Responding to the Attack on Public Education and Teacher Unions




A Commonweal Institute Report





David C. Johnson, Fellow

Leonard M. Salle, President



November 2004









Commonweal Institute

325 Sharon Park Drive, Suite 332
Menlo Park, CA 94025

650-854-8132 (fax)



Copyright © 2004 by Commonweal Institute, Inc.


THE COMMONWEAL INSTITUTE (CI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank and communications organization committed to advancing a broad moderate to progressive agenda. That agenda is based on the principles of commitment to future generations, environmental protection, a balance between business and society, inclusiveness and fairness, separation of church and state, personal choice and privacy, and a comprehensive and nuanced approach to national security. In support of a number of these principles, the organization is an advocate for public education. For additional information please visit CI’s website at 




Headline at National Review Book Service: “Former insider reveals: how powerful teacher unions hold America by the throat”[1]

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The Public Proclamation for the Separation of School and State, from the Alliance for the Separation of School & State:[2]

“I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education.”

From their President, Marshall Fritz:[3]

“The idea to liberate schools from government involvement is a new idea that is moving into the mainstream, specialty, and electronic press, including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Los Angeles Daily News, Detroit News, Dallas Morning News, Financial Times of London, Human Events, Conservative Chronicles, Practical Homeschooling, Christianity Today,,, and has received editorial endorsement from the Orange County Register and World magazine.”

- - - - -

“It would be nice to dismiss this absurd reasoning as the misguided rage of extremists, but the people involved are powerful, well funded, and have the ear of key political and corporate leaders. They are doggedly committed to controlling the national dialogue on education to discredit k-12 schools.”

- Tom Seibold, A Brief Framework for Understanding the Anti-Public School Movement[4]



Imagine the United States without public education. That is the goal of many who are currently in positions of political power, along with numerous other advocates for vouchers and privatization of public education. Their vision, although clearly not in the public interest, will likely become a reality if we fail to respond forcefully. That response must provide a credible counter to the increasingly successful efforts to date of public education opponents to influence public and political thought in this country. It’s our choice: We can stand by and witness the dismantling of our public education system, or we take effective action now.

Table of Contents

Introduction_ 1

Section 1 – The Goals of Those Attacking Public Education_ 4

Demonization of Public Schools, Teachers and Teacher Unions 4

Complete Privatization of Schools Is the Ideological Goal 7

Beyond Ideology – Two Other Goals 8

Defunding Teacher Unions – The Political Agenda, Part 1_ 8

Breaking up the Traditional Democratic Alliance – The Political Agenda, Part 2_ 10

Section 2 - The Right’s Overall Strategic Approach_ 13

Primary Strategy: Creating a Network of Advocacy Organizations 13

Primary Strategy: Focus on Ideology_ 15

Some History of the Modern Right-Wing Movement 17

A Response to the “Liberal Establishment” of the 1960s 17

The Powell Memo_ 18

Funding the Program_ 19

The Right Today_ 20

Section 3 –Specific Strategies of the Right 22

Major Strategies in Creating and Maintaining an Infrastructure 22

Strategy: Creating Alliances 22

Strategy:  Funding All Parts of the Infrastructure 22

Strategy: Using a Business Approach_ 23

Strategy: Networking Among Foundations and Nonprofits 24

Major Strategies in Marketing/Communications 24

Strategy:  A Long-Term Approach_ 24

Strategy: Interconnectedness 25

Strategy:  Packaging and Dissemination of Strategic Messages 29

Strategy: A Marketing Approach_ 30

Strategy: Repetition of simple messages – Creating Conventional Wisdom_ 32

Strategy: Connectedness of Underlying Ideologies 34

Other Strategies 34

Strategy: Overwhelming 34

Strategy: Staying On the Offensive – Forcing Others to Respond_ 34

Strategy: Never Apologizing or Backing Down_ 35

Strategy: Claiming Legitimacy While Marginalizing Opponents (Seizing the Flag) 35

Strategy: Dividing the Opposition_ 36

Section 4 –Effectiveness of the Right-Wing Movement 37

Achieving Their Goals 37

Control All Three Branches of Government 37

Major Legislation: The No Child Left Behind Act 38

The Right Sets the Public Agenda 38

Defeat Voucher Initiatives, But They Keep Coming Back_ 39

Home Schooling Is Increasing. 39

Attitude toward Public Education_ 40

Section 5 – Responding to the Attack_ 42

Creating an Infrastructure with Independent Voices for Public Education_ 43

Strategy: Cultivate Strategic Allies 45

Strategy: Cooperate with Others to Create an Infrastructure 46

Strategy: Provide General Operating Support 47

Strategy: Develop Unifying Ideological Principles 47

Strategy: Use a Business-like Approach_ 47

Strategy: Plan for Coordination_ 48

Independent Voice/Infrastructure Strategies for Strengthening Public Education_ 48

Strategy: A Long-Term Approach_ 48

Strategy: A Marketing Approach_ 48

Strategy: Address Underlying Ideologies 49

The Importance of Countering the Right’s Underlying Ideology_ 50

Strategy: Develop Effective Framing and Language 50

Strategy: Dissemination of Specific Framing and language 52

Strategy: Use New Framing and Language for Specific Issues 53

Strategy: Repetition of Specific Framing and language 53

Strategy: Develop and Disseminate Articles and Other Materials 54

Strategy: Establish Speakers’ Bureaus 54

Strategy: Provide Training for Speakers and Writers 55

Strategy: Help to Establish a Community of Pro-Public Education Webloggers 55

Strategy: Educate, Inform, and Recruit Other Independent Voices 55

Strategy: Counter the Right’s Under-the-Radar Propaganda_ 56

Strategy: Use Humor 56

Internal Strategies 57

Strategy: Cultivate Allies 57

Strategy: Work Closely with Colleges and Universities 58

Strategy: Work Closely With Non-Teacher Public School Organizations 58

Strategy: Incorporate Curricula That Addresses Education Allies’ Issues 59

Strategy: Use New Framing and Language in Specific Issue Campaigns 59

Strategy: Involve Teachers 59

Strategy: Best Practices Teams 60

Strategy: Establish Speakers’ Bureaus 60

Strategy: Critical Thinking as Core Curriculum_ 61

Strategy: Make School Facilities Available to the Public 62

Strategy: Presenting a Positive Public Image 63

Strategy: Involve the Public 63

Section 6 – Conclusion_ 64

Appendix 1: Annotated Bibliography re. School Privatization_ 65

Appendix 2: Examples of Anti-School and Anti-Teacher Unions Rhetoric 67

Appendix 3: Example of Coordinated Repetition of a Framed Message through Multiple Channels  77

Appendix 4: Examples of Right-Wing Organizations, their Funding Sources, and What they Fund  86

Notes and References 108


Until about 25 years ago, public education was widely regarded as one of the great institutions of this country.  Open to all children, public schools have long embodied our national ideals of equality and opportunity, and they have served as a vital resource for American communities, as the center of children’s social as well as academic life. Public school facilities provide auditoriums for performances, community sports facilities, and after-school rooms for adult education and other activities. And many of those people who have graduated from public school have gone to become leading figures in American society – in business, politics, the arts, and other fields. 

Public schools have a proud history of enriching American community life. Public education has long involved much more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. For generations of immigrants, public education facilitated the learning of English and eased the transition into American society. Students learned about civics and government and developed respect for our democracy and an understanding of the responsibilities of citizenship. In more recent years, public schools have provided food, counseling, health care, and social assistance for kids from all backgrounds.  Public schools have also sought to innovate, to improve, to represent the best interests of their communities, and to enable talent, creativity, and ambition to be recognized and rewarded.  Not all public schools were equally successful, and none was perfect, but that is true of every major institution. The fact is that, until the late1970s, our public school system enjoyed the admiration and respect of the American public. It was considered one of the essential institutions of our society. Although still well regarded by much of the public, this previous high level of public esteem has gradually eroded. There is now significant concern about, as well as opposition to, public education. So what happened?

Opposition to public education has occurred as a result of a broader ideologically and politically motivated assault, by what we will term here as the “Right” on “liberal” institutions and policies. This assault is not generally recognized by the public or even many educators. Its major targets include the national media, college professors, organized labor, the regulation of business, progressive taxation - and public education... These attacks have greatly influenced how the American public thinks about institutions and policies that had long been considered as the bedrock of our country. In particular, the Right has systematically worked, for more than two decades, to undermine the public’s confidence and respect for public education.

Initially promoted as providing “choice,” the Right is becoming less covert about their real goal – privatizing schools and eliminating as much of the public education system as possible.  This should not be very surprising, given that the “school choice” campaign is actually part of a broader ideological movement intent on shifting a whole array of government functions – from the military to Social Security – to the private sphere.

The alternatives to public education being proposed by the Right, by any reasonable and objective standards, are not in the broad public interest. Vouchers can lead directly to a breakdown of the separation of church and state, and could result in an education system consisting of religious and private corporate based schools only.  The history of corporations in this country, both past and present, show that a corporate run, for-profit school system cannot be expected to serve the public interest.

Understanding the nature and full scope of the opposition is a prerequisite for countering the ongoing campaign to weaken public education. Where does this attack come from, who is behind it, and why are they doing this?  As background for understanding the opposition, Sections 1 and 2 of this report summarize the history, ideology, and the specific forces behind the assault on public education. Section 3 examines the opposition’s strategies and tactics, including the underlying ideology promoted by those seeking to undermine public education. Section 4 assesses the effectiveness of their efforts.

The keys to success of those who oppose public education are that they have been strategic, focused, disciplined, and committed to long-term efforts to accomplish their goals. They have brought together their resources, financial, intellectual, and ideological, to create an impressive infrastructure of organizations that create the appearance of independent voices.  They have done this over time with patience and determination.

While the subject of opposition to public education has been covered by other reports, it may still surprise many to learn the degree to which that this opposition  is well-coordinated and is part of a larger ideological assault on government, the concept of community in general, and even, it could be argued, democracy itself. The CI report quotes extensively from other reports and sources, but offers the perspective of interpreting the actions of the opposition in terms of strategy. By doing so, it enables the presentation of counter strategies that are available to those who are advocates for public education.

What can be done to counter the attack on our public education system effectively?  This is the vital question that this Commonweal Institute (CI) report addresses. Section 5 of the report recommends strategies and tactics for countering the Right, protecting public education, and advancing an education agenda in the public interest.

Strategy is the key. The main purpose of this CI report is to suggest executable strategies that can effectively counter those being used by public education opponents. These strategies fall broadly into two categories: (1) those that education organizations can do for themselves, and (2) those that could best be done by organizations and individuals that are independent voices for public education. It should be emphasized that these strategies go beyond countering public education opponents, or the Right more broadly. This report also describes positive strategies for strengthening the role of public education in our society. These strategies can enable public education organizations and their advocates to take the initiative in advancing an education agenda that is in the public interest. Ironically, it is the opponents of public education that provide not only the impetus for strategies proposed by this report, but also serve as a model for a number of specific strategies. However, although the Right can serve as a model for certain specific strategies, they do not serve as a model for what might be considered appropriate ethical boundaries in the execution of strategies. In executing the suggested strategies, it is vital that it is done in a manner that respects the intended audiences and incorporates the highest standards of ethical conduct.   

How urgent is the need to put into place strategies and an infrastructure of organizations and individuals that can effectively counter the opposition to public education? There is no question that public education is losing ground. Major print and broadcast media, public opinion polls and the positions taken by politicians of both major parties make it clear that there has been a steady shift toward the school-privatization movement’s and the Right’s attitudes and policies. Very little that reaches the major media frames issues to the advantage of public schools and teacher organizations.  Without an effective counter, it is likely only a matter of time before there will be a major shift toward privatization.

Pubic education advocates can be successful. Those with a progressive agenda for public education have a natural advantage over their opponents. Progressive principles are clearly much more in the public interest than the competing ideologies of the Right. However, to be successful, public education proponents have to be strategic in their thinking and disciplined in executing their strategies. This report provides a roadmap for getting started on this journey.

Section 1 – The Goals of Those Attacking Public Education

The Right’s attack on public education is aimed not only at the public schools but at a broader range of progressive values and policies.  It must be understood as a part of a multi-front ideological campaign that the Right has pursued very aggressively, and so far quite successfully, against the idea that government should be in the business of helping people.  That campaign is well-funded, well-orchestrated, and unrelenting.  In this section, we consider numerous examples of the Right’s attack rhetoric and then describe in more detail the goals of the Right’s attack on education.

Demonization of Public Schools, Teachers and Teacher Unions

The Right routinely uses two levels of communication – an explicit, forceful version for their own “movement conservatives,” and a milder, sanitized version designed for public consumption. The quotations in the subsections below (and in appendix 2 of this report) reveal the contrast between the extreme language of their internal discussions and the more intellectual or “respectable” language used by their “mainstream” representatives in the media. ,

The Right has mastered the art of contentious, malevolent, and inflammatory language. They use such language in attacking public education and teacher unions, in order to inflame supporters and rally them to action against public education. In “conservative” opinion websites, periodicals, and news websites, teachers are regularly described as “thugs” and agents of “statist” attempts to “indoctrinate our children” with “immoral,” “socialistic,” “anti-American,” and “anti-capitalist” values.  Teacher organizations are accused of blocking efforts to “reform” the educational system.  Even the highest political officials have used such inflammatory language, as when Secretary of Education Rod Paige, in February, 2004, referred to the National Education Association (NEA) as a “terrorist organization.”[5]

Other language used by opponents of public education may be less extreme, but no less influential.  Writers on the Right frequently refer to public schools as “government schools.” Economist Milton Friedman is considered the father of the movement to privatize schools.  The website of the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation describes public schools this way:

“Government schools are established by law. Elected and appointed public officials nominally have authority over them. In practice, however, actual authority is typically exercised by professional bureaucrats and the teachers' unions.” [6]

Friedman’s comment ignores that school boards across the land regularly hold public meetings – meetings that represent democracy in action, with elected school boards, public participation, and public accountability. With privatization, maintaining the two-way relationship that now exists between school boards and the public would be highly unlikely.


“Collectivism” is a term the Right commonly uses as an intended slur to describe efforts toward building community.

 “The collectivist (Nazi, communist, socialist) notion that there is such a thing as a "free" education is a monstrous myth -- anything of value must be paid for. The state per say [sic] produces nothing, all state funds are forcibly taken from others through taxes, etc. When one recommends the "state funding of education to preserve freedom", one is asking that the freedom of one's fellow citizens be abridged, that their wealth be looted by public officials, all for the alleged purpose of protecting freedom.”


Of course, progressives and liberals are always cast in the worst possible light:

“The liberal applauds the imprisoning of home schooling parents who dare to raise their children outside the control of collectivist public schools.”

- From 120 Truths about Liberals[8]

Other intended smears the Right commonly uses to describe government are the words “statism” and “statist.”

“Eighty-eight percent of all American school children attend public schools controlled by public-sector bureaucracies and teachers' unions, and which impart the statist values one would expect given that control.”

- Escape from the Public Schools[9]

Thomas L. Johnson, of The Future of Freedom Foundation, shows how the common conservative description of public education as “socialism” is typically used in conservative anti-public-education writings:

“In their famous manifesto they [Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of the Communist Manifesto] list 10 conditions necessary to have a valid socialist society. The last one reads: “Free education for all children in public schools.”

Other famous supporters of public education include Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Mao Zedong, Mussolini [emphasis added], and every other 20th-century dictator, as well as virtually every politician throughout the entire world.  [. . .] The best possible reform that could ever be effected is eliminating the completely politicized socialist government schools and replacing them with private, profit-making, and charitable education businesses that offer courses of instruction only to willing customers. We need to introduce education to the free market.”[10]

The use of inflamed rhetoric is a characteristic tactic to desensitize the public while throwing “red meat” to the Right’s “base.” Consider this example of anti-democracy rhetoric, associating democracy with fascism, nazism, etc.

“Variants of statism include: socialism, nazism (national socialism), theocracy, [pure] democracy, communism, fascism, tribalism, etc.”


Comparisons to Hitler, Stalin, etc. are not uncommon in right-wing writings about public education.  Conservatives also say that public schools are a “tool for tyrants.”  At the website Retaking America, William J. Atkinson IV writes,

“Public education has unquestionably been the greatest tool for tyrants throughout the history of man. From the time of Babylon until now it has been the foremost institution in changing the culture of a country from a liberty loving civilization to a nation that is enslaved to other men, and the cruelest of tyrants. Ironically, the enslaved people under these regimes did not complain about their bondage because they were taught it was freedom.

Public education progressed rapidly in the twentieth century, as John Dewey and other socialists refined the art of brainwashing and amoral training. But the perfection of the public school concept undoubtedly came under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime in Germany. The similarities between the Nazi's educational system, which included Hitler Youth and Maids of Germany, and the modern American public schools are remarkable. [emphasis added]”[12]

The internal discussions among conservatives are usually virulently anti-union in nature.  Following are two examples of the kind of language typically used.

You cannot understand the plight of America’s public schools without understanding the force that exercises the most power over them. No, it’s not the PTA. The strongest players in the schoolhouse game are the two teachers’ unions, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).  [. . .] Increasing the welfare state, not improving children’s education, is uppermost on this [NEA and AFT] agenda.  [. . .] Despite their rhetoric, the NEA and AFT routinely sabotage efforts for meaningful reform. In particular, the unions have mounted formidable opposition to school vouchers, privatization, and similar market-oriented reforms within the public system. [. . .] The unions say "efficiency," "competition," "productivity," and "accountability" would hurt children. Nonsense. The NEA and AFT are merely protecting themselves at the expense of children.”

-- Charlene K. Haar, Special Interests in the Classroom [13]

Another example of anti-union rhetoric is to refer to union management as “labor bosses.”  The National Education Association (NEA) is a favorite target of conservatives.

“Indeed, the NEA offers a textbook example of how Big Labor bosses work hand in glove with Democratic politicians. Intentionally and almost certainly illegally, the NEA bosses and other Big Labor leaders and their Democratic vassals keep the rank-and-file members ignorant of the political use of millions and millions of dollars forcibly extracted form their paychecks in the form of compulsory union dues.”

- The Washington Times, Labor Day Editorial, 2002[14]

Another strand of right-wing school-privatization rhetoric follows a cultural war/religious line of attack.  Teachers are frequently accused of “teaching immorality” and “promoting a homosexual lifestyle.”  In “The Gathering Storm” at, self-described as “The Internet’s Leading Source of Education News,” Jann Flury writes,

“For years now, concerned parents and teachers have been watching– helpless and aghast– as homosexual activists invaded our public schools to promote the homosexual lifestyle.”[15]

A WorldNetDaily “news” headline blares “Homosexual agenda promoted by NEA[16] while at the Christian Broadcasting Network, a “news report” tells readers that,

“Homosexual activists put together a long-term plan some 16 years ago to convert America -- not to any particular religion -- but to a warm embrace of homosexuality. This is an account of how gays deliberately manipulated the levers of power and influence in America.

“[. . .] In San Francisco public schools, there's an actual lesson plan for teaching first-graders, even kindergartners, about homosexuality. In one district, gay parents are invited to come in and read to students from approved books like 'Gloria Goes to Gay Pride.' ”[17]

These quotations are but a fraction, and are not the most extreme examples, of the vitriol widely deployed against public education, teachers and teacher organizations.  This is not the language of policy disagreement.  This is not the reasoned discourse of civilized issue debate.  This is the language of culture war.

Additional examples of the Right’s anti-public education rhetoric can be found in Appendix 2.

Complete Privatization of Schools Is the Ideological Goal

At first glance the public rhetoric of the “School Choice” movement appears to be about providing the public with reasonable alternatives to the “public school monopoly.” Their arguments are carefully crafted, couched in reasonable-sounding language.  What could be wrong with “allowing” parents to “choose’ where their children go to school?

However, closer examination reveals that “School Choice” is part of a long term strategy.

While initially vouchers were promoted as providing "choice," the voucher forces are becoming less covert about their real goal – completely privatizing schools. 

The recent study “Voucher Veneer: The Deeper Agenda to Privatize Public Education[18],” from the People For the American Way Foundation, shows that vouchers and other “school choice” proposals are really part of a deeper, hidden agenda to completely privatize the public education system.  From the report:

“A network of Religious Right groups, free-market economists, ultraconservative columnists and others are using vouchers as a vehicle to achieve their ultimate goal of privatizing education. Their embrace of vouchers reflects their view that to be successful, privatization must be achieved incrementally. The long-term goal is to make all schooling an activity supplied by private sources: for-profit management companies, religious organizations and home schools. The movement believes that targeted voucher plans, such as those in Florida, Milwaukee and Cleveland, give them a foot in the door en route to achieving this goal.”

Richard M. Ebling, the president of the Foundation for Economic Education, in writing for the Future of Freedom Foundation uses the “free market” to make a case for privatization.

