette Herron, and Janie Copple  

8. Conservative Philanthropy and Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Historical Trends and the Current Landscape—E. Anthony Muhammad 

9. Operationalizing Toxic Ideology: How Radical Right-Wing Campus Organizations Undermine Democratic Engagement—T. Jameson Brewer and Amy Swain 

10. Miseducation of Communities: Sinclair Broadcasting and the Nationalization of Local News—Janie Copple, Kathleen deMarrais, and Brigette Herron 

Coda—Brigette Herron, Kathleen deMarrais, and Janie Copple 

Author Bios


Reviews & Endorsements:

“As I write this endorsement from my COVID-era back porch, I cannot imagine a more timely (and ultimately timeless) text than Conservative Philanthropies and Organizations Shaping U.S. Educational Policy and Practice. This text brings together pieces that are always thoughtful, often provocative, and invariably helpful to readers seeking to better understand the complicated web of influence that connects the 'good works' of ideologically conservative philanthrocapitalists and their ilk. deMarrais, Herron, and Copple do a terrific job of constructing a narrative arc out of the work of the fine scholars within, and themselves bring this text home with a beautiful, sobering, and fiery call to action for us all to remain informed, participate in dialogue, and work (and vote!) for the preservation of the public good. Bravo.”

Pamela J. Konkol, PhD, Director of Academic Research, Concordia University Chicago

“Building upon their previous work, deMarrais, Herron, and Copple further unravel the tightly connected network of conservative philanthropists shaping policy and practice at all levels of US education. In Conservative Philanthropies, contributors pull apart diverse historical and contemporary threads of this network. Chapter by chapter, authors provide more coherent vision of the power and reach of philanthrocapitalism and its hand in dismantling public education. This is essential reading for those committed to the fight for a more just and democratic system of education.”

Amy Stich, PhD, University of Georgia

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