March 25, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—A reporter for The Nation answered in the affirmative, arguing in a recent investigative piece that Wall Street hedge-funders are bankrolling the foot soldiers for and expansion of charter schools because they don’t want to pay the taxes necessary for New York State to meet its constitutional obligation of funding equally its public schools.
The reporter, George Joseph, writes regularly on education and labor issues for The Nation, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this month. In the accompanying video, we asked Mr. Joseph why are Wall Street hedge-funders so interested in education when they already have billions.
“There is a money angle to this for sure. But charter schools for these hedge-funders are small potatoes. What the real money is is in not funding New York’s public schools. New York State currently owes its public schools over $5 billion according to New York State courts. But since 2008, after the financial crisis, the state has failed to make due on its payments. In fact, the state has cut over $2 billion in funding,” said Joseph.
We then asked why would hedge-funders be opposed to New York fulfilling a court order to invest $5 billion in public schools.
“I think the main reason hedge-funders are so opposed is pretty simple—they just don’t want to pay the taxes it would require,” Joseph said.
Joseph chronicles in his investigative story how hedge-funders have spent millions in Albany to influence legislators, particularly Governor Andrew Cuomo. The New York State Legislature is currently wrangling over a new budget that has a deadline of April 1. In fact, the governor’s office, in response to the apparent intense and difficult negotiations, issued a press release on Monday explaining that contrary to rumors, “education reform” is still a top priority in the budget.
What should teachers, students and their parents of both public and charter schools take away from The Nation’s investigative story?
“I think that public schoolteachers and students should take away is that there a lot of wealthy and elite people who are talking about their interest in public education but have no actual interest in funding it. And charter schoolteachers and parents [should realize] that only a small slice of students get charter school funding. Charter schools look like a better option because we have been consistently cutting and gutting our public schools,” Joseph said.