“It's time, therefore, to rethink the entire idea of public schooling in America. It's time to consider whether it would be better to completely privatize the entire educational process from kindergarten through the Ph.D. With the state no longer responsible for education, the local, state, and federal government taxes imposed for the present system could be abolished. The tax dollars left in the hands of the citizenry would then be available for families to use directly to pay for their own children's education. The free market would supply an infinitely diverse range of educational vehicles for everyone. And families would finally be free to select the best educational vehicle for each of their children.”

- From “It's Time to Put Public Education Behind Us,” by Richard M. Ebeling[19]

In Public Schools: Make Them Private, Milton Friedman doesn’t try to hide the real agenda.  He calls vouchers a “transition from a government to a market system:”

“Our elementary and secondary educational system needs to be radically restructured. Such a reconstruction can be achieved only by privatizing a major segment of the educational system--i.e., by enabling a private, for-profit industry to develop that will provide a wide variety of learning opportunities and offer effective competition to public schools. The most feasible way to bring about such a transfer from government to private enterprise is to enact in each state a voucher system that enables parents to choose freely the schools their children attend. The voucher must be universal, available to all parents, and large enough to cover the costs of a high-quality education. No conditions should be attached to vouchers that interfere with the freedom of private enterprises to experiment, to explore, and to innovate.”

“The problem is how to get from here to there. Vouchers are not an end in themselves; they are a means to make a transition from a government to a market system.”[20]

Beyond Ideology – Two Other Goals

Defunding Teacher Unions – The Political Agenda, Part 1

In addition to the ideological attack on public schools, the Right has an additional purpose.  As radical as the idea of privatizing public schools may seem, the right-wing movement has an even broader agenda in this school privatization drive, namely “defunding the Left” by defunding teacher unions.  By privatizing public schools, and destroying teacher unions, the Right hopes to eliminate teacher unions as a source of support to the Right’s political opposition. This goal is part of a broader effort to destroy other supporters of the Right’s political opposition, including trial lawyers and organized labor. 

The National Education Association report, The Real Story Behind Paycheck Protection, “catalogues a sophisticated web of groups and wealthy individuals and shows the direct link between anti-worker and anti-public education initiatives.”[21]

“With the funding and influence of the NEA and other progressive groups eliminated or severely curtailed, leaders of the conservative network would be free to pursue their agenda. And that agenda is hostile to public education.”

Conclusion, NEA’s Paycheck Protection report[22]

In an interview titled, “Unions the "Major Obstacle" to Market-Oriented Reforms,” Myron Lieberman, a renowned opponent of public education, freely expresses his anti-organized labor agenda:

“Unions cannot flourish, even survive, if there is competition among the producers, who employ services provided by union members. We have seen this over and over, in dozens of different industries. The NEA/AFT are well aware of this, hence their strategy is to defeat and denigrate school choice and contracting out in every way they can.  [. . .] The power of teacher unions to block reform must and can be weakened in a variety of ways.  [. . .]  The primary strategy must be to weaken the teacher unions financially so that they can no longer intimidate school boards and legislators.  …taxpayer subsidies to the teacher unions that should be terminated are time off with pay to conduct union business, payroll deduction of union dues, PAC contributions at no cost to the union, and taxpayer funding of pension contributions for NEA/AFT staff who are teachers on leave from school district employment.”[23]

Rob Levine, the co-editor of, describing the Right’s hidden agenda in Goal of school choice movement is to break up unions, writes,  

“In "With school choice, every child can win" (March 1), the Heritage Foundation's Jennifer Garrett fails to mention that the real goals of the school choice movement are the breakup of one of the last two unionized sectors of U.S. society: public primary and secondary education, and the conversion to private profit of some of the $300 billion spent in the U.S. each year on public primary and secondary education.

She also fails to mention that most of the school choice movement is led and funded by a small group of wealthy conservative philanthropies. In short, Garrett paints a misleading and partisan picture both of the school choice movement and the "evidence" purporting to show that choice students do better academically.” [24]

In Why the Right Hates Public Education, Barbara Miner, a Milwaukee-based journalist specializing in education, writes,

“In mainstream publications, conservatives tend to muffle their partisan antagonism toward teacher unions. Not so in conservative publications and documents.

The issue comes down to "a matter of power," said Terry Moe, a senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution and co-author of the book Politics, Markets, and America's Schools, in an interview with the Heartland Institute in Chicago this summer.

The NEA and AFT "have a lot of money for campaign contributions and for lobbying," he said. "They also have a lot of electoral clout because they have many activists out in the trenches in every political district. . . . No other group can claim this kind of geographically uniform political activity. They are everywhere."

School vouchers are a way to diminish that power. "School choice allows children and money to leave the system, and that means there will be fewer public teacher jobs, lower union membership, and lower dues," Moe explains.”[25]

The right-wing think tank Heartland Institute is clear about their ultimate agenda.  In their 1991 document, A Marketing Plan for Education Choice[26], Joseph Bast and Robert Wittmann write,

“Finally, in many states union endorsements and contributions (cash as well as in-kind) go overwhelmingly to candidates and incumbents in the Democrat Party. This means Republican, independent, and third party officials and candidates probably receive little or no support from the teachers unions, while their opponents receive considerable assistance. Some independents and Republicans, then, may welcome educational choice as a way to reduce the political support of their opponents.”

Breaking up the Traditional Democratic Alliance – The Political Agenda, Part 2

Beyond the agenda of defunding supporters of moderate and progressive causes, the Right hopes to use school privatization to appeal politically to certain mostly-Democratic voting constituencies, such as Catholics, African Americans and Latinos. In an interview, Grover Norquist admits, “School choice reaches right into the heart of the Democratic coalition and takes people out of it. It divides the left because the teachers' unions are on one side and all the parents of poor children are on the other …”[27]

Dividing African Americans from the Democratic coalition is one of the goals of the school-privatization movement.  Black Commentator’s investigative article, Voucher Tricksters: The Hard Right Enters Through the Schoolhouse Door, looks in particular at the role of the Bradley Foundation in school voucher efforts, and comments on the cynical use of “poor black children” to drive the school privatization movement:[28]

“The furor over public funding of private religious schools has nothing to do with the education of Black children. Those who frame the debate in terms of providing African American youngsters with educational options are either lying, deluded or simply too desperate to recognize the enemy chattering in front of their faces. We are now engaged in a battle instigated by the most racist forces in the nation, funded by those same ultra-conservatives, and loudly applauded by their media mouthpieces.”

Black Commentator also notes that The Bradley Foundation, one of the (if not the) primary funders of the voucher “movement” also “financed the career of Charles Murray, author of "The Bell Curve," the infamous 1994 book that bestowed academic and media authenticity to the theory that Blacks are intellectually inferior to whites.”  Black Commentator goes on to warn,

“Two major forces stand in the way of wholesale corporate raiding of public education: Black leadership and organized labor, primarily teachers unions. African Americans harbor an almost mystical attachment to education, long believed to be the one reliable route out of degradation. Historically, no issue has had a higher priority among Black leadership, who also rank as the nation's most pro-union political grouping at all levels of elected office - federal, state and municipal. The teachers unions' stake is obvious. In numbers and reliability, the two groups represent the heart of the Democratic Party - or, at least, its progressive wing.

The voucher offensive is designed to crush both of them. It goes without saying that privatization will decimate the unions. The Black leadership problem is almost as straightforward. The current crop of African American office holders must either be made to submit - that is, break with the unions - or be replaced.”

Again, in Why the Right Hates Public Education, Barbara Miner writes,

“While universal vouchers remain the goal, for tactical reasons conservatives have wrapped vouchers in the mantle of concern for poor African Americans and Latinos. Indeed, voucher supporters are fond of calling school choice the new civil rights movement. This plays well not only with voters of color but also with liberal suburban whites who, while they may be leery of allowing significant numbers of minorities into their schools, nonetheless support the concept of equal rights for all.

Conservatives and their front groups in the African American and Latino communities have not been shy about comparing voucher opponents to Southern segregationists. During the Congressional push for vouchers in Washington, D.C., this fall, groups such as D.C. Parents for School Choice launched a particularly vicious campaign against prominent Democrats. "Forty years ago, politicians like George Wallace stood in the doors of good schools trying to prevent poor black children from getting in," one ad said, comparing voucher opponents like Senator Edward Kennedy to Wallace.

Virginia Walden-Ford, executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice, was vague in explaining to the Washington community newspaper The Common Denominator how her group financed the ads. She did admit that over the years her group had received money from the Bradley Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and Children First America--all prominent conservative organizations supporting vouchers. The Institute for Justice, a libertarian legal group, provided media support. So did Audrey Mullen, a signer of the Separation of School and State proclamation.

Even if Republicans fail to woo African Americans and Latinos to the Republican Party, they may dampen African American and Latino voter turnout--a neutralization strategy, as it were.

"The strategy is to get young black people not to vote," says Michael Charney, editor of The Critique, the newspaper of the teachers' union in Cleveland, which also has a voucher program. "These radio commercials are aimed at the hip-hop generation. The goal is to discredit Democrats and breed cynicism."

The commercials, he continues, "are part of a conscious strategy by the most advanced elements in the electoral Republican machine. It's smart from their view, even if it is disgusting."

David Sheridan, an analyst for the NEA, agrees it will be tough for the Republicans to win over African American voters. "But I think it's different with the Hispanic audience," he says. "I think they see this as a major effort to get more Hispanic voters into the Republican camp." [29]

Section 2 - The Right’s Overall Strategic Approach

"Many otherwise well-informed citizens will be astounded to learn of the breadth and depth of the conservative network across America,"

NEA’s report, The Real Story behind Paycheck Protection[30]

If only one word were used to describe the success of the opponents of public education, that word would be “strategy.” But there are other qualities at play as well. In executing their strategies, the Right has been focused, disciplined, and committed to long-term efforts. Further, they have brought together their resources, financial, intellectual, and ideological, to create an effective force; and they have done this over time with patience and determination.  Section 2 details the two primary strategies that comprise the overall strategic approach employed by the Right and provides some of the history that answers the questions: Where does this attack come from, who is behind it, and, why are they doing this?  Understanding the primary strategies, as well the specific strategies described in Section 3, is fundamental to understanding how they can be countered (as addressed in Section5)

Primary Strategy: Creating a Network of Advocacy Organizations

Conservative foundations fund a wide range of advocacy organizations focused on building an ideological movement. These organizations advance the Right’s agenda. A major emphasis in this effort has been the creation of multi-issue policy organizations, such as the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute, at both the national and state levels. In addition, there has been funding of single-issue organizations such as the education-focused Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation, and the American Education Reform Council. The key to the strategy is that together these form a network of organizations. Much of their effort is well-coordinated and they reinforce each other through the consistent use of a common language and a shared ideology. Many of these organizations focus heavily on marketing their ideas to the broad public and to political office holders.

A central strategy of vouchers and privatization, i.e., “school choice,” proponents has been to create and fund numerous seemingly independent advocacy organizations and individuals that advance “school choice” arguments, work to discredit opponents, and use marketing methods to change underlying public attitudes over the long term. These organizations, which variously describe themselves as a corporate/religious right/libertarian “conservative movement” and ideologically advocacy in nature, include those such as the Heartland Institute, Heritage Foundation, and Cato Institute.

The voucher and privatization movement, like other components of the politico-cultural Right, has managed to accomplish much over the last 35 years by building an infrastructure of advocacy/communications organizations that use the latest marketing methods and media to deliver their messages over and over again.  These organizations work in a closely linked manner.  They follow a long-term strategic plan.  Each organization reinforces and amplifies the work of others in the network.  Thus, they act as an echo chamber, reinforcing each other's messaging, with the resulting effect that their messages resonate in society far beyond the effect of their numbers alone.  They repeat messages through multiple channels until these concepts become "conventional wisdom."  At the same time they prepare the public with an underlying unified ideological context (e.g., government can’t do anything right, private enterprise is better) for their messaging.  

The nature of funding this network of organizations is part of the strategy. Right-wing organizations in this network all receive major general operating support, project grants and coordinated strategic guidance from a core group of interlocking, ultra-conservative foundations that has been working for nearly thirty years to alter public attitudes and move the national agenda to the right. This core group of right-wing foundations includes the Scaife, Castle Rock (endowed by the Adolph Coors Foundation in 1993), Bradley, Olin, and Koch foundations. (See Appendix 4)

From the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) report, “Axis of Ideology – Conservative Foundations and Public Policy” [31]:

“Conservative foundations have, in part, been so effective not so much due to the size of their grants but rather because they tend to give more to general operating support. This type of unrestricted grant gives their grantees the flexibility they need to build strong institutions, do innovative work without having to attract new donors, and respond in a timely manner to policy issues without have to wait for a project-specific grant.”

The Executive Summary of the NCRP report addresses the issue of long-term funding.[32]

“Conservative foundations are more likely to create new organizations and fund them for the long haul, sometimes for decades, not just years, allowing the organizations to focus on their program work, rather than having to worry about where next year’s (or month’s) budget will come from.”

“Related to long-term funding, conservative foundations generally concentrate on funding a small group of grantees, including individuals, that are all working toward a common goal. Sustaining existing grantees – not trying to find new ones – is their primary goal.”

This sustained support and coordinated strategic approach on the part of the right-wing funders is not only beneficial to their grantees; it also serves to strengthen the overall network. Organizations in the network can operate more efficiently and flexibly, and readily reinforce each others efforts.

At the center of this network are multi-issue – e.g., school privatization, anti-environmentalist, pro-life, tort reform, etc. – think tanks that are simultaneously marketing and communications organizations, oriented aggressively toward media relations and public communications, in addition to acting as scholarly idea generating institutions. Because they address a variety of issues from the same philosophical perspective, the think tanks are able to advance an underlying ideological agenda that undermines progressive positions on a whole range of issues, including public education.

The Manhattan Institute sums up the value of being a “multi-issue” organization:[33]

“For 25 years, the Manhattan Institute has been an important force in shaping American political culture. We have supported and publicized research on our era’s most challenging public policy issues: taxes, welfare, crime, the legal system, urban life, race, education, and many other topics. We have won new respect for market-oriented policies and helped make reform a reality.

“We have cultivated a staff of senior fellows and writers who blend intellectual rigor, sound principles, and strong writing ability. Their provocative books, reviews, interviews, speeches, articles, and op-ed pieces have been the main vehicle for communicating our message.

“[…] The Manhattan Institute's program of luncheon forums, conferences, and publications reach a broad, diverse audience. As a result, our ideas are taken seriously—even by those who disagree with us. And our prescriptions are often put into practice.

“[…] Combining intellectual seriousness and practical wisdom with intelligent marketing and focused advocacy, the Manhattan Institute has achieved a reputation for effectiveness far out of proportion to its resources.”

Several reports, studies and articles have investigated the ties between the school privatization movement and network of organizations of the religious right, the corporate right and the ideological/libertarian right.  Studies probing the organizations and funders of the school choice movement, include the Wisconsin Education Association Council’s Anatomy of a Movement[34], the American Association of School Administrators Vouchers: Who's Behind It All?[35], the National PTA’s Privatization – What Are The Issues?[36] and People For the American Way Foundation’s Funding a Movement,[37] which shows that the Bush administration has funded several school privatization organizations.

Education is a significant focus of the right-wing network of advocacy organizations. The NCRP report, Axis of Ideology, shows that of organizations receiving grants from conservative foundations, those working on issues of education received the highest levels of overall issue-related funding (excluding general policy), at somewhat over 19%. Additionally, organizations working on issues of education received the highest proportion of their funding for general operating support, with 60% of all education-related grants being for general support. The report shows that there is also significant funding of nonprofit infrastructure organizations, whose role is to strengthen the network of advocacy organizations. It should be noted that a number of multi-issue organizations, such as the Heritage Foundation, are described in the NCRP report as “policy organizations” and the funding of these organizations was not analyzed for how much went to individual issue areas. For many of these multi-issue advocacy organizations, education is a significant issue area.  Thus, the total support for the voucher and privatization movement is substantially greater than the figures cited for education-specific issue organizations.

Primary Strategy: Focus on Ideology

The Right’s success has been greatly enhanced by the fact that they are organized around ideology rather than specific issues.  Because they address a wide variety of issues from the same philosophical perspective, the conservative think tanks are able to advance an underlying ideological agenda that undermines progressive positions on a whole range of issues, including public education.

The Right’s messaging advocates for underlying values such as anti-government, anti-regulation, pro-corporate, and individual rather than community responsibility.  This is an effective strategy because the same language can be applied to multiple issues and is therefore continually reinforcing the message. For example, the anti-government rhetoric applied to public education is the same as that used to push for privatization of government functions at all levels, from the local to the national.

 When the Right seeks to denigrate public education by using the term “government schools”, they are relying on a public that has been conditioned to accept an underlying ideology that portrays government as negative. The audience they reach with this language has been conditioned over time to be anti-government, both through these messages and others. This in turn provides a foundation for the specific-issue messages against public education. The specific education issue is attached to the underlying ideology, as are other issues. It is this context of public attitudes, already formed to view “government” as a pejorative term that makes the right-wing messaging so effective. That is why the oft-used phrase “government schools” by itself conveys a negative idea about public education.

"Last week, Focus on the Family president James C. Dobson urged California parents to abandon the state's government school system."

- Steven Yates in “Abandon Government Schools”[38]

“Neo-conservatives, to a large degree, have successfully planted the idea that government programs cause social problems. This allows them to ignore how corporate capital works in society. Welfare causes the cycle of poverty, not a lack of decent jobs or education. Public education, because it is public, causes failed schools; problems have nothing to do with the lack of opportunity and investment in poor neighborhoods and their schools. With this circular logic, more money for governmental programs simply perpetuates the problems. The only solution, neo-conservatives maintain, lies in private enterprise.”

- From Wisconsin Education Association's 1998 report, Anatomy of a Movement[39]

Showing the value of connecting the narrower issue with the larger underlying ideology, Heartland Institute’s 1991 document, A Marketing Plan for Educational Choice,[40] makes this point:

“Analogies can drive home the connection between monopoly and poor quality services: the government schools are like the postal service or the state department of motor vehicles; a government monopoly over grocery stores or restaurants would be disastrous, yet we tolerate such a monopoly for the education of our children. John E. Coons painted a vivid image when he used this analogy: Public schools are the quintessential self-serving monopoly. Unlike the local utility, they won't even disconnect and go away. You can rip out the phone, but you can't take your kid out of school. The school is not your servant but your master. It has no incentive to win you because it already has you.”

In “Personal Responsibility: A Brief Survey,”[41] David Duff ties “personal responsibility” ideology to standard conservative issues as an argument for advocating the elimination of public schools:

(“When parents began to delegate educational responsibilities to the government, a decline soon followed.”); government assistance for health care and welfare (“As with other services, health care and social welfare programs are most effectively provided by the private sector”); government regulation of business (“Government intervention or redistribution, in whatever form, hampers the accurate measure of a businessman's effectiveness in these areas”); unemployment benefits (“allowing people to live off the state while taking an excessive amount of time to find employment”); and taxation itself (“Taxation makes it difficult for many citizens to meet their responsibilities. As time passes, more and more families adopt an attitude of resignation, and fall back on government aid.”)

The following quotation shows how the Religious Right, by preaching the virtues of privatization ideology, is accomplishing their religious ideological agenda without having to address it overtly.

“For the Religious Right and others who are looking for the combination that would unlock public funds for religious schools, the voucher campaign may be for many an end in itself. After years of trying to force schools to accept creation theology into biology classrooms, purge classes and libraries of the ideas they object to, Religious Right leaders can, with vouchers, obtain tax dollars to fund the teaching of the movement’s beliefs in classrooms.  [. . .] CEO America’s [founded by John Walton] and CSF’s (Children’s Scholarship Fund) activities are probably not calculated just to lay the groundwork for legislative action to provide public funding for religious schools. For at least some in the CEO and CSF power hierarchy, the ultimate goal is privatization more generally – the opening up of a vast new market for venture capital and investor return.”

- Privatization of Public Education: A Joint Venture of Charity and Power[42]

Some History of the Modern Right-Wing Movement

Understanding the history of the right-wing movement is central to developing strategies that can counter that movement

A Response to the “Liberal Establishment” of the 1960s

In the early 1960s, the Far Right, characterized by organizations like the John Birch Society, felt alienated by the “liberal establishment.” Entrenched institutions such as the Brookings Institution conducted numerous studies of social ills such as poverty, on the basis of which liberal government policies were developed.  Perhaps the Right had reason to feel victimized, as many depicted them as unbalanced “kooks”– they were even the model for some of the characters in the movie Dr. Strangelove

Meanwhile, the Right felt this “liberal establishment” was “anti-business,” and, compared to them at least, “leftist.” They saw this establishment as their enemy and the enemy of America.  So their financial backers encouraged development of institutions designed as attack machines. 

Liberal organizations did not develop in a hostile environment and therefore did not develop skills for responding to hostile attacks.

This introduces an evolutionary argument.  Because the organizations of the Right were founded in the context of the “liberal establishment,” and grew up prepared to combat the establishment, they developed methods of attack from the outset.  Meanwhile the “liberal establishment” paid little attention to the growing right-wing organizations and failed to develop responses to their activities.  Instead, moderate and liberal organizations developed structures and ways of operating in an environment they perceived as accepting and supportive of their goals and philosophy. Only now, when the Right has gained the dominant position in our society’s attitudinal and political arena, has this failure of the liberal establishment to evolve become apparent.  As in nature, once you adapt to or thrive in an environment you depend on the constancy of that environment.  If the environment changes in a way that is hostile to your existence, YOU must evolve to cope with that environment, or you die.  America’s attitudinal and social environment has changed; to survive, moderates and progressives need to evolve, i.e., change their behavior.

In a recent Salon Magazine interview,[43] David Brock says,

“You mention the proliferation of conservative think tanks. Why did the left mostly ignore the think tank game?”

“One aspect is that the conservative organizations were themselves organized in response to what they saw as threats from various liberal movements, like the consumer movement and the women's movement. But all those liberal movements were organized as single issue; there really wasn't an effort to bring them together into a broader ideological stance in the way the right has done…”

The Powell Memo

In 1971, the National Chamber of Commerce circulated a memo to business leaders that was written by future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell.[44] Powell’s memo claimed that "the American economic system" of business and free markets was "under broad attack" by "Communists, New Leftists and other revolutionaries who would destroy the entire system, both political and economic." Powell argued that those engaged in this attack came from "the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians."

According to the Powell memo, the key to solving this problem was to get business people to "confront this problem as a primary responsibility of corporate management" by building organizations that will use "careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing only available in joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations." It helped immeasurably, Powell noted, that the boards of trustees of universities "overwhelmingly are composed of men and women who are leaders in the system," and that most of the media "are owned and theoretically controlled by corporations which depend upon profits, and the free enterprise system to survive."

Powell wrote that these organizations should employ a "faculty of scholars" to publish in journals, write "books, paperbacks and pamphlets," with speakers and a speaker's bureau, as well as develop organizations to evaluate textbooks, and engage in a "long range effort" to correct the purported imbalances in campus faculties. "The television networks should be monitored in the same way that textbooks should be kept under constant surveillance." Powell said that this effort must also target the judicial system.

Funding the Program

In his memo, Powell addressed the cost of his suggested program.

“The type of program described above (which includes a broadly based combination of education and political action), if undertaken long term and adequately staffed, would require far more generous financial support from American corporations than the Chamber has ever received in the past. High level management participation in Chamber affairs also would be required.

“The staff . . . would have to be significantly increased, with the highest quality established and maintained. Salaries would have to be at levels fully comparable to those paid key business executives and the most prestigious faculty members. Professionals of the great skill in advertising and in working with the media, speakers, lawyers and other specialists would have to be recruited.”

In 1973, in response to the Powell memo, Joseph Coors and Christian-right leader Paul Weyrich founded the Heritage Foundation. Coors told Lee Edwards, historian of the Heritage Foundation, that the Powell memo persuaded him that American business was "ignoring a crisis." In response, Coors decided to help provide the seed funding for the creation of what was to become the Heritage Foundation, giving a generous $250,000 (approximately $1,070,000 in today’s dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index).

Subsequently, the Olin Foundation, under the direction of its president, former Treasury Secretary William Simon[45] (author of the influential 1979 book A Time for Truth), began funding similar organizations in concert with "the Four Sisters" – Richard Mellon Scaife's various foundations, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Olin Foundation and the Smith Richardson Foundation[46] along with Coors' foundations, foundations associated with the Koch oil family, and a group of large corporations. The organization Philanthropy Roundtable[47] was founded to coordinate this funding.

“Five foundations stand out from the rest: the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Koch Family foundations, the John M. Olin Foundation, the Scaife Family foundations and the Adolph Coors Foundation. Each has helped fund a range of far-right programs, including some of the most politically charged work of the last several years.”

- “Buying a Movement,” People for the American Way Foundation[48]

These foundations are associated with the extreme right of the political spectrum. The Bradley Foundation's money comes from Lynde Bradley, a member of the John Birch Society.[49] The Coors Foundation previously financed the John Birch Society.[50] The Koch Foundations were founded by Charles and David Koch, sons of Fred Koch, co-founder of the John Birch Society. David Koch, the 1980 Libertarian Party Vice Presidential candidate, funds many libertarian organizations, and is co-founder of the libertarian Cato Institute.[51] William Simon of the Olin Foundation was a member of the secretive Christian-Right Council for National Policy, and chairman of an organization set up by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church.[52]  Richard Mellon Scaife and his foundations were the pri­mary funders of the anti-Clinton efforts of the 1990s, which included funding the vitriolic magazine, Ameri­can Spectator.[53] As for today’s John Birch Society, it is currently engaged in a “Get US Out!” (of the UN) campaign, a philosophy reflected across the right-wing movement.[54]

The Right Today

There are now over 500 organizations, of which Heritage Foundation is the most influen­tial, all receiving funding from this core group. A 1999 study, $1 Billion for Ideas: Conservative Think Tanks in the 1990s,[55] shows how well-funded these organizations are.  The study found that the top 20 of these organizations spent over $1 billion on their ideological campaign in the 1990s, not only on school privatization, but on a number of other issues they are advancing.

The more recent 2004 NRCP study, Axis of Ideology: Conservative Foundations and Public Policy, revealed that “from 1999 through 2001, the 79 conservative foundations made more than $252 million in grants to nonprofit public policy organizations. (NCRP’s 1997 study profiled only 12 conservative foundation grantmakers.)”[56]

Quoting from the Powell memo:

“… independent and uncoordinated activity by individual corporations, as important as this is, will not be sufficient. Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.”

Powell was correct, and the accomplishments of the resulting ideological campaign bear out his vision.  Now, 33 years later, the far-right is firmly in control of all branches of the government, and is closing in on completely controlling the courts as well.  And public schools are under serious attack; threatened with total privatization. 

The Wisconsin Education Association's 1998 report, Anatomy of a Movement includes a good summary of the history and strategy of attacks on public education:

“School vouchers, originally proposed in 1955 by the conservative economist Milton Freeman as a way for whites to use their economic power to avoid desegregation in the South, became, in the mid-1980s, a cause celebre for the resurgent conservative right. By funding everything from academic studies to hatchet jobs and litigation, the school choice “movement” has been extremely successful in its two-pronged strategy of (1) denigrating the current educational system, and (2) creating a working model of the proposed alternative voucher system. This strategy was realized in well orchestrated stages.

[…]  “First, public schools had to be discredited. If they were not broken there would be no impetus to create alternative systems of schooling. The Bradley Foundation has funded many critiques, especially in higher education, that helped fuel today’s rampant criticism of education.

“That schools are failing is now taken for granted by many, including many in the educational community. School administrators, teachers’ unions, the media, and politicians all compete to raise standards, toughen tests, and to improve an allegedly shoddy teaching corps. Any politician or educator who fails to call for higher standards risks political ridicule. Of course, improvements in education can be made. But the first stage of the broad strategy has succeeded, and a strong consensus views the schools as failing despite the fact that much empirical evidence shows public schools are doing well and improving.”

- From Wisconsin Education Association's 1998 report, Anatomy of a Movement[57]

Section 3 –Specific Strategies of the Right

Section 2 described the overall strategies of (1) creating a network of advocacy organizations and (2) focus on ideology. Section 3 describes specific strategies and tactics that support the overall strategic approach and serve to accomplish the goals of the Right described in Section 1. It also explores in greater detail the Right’s strategies in opposition to public education and teacher unions.  

The specific strategies presented in this section are referred to as “major” strategies and “other” strategies, as opposed to tactics. Strategies typically have a long-term focus and are large in scope. Tactics are generally considered as specific actions that help to ad­vance a strategy. For example, using talk radio as a way of evaluating public response to specific messages is a tactic used to advance the strategy of changing public attitudes.

A clear understanding of the opposition’s strategies is necessary for mounting an effective counter. In Section 5, Fighting Back, the report will address some of the specific tactics that supporters of public education might employ, as well as the larger strategies.

Major Strategies in Creating and Maintaining an Infrastructure

Strategy: Creating Alliances

Twenty-five years ago the leadership of the Republican Party had almost nothing in common with the Religious Right. That has changed dramatically.

“Although they are powerful, the small number of neo-cons makes it almost impossible for them to win elections on their own. This is where the religious right becomes useful. Legions of citizens from organizations like Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and the Christian Coalition are convinced that America has been betrayed by liberal leaders who have undermined core values and set the nation adrift in a sea of secular humanism and decadence. By pushing "hot button" issues like moral relativism, homosexuality, secularism, multiculturalism, sexual freedom, liberal courts, and a general deterioration of the Christian ethnocentric order, charismatic figures like Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and Gary Bauer can rally large numbers of voters. Karl Rove estimates that over 15 million voters from the religious right turned out for Bush in 2000.

“Money and influence from the neo-conservative secular right combined with grassroots power from the religious right has resulted in a dramatic reshaping of the American political landscape. One important point of intersection between the two is the movement to dismantle public education.”

- Tom Seibold, “A Brief Framework for Understanding the Anti-Public School Movement [58]

Strategy:  Funding All Parts of the Infrastructure

The Right through its funders and funded organizations provides financial support for literally the full range of operations and activities that make up its infrastructure. The people who write the op-eds promoting vouchers are funded. The people who write the books are funded.  The people speaking on any given cable TV show are funded.  The people speaking to public interest organizations are funded.  Even the people who initially write many of the letters to the editors are funded.

Having a well-funded established infrastructure means having available an army of thousands of soldiers dedicated to furthering the goals of the “movement.”  In a Salon Magazine interview,[59] David Brock discusses the “cradle-to-grave jobs network”:

“You write about the conservative cradle-to-grave jobs network that goes along with the think tanks, opinion journals, magazines, radio shows and syndicated columns, and book deals and speaking fees. It sounds pretty cushy.

“It is. There's every financial incentive in the world to stay in the conservative movement forever. That [network] allows the conservatives the freedom and the confidence to devote their attention to influencing the mainstream without actually becoming a part of it. It also means that when young people are trained they can stay -- it's not an up-or-out situation. You have very senior people editing magazines who can have families. And, again, it's sustained support. Editors of conservative magazines aren't out trying to raise money. The money is there; the cash reserves are in the bank.”

These well-funded “soldiers” are available to take on any issue at a moment’s notice.  They are available and ready to appear on talk shows, to write articles on any issue, to serve on the Boards of the various right-funded organizations, and even to appear as “average people” at rallies and demonstrations.

By funding all parts of the network, the backers of the conservative movement ensure that all the necessary components are in place. They do not leave it to chance whether speakers or writers or publishers or scholars will be available to develop and spread their message – they make sure that they are.

Strategy: Using a Business Approach

Many right-wing organizations operate like businesses. They often have small corporate boards that include those with business backgrounds, and are able to make quick, well-informed decisions. The organizations tend to operate in a business-like manner. They are well-structured, strategic, focused and disciplined, with clear objectives regarding public influence in the policy arena. They are able to recruit and retain capable talent, as they generally pay those who work for them a salary and benefits that are comparable to what a person might get in private industry.  

Finally, the business perspective of conservative funders makes it easy for them to recognize that funding infrastructure is an investment. This is fundamental to the Right’s success. The Right was built and is sustained by people from the business community. These people also understand the power of marketing and PR techniques because they used them to sell their own products. It should be noted that many of the conservative funders were inspired by the Powell memo, described earlier in the report. That report, as previously noted, was presented to the Chamber of Commerce, and was particularly focused on the Chamber’s corporate membership.

Strategy: Networking Among Foundations and Nonprofits

Much of the effectiveness of the Right results from the degree to which their efforts are coordinated. One of the strategies that makes this possible is relationships between the boards and staffs of foundations and their nonprofit grantees.  The NCRP report, Axis of Ideology, states the following:

“There is a great deal of overlap between the boards and staffs of conservative foundations and the boards and staffs of their nonprofit grantees. Twenty-three of the individuals in the database of conservative foundation and grantee board and staff members are leaders of three or more foundations and/or nonprofits, with 19 of those individuals serving on the board or staff of at least one foundation and of at least one nonprofit. Notably, the leading family members who direct foundations also serve on the boards of various nonprofits to which their foundations often provide grants.” [60]

This is reminiscent of the overlapping roles seen in the business world, in which top corporate executives serve on boards of other corporations, and become venture capitalists (VCs). VCs, in turn, may move into executive positions and hold board seats in the companies in which they invest.  From NCRP’s report, Axis of Ideology:

“A core group of foundation and grantee leaders serve on several foundation and grantee boards of directors, and contribute millions of dollars to Republican candidates for public office.” [61]

Major Strategies in Marketing/Communications

Strategy:  A Long-Term Approach 

The Right has taken a long-term approach to changing public attitudes, influencing decision makers, and achieving their goals. Use of long-term strategies has made it possible for them to continually take the initiative in moving their agendas. It allows the Right to be proactive on a short-term tactical basis, rather than reactive to others’ initiatives, as has been the case with moderates and progressives.

For the Right, long-term strategies do not develop spontaneously, but are the product of strategic thinking and planning. They know where they want to go, and develop a long-term strategic plan for getting there. The strategic plan may include a number of steps to achieve the final goal. For example, as part of the long-term strategic plan to privatize educa­tion, the public has been led to believe that “public schools are failing,” which has opened the door for the Right to introduce legislative solutions for this supposed problem.

As readily can be seen, developing and repeating strategic messages over time is a fundamental tool in using a long-term approach.

This long-term approach is fundamental to creating social change – changing the mindset of the populace so that they accept the Right’s underlying ideology as being “what is good for America,” and thus accept the policies that flow from the ideology.  The Right’s underlying ideology is expressed in such immediately recognizable phrases as free enter­prise, limited government, and personal responsibility. As an example of how ideology is incorporated into the issue of public education; the Right asserts that, because public education is a government-sponsored monopoly, it does not have the natural incentives of free enterprise to be innovative and competitive in providing high-quality education.

The right-wing National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) website shows their understanding of the value of a long-term approach to ideological advocacy:[62]


“Secrets of Success: 

[. . .] Adopting a Long-Term Strategy:  Convention lists three ingredients to a successful business strategy:

·         Setting goals that reach beyond the planning horizon

·         Finding a market niche

·         Developing complementary and strengthening factors and ideas that branch from the original market niche.

The NCPA has followed this strategy by producing numerous studies, consistently testifying before Congress and developing communicative strategies in numerous target areas. These areas are part of a five-year plan that is fully reviewed at least once every two years.”

Strategy: Interconnectedness

The term “Interconnectedness” in this report refers to linkages that exist between the whole range of players on the Right. Interconnectedness is a key component of the Right’s overall communication and marketing strategy.

Conservative “think tanks” publish research that backs up the privatization movement's claims and develop “talking points” for distribution to speakers, pundits, writers and the media.  Other organizations provide trained speakers for radio and television programs.  Still others publish magazine articles, op-ed pieces, and books based on the research from the think tanks.  Some organizations work to discredit opponents.  Others work to disparage teachers and teacher unions in the public mind.  Yet others spread misleading stories about problems with public schools. All of this is designed to weaken teacher unions and public education, while simultaneously garnering support for privatization. 

In sum, school privatization messages are amplified by the Right’s communication machine. Be­cause conservative movement organizations share the same basic ideology, they are able to validate and leverage each other's work, creating a multiplier effect.  This enables them to operate as a message amplification infrastructure, which has been referred to as “The Mighty Wurlitzer”.[63] To the public, it appears that there are many diverse voices from a number of independent organizations and media outlets, giving the appearance of a wide­spread consensus among scholars and opinion leaders.  In truth, however, the messages come from a core group using its net­work of advocacy organizations as an echo chamber, making one voice sound like many.

The right-wing funders, their organizations and associated politicians are closely linked, centrally coordinated and act in concert – that is why they can be considered components of the same movement.  This pattern is not limited to the attack on public education. It characterizes all aspects of the movement. Since these individuals and organizations owe some portion (if not all) of their livelihood to a very small core group of funders, they cannot be expected to act independently.   

“The potency of right wing politics and opinion molding lies in the architec­ture of the movement. That is, its constituent organizations think and act strategically. Agendas, priorities, and propaganda are directed from the center. Members are disciplined and dedicated to the narrow theology of the right.

“The disparate streams of conservative thought and action -- social, economic, religious, libertarian, and corporate -- set aside major differences and march to a single drummer -- with the tempo set at weekly tactical conferences in Washington.”

- Jerry Landray, The Apparat[64]

Right-wing funding patterns support lock-step coordination. One example of this coordination is a weekly meeting hosted by Grover Norquist, head of the Scaife/Coors/Olin /Bradley (among others)-funded Americans for Tax Reform[65], which is attended by representatives of the funding foundations, major right-wing organizations like the National Rifle Association, the Christian Coali­tion and the Heritage Foundation, the Republican Party, House and Senate Republican leadership, right-wing associated media, and the White House[66].  Robert Dreyfuss, in his article in The Nation, “Grover Norquist: 'Field Marshal' of the Bush Plan,” writes, “ ‘The meeting functions as the weekly checklist so that everybody knows what's up, what to do,’ says Kellyanne Fitzpatrick, a conservative pollster who has been a regular attendee for years.”[67]

A Chicago Tribune story by Jill Zuckman, “Pipeline Leads to White House” says of Norquist, “To the extent that there is a conservative network, Grover is at the switchboard.”[68] Explaining how Norquist’s weekly meetings are used to keep varied organizations and individuals in line, a Guardian Limited story says:

“While the ostensible purpose of the meeting is to share information and coordinate strategy, they also give Norquist the opportunity to act as an ideological enforcer. When one member of the Bush administration worried to a New York Times reporter that the administration's plan to repeal the estate tax would cripple charitable giving, he was publicly warned by Norquist that this was ‘the first betrayal of Bush’, and was gone not long afterward. When a conservative pundit . . . criticized a fellow conservative . . . she was immediately informed by Norquist to decide ‘whether to be with us or against us’. She was no longer welcome at the meetings.”[69]

Because these meetings are frequent and are attended by representatives of all key components of a policy messaging machine – including media, government officials, and political party leaders – the messages can be coordinated not only in content, but also in timing. For example, messages denigrating those who might oppose the Bush administration tax cuts began to appear in multiple media two months before the official announcement of the legislative package.

David Brock, in his book Blinded by the Right, described, from the perspective of a former movement insider, how different parts of the right-wing web and their funders interacted during the attempt to remove President Clinton from office. Brock writes that funding was supplied by Richard Mellon Scaife, with Federalist Society (partly funded by Scaife) lawyers and judges working behind the scenes assisting Special Prosecutor Ken Starr and supplying information to the (partly Scaife-funded) American Spectator magazine.[70]

The interconnectedness of these organizations – leveraging the work of individuals and organizations tied to this movement – increases their effectiveness in disseminating messages to the public through seemingly independent channels and it also increases the perception of credibility. Individuals whose education was directly or indirectly funded by scholarships from the core group of funders and obtained at educational institutions that receive funding from the core group then graduate to work at organizations that receive funding from the core group, producing work that is funded by grants and fellowships from the core group.  Their research cites other research pieces, published by others similarly receiving funding from this core group.  Their books are published by publishers receiving funding from or ideologically associated with the core group, promoted by media and businesses ideologi­cally associated with the core group, reviewed by other individuals similarly associated with the core group, and sold in part through channels ideologically associated with the goals of the core group.  In addition, still other organizations that receive funding from the core group then refer to this work to validate and give the appearance of credibility to their own work or messaging. 

“The overlap among members of foundations, think tanks and, increasingly, the Bush team, borders on the incestuous.”

- “Perspective: Who funds whom?” Energy Compass[71]

This interconnectedness gives the Right’s “research” an aura of credibility by citing each other's work and presenting it as conducted by independent, authoritative sources.  The majority of the “conservative” experts and scholars writing newspaper op-ed pieces, books and magazine articles, and even the organizations that generate the “talking points” and position papers used by TV pundits and radio talk show hosts, are directly funded by, work for organizations supported by, or receive some form of support from this core group of funders.

Citing “reports, studies, surveys, recommendations, and policy statements,” most likely all funded by the same sources, Myron Lieberman writes in Market Solutions to the Education Crisis,

“In recent years, hundreds of prestigious reports, studies, surveys, recommendations, and policy statements have told us what's wrong with education and what to do about it. Nevertheless, significant reform in public education has not occurred, nor is it occurring. Why is this, and what must be done to increase educational achievement in the United States?

“To answer these questions, the issues ignored in the reform reports have to be recognized.[1] One is the role of the two teacher unions, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and their state and local affiliates.”[72]

This “echo chamber” effect, whereby different organizations validate the research of other organizations in the network, making it appear credible, is part of why the Right’s infrastructure is able to accomplish so much.

In his Salon Magazine interview,[73] David Brock says,

“The Republican noise machine has an echo effect. It sets a climate and helps set parameters and helps form impressions -- and because there is so much noise coming out, there's no way that doesn't seep in. The absence of a liberal noise machine pushing back in an accurate way has to have some effect in there somewhere.”

As one looks at the websites and published research of these and the many other advocacy organizations funded by this core group, one notices that they all refer to each other's work, citing it as research done by outside, independent, authoritative sources.  But all these organizations are funded by the same group, and all have been set up to advocate the same ideology. 

Tom Seibold describes this interconnectedness in “A Brief Framework for Understanding the Anti-Public School Movement [74]

“As one explores the Internet from one neo-conservative think tank to another, the same names keep appearing over and over again. The names listed on think tank staffs, boards, and advisory councils looks like a fraternity roster. For example, the four most visible education research groups—Fordham, Hoover, Manhattan, and PEPG—share the same key players:

“In addition to a cross-pollinated leadership, the groups share the same writers, they reference the same studies, they review each other's work, and they appoint each other to the same projects and task forces. The comedian Foxworthy once quipped that "you know you are a red neck when your family tree has no branches." In the neo-conservative world of think tanks, expertise is incestuous.”

Strategy:  Packaging and Dissemination of Strategic Messages

Right-wing organizations function as an infrastructure that translates the ideas and policies into influential language, and then repeatedly disseminates those messages to the general public through a variety of communications channels.  This messaging affects the public’s perception of issues and prepares them to be receptive to right-wing policy proposals and the politicians that support those proposals.

The Right’s messaging infrastructure draws effectively on communication techniques from the fields of marketing, public relations, and corporate image-management. They package their messages to appeal to people's deeper feelings and values, and they have refined their communication techniques and vocabularies to motivate their potential supporters effectively.

The right-wing Manhattan Institute’s website description demonstrates some of the marketing and message-dissemination capabilities of right-wing think tanks. 

The Manhattan Institute's program of luncheon forums, conferences, and publications reach a broad, diverse audience. As a result, our ideas are taken seriously—even by those who disagree with us.”[75]

George Lakoff, a professor of linguistics and cognitive science at the University of California Berkeley, in an interview, discusses why the Right is successful at framing communications:

“But they started back in the '50s, and after the '64 election they really got started. For the last 30 to 40 years, they have pumped $2 billion into supporting all of their think tanks and media apparatus. They have built this series of think tanks that started out after the Goldwater debacle, when "conservative" was a dirty word, when the idea of tax relief could not be introduced in two words. The phrase would have been meaningless. And what they did was to develop these ideas with very great patience and fortitude, in campaign after campaign, year after year, and invent the right words as the ideas came into popular view. Their success didn't happen overnight. They took a long-term view. I think we can do things a little faster since we now understand the science of it a little better, but some things are not going to happen overnight.” [76]

The Right utilizes multiple channels in disseminating their messages.


The Right’s message amplification infrastructure has a broad reach, repeating coordinated strategic messages through multiple communication channels: conservative talk radio, Fox News, Internet sites like the Drudge Report, op-ed pieces in newspapers across the country, prefab letters-to-the-editor, books, pundits and columnists

, talking points distributed to politicians and public speakers, advertisements, and newspapers like the Washington Times and Wall Street Journal.

The result, if you listen closely, is that the same words and phrases magically appear in multiple media at approximately the same time. Staying on message is a skill well-honed by the proponents of school privatization.

The use of multiple channels works to overcome the segmentation of media markets. It increases the fraction of the population that will be reached by the message. Whether one gets news from television, the local paper, the New York Times, or talk radio, one is sure to encounter the message. Another benefit of using multiple channels is that a given individual will be exposed to the message repeatedly – in the morning newspaper, by drive time radio, and in the evening TV news.

Strategy: A Marketing Approach

A significant part of the success of the Right is that they consistently take a marketing approach.  Because of its business-oriented foundations, and because we are a consumer society, the leaders of the Right understand the power of marketing.  It is second nature to many in the business community to use a marketing approach to solve problems.

The Right’s organizations use sophisticated marketing methods to “translate” – packaging ideas to appeal to people's deeper feelings and values – and disseminate messages designed to alter underlying public opinions to be supportive of their shared ideology.  Even single words or phrases, selected for their effectiveness, are shared by multiple voices to reinforce the right-wing message.

This in turn leads to public support for their organizations and ideology, puts public pressure on legislators to support their issues, and results in the election of public officials who support their agenda and appoint judges and agency officials who carry out their policies.

“We believe that ideas have consequences, but that those ideas must be promoted aggressively. So, we constantly try innovative ways to market our ideas.”

-Heritage Foundation Website[77]

The Heartland Institute’s “Marketing Plan for Educational Choice” explains:

“In sales literature, a distinction is commonly made between "features" and "benefits." Features describe how a product looks, works, and compares to a different product. Benefits describe how the buyer will be better off with the product. In an effective sales presentation, the benefits of the product are emphasized while the features are described only to the extent needed to create a foundation of understanding in the buyer. Some of the benefits of an educational choice plan are: etc. [. . .] Tell your volunteers to stress these benefits at every opportunity and avoid long explanations of the features of your program. Ultimately, most people are moved by a program's objectives rather than the way it achieves them. Your marketing plan should recognize that fact and emphasize your goals.”

A Marketing Plan for Educational Choice[78]

Heartland Institute goes on to explain how to win debates.

“Educational choice proponents must be able to win debates against their opponents. These debates will take place in public and in private thousands of times during the campaign to win passage of an educational choice plan. [. . .] From a marketing perspective, … [a] large body of information must be dramatically shortened and simplified. Partly this is because the producers of television and radio programs want "sound bites" of just a few seconds to fit into their news and commentary programs. But just as importantly, choice proponents will have only a few minutes to make their case in many public forums, and a few paragraphs or pages in an essay or letter sent to an editor, legislator, or potential supporter.

“Every participant in your campaign must be prepared to make a brief and effective case for educational choice. This requires preparation, rehearsal, and even memorization of key phrases and arguments. A convincing presentation will define the concept, establish the need, demonstrate workability, and document the benefits of the educational choice plan.”

A Marketing Plan for Educational Choice[79]

Framing is an important concept in communications and marketing. Frames reflect people’s concepts about the world. The frame cues a person as to how they should interpret a piece of information. Frames are usually expressed in language, but can also be conveyed through pictures, symbols, music, etc. A frame defines the terms of a debate or how an audience will perceive an argument. For example, referring to the inheritance tax as a “death tax” frames the issue. Using the expression “school choice” rather than “vouchers” creates a favorable frame for vouchers. Using the term “government schools”, in a context in which the public has been primed to consider anything having to do with the government as bad, creates a negative frame for public education. The “government schools” frame also allows the conservative movement to take advantage of the extensive anti-government messaging that the Right has been doing in relation to issues other than education. Similarly, the expression “children trapped in failing public schools” is obviously a very negative way of framing public schools.

It should be noted that a right-wing frame that does not appear to moderates or progressives to be honest or accurate may be considered as honest and accurate from the perspective or worldview of many supporters of right-wing positions.  However, if ethical considerations are not a priority for those using a frame as a strategic means to a specific end, it should be recognized that a frame does not have to be accurate or honest in order to be effective.

From an ABC news report describing the importance of words to conservative advocates,

“To people who oppose vouchers, 'vouchers' is a lightening rod," says Darcy Olsen, director of education and child policy at the Cato Institute.

Word Has Negative Connotations

Even though vouchers are largely a Republican brainchild, Rod Paige, the new secretary of education, and many other Republicans don't even like to utter the word.

“Vouchers…we never use that word,” Paige said on ABCNEWS' This Week. He prefers "parental choice," and others refer to it as “portability.”

“Why the fight over one word? Because the word has acquired a negative connotation: it implies failure. Over the years, by one count, vouchers have lost at the polls no fewer than 10 times, most recently in California and Michigan.”

The 'V-Word' – ABC News[80]

Strategy: Repetition of simple messages – Creating Conventional Wisdom

One key to moving public opinion has been to create “conventional wisdom” through the constant repetition of simple messages through multiple channels over a long period of time. Two main examples are the claims that “Social Security is going broke” and that “public schools are failing.” Both statements are at best questionable, yet both have been firmly embedded in the “public mind” by purposeful repetition in a variety of media outlets and communications venues.

“After voters soundly rejected several state battles to implement voucher plans, Friedman's devotees realized that they would have to step back and reshape public opinion by hammering home the school failure message. Eventually, they reason, the public will get the message, school support will erode, and they can move incrementally toward greater levels of privatization. The idea of taking smaller steps toward the promised land is reflected in the following statement by the Heartland Institute president, Joesph [sic} L. Bast: ‘Pilot voucher programs for the urban poor will lead the way to statewide universal voucher plans. Soon, most government schools will be converted into private schools or simply close their doors.’ ”

- Tom Seibold, “A Brief Framework for Understanding the Anti-Public School Movement” [81]

Examples of conventional wisdom manufactured by school privatization advocates include:

  • Public schools are failing
  • Children are trapped in failing schools
  • Teacher unions are blocking reforms
  • Public schools are a monopoly
  • Public schools are promoting a homosexual lifestyle

These are just some of the simplistic and misleading messages that the school-privatization movement has spent vast amounts of time and money drumming into the public mind. As more and more people come to believe in the existence of these “problems,” the “solutions” offered by right-wing politicians become increasingly appealing. Also note that these messages frame the issues. Table 3.1 below shows an associated frame for each of the above five statements of conventional wisdom, the implication of, and responses triggered by, those frames.

Once the public has been convinced through repetition, right-wing politicians step in and offer "solutions”.  It hardly matters who their candidates are – they all repeat the same talking points, offer the same solutions and, when elected, vote according to the directives of the funders, the same foundations and organizations that prepared the messages and laid the ideological groundwork. On the other hand, the progressive and moderate politicians are largely on their own to make their case. They do not have the benefit of a well-established messaging machine with coordinated messages to make their case.

Table 3.1 – Conventional Wisdoms and Frames

Conventional Wisdom



Response Triggered by Frame

Public schools are failing




Failure is bad, has very negative implications

Want something successful, not those failing public schools


Children are trapped in failing schools

Kids are trapped against their will

Children can’t escape without help

Protectiveness: We must rescue the children by getting them out of those public schools

Teacher unions are blocking reforms

Unions oppose progress




Reforms are needed


Teacher unions are bad because they are opposing improvements to education


Needed reforms will not happen if there are teacher unions

Need to get rid of teacher unions, as they oppose a fundamentally good thing: progress.

If reform is needed, the present conditions are bad in some way.


Public schools are a monopoly

Monopolies are bad

Monopolies are anti-competitive and deprive people of choice


Competition leads to winning – that’s good


Choice implies freedom

Public schools need competition, which means that there should be school choice (i.e., vouchers)

Public schools are promoting a homosexual lifestyle

Public schools make kids into sexual deviants

“Normal” children attending public schools will be encouraged to become homosexuals

Homosexual teachers may molest children

Public schools violate the religious norms of our society

I don’t want my child to go to a public school


Strategy: Connectedness of Underlying Ideologies

Underlying ideologies allow shifting – as one argument is attacked, another argument is used, based on the same ideological principle.  Or one can shift to a different underlying ideological principle.  For example, start with the underlying principle of free market competition, and then shift to an argument based on the underlying ideology of personal


Other Strategies

Strategy: Overwhelming

“Developed by socialist theorist Leon Trotsky in 1915 … permanent revolution is the pinnacle of the art of mass distraction--one continually changes the subject of debate by striving for new goals that are always just beyond reach. The idea is diabolically simple: by the time people start grumbling about the problems created by your Great Leap Forward, you're causing new difficulties with your Cultural Revolution. Opposition takes time to materialize; taking the nation from one crisis to the next neutralizes your enemies by focusing them against initiatives you've already abandoned.

“On the domestic front, Bush has launched so many political offensives that it's impossible for what's left of the left to launch a coordinated resistance. Fast-track signing authority for free trade, expanded tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations while running up the deficit, drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, rounding up detainees and depriving them of due process, unraveling environmental regulations, union-busting, curtailing privacy rights--any one of these full-scale assaults would require a full-court press by liberals to block or overturn.” – Ted Rall[82]

Strategy: Staying On the Offensive – Forcing Others to Respond

One successful strategy has been to keep public-school advocates always on the defensive. Heartland Institute’s 1991 document, A Marketing Plan for Educational Choice,[83] makes this point:

“The best way to preempt potentially damaging attacks by educational choice opponents is to keep the debate focused on the problems in and failures of government education. This information must be consistently presented to the general public both in advance of and during the campaign for educational choice. Defendants of the status quo must be made to explain how their warmed-over and already-failed reforms will address these problems. In other words, educational choice opponents must be kept on the defensive, as defenders of the failed status quo should be.”

Strategy: Never Apologizing or Backing Down

The Right’s demonization of public education and teacher unions is so pervasive that the Secretary of Education felt free to call the NEA a “terrorist organization.” When his statement was criticized, his “apology” consisted of saying:

"It was an inappropriate choice of words to describe the obstructionist scare tactics the NEA's Washington lobbyists have employed against No Child Left Behind's historic education reforms.”[84]

The Right’s response was not to back down or apologize.  In fact, it was to escalate.  In Paige Was Only Telling The Truth, Frank Salvato writes,

“So, Rod Paige may have used some inappropriate words to paint a picture of the NEA but in my opinion they may not have been strong enough. If we want to see accountability in education, rising test scores and smarter graduates the first step is to get the NEA out of the classrooms, schools and the educational institutions all together. Of course this will never happen so I will be happy with the creation of an alternative and legitimate teachers union that doesn’t double as “thought police” to those with opposing views, an alternative for those who do not believe in the NEA’s destructive, uncooperative, liberal agenda.”[85]

Strategy: Claiming Legitimacy While Marginalizing Opponents (Seizing the Flag)

“Educational choice proponents can blunt the force of public sector unions in several ways. First, the credibility of teachers unions is very shaky and can be undercut by careful research and commentary. . . . Contrasting the rise in teachers salaries in recent years with the fall in test scores can show that the NEA looks out for its members first and students second.”

- A Marketing Plan for Educational Choice[86]

 “First, public schools had to be discredited. If they were not broken there would be no impetus to create alternative systems of schooling. The Bradley Foundation has funded many critiques, especially in higher education, that helped fuel today’s rampant criticism of education.

“That schools are failing is now taken for granted by many, including many in the educational community. School administrators, teachers’ unions, the media, and politicians all compete to raise standards, toughen tests, and to improve an allegedly shoddy teaching corps. Any politician or educator who fails to call for higher standards risks political ridicule. Of course, improvements in education can be made. But the first stage of the broad strategy has succeeded, and a strong consensus views the schools as failing despite the fact that much empirical evidence shows public schools are doing well and improving.”

- From Wisconsin Education Association's 1998 Anatomy of a Movement[87]

Strategy: Dividing the Opposition

Heartland Institute’s “Marketing Plan” discusses the value of divide-and-conquer techniques:

 “Assuming that teacher opposition will be monolithic can lead to overestimating the strength of the opposition and overlooking opportunities to divide and win over some part of the opposition. In Britain, the Thatcher government recorded many successes in privatizing state enterprises by designing programs that allowed government employees to personally profit by the transition. A similar strategy directed toward government schools in the U.S. could involve offering more generous retirement benefits to teachers, opportunities to start new schools or private teaching practices, and greater representation in the management of government schools.”

- A Marketing Plan for Educational Choice[88]

Section 4 –Effectiveness of the Right-Wing Movement

"We cannot applaud the political ideas these conservative foundations promote, but the successes of these foundations are remarkable, as they continue to frame the policy agenda and pose a challenge to progressives around the nation about how to energize and capitalize public policy addressing social justice concerns."

- NCRP executive director Rick Cohen[89]

Achieving Their Goals

The right-wing movement has changed American society in significant ways. It has been successful in turning public opinion and many politicians against spending money on programs that provide essential benefits to those in need, common-sense environmental regulation, and consumer-protection measures, and on the legitimacy of government itself. As a result of the Right's consistent, strategic approach and aggressive use of messaging and communication techniques to dominate the marketplace of ideas, many Americans now believe that government at local, state, and national levels acts against their interests as citizens. Low levels of political participation reflect this alienation - and affect the outcome of elections.

Major print and broadcast media, public opinion polls and the positions taken by politicians of both major parties make it clear that there has been a steady shift toward the school-privatization movement’s and the Right’s attitudes and policies. Very little that reaches the major media today frames issues to the advantage of public schools and teacher organizations. 

The right-wing movement, in combination with corporate interests, has been successful not only in opposing teacher unions, but also in getting people into government office that support their ideology. As a result, they have gained control over the legislative and administrative branches of the Federal government.  With resulting appointments to the Courts, the Right and the school-privatization movement are poised to achieve their goals.

Control All Three Branches of Government

The Right now controls the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, and is engaged in an effort to dominate the Courts with Federalist Society appointees.  The political climate has become unfriendly to policies built on the understanding that government can help people and protect them from threats to their well-being. Many of the advances that moderates and progressives have worked hard to achieve over the past century have been abruptly reversed by conservative legislative and judicial decisions.


Major Legislation: The No Child Left Behind Act

Passage of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was a major victory for the Right’s privatization efforts. Department of Education descriptions of this legislation even incorporate specific right-wing framing language, referring to variations of the framing phrase “children trapped in failing schools.”  From the Department of Education’s official Executive Summary of the No Child Left Behind Act:[90]

“The new law reflects a remarkable consensus - first articulated in the President's No Child Left Behind framework-on how to improve the performance of America's elementary and secondary schools while at the same time ensuring that no child is trapped in a failing school.”


“In addition to helping ensure that no child loses the opportunity for a quality education because he or she is trapped in a failing school, the choice and supplemental service requirements provide a substantial incentive for low-performing schools to improve.”


Other changes will support State and local efforts to keep our schools safe and drug-free, while at the same time ensuring that students - particularly those who have been victims of violent crimes on school grounds - are not trapped in persistently dangerous schools.”

NCLB for all practical purposes has created an unfunded mandate with provisions that make it easy for public schools to “fail” and open the door to privatization.

"The president's ultimate goal," said former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.), one of the Democrats who now harshly attacks NCLB, "is to make the public schools so awful, and starve them of money, just as he's starving all the other social programs, so that people give up on the public schools."[91]

The Right Sets the Public Agenda

In recent years, the Right and the school privatization movement have enjoyed unprecedented success in influencing both federal and state legislation and policies.

“The result of this comprehensive and yet largely invisible funding strategy is an extraordinary amplification of the far right's views on a range of issues. . .  They have . . . been able to keep alive in the public debate a variety of policy ideas long ago discredited or discarded by the mainstream. . .  The success of the right-wing efforts are seen at every level of government, as a vast armada of foundation-funded right-wing organizations has both fed and capitalized on the current swing to the right in Congress and in the state legislatures.”[92]

Right-wing ideological premises and arguments dominate the national debate. 

In a recent New York Times Op-Ed piece[93] describing the American Conservative Union (A.C.U.)’s 40th anniversary party, John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge wrote,

“It would be going a little far to say that the A.C.U. ought to have celebrated under a banner labeled "Mission Accomplished," but it is because of such groups that the right has out-organized, out-fought and out-thought liberal America over the past 40 years. And the left still shows no real sign of knowing how to fight back.

[. . .] “Fast forward to today. A Republican Party that is more conservative than Mr. Goldwater could have imagined controls the White House, Congress, many governors' mansions and a majority of seats in state legislatures. Back in 1964, John Kenneth Galbraith smugly proclaimed: "These, without doubt, are the years of the liberal. Almost everyone now so describes himself." Today, a Gallup poll tells us, twice as many Americans (41 percent) describe themselves as "conservative" than as "liberal" (19 percent).”

Defeat Voucher Initiatives, But They Keep Coming Back

For the last 30 years, voters have rejected vouchers every time they've been proposed.  Following is a National Education Association chart tracking voucher initiatives.[94]


































Home Schooling Is Increasing.

“For more and more students, homeroom has become a room at home. Almost 1.1 million students were home-schooled last year, a 29 percent increase since the last government survey in 1999. The growth comes as more parents, frustrated with traditional schools and limits on curriculum, say they would rather handle lessons themselves.

“The estimated figure of students taught at home comes from parent surveys. The results were released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the Education Department.

“Parents offered two main reasons for choosing home schooling: 31 percent cited concerns about the environment of regular schools, such as drugs, lack of safety and negative peer pressure; 30 percent wanted the flexibility to teach religious or moral lessons. Sixteen percent said they were dissatisfied with academic instruction at other schools.”

-- News report, Home schooling is on the rise [95]

Attitude toward Public Education

While polls show that people think their local public schools are quite good, they also think that public schools nationally are just average.  This example of people believing information that contradicts their own observation shows the effectiveness of repeated messaging. Particularly, note the differences in the A and B ratings between those rating schools in their own community and those rating schools in the nation as a whole. Also note the higher ratings given by public school parents to schools in their own community.

The following three tables and accompanying wording is taken from Phi Delta Kappan’s “The 36th Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools,”  September 2004.[96]

The wording and tables are reproduced with permission from the September 2004 issue of the Phi Delta Kappan.  Author comments are shown as underlined.

Grading the Public Schools

“Tables 1, 2, and 3 report the trend questions used to track the public's assessment of the public schools. Adding this year's 33% of respondents who give the schools a C to the 47% who give the schools an A or a B brings the total to 80%. For public school parents, the percentage who assign the top three grades is 85%.”

How do people rate their own local schools – the ones they know about?


TABLE 1. Students are often given the grades of A, B, C, D, and FAIL to denote the quality of their work. Suppose the public schools themselves, in your community, were graded in the same way. What grade would you give the public schools here -- A, B, C, D, or FAIL?



National Totals

No Children in School

Public School Parents


2004 %

2003 %

2004 %

2003 %

2004 %

2003 %

A & B










































Don’t know







* Less than one-half of one percent


What about those OTHER schools – the ones that the right-wing is always talking about?


TABLE 2. How about the public schools in the nation as a whole? What grade would you give the public schools nationally -- A, B, C, D, or FAIL?



National Totals

No Children in School

Public School Parents


2004 %

2003 %

2004 %

2003 %

2004 %

2003 %

A & B










































Don’t know









And what about the school that your oldest child attends?


TABLE 3. Using the A, B, C, D, FAIL scale again, what grade would you give the school your oldest child attends?



Public School Parents


2004 %

2003 %

A & B


















Don’t know



* Less than one-half of one percent


Section 5 – Responding to the Attack

Sections 1 through 4 of this report should make it clear that teacher organizations and those who support public schools are currently fighting a losing battle against organizations like Heartland Institute, Pacific Research Institute, and the many others that are united in their efforts to destroy public education. The Right is working to end public education, fighting unions, and is even fighting against the idea of government itself (their tactics include tax cuts as a way to "de-fund" the government, which in turn impacts public education).  Teacher organizations are fighting this battle with very few other organizations helping, or backing them up. 

The goals of those who favor a vigorous public education system might be stated as follows:

  • To counter the attacks on public education. rapidly and effectively 
  • To strengthen and secure the role of public education in our society for the long-term.

This section presents strategies that are designed to accomplish the two goals. As stated in the Introduction section, these strategies fall broadly into two categories: (1) those that could best be done by those organizations and individuals that are independent voices for public education, and (2) those that education organizations can do solely for themselves, or in concert with independent voices for public education. Moreover, also as stated in the Introduction section, these strategies can enable public education organizations and others who advocate a robust public education system to take the initiative in advancing an education agenda that is in the public interest.

It should be noted that this strategic approach is a process by which both the independent voices for education as well as the education organizations can address any particular education related issue. For example, independent voices could address the issue of the public’s negative and frequently false perception of teacher unions by employing a number of the strategies presented in this Section. The strategies and associated background research could work to alter public perceptions to more accurately reflect reality. Background research findings could also be shared with education organizations to inform their efforts toward the same end.

One of the keys to developing strategies that will advance public education is to recognize that much of right-wing strategy is based on marketing and communicating an ideology, a way of thinking about the world, rather than addressing single issues one at a time, in isolation. What is done with regard to a specific issue is usually part of a broader underlying ideology. 

The strategies and tactics presented here are not intended to be all-inclusive. Actions by public education advocates take place on a regular basis throughout the nation. Many of these could be characterized as being strategies or tactics. Some of these are undertaken by ad hoc citizen groups, some by progressive organizations such as People for the American Way, and of course many by public education organizations and educators themselves. These include a diverse array of activities such as lobbying for or against specific legislation, public demonstrations, and public relations. It is expected that some of the strategies presented herein will enhance or work synergistically with a number of these existing activities. It is also recognized that there may already be activity related to some of the suggested strategies and tactics.

Developing strategies is an ongoing process. Thinking strategically is a mindset that, like other mindsets, improves with practice and experience. As certain strategies are employed, the responses to those strategies may suggest modifications to the strategy and/or additional strategies and tactics. The overall objective is to be as effective as possible in protecting and strengthening public education.

Creating an Infrastructure with Independent Voices for Public Education

Section 2 of the report showed that a major strategy of the Right for changing public attitudes and gaining political support has been their creation of a network of advocacy organizations—an infrastructure that supports and advances the conservative movement. It was also shown that this network of advocacy organizations has focused on building an ideological movement and is continually advancing its goals.

An essential step in responding to the attack on public education is creation of an infrastructure, comprising a network of moderate to progressive advocacy organizations that support public education as well as other progressive issues. The model established by the Right demonstrates that some components of an infrastructure, particularly multi-issue policy organizations, can function as independent voices while others serve additional valuable functions. For example, the progressive Center for Policy Alternatives develops policy and model legislation for state legislators.  All the infrastructure organizations function as advocacy organizations, whether they operate as independent voices or not, because they are all advocating for a cause in one way or another.

Teacher organizations and public education supporters need organizations that can serve as independent voices that advocate public education positions. It is almost always more effective to have a credible “independent voice” make your case rather than for you to try to make your own case.  Studies from independent organizations will carry more weight than PR from teacher organizations, as the latter are likely to be perceived as self-interested.  The right wing knows this and uses the independent voice approach to great effect.

In the long term, the independent voices may be the single most effective available strategy. As with a number of other strategies presented herein, it can be used without limit in addressing the whole range of education issues, from the most minor to the most significant. For example, the independent voices can address the critical issue of the “achievement gap” of certain minority student groups compared with higher-achieving groups. The independent voices could counter the view that puts the blame for the persisting achievement gap on teachers and the schools where they work and could call attention to the larger social factors involved. In doing this, the independent voices would be perceived as both authoritative (for example, well-researched information from a non-partisan think tank) and truly independent. On the other hand, when teacher unions, schools, school districts, or others closely aligned with these entities try to make this case, they are often viewed as self-serving and lacking in candor, even when being completely accurate.

What is the nature of infrastructure?


Infrastructure comprises the organizations and functions that support a movement which is based on underlying ideologies or principles. Infrastructure organizations are able to advance positions that are consistent with the ideology for a range of public issues. Being multi-issue and focused on principles/ideology is also characteristic of an infrastructure organization as opposed to a single issue organization. However, once a number of components of an infrastructure are established, and with proper coordination, single issue organizations can play a role in the infrastructure. Some well known infrastructure organizations on the Right are the Heritage Foundation, Pacific Research Institute, and the Federalist Society. Other organizations aligned with the Right that are not generally considered as infrastructure organizations but clearly function as such are the Washington Times and Fox News. Media personalities that work closely with others to advance the Right’s ideology, such as Rush Limbaugh, also function as part of the Right’s infrastructure. For the purposes of this report, the focus is on infrastructure other than media and media personalities.

What types of things do infrastructure organizations do?

The following is a partial list of the types of things that infrastructure organizations do, and of course that leads directly to the nature of the strategic role they can play. These functions are all important for mounting an effective response to the attack on public education.

  • Articulate the underlying ideology,
  • Develop framing and language,
  • Do market research on attitudes, knowledge, framing, language, and media usage,
  • Create and implement long-term strategies
  • Develop model legislation for adoption by state legislatures,
  • Advise legislators,
  • Prepare position papers and other communications in support of their ideology and/or opposing a competing ideology,
  • Create a body of intellectual work that supports public education and other critical issue areas,
  • Train speakers,
  • Prepare position papers and do other intellectual work in support of or opposed to specific issues,
  • Influence the public via a wide range of media channels regarding multiple issues,
  • Create media programs as well as content,
  • Educate the media and feed them topics,
  • Track the oppositions tactics and strategies,
  • Influence decision makers regarding specific issues,
  • Influence the actions of the legal system,
  • Recruit and train new members for the movement,
  • Identify sources of funding for the infrastructure and coordinate their funding activities, and
  • Coordinate the individual parts of the infrastructure.

Some First Steps

The initial strategies are directed to creating an infrastructure that will be needed to defend against attacks by the Right and to improve public and political support for public education and other issues and groups that have been jeopardized because of the actions of the Right.

The infrastructure of independent voices for public education will initially likely consist of a few organizations that have the capability of crafting effective messages and getting those messages out to various media and the public. Ultimately, these independent voices will have to be augmented by a broader infrastructure of organizations that together will have the capacity to change public attitudes and the political environment to be supportive of public education, and many other moderate-progressive resources, issues, and policies. The initial strategies will be facilitated by the involvement and cooperation of issue organizations that are under attack by the Right, including education organizations.

Strategy: Cultivate Strategic Allies

Public education and teachers unions are not the only ones being attacked by the Right. Organized labor, trial lawyers, environmentalists, family planning organizations, and government employees, along with a wide range of what are generally considered as progressive interest groups and organizations, are also under attack. Moderate to progressive politicians tend to be supportive of most or all the issues associated with  interest groups. What these interest groups also have in common is that they are being attacked by the same foes, using the same underlying ideologies. It therefore makes strategic sense for public education advocates to develop and/or strengthen relationships with organizations representing these constituencies for the purpose of countering the attacks by the Right. Strategic allies perceive their common interests and can cooperate in their fight against right-wing ideology and actions to mutual benefit.  Specific strategies that will benefit public education and teacher unions can be executed as a result of having created these alliances.

Strategy: Cooperate with Others to Create an Infrastructure

Teacher organizations, along with other groups attacked by the Right, have an incentive to work together building and funding an infrastructure that can counter the Right’s underlying ideology as well as fighting more narrowly-focused school-privatization battles. Additional financial resources can be available from foundations, wealthy individuals (many with family foundations), and a growing number of business persons who care about progressive issues and who are starting to recognize the need for allying themselves with other moderates and progressives. Business persons can lend vital expertise in addition to helping to fund the infrastructure.


Some of the specific benefits of creating an infrastructure are as follows:

·         Using marketing and communication technology, certain infrastructure organizations will be able to reach the broad public with positive messages about public education.

·         Communication will also be geared to changing the overall public attitudes to be more supportive of progressive values.  That would have benefits across the spectrum of interest groups and the interests they support. People and politicians who understand the value of public schools are also likely to be pro-environment, pro-choice, and supportive of other issues, because these positions at a deep level are anchored in a common world view.  Similarly, pro-environment, pro-choice, etc. voters are very likely to be supportive of public schools, the interests of teacher organizations, and organized labor generally. 

·         Owing to the principle of interconnected­ness, which has been so well developed by the Right, a funded moderate-progressive marketing/communications infrastructure will, over time, be able to support a growing network of credible individuals writing books, articles and commentar­ies, appearing on television and radio news and issues programs, speaking to public interest groups, and using their skills in many beneficial ways. This network will create a favorable political climate for the types of candidates, judges, and policies that will be beneficial to public education and teacher organizations.

Funding is a critical issue and a motive for cooperation. As indicated above, the responsibility for creating and funding an infrastructure will not be borne by teacher organizations alone. Responsibility will be shared by a broad community of those who have a common interest in creating a moderate to progressive infrastructure. In addition, teacher organizations and those with whom they will be allied should encourage others, such as progressive foundations and wealthy individuals, to join in the effort.   

Building this external infrastructure of independent advocacy organizations is an essential strategy, because without independent voices serving as advocates for public education, both the public and the politicians can be expected to be responsive to continued privatization efforts.  But with a network of organizations working to reinforce ideals of community, sharing, nurturing, cooperation and public service, we can expect to see the shift necessary to achieve increased investment in public education.

Strategy: Provide General Operating Support

These infrastructure organizations will require general operating support grants.  This is how a lasting infrastructure is built.

The Right’s recognition that an underlying ideology binds them together allows them to be comfortable proving general operating support funding.  The right-wing Philanthropy Roundtable coordinates their funding efforts, making sure that money is distributed to a variety of organizations.  As a result of this approach, the Right has a diversity of organizations working on a number of approaches.  These organizations do not perceive each other as competition for support, but rather as using multiple approaches toward achieving common goals, with some targeting one audience, and others trying different approaches. The acceptance of diverse approaches does not force the Right’s organizations to waste time and energy competing with each other for narrow short-term program grants. 

Strategy: Develop Unifying Ideological Principles

Underlying ideological principles must be incorporated into most strategies for those strategies to be fully effective. Therefore developing unifying principles is considered here as part of creating an infrastructure.  The unifying principles would be developed through the involvement of a wide range of experts including those in such fields as framing, language, and cognitive linguistics. The wording used in principles, as well as the principles themselves would be evaluated and tested using techniques such as polling, focus groups, and cognitive interviews. An example of a unifying moderate to progressive principle might be something such as “community responsibility.” Just as the a number of the Right’s underlying ideological principles provide a basis for attacking public education, it can be expected that a number of moderate to progressive principles will provide a basis for supporting public education.  

Strategy: Use a Business-like Approach

To be most effective, the new organizations and the whole infrastructure will have to operate in a business-like manner, with clear objectives, appropriate staffing, and professional management. Respected progressives and moderates with business expertise could be recruited to take a lead in creating what essentially will be a new industry: the promotion and support of progressive to moderate values and policies. The involvement and imprimatur of respected business leaders can encourage funding support from many sources, including foundations as well as individuals.

Strategy: Plan for Coordination

It is necessary to establish coordination mechanisms, assign responsibilities, and provide financial support for the coordination functions. Coordination includes, but is not limited to, ensuring consistent use of language, dissemination of language, communicating plans of action, and assigning responsibilities. Those involved in the coordination include all parts of infrastructure, i.e., infrastructure organizations, media individuals, and single issue organizations such as those that advocate for public education.

Independent Voice/Infrastructure Strategies for Strengthening Public Education

The strategies in these subsections are ones that can be better executed by multi-issue infrastructure organizations than by teacher organizations themselves. Their function as independent voices can be particularly helpful for executing some of these strategies. Each skirmish in the ongoing battle will advance pro-public educations positions to some extent, because it will provide another opportunity to expose the public to concepts and language that frame privatization in a negative manner. This will be true even if public education advocates lose on a specific piece of legislation or referendum.

Strategy: A Long-Term Approach

A long-term approach means developing long-term strategies that will make it possible to be proactive on a short-term tactical basis as well as to advance a long-term agenda. As an example, the right has taken a long-term approach to privatization. It has run multiple pro-vouchers campaigns, created but not funded NCLB, and used its network of advocacy organizations to attack teacher unions and public schools. The Right has used framing and language repeatedly, consistently, and over time in an effort to achieve their privatization goal. The key to using a long-term strategic approach is to recognize that it is not usually possible to go directly to your end point, but rather it is necessary to have a number of intermediate steps that can readily achieve public and political acceptance.

Once independent organizations establish long-term plans, the short-term tactics can be designed to work toward the long-term goals.

Many of the strategies presented in this section are examples of intermediate steps or strategies we expect the network of advocacy organizations will develop, for achieving the two goals stated at the beginning of the section.

Strategy: A Marketing Approach

The marketing approach used by a moderate to progressive infrastructure would likely be similar to that used by the Right (as described in Section 3), except that it will have to be adapted to different communication resources. For example, recognizing that the Right has better access to the major media, one of the efforts to make up for their advantage would be to reach specific audiences through media other than the major media. That could be accomplished through extensive use of psychographic segmentation, which focuses on how the audience thinks and how they perceive the world. Various audiences would be characterized through the use of polling, focus groups, and cognitive interviews. These techniques would be used to identify such things as the issues that are of greatest concern to a given audience, the cultural language of that audience, and what media in addition to major media might most effectively reach that audience.

A major focus of Marketing is to get broad public support for underlying ideology as well as for specific issues such as public education.  Ideology is the subject of the following paragraphs.

Strategy: Address Underlying Ideologies

Section 2 introduced Focus on Ideology as being one of the two major strategies of the Right. It stated that much of the success of the Right has been that they are organized around ideology rather than specific issues. For example, the mission of the leading conservative think tank, Heritage Foundation (according to its website) is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. As it is a think tank that addresses almost every issue, it is instructive to note that no specific issues are cited in the Heritage Foundation’s mission statement, but rather a set of principles, which is in essence another name for underlying ideology. As stated above in the paragraph titled “What is the nature of infrastructure?” being multi-issue and focused on principles/ideology is characteristic of an infrastructure organization as opposed to a single issue organization.

In addressing ideology, the approach of progressives and moderate organizations would likely be both to weaken the ideology arguments of the Right and to substitute underlying ideologies that can be used in support of public education as well as the whole range of moderate to progressive issues. The application of ideology to multiple issues provides reinforcement to each single issue.

Ideology underlies and is expressed by framing and language. Being able to articulate a fundamental ideological position that can best be used to support progressive to moderate issues will require development. Work on articulating underlying progressive to moderate ideologies has started, but it needs to be completed. It can be expected that multi-issue think tanks and communication organizations will take the lead in this effort. They will be joined by leaders in cognitive linguistics and framing, and additionally will likely use focus groups and other research techniques to validate the selected underlying ideologies. This effort can proceed in parallel with the framing and language efforts.

It must be realized that moving public attitudes will take some time. However, because of the nature of the diverse and powerful communication tools available today, that can be a dynamic process that can proceed fairly rapidly if events are favorable and sufficient resources are available.

The Importance of Countering the Right’s Underlying Ideology

A society conditioned to accept the primacy of corporate free enterprise is not one in which labor unions will thrive. A population that believes in limited government and free enterprise is one that will be inclined to agree that schools should be private businesses rather than public institutions. And a public that buys into a right-wing version of “traditional American values” will certainly be unaccepting of “different” life styles and will probably think that there is no harm in compulsory prayer in schools, and that in fact it is proper. 

The words that describe underlying ideologies by themselves may appear bland. But these words are given meaning by the context in which they are used. For example, the Right has promulgated the concept of “limited government” to mean that almost any service that government provides, with the exception of the military, should be left to “free enterprise.” The term “limited government” as used by the Right is readily interpreted to mean no government and no taxes. “Free enterprise”, in the Right’s lexicon, means corporate enterprise free of any government regulation or interference. So what is really being promoted by the Right is not only privatization of education but a corporate education system free of any government regulation (and that would surely include the NCLB act) or restriction.  Essentially, we could expect that private enterprise would be free to operate in any manner they chose, regardless of the public welfare.

Once these ideologies take on specific meaning, they become powerful tools for moving the public to support a broad ultra-conservative agenda. School privatization, for example, is only part of a larger privatization movement that includes privatization of Medicare, Social Security, and most functions of city, county, state, and the Federal government. And such changes can occur rapidly.

Part of the response to this attack must be to counter the Right’s underlying ideologies. If the Right’s underlying ideologies are not countered, they will continue to be able to appeal strongly to the public and elected officials. Teacher organizations, for example, have tried to explain to the public the truth about public education, in response to the current attacks from the school-privatization movement and the Right.  But, because so many of the privatization arguments rest on the Right’s ideology, the effort to combat privatization must also work to diminish public accep­tance of the underlying ideology itself.  Just as blackberry vines in the garden keep reappearing until the root system is removed, school-privatization arguments will continue to thrive with the public until the underlying ideology loses strength.

Strategy: Develop Effective Framing and Language

Much of the effectiveness of the Right has been due to their having used carefully-tested frames and language over time that, with repetition, have effectively advanced their agenda. Much of this language, either directly or indirectly, reflects their core principles or ideology.

Moderates and progressives have many of the linguistic and other resources needed to create the framing, words, and metaphors to create a positive perception of public education and teacher organizations. However, to be most effective, these resource organizations and individuals should work cooperatively, which is not always the case at present. In addition to framing and language that is issue-specific, some frames and language should be applicable across issues.  For example, metaphors relating to “community” could be used to describe public education or protection of animal and plant species (Public education is like have a caring, supportive, and inclusive community for all children in our society. Or, every plant and every animal is part of a natural, interdependent community, and as such they all deserve our respect, admiration, and protection.).

As is the care with the Right, one of the ways in which framing and language will benefit public education is if it succeeds in changing public attitudes related to underlying ideology. For example, it will benefit public education if the public, including decision makers, have a positive view of government.  The following several paragraphs provide more information about “issue framing.”

Issue framing is an essential part of language development.  Issue framing, as used by the Right, is described under “Strategy: Marketing Approach” in Section 3. Here we will expand on framing as a concept. The website of the FrameWorks Institute[97] describes framing:

[…] “framing refers to the construct of a communication — its language, visuals and messengers — and the way it signals to the listener or observer how to interpret and classify new information. By framing, we mean how messages are encoded with meaning so that they can be efficiently interpreted in relationship to existing beliefs or ideas.”

More simply, people have mental images in their minds that help them interpret what is going on around them. Our automatic impulse – a mental short cut - is to attempt to relate new information to the concepts we already have. The way an issue is framed triggers in our minds the shared and durable cultural models that help us make sense of our world.

George Lakoff, a professor of linguistics and cognitive science at the University of California Berkeley, describes framing as "using language to evoke ideas."[98] In an interview discussing the political use of framing, he said:

“The first thing to know about language is that it expresses ideas and thoughts. Every word is defined with respect to what cognitive scientists call a frame. A frame is a conceptual structure of a certain form. Let me give you an example. Suppose I say the word "relief." The word "relief" has a conceptual frame associated with it. Here's the frame: In order to give someone relief, there has to be an affliction and an afflicted party – somebody who's harmed by this affliction – and a reliever, somebody who gives relief to the afflicted party or takes away the harm or pain. That reliever is a hero. And if someone tries to stop the person giving relief from doing so, they're a bad guy. They're a villain. They want to keep the affliction ongoing. So when you use only one word, "relief," all of that information is called up. That is a simple conceptual frame.

Then there's metaphorical thought. We all think metaphorically. When you add "tax" to "relief" to give you the term "tax relief," it says that taxation is an affliction. That's a new metaphor. Then, using the metaphor, anyone who gets rid of the taxation – the affliction – is a hero, and anybody who tries to stop him is a bad guy.

[. . .]   [if you are asked] “Are you in favor of the President's tax relief program or are you against it?” – it doesn't matter what you say. If you say, “I'm against tax relief,” you're still evoking that framing. You're still in their frame, and all that it automatically brings with it: what kinds of policies are good, who is bad, and so on. That's how Fox News works. It frames the issues from a conservative perspective. Once the issue is framed, if you accept the framing, if you accept the language, it's all over. [emphasis added][99]

There is an urgent need, therefore, for teacher organizations to become more aware of the role of language and metaphor in supporting the present frames, which work to their disadvantage. The push for school privatization needs reframing to a metaphorical model that will benefit teachers and public schools, rather than undermining them. 

Framing development is an area of specialization that can be done by infrastructure think tanks with this orientation and type of expertise in-house and/or in conjunction with specialty organizations. As part of the total process of frame and language development, alternative framing and wording would be drafted with the input of experts and then appropriately tested before being put into use, to be sure that it will evoke the desired responses in the public mind. The organizations that develop framing will lead the way, showing what language and metaphors/images should be used with respect to specific issues, e.g., vouchers, privatization, teacher organizations, testing, “no child left behind”, school funding, and to be sure that the frames work together synergistically.

Strategy: Dissemination of Specific Framing and language

In addition to establishing specific language and new frames (to replace or weaken the present ones being used by the opponents), the new framing and wording should be widely disseminated to supporters, other independent-voice organizations and individuals, as well as to teacher organizations to ensure consistency of messaging. Consistency of messaging through multiple channels has contributed enormously to the success of the Right and should prove to be just as powerful a tool for advocates of public education and allied causes.

Framing is a community resource for use by many organizations.  By having an infrastructure that includes specialist organizations in place to develop framing, the frames and language become a “community resource,” available to teacher organizations, environmental organizations, etc.  Additionally, with different types of organizations sharing the framing language, the underlying themes and ideology are reinforced.  By hearing the same frames coming from a number of sources and interest groups, they will be reinforced in the public mind and come to be accepted as “conventional wisdom.”

Strategy: Use New Framing and Language for Specific Issues

These infrastructure organizations will incorporate the new framing, language, and metaphors for use in specific issue campaigns like state and local voucher battles, and funding and various other provisions of NCLB. This means using the framing and language in press releases, articles, public speeches, media presentations, court cases, and all other discussions of the issue, as well as in providing information to government officials.

Infrastructure organizations will develop and promulgate alternative framing, metaphors, and language (including sound bites) about the proponents of “school choice”, which could be used consistently to portray them as self-interested and acting against the public interest.  The potency of frames is reinforced if they are used across issues.  The aim is to have the casual listener respond by thinking, for example, “Oh, the Religious Right is at it again, trying to get out of having to pay to send their kids to church schools,” every time a new voucher initiative is proposed by the opposition.

Strategy: Repetition of Specific Framing and language

Repetition of a frame reinforces it. Every mention of “children trapped in failing schools” or use of language or images that reinforces the opposition’s frame, even if the intention is to try to negate it, strengthens the political and strategic position of school privatization advocates. Consistent use of properly-framed messages through multiple channels is necessary before a concept will lodge firmly in “the public mind.” One of the benefits of independent voices is that they can reinforce favorable frames and language in their own work product and public communications.

Repetition of simple, effective messages through multiple channels will work for public education and other moderate to progressive issues. A message is not necessarily heard the first time it is uttered. Repetition increases the chance that (1) a given individual will hear it, (2) more individuals will hear it, and (3) more individuals will hear it multiple times, thus reinforcing it. This principle is used all the time in advertising, and the Right has used it effectively in creating “conventional wisdom” and getting much of the public to buy into their ideology.  

Use multiple channels to disseminate messages

Repeating coordinated strategic messages through multiple communication channels is a technique that has been successfully by the Right and can be emulated by a progressive to moderate infrastructure. Individual infrastructure organizations could specialize in specific channels such as major media, film productions, ethnic publications, progressive churches, and live entertainment venues. Some organizations might focus on specific audiences such as youth, Latino, or geographic area such as the Heartland. In addition there will be individual efforts such as op-ed journalists, authors, TV writers, well –established public speakers, media personalities that regularly appear on TV or radio, Internet sites, and organizations that use email as their basic communication tool. Messages can even be introduced in product advertising.  

Strategy: Develop and Disseminate Articles and Other Materials

Develop a series of the “problems with privatization” articles that could be put into the media via independent voices. These articles could include those that make the case why, based on the history of corporations, privatization will not be in the public interest. By addressing illustrative problems that have arisen as a result of privatization in multiple areas such as prisons and health care systems, a basis will be established for a more powerful case regarding privatization of public education. Multi-issue think tanks that have language and framing capabilities would likely be the most qualified of the infrastructure organizations to execute this strategy.

Regularly prepare short articles, research digests, and press releases for the media, local and ethnic, as well as national. Let their reporters and editors pick up the information to use in their own venues

Develop a bank of favorable stories about public education—examples of single individuals, schools, and communities in which public education was an important positive element. Classify these stories by the types of lessons learned or the points they make, and then have them available as resources to speakers and writers. Develop an education-focused version of Bartlett’s Famous Quotations, for the same purpose. Use ones that are consistent with the desired framing/language. This strategy could be coordinated teacher and other public education advocates that could be a source of material.

It should be noted that moderates and progressive scholars, representing independent voices, should do a certain amount of research, analysis, and purely intellectual work to define the areas in which private industry works well and why, and those areas in which public organization are preferable. Having a strong intellectual basis could add credibility to the premise that areas dealing with social, needs such as education, are not well-served by the corporate model, as that model is presently defined. This research could clearly show that the education of entire generations of children, of widely differing backgrounds and capabilities, is not well accomplished by profit-oriented organizations.

Strategy: Establish Speakers’ Bureaus

A number of infrastructure organizations can be expected to establish speakers’ bureaus that have a stable of speakers covering a broad range of issues, including public education. These speakers would be provided with the latest framing and language to incorporate into their presentations.

Under the “Internal Strategies” subsection, there is a more in-depth discussion of the speakers’ bureaus that teachers’ organizations could help to establish. Speakers’ bureaus are an area for close cooperation between teacher organizations and infrastructure organizations.

Strategy: Provide Training for Speakers and Writers

Speakers in the speakers’ bureau, as well as writers who appear in public and others, could benefit from training which would enable them be effective spokespersons for public education as well as for a moderate to progressive movement.  Speakers and writers appearing in public (for example, when promoting a newly published book) will be provided with framing and language to be incorporated into their presentations. The speakers’ training will include how to stay on message, how to anticipate and respond to questions, how to use sound bites (being selective in the use of nuance), how to take advantage of opportunities to advance specific points, and effective use of presentation materials, along with attention to voice, diction, and nonverbal behaviors in the presentation situation. These techniques, routinely taught to clients by PR agencies, can bring about impressive improvements in a speaker’s performance.


Because speakers on behalf of public education and other moderate and progressive causes not infrequently find themselves dealing in public settings with those who differ with them ideologically, they must also learn how to deal with these situations.  Techniques employed by many conservative speakers include staying on the offensive, and being confrontational or belittling.  Dealing effectively with these techniques does not come naturally for many moderates and progressives. Speakers also need to learn specific techniques for reframing issues and resisting verbal bullying, as these techniques are much needed in dealing with today’s right wing pundits and media figures.

Strategy: Help to Establish a Community of Pro-Public Education Webloggers

Weblogs, colloquially referred to as “blogs”, are Internet-based public journals, or diaries. Blogs are typically updated daily using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain them.  Blogs have become a major tool for influencing thinking for many people. Some bloggers have become major personalities, attracting hundreds of thousands of readers every day. A number of major writers, political commentators, and columnists also have blogs. Bloggers cover the entire political spectrum. Those who have become part of the Right’s messaging machine get support via accepting advertising and other forms of support from some of the core funders on the right. There are also a number of progressive blogs.

Bloggers have the potential to be a significant channel for spreading positive messages about public education. Some bloggers can already be considered independent voices that address certain progressive issues. Frames and language regarding public education issues, as well as underlying progressive ideology, can be disseminated to these bloggers as this language becomes available. Individuals who are already public education advocates can be encouraged to start blogs as an additional way of communicating pro-public education perspectives.

Strategy: Educate, Inform, and Recruit Other Independent Voices

In addition to bloggers, there are a number of other independent voices who have access to the media and/or certain audiences such as actors, musicians, cartoonists, columnists, novelists, etc. A number of these already are advocates for progressive causes/issues, but their efforts are not well coordinated, and they do not use consistent frames and language as do their counterparts on the Right. A well-functioning progressive infrastructure would continually seek to expand the community of independent voices for progressive issues. It would have processes for identifying such individuals on an ongoing basis, and for providing them with information about critical issues such as the NCLB act, and the frames and language progressives and moderates should use in addressing those issues. These individuals would then be better able to incorporate pro-public education themes into their creative analytic work.

Strategy: Counter the Right’s Under-the-Radar Propaganda

The “school choice” movement has developed, and is using, a variety of low-profile techniques to influence ordinary members of the public to believe that “public schools are failing,” etc. The tactics used by the other side can be countered by the moderate-progressive network of independent voices by employing creative tactics and by pointing out the illogic of the Right’s propaganda whenever it is identified. Some examples of tactics that we expect might be developed by an infrastructure of moderate/progressive organizations are:

-          Non-profit organizations (this would include most of the infrastructure organizations) could sponsor essay, drama, video, or music (e.g., rap) contests for high school and college students on topics such as the benefits of public schools, etc. Of course, the contests themselves, the winners, and their winning entries should be given major publicity in mass media and on the Internet.

-          Create a network of citizen scholars who can write letters to the editor in response to media stories (positive or negative) dealing with public education, vouchers, NCLB, etc. These writers would use their own writing skills but could, at their discretion, incorporate the new effective framing and language.

-          Create and promulgate counter-messages to respond to hostile e-mail messages circulating on the Internet.

-          Create and maintain a website that reveals the specific anti-public school propaganda pieces and how one can recognize them. This could provide public education advocates with tactical information and counter messages they could use for fighting “school choice” propaganda.

Strategy: Use Humor  

Humor can be used as a positive force. Appropriate infrastructure organizations could provide material to well known progressive cartoonists and humorists who might wish to incorporate such material into their work. For example, a Dave Berry-style article might start off by stating in exaggerated terms how much money parents are saving by not having to pay taxes that fund all sorts of special programs. Then the article would describe a parent running all over the place taking his/her kids to all sorts of outside activities that could have been provided by the schools. One parent has to either quit their day job or hire a taxi service because there is a conflict between the timing of activities for two of the children. Then both parents have to take time off work to do fund-raising projects and act as classroom assistants in the kids’ schools, because of the funding cuts.  The idea of the article would be very clear--parents definitely will not benefit by cutting public school programs.

Internal Strategies

The strategies in the preceding paragraphs are those that would be executed by qualified independent voices as ways to respond to the Right’s multi-pronged attack on public education. The strategies would also be intended to help strengthen and secure the role of public education in our society. 

Along with the above-stated importance of developing an external infrastructure of independent organizations to combat the Right’s ideological attacks, it is also important to recognize that internal steps can be taken. We expect that some of these internal steps, or strategies, will utilize framing and language materials developed by infrastructure organizations with that capability. Other strategies are made possible through the development of alliances. Finally, some strategies will be primarily internal. But even in some of these cases, the execution of the internal strategy will be aided by the infrastructure of independent voices. Some of the suggested strategies may not be new, but the language and communication resources from the progressive to moderate infrastructure has the potential for improving the effectiveness of existing strategies. The following describes internal strategies for teacher organizations.

Strategy: Cultivate Allies

This was the fist strategy listed under the subsection “Creating an Infrastructure with Independent Voices for Public Education.” It was shown that cultivating allies was an essential element in helping to form an infrastructure that included independent voices. But it was also mentioned that specific strategies, other than creating an infrastructure, can be executed as a result of having strategic allies.

Teacher organizations can develop strategic allies, such as librarians, with whom there might exist a special relationship. Additionally, education organizations can benefit by working directly with a broad range of strategic allies that can help them achieve their goals. However, although teacher organizations and other public education advocates can work directly with certain strategic allies, for the most part, infrastructure organizations will take a lead both in cultivating strategic allies and in working with these allies, a number whom may ultimately become part of the moderate to progressive infrastructure.

As strategic allies become familiar with processes such as use of framing and language, marketing, and multi-issue coordination, their activities will further amplify and extend the infrastructure. With regard to public education allies, It should be noted that allies would include groups and causes with which public education organizations share political interests, even if the groups issue is not necessarily privatization; e.g., women’s issues, civil liberties.  

To be effective, cultivating allies has to be a well-organized effort that includes multiple steps over time. Potential allies have to be identified. There have to be communications to potential allies that fully convey the necessity for working together to achieve mutual goals. Also, to the degree possible, there should be a structure, so the allies operate as an alliance. Education organizations should be involved in working with strategic allies, but, as indicated above, since some of these allies would be part of the infrastructure, the infrastructure organizations can play important roles in maintaining the alliance.

Meeting with allies

Teacher associations and their allies could plan to meet for a number of purposes including but not necessarily limited to the following:

  • Meetings that include a number of existing and potential allies, so that each ally has a clear understanding of the opposition and the need to work together in order to have an effective counter. Experts on this subject, who could come from infrastructure organizations, should be presenters at these meetings.
  • Joint meetings with a single ally for the purpose of sharing information about critical issues. For example, teacher association representatives would present information about key education issues, such as vouchers, NCLB, and other efforts at privatization. The organization (or group of related organizations) that they meet with would talk about their key issues. As a necessary reinforcement at each of these meetings, there should be mention of the fact that those at the meeting face a common adversary, and when applicable, that there are common underlying ideologies forming the basis for much of the attack.
  • Meetings with moderate and progressive organizations. Teacher associations should show their support for groups and causes with which they share political interests, even if the issue at hand is not necessarily privatization; e.g., women’s issues, civil liberties

Strategy: Work Closely with Colleges and Universities

Potential allies for teacher organizations include public institutions and many private institutions of higher education, unions representing university staff, and the community of liberal educators. Since they also represent the education community, and train teachers who become (for the most part) public school educators, it will be particularly important to find opportunities for mutual support. It should be noted that the Right has an ongoing attack against “liberal” professors. It is instructive to do an Internet search using the terms “liberal professors” and “conservative professors.” Most of the citations involve attacks on liberal professors and, by implication, the institutions that employ them.

Strategy: Work Closely With Non-Teacher Public School Organizations

There already exist close relationships between teacher organizations, public education administrator and non-teacher employee organizations, school boards, and others with an interest in public education. However, new language and strategies will offer opportunities for working together to strengthen public education.  

Strategy: Incorporate Curricula That Addresses Education Allies’ Issues

This makes sense from a purely educational perspective. The issues of those that could potentially be allied with public education are, for the most part, issues that are of historical and social significance. For example, courses could provide information about history and science of environmental regulation, and the role that regulations have played in safeguarding the health of citizens and contributing to the quality of life. This not only makes academic sense, but it will encourage many organizations and those associated with certain interest areas, such as health and the environment, to realize what a vital role public education can play in helping to create a better society.  The important thing to recognize in implementing this strategy is that it requires maintaining a high level of objectivity and balance so that the main purpose is always to educate, not to propagandize. Introducing new curricula has to be done strategically and over time. Infrastructure can provide the independent voices needed to help make the case for introducing new curricula, and may also help produce new pedagogical material.

Strategy: Use New Framing and Language in Specific Issue Campaigns

As stated previously, the new infrastructure organizations will develop specialized framing and wording. Teacher organizations and their allied advocacy organizations should incorporate the new framing, language, and metaphors into their specific issue campaigns like state and local voucher battles, and their legislative lobbying, such as that against NCLB. This means using the framing and language in press releases, articles, and all other discussions of the issue, as well as in lobbying and communications with government officials. Every time the correct new framing and language is used, it will reinforce the overall power of that frame and act to negate the opposition’s frames.

Strategy: Involve Teachers

Teachers are believers in public education, community and supporting our kids, bringing up the next generation, raising good citizens – good functions for a democracy.  The values of people who support public education are progressive values.  Community, nurturance, supportive government, and democracy – public education rests on those values.  So it is those values that should be reinforced to preserve public education.  Each individual teacher can model these values and be a spokesperson for public education.

Teacher associations would disseminate the new framing and language to their members. This information can reach teachers through publications, seminars, lectures, student teacher training, personal letters, short videos, professional websites and professional organizations. Teachers would be encouraged to act as ambassadors for public education

Also, teachers and their organizations should understand the frames used against them.  They should never refer to “failing schools,” “school choice” or any of the other “frames” per se. When these words are written, they should always be put into quotation marks or referred to as “so-called failing schools.”  Alternative framing phrases would be developed for use to project a pro-public school mental image.

Teachers would learn how to respond to people who tell anti-teacher and anti-school jokes or anecdotes. Use of anti-teacher-union “humor” would be treated as being as prejudicial as racial epithets or sexist remarks: not funny, but rather insulting and denigrating. Further, teachers could practice having a couple of quick repartees they can use easily whenever such remarks are made.

Teachers would BE and ACT proud of public schools—talk about the good things they do.  A number of public school teachers, though, currently feel discouraged by the endless attacks on public education. They need to have their morale boosted, and giving them specific tips about how to communicate their passion for education more effectively may be one good way to accomplish this.

Strategy: Best Practices Teams

Teacher associations might consider facilitating the creation of “Best Practices” teams that would be made available to low performing schools. As major media, such as Newsweek magazine, have shown, there are public schools serving both higher and lower social/economic student populations that have excellent performance. Sending “Best Practices” teams to low performing schools could, with appropriate PR, demonstrate public education’s commitment to excellent education. This in turn could improve support for public education.  “Best Practices” workshops (in-service training), Internet-based seminars and programs, and publications could complement or derive from the actions of the “Best Practices” teams. Obviously, such best practice teams would be introduced in a way that they will be welcomed by their fellow educators rather than seen a punishment for poor performance. As with any suggested change, it is vital to get buy-in.

Strategy: Establish Speakers’ Bureaus

Teacher associations at all levels could consider cultivating a speakers’ bureau or list of potential speakers/writers who have pro-public education perspectives.  Associations that already have speakers’ bureaus might consider expanding the scope of the bureau. The associations would make available prepared speaker materials such as presentation outlines, PowerPoint slide presentations, short videos, handouts and other graphic materials using the optimal framing and language as it is developed by the independent infrastructure organizations, to be used by speakers who want to make presentations to various audiences in their communities.  Included in the speakers’ training materials would be specific suggestions about how to respond to audience and reporters’ questions, including recognizing adverse frames and responding by reframing.

As a resource for speakers publish (in print and online) “fact sheets” of information about public education, including how to rebut, accurately, derogatory comments or false statements about public education and teacher organizations. Also, consider making these available to public school teachers, officials, and parent-teacher organizations, through a wide variety of channels.

In addition to presentation materials, associations could provide standard formats for press releases and press packets, plus guidelines for how to publicize any talks that are scheduled in this way. Teacher associations might also take on the event publicity function themselves, so that they would only need information about the upcoming event from the speaker in order to prepare and send out announcements to the media.

Teacher associations would offer speaker training workshops; if continuing education credits are required, offer them for such training. Such training may also be available through progressive-moderate infrastructure organizations. Although speaker training is available through many sources, the training required for being effective spokespersons for public education is a specific training that would incorporate language, framing, and other elements mentioned in the paragraphs above in this subsection. It might also include tactics for countering specific attacks and allegations that might be vocalized by opponents.

It would be useful for teacher associations to identify public school officials and teachers who are good public speakers (or want to be trained as such) and support them to give talks in their communities. Back them up with connections to local media and, as possible, to larger audiences and media. Provide them with audiovisual materials to augment their presentations (e.g., PowerPoint presentations, slides, charts and graphs, good quotations). As part of their training/orientation, be sure such speakers are fully conversant with the best framing and language to use about public education issues.  Encourage teachers to do outreach to community organizations in their local region, such as Chamber of Commerce, religious organizations, service organizations (e.g., League of Women Voters, Lions, Rotary, Masons, Veterans of Foreign Wars), offering to be speakers on topics such as the positive things about public schools and teachers, and the good they have done.

Strategy: Critical Thinking as Core Curriculum

A strong argument could and should be made that a populace that thinks critically is essential to the successful functioning of a democracy. Some conservatives oppose critical thinking, as they believe that it leads to relativism and other evils. Focusing on its connection to promoting democracy should be able to successfully counter this type of opposition. Critical thinking is, of course, an extensively researched area, and there are numerous books on the subject.

Promoting the concept of critical thinking as core curriculum can benefit public education in the short-term as well as the long-term. As an immediate benefit, it can show public education organizations as being innovative, creative, and actively promoting democracy.  This is particularly important at a time where the Right is trying to make the case that all the innovation and creativity is in private schools. The Right says that public school organizations oppose progress and operate to promote their narrow self-interest. In the long term, teaching critical thinking might be expected to result in a higher percentage of the population being well informed, objective, and capable of evaluating complex issues. One would expect that an objective and well-informed populace would not only be better citizens, but would also value public education and be more than willing to provide the financial support to make it as good as possible.    

Students who learn how to think critically will be more likely to see the nuance and complexity of issues rather than thinking in terms of black and white. This type of thinking can be expected to produce an educated populace that will be more objective and more supportive of a public and secular versus religious education, and thus public schools rather than voucher-supported private schools, which are often operated by religious groups. As an example, think of the subject of evolution versus creationism being taught using critical thinking as a process.

We live in a complex and rapidly changing world.  Critical thinking is a help for dealing with complexity in a way that does not overlook important points. It also can be a basis for helping students become more inclusive of a variety of points of view and types of people. As a larger portion of society becomes capable of critical thinking, that will be reflected in the ability of citizens to make more informed decisions, and will require that elected officials be capable of appealing to that type of citizenry.

Incorporating critical thinking into core curriculum will obviously not be easy. It will require changes in new teacher training and likely some training for practicing teachers. On the plus side, critical thinking may enliven the classroom experience for both teachers and students. For the most part, critical thinking would likely be incorporated as a method of teaching rather than as separate subjects. Therefore, it can be promoted as not being an additional burden on either teachers or students. Nevertheless, like any significant change in a process, implementation will have to be well thought out so that the changes are not perceived as unreasonable burdens, but rather as something desirable. Obviously, a shift as major as this one would have to be accomplished over time.

Independent voices could help introduce and sell the concept of critical thinking to the public and decision makers. This is vital, since if teacher organizations only try to bring about this change, they can expect opposition from the Right. On the other hand, as indicated above, the network of independent voices can anticipate objections and counter them before they are raised. As a cautionary note, language research may show that the use of the term “critical thinking” has negative connotations, and the use of a term such as “good thinking” may be more appealing to the public and decision makers.

As is true with any change process, the important question is: What is the cost versus the benefit? In the case of incorporating critical thinking into the teaching process, it would appear that the benefits can be expected to far outweigh the costs.

 Strategy: Make School Facilities Available to the Public

As mentioned in the Introduction, school facilities have a history of serving as a significant community resource. Teacher organizations might consider working with school boards to open up public school facilities to the community to the greatest degree possible for general community use, for after-school recreation (particularly for economically challenged families who can’t look after their children in the afternoon, and don’t have close safe recreational areas close to home), for adult education, for evening and weekend movies and plays, etc. In some cases this may require additional tax revenues. In every case, public education advocates should make it clear that these facilities are public education facilities that are being provided to the community, thanks to the public educators.  As a result, the public is getting an additional benefit from their tax contributions that have been used to build and maintain these community resources.  Independent voices for public education can help make the case that public education facilities are a good community investment.   

Strategy: Presenting a Positive Public Image

Infrastructure organizations may be able to suggest new possibilities for teacher organizations to present public education and teachers unions in a positive ways. This might include using more media channels, getting messages out through organizations of public education allies, and keeping independent voices aware of developments and special needs. Media channels, in addition to major media, could include college and university related media, such as radio, community access TV, magazines, and campus newspapers. In addition, infrastructure organizations will serve as independent voices for improving the image of public education and teacher unions in conjunction with most of their strategies.

Another possibility might be to introduce and/or expand tours and programs for college students, civic groups, and the general public that highlight positive aspects of public education

Strategy: Involve the Public

There are a number of persons in the public that are naturally allied and/or can be expected to be supportive of public education. These would include members of PTAs, those on school boards, parents who are involved in fund raising or other school related activities, and self-proclaimed public school advocacy groups. By making persons from the speakers bureaus available to all these groups, and by providing them with effective framing and language, they can become even more powerful voices for public education.  

Campaigns that mobilize the public around education issues can increase the base of support. However, to be most effective, these supporters also need to be informed about the nature of the opposition to public education. Language and metaphors supportive of public education should be used consistently to reinforce allegiance to public education and the underlying values on which the desirability and benefits of public education are based.

Section 6 – Conclusion

Complete privatization of schools is the ideological goal of the Right. One of their major strategies is to weaken teacher unions. As teacher unions are weakened, public education will have fewer financial and people resources to put into maintaining public and political support for public education. The Right, in combination with corporate interests, has been successful not only in opposing the agenda and interests of teacher unions, but also in getting people into government office supportive of their ideology. They are currently poised for long-term domination (even despite the occasional setbacks of specific elections) of the all branches of government, including the courts, at both the Federal level and in many states.  If the political opposition to public education and organized labor continues on its present course, it is likely only a matter of time that public schools and teacher unions, as they now exist, will become a thing of the past.

Underlying the political success of those who oppose public education is network of right-wing organizations, individuals, and their funders, who create powerful and compelling messages and get those messages out to the broad public and to elected officials. This right-wing movement has been the dominant force in influencing public opinion and in enabling the Right to take control of the policy agenda in this country. Clearly, this policy agenda includes the complete privatization of education.

If public education, as it now exists, is to survive, its advocates must forcefully counter the right-wing movement. This can not be done by education advocates alone, and fortunately, it doesn’t have to be.

As pointed out in the preceding section, “Responding to the Attack,” public education advocates have as potential strategic allies a wide range of organizations, groups, and individuals whose issues are under attack by the Right. The financial resources to respond to the attack are there. They just have to be focused and well utilized. The skills and knowledge are there. They just have to be organized and well directed. The knowledge of how to proceed is there—indeed, the Right has provided a road map of what works. Public education advocates just have to show the determination to follow their own version of that road map, and the imagination to create some new roads of their own.   

Teacher organizations and other public education advocates should consider joining with organized labor, environmental organizations, civil liberty groups, trial lawyers, and the many others under attack from the Right. Teachers and their allies will need to work cooperatively and effectively, and along with the progressive philanthropic community, provide the necessary funding to develop the infrastructure of organizations and individuals that will be required to counter the juggernaut of the Right.

In the conclusion of his 1971 memorandum to the Chamber of Commerce, a key document in launching the right-wing movement, Louis Powell wrote: “… business and the enterprise system are in deep trouble, and the hour is late.”  

Now, our country, our sense of community, and our democracy itself are in deep trouble, and the hour is late.

Appendix 1: Annotated Bibliography re. School Privatization


Key studies, reports and articles discussing the Right's infrastructure and efforts directed at public school privatization include: 

 “Voucher Veneer: The Deeper Agenda to Privatize Public Education,” a report from the People For the American Way foundation, shows that vouchers and other “school choice” proposals are really part of a deeper, hidden agenda to completely privatize the public education system.[100] 

Anatomy of a Movement[101], a report from Wisconsin Education Association Council, focuses on the role of the Wisconsin based Bradley Foundation's funding of organizations and studies, and their methods of promoting school privatization.

Vouchers: Who's Behind It All? [102], a paper from the American Association of School Administrators  The stated purpose of the paper is as follows:

“As a guide to help educators and the public understand this movement, AASA has conducted research on the organizations and individuals who are major boosters of vouchers, as identified online and by Michigan and California initiative campaign contribution records.”

Keeping Public Schools Public[103], an article by Barbara Miner in Rethinking Schools, is subtitled:

“Many conservatives oppose affirmative action while supporting school vouchers. Let’s take a look at the ideology behind both issues.”

False Choices: Vouchers, Public Schools, and our Children's Future, Lessons from Milwaukee[104], an article in Rethinking Schools

“This special report by Rethinking Schools highlights some of the problems with the voucher movement and the lessons that can be learned from Milwaukee.”

Who's Bankrolling Vouchers?  An article in Rethinking Schools[105]


The AFT Center on Privatization[106], An online resource center maintained by the American Federation of Teachers.  The introduction to an article titled “Privatization” states the following:

“Concerned about the threat of privatization in your school district or government agency? School boards, local and state governments are increasingly turning to privatization or contracting out as a simple solution to complex problems. What's it all about? Is privatization the magic bullet politicians and administrators think it is? What forms does privatization take? And how do we counter their claims?”

Privatization of Public Education: A Joint Venture of Charity and Power[107], a Report by People For the American Way Foundation.

Framework for Understanding the Anti-Public School Movement[108], a report By Tom Siebold Of Teacher

Privatization – What Are The Issues?[109], a report from the National Parent Teachers Association.

Funding a Movement[110], a report from People For the American Way Foundation. This report describes the funding behind privatization efforts.

Goal of school choice movement is to break up unions[111], an article by Rob Levine of Pioneer Press

Voucher Tricksters: The Hard Right Enters Through the Schoolhouse Door[112], Black Commentator comments on the cynical use of “poor black children” to drive the school privatization movement.   

Buying a Movement[113], a report from the People for the American Way Foundation examines the funding patterns of a number of significant conservative foundations and their grantees.

The Real Story Behind Paycheck Protection, The Hidden Link Between Anti-Worker and Anti-Public Education Initiatives: An Anatomy of the Far Right.[114], a report from the National Education Association



Appendix 2: Examples of Anti-School and Anti-Teacher Unions Rhetoric


This brief survey is intended to bring a representative sampling of the kind of extreme rhetoric and ideological language found in the writings of school privatization proponents.  It is not a scientific survey, and is intended only to alert the reader to the level of intensity and ideological involvement that is typical of people and organizations involved in this movement.


Note: Bold font within quotations or quotation reference sources is emphasis added by the authors.


Government Schools” and “Socialist” or “Communist” Schools.”


These are terms frequently used to describe public education with a negative slant.  Following are some examples of how these terms are used by the Right..


“The term public implies that these schools are owned by, serve and answer to the public. Rev. Moore argues that this is just plain false, and we should not allow those running them to maintain the masquerade. We should always use phrases such as government schools or state-sponsored schools, in contrast with private or Christian schools operating independently of government and answering those they serve, not government bureaucrats. [. . .] There are, of course, no references to education in the Constitution, and no reason to think the Framers considered education a federal responsibility. Rev. Moore goes further, arguing that we are dealing with a "renegade school system," its roots not in any American or Christian tradition but in continental European collectivism and pagan state-worship. [. . .] We can only expect that a man-centered philosophy would be at home in government schools modeled on the same basic philosophical underpinnings that also eventually gave us Marxism-Leninism.”

Stephen Yates, "Abandon Government Schools.[115]

Yates is at Ludwig von Mises Institute, receives funding from Bradley and Earhart foundations[116]


Government schools are established by law. Elected and appointed public officials nominally have authority over them. In practice, however, actual authority is typically exercised by professional bureaucrats and the teachers' unions.” 

Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation[117]

Receives funding from Scaife, Bradley[118]


“ ‘They're called public schools, but that's a misnomer. They're government schools,’ [Friedman noted. [. . .] Friedman did acknowledge the problem libertarians have even with vouchers. "Is a voucher government money? Of course it is," he said. Ultimately, he doesn't want vouchers at all. Instead he wants a "world of lower taxes" in which parents assume the responsibility for educating their own children, with assistance for low-income families. "I'm a little guilty, as it were," he said, of ultimately wanting free markets but promoting vouchers as an intermediary step.” 

-- Friedman Promotes Vouchers at Denver Luncheon[119]

Government schools are islands of socialism in a sea of competition and choice.”

Heartland Institute[120]

Receives funding from Bradley, Olin, Koch, Scaife[121]



"The problem with America's government school system is socialism . The solution is capitalism - the introduction of a free market."

-- Peter Brimelow, The Worm in the Apple: How the Teacher Unions are Destroying America[122]


“You see, someone has to decide which books and reference materials are used in the schools. They are selected by the state. The history books, philosophy books, science books are all selected by the government! [. . .]”

Elizabeth Farah, Pulling kids out of government schools, part 1[123]


“Work, research, relationships, loyalties, beliefs, maturity, dress, language, religious belief and leisure activities, health related choices, the very perceptions of reality, have all been perverted by the introduction of government controlled education.”

Elizabeth Farah, Pulling kids out of government schools], part 2[124]


There are some who suggest that we should read the accusations of the Right as being more revealing of their own intent:


“If all schools were private, parents would control education. That's precisely why the liberals, and some so-called conservatives, would never give up government schools. They want to control the children.”

- R. Cort Kirkwood[125]


“Collectivist” Schools


 The frequent use of terms like this demonstrate how the Libertarian movement has contributed ideologically to the school privatization movement. 

 “If the government-backed education bureaucracy decides to adopt an education pedagogy that I regard as inadequate and even harmful to my children, such as one that places "socialization" and "political correctness" above factual knowledge and independent, efficacious thinking -- a "Progressive" philosophy that says to hell with precision in spelling, grammar and math, or phonics in reading, or principles in science, or objective truth in history, or logic in thinking -- I'm forced to pay for it.”

- Collectivism's Sacred Cow: Public Education[126]

“In all likelihood, most teachers are not even aware that they have been duped, brainwashed, into training children for living and believing in collectivist (i.e. communist/socialist) worldviews. Only by understanding the processes used to achieve these goals, will you be able to recognize them, and hope to combat them. In the end you may see that even the strongest attempts fail, and you may opt, as we finally did, to remove your children from public education.”

- Numbing and Dumbing: Educating Locally Towards Collectivism [127]


“Socialist” Schools


It is typical to find privatization proponents declaring that “Socialist” schools are “Indoctrinating” students


“Public education has unquestionably been the greatest tool for tyrants throughout the history of man. From the time of Babylon until now it has been the foremost institution in changing the culture of a country from a liberty loving civilization to a nation that is enslaved to other men, and the cruelest of tyrants. Ironically, the enslaved people under these regimes did not complain about their bondage because they were taught it was freedom.

Public education progressed rapidly in the twentieth century, as John Dewey and other socialists refined the art of brainwashing and amoral training. But the perfection of the public school concept undoubtedly came under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime in Germany. The similarities between the Nazi's educational system, which included Hitler Youth and Maids of Germany, and the modern American public schools are remarkable.”

- Retaking America[128]

Gary Wolfram, Ph.D., writes of public education as “socialism”

 “…we have allowed our education system to continue as a socialist system, when it has been obvious to us and the rest of the world that such a system is fundamentally flawed. The collapse of eastern European socialism was inevitable. It is only through consumer choice and a system where producers are rewarded for making efficient use of resources (and punished for making inefficient use of resources) that our standard of living will increase. The result of holding tight to the socialist model for production of education has been similar to the results the Soviets had with their production system — poor quality of product and shortages. The collapse of our educational system is just as inevitable as was the Soviet system.

Peter Brimelow has written of five classic symptoms of socialism: (1) politicized allocation of resources, (2) proliferating bureaucratic overhead, (3) chronic mismatching of supply and demand, (4) susceptibility to top-down panaceas, usually requiring more input, and (5) qualitative and quantitative collapse. The average reader will immediately be aware that this describes the state of K-12 education …

[. . .]  The education system … is essentially a socialist model, which cannot solve the problem of the decentralization of information about what your child’s needs and wants are. Nor can it solve the problem of providing incentives to ensure the efficient use of resources. Good schools do not get more customers, nor do bad schools go out of business. Pouring more money into this system will not result in a better education, but rather in a more politicized educational environment. For the sake of the children … we must tear down the Berlin Wall of the education system and make use of the market process for education — as we do for food, shelter, and all the other goods and services that we have in such abundance.”[129]


Homosexual Lifestyle


Many on the Right say that public schools promote a “homosexual lifestyle.”

“For years now, concerned parents and teachers have been watching– helpless and aghast– as homosexual activists invaded our public schools to promote the homosexual lifestyle.”


“Much of Dobson's [Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family] broadcasts emphasized curriculums that encourage acceptance of homosexuality, but he added, ‘The shocking thing is that this threat to kids is much, much broader than the homosexual movement. It doesn't stop there. It is aimed at the very core of the Judeo-Christian system of values, the very core of scriptural values. I'm telling you that is not an overstatement.’ ”

- Christianity Today[131]


At the Christian Broadcasting Network, a “news report” tells readers that,

Homosexual activists  put together a long-term plan some 16 years ago to convert America -- not to any particular religion -- but to a warm embrace of homosexuality. This is an account of how gays deliberately manipulated the levers of power and influence in America.

[. . .]  In San Francisco public schools, there's an actual lesson plan for teaching first-graders, even kindergartners, about homosexuality. In one district, gay parents are invited to come in and read to students from approved books like 'Gloria Goes to Gay Pride.' ”[132]


“On Wednesday, April 9, 2003, the daily routine of public schools and colleges across America will once again come to a halt as a minority of administrators and students demand America's approval and acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.”

- The Deception and Desensitization of America's Youth, American Family Association[133]


“…Robert H. Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute, said parents are not being told the truth about what their young children learn in school today. ‘If most parents understood the depth of the homosexual agenda in the schools,’ he argued, ‘there would be a revolution.’ ”

- Critics Slam 'Gay Agenda' in Public Schools - Fox News[134]

The following passage is from “Homosexuality and the Schools” by Midge Decter[135], a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute on Religion and Public Life, which receives major funding – over $7.76 million – from mostly the Bradley Foundation, as well as Scaife, Coors & Olin.[136]

 [AIDs education is] “outright homosexual propaganda …” [. . .] “The real problem here lies not with the homosexual activists who were invited to help write these documents, and who have their own agenda to pursue, but with those who invited them. The mayor, the chancellor, the bureaucrats, the teachers' union, the community leaders: how have they brought themselves to the point of trying to impose a course of homosexual propaganda on the schools ] with which they have been entrusted or over which they have sought to exert influence?

 The answer is that, once again, children have been treated by the institutions of government as not much more than fodder for the cannons of passing political and cultural pressures. They have been bussed to schools far from home; they have, many of them, been deprived of the decent use of English; they have been promoted from grade to grade without achievement. Nor does this exhaust the list. And now they have been lined up yet again for feeding to another cannon in the dangerous cultural wars of the day.”

From “Homosexual Agenda Escalates in Public Schools” by Linda P. Harvey,[137]

 “Pink triangles in classrooms. Grade school studies of "gay" history. Transvestite speakers. School-wide events to celebrate homosexuality. Student activists spreading propaganda through school publications. Legislation mandating homosexual indoctrination.

This was the school year 2000-2001. What will our neighborhood schools be doing this fall to support the relentless agenda of homosexual activists?

[. . .] The high school students also presented skits dealing with sexual molestation, rape, anorexia and suicide. Other workshops during this diversity week advocated radical environmentalism, socialism and animal rights.

[. . .] It's not just the liberal northeast and the "left coast" of California where these atrocities are being forced on children. At a high school near St. Paul, Minnesota, 16-year old Elliott Chambers was suspended when he wore a sweatshirt to school last January that said "Straight Pride" on the front. On the back was a sketch of a man and woman holding hands. Some students complained to the principal that they were offended.

[. . .] An ethic of sexual anarchy with homosexuality as its lead issue is being deliberately sold to our youth under the guise of "safety" and "tolerance." Meanwhile, young people's lives and emotional stability are endangered if they make a decision in these tender years to engage in homosexual activity -- or are seduced into such acts by a teacher, coach, or older peer.”

And finally from the Education Establishment And The Homosexual Agenda, by William R. Alford[138]

“With an eye for the future, the battleground for gay activists is in the schools and children are the targets, a new book, The Homosexual Agenda reveals. Developments in at least one state capitol seem to bear the authors out.  [. . .] Authors Alan Sears and Craig Osten describe a phenomenon that does more than threaten religious freedom. The 'sexual orientation community' is actively working to impose its value system upon the rest of society. The chapter entitled "Stupid Parents, 'Enlightened Kids"' is of particular interest to those who are concerned about childhood indoctrination.  [. . .] Gay orthodoxy is being imposed upon minor children in class as undisputable fact, rather then even the subject of controversy or debate.”


Attacks on Teacher Unions


The following are examples of attacks on teacher unions as a propaganda tactic:


“That strategy must be to weaken the teacher unions financially. Any success in achieving this objective will facilitate virtually all conservative objectives, educational and non-educational. Conservatives must not merely oppose the NEA and AFT over the expansion of union prerogatives or over such discrete educational issues as outcomes based education, sex education, or multiculturalism. Instead, their objective must be to starve the gorilla, so that it can no long intimidate its neighbors over all such issues. If ever there were a need for conservatives to get their educational priorities straight, the next two years will be that time. It would be difficult to think of a situation in which the partisan interests of Republicans coincides as much with their public policy objectives.”

- Dr. Myron Lieberman, “Teacher Unions: Is the End Near?[139]


“Organizations like the National Education Association (NEA) have been focusing their efforts on causes that are unrelated to education and destructive to the traditional family. While many educators don't realize the NEA union supports anti-family agendas, some educators have spent years trying to divert their dues away from the political arm of a left-leaning union. The lengths to which some unions go to support their agenda may surprise you.”

- Focus On The Family’s CitizenLink website[140]

“In an interview in a recent issue of School Reform News, published by the Heartland Institute, Lieberman [Myron Lieberman, chairman of the Education Policy Institute and author of a new book called “The Teacher Unions”] identifies teacher unions as “the major obstacle to market-oriented education reforms such as school choice and contracting out. They are also opposed to lowering the terminal age of compulsory schooling, homeschooling, and other reforms that are urgently needed." This opposition should not surprise anyone, says Lieberman. After all, "teacher unions were established to promote teacher welfare, not educational achievement. It would be remarkable," he insists, "if an organization established to redistribute income to teachers turned out to be optimal for increasing productivity.


"Lieberman argues that the best way to combat these obstructionists [teachers unions] is "to weaken the teacher unions financially so that they can no longer intimidate school boards and legislators. The ways to achieve this are: to reduce union revenues; to eliminate tax-payer subsidies that the unions receive but which should never have been given in the first place; and to impose on the teacher unions the same reporting and disclosure requirements imposed on private sector unions under the National Labor Relations Act."


“Lieberman recommends restrictions on agency shop fees, "probably the most important source of union revenues after membership dues. These are fees paid to the union by non-members who do not want to join the union," he explains, "and the fees are often clearly excessive. Legislation is needed to remedy this situation.   [. . .]   Better yet, privatize the entire public school system -- and we'll soon see an educational renaissance in America.”

- F.R. Duplantier[141]


 “The Worm in the Apple exposes teacher unions as a parasite that feeds off the school system.  In his new book, Peter Brimelow argues that no educational reforms, however worthy, can work unless something is done about a central problem in the system: the teacher unions.”

- Promotion for book review discussion at Cato Institute[142]


“Indeed, the NEA offers a textbook example of how Big Labor bosses work hand in glove with Democratic politicians. Intentionally and almost certainly illegally, the NEA bosses and other Big Labor leaders and their Democratic vassals keep the rank-and-file members ignorant of the political use of millions and millions of dollars forcibly extracted form their paychecks in the form of compulsory union dues.”

- The Washington Times, Labor Day Editorial, 2002[143]

From Foundation Action, newsletter of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund, Inc.  November/December 1999 Issue[144]:

Springfield, Va. -- In a personal letter to be mailed in November, Reed Larson will offer Foundation supporters an opportunity to obtain a complimentary copy of Power Grab: How the National Education Association is Betraying Our Children.

Power Grab, authored by former high school principal G. Gregory Moo, shows that the NEA’s strategy is to corrupt and subvert local control of education in order to build its power and promote its ultraliberal social agenda -- to the detriment of students’ mastery of academics.

Power Grab reveals how the NEA -- the largest labor union in the nation -- works tirelessly to control schools, teachers, and children. The book also shows that the NEA:

·         is the most violence-affected of all public sector labor unions,

·         uses its power and wealth to control and intimidate teachers who disagree with its ideology and tactics,

·         works to control the ideological content of every child’s curriculum,

·         blocks competition, vouchers, and free-market charter schools, and,

·         lends its considerable financial support almost exclusively to Far Left candidates and ultraliberal political causes.

Most importantly, Power Grab explains that the growing control that NEA union bosses hold comes from their specially granted privileges to compel teachers to pay union dues and submit to forced union "representation."

Teachers are forced to follow a morally bankrupt, ultra-leftwing political organization that does not represent the values of most teachers.”

Greedy Union Bosses

Continuing the propagandistic attacks on unions as a tactic to promote school privatization, the following is an example of the use of the term “Greedy Union Bosses”:

“At the national level, Gore’s running mate Sen. Joseph Lieberman was forced to recant his kosher belief in vouchers and parental choice and to gulp down the filthy pork demanded by teacher unions in monopoly socialist public schools. By this genuflection, Gore showed that he would betray and enslave millions of black children in a life-wrecking bad education in wretched public schools in order to serve greedy, powerful union bosses. Such unions - monopolies within the governmental monopoly -- are the biggest contributors, in both money and manpower, to the Democratic Party.

But such unions are more than greedy. They are also, in many cases, ideological. The National Education Association, e.g., wants not only to employ as many dues-paying teachers as possible but also to use them to teach politically-correct values to America’s children. The NEA’s three R’s are no longer readin’, ritin’, and ‘rithmetic - but racism, recycling, and reproduction (and often with a fourth R thrown in, Ritalinâ, to make sure boys do not act like males).

Implicit in this NEA agenda, it seems, is the systematic dumbing down of our kids. After all, if kids were literate, knew history, and could think logically, none would grow up to vote for Democrats.”

-          Lowell Ponte[145]


Even Comic Strips Contain Anti-Teacher Union Propaganda


©Reprinted with special permission of King Features Syndicate
Mallard Fillmore Comic Strip[146]


©Reprinted with special permission of King Features Syndicate
Mallard Fillmore Comic Strip[147]


Where does all of this lead?  For one thing, it more clearly defines the terms of the culture war as perceived by the Right. In the Washington Post, Bill Lind, Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the influential Free Congress Foundation, offers a vision of the future, as people react after “Schools had become daytime holding pens for illiterate young savages”[148]: 


“…The good ladies of the League of militant Homemakers made sure women put duty to husbands and children first; those who refused so they could pursue a "career" were given a big embroidered "C" to wear over their left breast.


The schools came next. We tossed out the vast accretion of "professional" educators and found ordinary men and women who knew their subjects and were dedicated to passing on the culture to a new generation. The kids learned to read with Mr. McGuffy’s readers. They learned to figure on a chalkboard instead of a computer that did the work for them. They learned the difference between right and wrong and got their bottoms fanned until they did.


We deconstructed most of the universities. After all, they had started this “multiculturalism” hysteria that ended up with millions of people dead in the wars that followed. The ideologues gone, real scholars emerged from hiding and began offering Greek and Latin and the great books of Western civilization to anyone who wanted to learn.


Christians took back their churches from the agnostic clergy, and the pews filled up again. The church, not the government, became the problem-solver when people were hungry or sick or old and without family. …”



Finally, all of this casual use of extreme language has its effect: the extreme becomes even more extreme.  One online writer actually advocates killing parents of students in public schools, by challenging them to duels. This is included to show that the intensity of the movement’s rhetoric inspires an extreme reaction.  Although the writer is not a nationally known authority, this demonstrates the type thinking that can be encouraged by the above examples.


“The education system had been totally reformed over the years. While public education now lasted for only four years- the First and Second Grades and the Eleventh and Twelfth Grades. The main purpose of public schools was to provide children with a proper respect for the nation’s institutions and ideals as well as through lessons as to her history: especially the mistakes of the 20th and 21st centuries. Non-denominational Religious instruction, while not compulsory, was almost universally attended. In the years between the second and eleventh grades children were educated in a variety of for-profit institutions which provided them with the tools for any sort of specialization. However, while education was generally a for-profit business (some institutions, mostly religious, political, or military in character were charities) no student was denied an education based on their parent’s inability to pay. However, the names of any parent forced to rely upon the public treasury to school their children were published in newspapers and online.

Naturally, many of those known to be living off of the taxpayers were prone to be challenged in duels.”

- Adam Teiichi Yoshida[149]

Appendix 3: Example of Coordinated Repetition of a Framed Message through Multiple Channels



Note: Bold font within quotations or quotation reference sources is emphasis added by the authors.


Tracing use of the frame, “Children trapped in failing public schools”



Children will no longer be trapped in failing schools. If a school continues to fail some children will be able to transfer to higher-performing local schools, receive free tutoring or attend after-school programs.

-- Bush 2004 Campaign Website[150]

The term “children trapped failing public schools” is a well-constructed and oft-repeated frame, and is based on the earlier used frame “public schools are failing.”  A Google search of the term “trapped in failing schools” yields more than 3,300 uses.  This framing was pushed successfully for years, until it was incorporated into law as the justification for the No Child Left Behind Act. 

The term originated in the think tanks:

“That offers hope especially to those who need it most- poor children trapped in failing inner-city schools.”

-- Makinac Center for Public Policy, November 7, 1994[151]


And moved out into use by the Right’s spokespeople:

“Hundreds of thousands of them [children] are suffering from educational malnutrition. They're trapped in under-performing schools that stifle ambition.”

-- California Gov. Pete Wilson, State of the State address, 1997[152]



Public Schools Have Been Failing For Years”

-- Eileen Spatz, Orange County Register, March 18, 1998[153]



“House Speaker Newt Gingrich said, ‘I find myself wondering, what are liberals afraid of?’ He said Mr. Clinton ‘is keeping the children of our nation's capital literally trapped in failing schools, where they can't learn…’ ”

-- Washington Times May 21, 1998[154]



“The impetus for these radical changes is not coming from complacent suburbs," says Chester E. Finn Jr., the president of the Thomas Fordham Foundation in Washington and a senior fellow at the Indianapolis-based Hudson Institute. ‘It's coming from the most discontented and disaffected part of the population, where kids are trapped in lousy, rotten, and largely unchanging urban school systems.’ ”

-- Education Week, Quality Counts 98[155]



“It will allow people of modest means to spend their tax dollars directly on the worthy cause of decent education for youngsters currently trapped in failing schools. Instead of having bureaucrats decide how best to spend the funds, donors may now decide for themselves. It is their money, after all.”

-- Calvert Institute for Policy Research, Winter 1998[156]



“… reconstituting schools which are not getting the job done and providing new options for parents whose children are trapped in failing schools.”

-- Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, State of the State Address, March, 1999[157]



“..where schools are unsafe and a child is trapped in a failing school, the state should provide [a voucher] to help pay for education elsewhere.”

-- Elizabeth Dole, April 1999[158]



 “Gov. Tom Ridge today said the leaders of the education establishment continue to find new lows in their effort to keep children trapped in low-performing school districts.”

-- Pennsylvania press release, June, 1999[159]



“We cannot prosper - we will not prosper - in this New Economy if we leave millions of our children trapped in educational wastelands smothered by Big Government bureaucracies. [. . .] Today, we find big government politicians standing in the school house door to keep children trapped in dangerous, failing schools.”

-- Steve Forbes, to the National Baptist Convention, September, 1999[160]



“…George W. Bush waded into it in Los Angeles today with his speech saying that where public schools are failing federal funds should be available to parents to send their kids to private schools.”

-- PBS Online NewsHour discussion, September 2, 1999[161]



Charter Schools Challenge Failing Public School System; Offer Options to Parents and Students”  

-- Pacific Research Institute Press Release, September, 1999[162]



“The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has long enjoyed a reputation among many people as a watchdog of freedom, but critics say the group is abandoning that role on school choice, a reform favored by many poor minority families trapped in failing public schools.”

-- Michigan Education Report, Macinak Center for Public Policy, Fall 1999[163]



“For those students trapped in failing schools, home schooling may be the way out.”

-- Liberty Magazine – “A magazine of religious freedom” November/December 1999[164]



“Increased emphasis on teacher credentialing, higher teacher salaries, and more peer review and mentoring programs are popular with politicians and teachers alike. But they have yielded few results in the classroom, particularly those serving low-income children trapped in failing schools.”

-- Thomas Dawson of the Pacific Research Institute,

in the Orange County Register, January 12, 2000[165]



“The provision states that students who are trapped in a failing Title I school must be given the option of transferring [. . .] We urge you to direct the Department of Education to act quickly to issue the appropriate guidelines so that all parents have the necessary tools to ensure their children are not trapped in a failing school.”

-- Rep. Bill Goodling (R-PA), House Education and the Workforce Chairman, February 26, 2000[166]



California’s Public Schools Still Failing Their Students” 

-- Pacific Research Institute Press Release, February 29, 2000[167]



“Now, both Gore and Bush are stressing education and making schools accountable as a campaign theme. One key difference is Bush's support for vouchers to ease the cost of sending children to private schools, a move that could offer relief to students trapped in low-performing inner-city schools and reduce public-school attendance.”

-- Insight Magazine, September 11, 2000[168]

(Insight is published by Moon’s Unification Church, which also owns the Washington Times)



 “He added that he supported vouchers only as a temporary measure, seeing them as ‘a way out for poor kids trapped in failing schools.’ ”

-- Joseph Lieberman on School Choice, in Issues2000[169]



 “A strong majority supports charters schools, and a similarly strong majority supports voucher programs targeted at low-income students or students trapped in failing schools.”

-- James Peyser at Brandeis University sponsored debate - October 19, 2000[170]



“The article lists several examples of how the schools-of-choice law has positively impacted children who were otherwise trapped in failing, often violent, public schools. [. . .] Educational freedom, as illustrated at Highland Park, saves underprivileged children trapped in failing schools.”

-- Acton Institute -- January 24, 2001[171]



“However, the threat of losing it [federal money] can be an incentive for failing schools to change their behavior.”

-- George Will – February 1, 2001[172]



“The idea behind the proposal was to offer parents of kids trapped in failing schools an opportunity to send their children to other schools, including nonpublic schools.”

-- Failing Schools in Michigan: The Surprising Scale, February, 2001[173]



 “Why Are the Public Schools Failing and What Can Be Done?”

-- Title of A Forum at The Independent Institute, July 5, 2001[174]




“Bush touched on a political battle over the issue of proposed government-funded school vouchers. Vouchers would allow students attending failing schools to attend more expensive private schools.  ‘If after three years nothing changes for students in a failing school, their parents must be given other options, like a transfer to a better public school or private tutoring.’ ”

-- News report, CNN, August 1, 2001[175]



 “Before the NAACP, well-known for its opposition to education reform, Mr. Paige asked, "Do you want a government that flatters you, but traps our children in failing schools? Or do you want a government that is candid, but ensures that your children will get a good education?"

-- Education Secretary Rod Paige, August 7, 2001[176]



“The status quo has but one beneficiary: the public school monopoly. Failing public schools stay open and receive more funding every year.  [. . .] Failing, sub-par public schools would have been forced to improve or suffer the consequences as students transferred to better private alternatives. [. . .] But if the Bush administration is serious about leaving no child behind in our failing public school system, it should urge school choice reformers and advocates on both sides of the aisle to deliver school choice to the students in the nation's capital.”

-- Dan Lips, Cato Institute, December 11, 2001[177]



 “The supplemental services portion of the bill would give parents with children trapped in consistently failing schools the opportunity to secure grants to pay for after-school tutoring, summer school programs or other educational materials. [. . .] The education bill will provide immediate relief for children who are trapped in schools that are deemed as failing under the terms of the 1994 Elementary and Secondary Education Act. [. . .] The federal government's foray into school choice falls short of President Bush's original proposal that would have allowed children trapped in failing schools to receive the entire amount of their federal Title I as a scholarship to another school or for educational aids.

-- Opinion Editorial, National Center for Policy Analysis, Friday, December 14th, 2001[178]



“Now, we need to expand parental choice – program by program – with a continual focus on urban kids trapped in failing schools.”

-- Tom Carroll, NY Post, January 6, 2002[179]



 “All children deserve a quality education, and have the right not to be trapped in failing schools.”

-- Leaving No Child Behind, Congressman Ed Bryant (R-Tenn.), January, 2002[180]



“Giving parents this choice will broaden the escape route for students trapped in failing schools.”

-- Hon. John Boehner (R-Ohio) at the Heartland Institute, April 1, 2002[181]

One Americans for Tax Reform (Grover Norquist) “Talking Points” document uses variations of term “trapped in failing schools” four times, as follows:

children currently trapped in failing public schools

students trapped in chronically failing schools will have meaningful options”

“offer parents-particularly parents of poor and minority students-alternatives to failing schools.”

“offers students currently trapped in failing public schools a refundable tax credit”

-- “Talking Points” Americans for Tax Reform, April 4, 2002[182]



“There is little doubt that the public school system in the United States falls short of its potential. Despite decades of increased spending on schools, students continue to perform below expectations.

[. . .] To the extent that schools within a district compete with one another for enrollment and revenue, the choice provisions will increase competition. In districts with limited school-level autonomy, the choice provisions may offer little more than an escape hatch for some of the children trapped in failing schools.”

Lori L. Taylor, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, May/June 2002[183]

(Taylor is a senior economist and policy advisor in the Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.)



“Now Washington will also leverage choices for students trapped in failing schools, either by mandates or direct grants to families to pay for tutors or after-school programs.”

-- “A step toward school choice, ready or not.” Gail Russell Chaddock[184]



“Unfortunately, no one is talking about the plight of the more than 70,000 students still trapped in Cleveland's miserable public schools. Who will rescue them -- and how? They have been all but forgotten while the voucher debate rages.”

-- Editorial -- St. Petersburg Times, June 30, 2002[185]



 “…Bush decried a public-education system that allowed "our children to be trapped in schools that won't teach and won't change."

-President Bush, July 8, 2002[186]



 “The new law reflects a remarkable consensus – first articulated in the President's No Child Left Behind framework – on how to improve the performance of America's elementary and secondary schools while at the same time ensuring that no child is trapped in a failing school. [. . .] In addition to helping ensure that no child loses the opportunity for a quality education because he or she is trapped in a failing school,…”

-- From a Department of Education Summary of NCLB act, July 11, 2002[187]



 “The education reform bill passed by the Republican Congress and signed into law reflects the President’s principles of accountability and testing, flexibility and local control, expanded parental options for children trapped in failing schools, and additional funding for programs that have been demonstrated to produce results.”

-- National Republican Congressional Committee [188]



The Supreme Court decision was immediately applauded by Republicans and many inner-city parents as an important escape hatch for children trapped in failing schools.

--  Target vouchers to help kids, USAToday Editorial, July 23, 2002[189]




“ ‘No longer are these children trapped in failing schools,’ said Katie Muñiz, communications director for [Gov. Jeb] Bush.”

-- News report, November 3, 2002[190]



 “… Sen. Kennedy's role in marking up the president's "No Child Left Behind" legislation to make sure that children trapped in failing inner-city schools would not be given a private-school option.

Now the executive and the legislative branches, with the blessing of the judicial, can unite to create a pilot voucher program aimed at poor minority kids trapped in the capital's failing public schools.

There are many caring and hard working educators teaching in the public schools, but they too are trapped in a dysfunctional system in which merit goes unrewarded and incompetence and cold-hearted callousness are never punished.

We must allow families whose kids are trapped in perennially failing schools the same kinds of educational choices”

-- Sol Stern, Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2002[191]



“And rather than continue to fight it, teachers’ unions and other opponents should see school choice for what it is -- a chance to help poor students trapped in failing schools and let competition encourage our schools to improve.”

Jennifer Garrett, Capitalism Magazine, December 11, 2002[192]



 “Brady suggests that NCLB may expect too much improvement (as gauged by results) too soon. Given that many interventions are unlikely to yield improved schools, he urges policymakers to consider additional options for children trapped in failing educational institutions.

[. . .] And because even the strongest interventions specified in No Child Left Behind are not likely to turn some schools around, policymakers need to consider other options for children trapped in such places.”

Thomas B. Fordham Institute, January 1, 2003[193]

(Chester E. Finn Jr. is the president of the Thomas Fordham Foundation in Washington and a senior fellow at the Indianapolis-based Hudson Institute)



 “This law also gives new options to parents whom have children trapped in failing schools.”

-- Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) January, 2003[194]



“School choice in public schools has provided that option to students of limited means who otherwise would be trapped in failing schools.”

-- Editorial – The Post and Courier, Charleston, February 11, 2003[195]



 “Those who want to empower parents see the Act as a way to force states to provide choices to families trapped in failing schools.”

-- Accountability to Parents Is Best, Marie Gryphon, March, 2003[196]




“The irony, according to Navarette, is that the main opposition to school choice, which could enhance the lives of millions of minority children trapped in failing schools, are the teachers unions, which are 84% white.”

Children First America, July 17, 2003[197]



“Legislation like the Children's Hope Act can make a real difference between realizing the hopes of those parents or having them remain unfulfilled as their children remain trapped in failing schools.

[…] Even seemingly modest donations of $50 or $100 to a scholarship fund can be very helpful for a family struggling to send a child trapped in a failing public school to a private or religious school.”

Paul M. Weyrich Free Congress Foundation, August 29, 2003[198]



 “…particularly African-American and other minority children trapped in failing schools.

… And, is there any group suffering more than the African-American children trapped in failing public schools?

-- Jack Kemp, “Leave no district child behind”, September, 2003[199]


 “… the Bush administration's attempt to get a federally funded demonstration scholarship program, or vouchers, that would allow students trapped in failing government schools…”

-- James P. Lucier, Rev. Moon’s Insight Magazine, September, 2003[200]

(Moon also owns The Washington Times)



“Today in Louisiana, at least 10,000 children are trapped in chronically failing schools.”

-- M. J. "Mike" Foster, Jr., Governor of Louisiana (R.), October, 2003[201]



“There are over 1.1 million kids in NYC public schools, which means over 750,000 students are trapped in failing schools.”

Paul Breckner, Citizens for a Sound Economy, July 30, 2002[202]



“The Great Lakes Education Project seeks to effect such change on behalf of Michigan’s kids, and we will help to ensure that those who have no voice – especially those kids currently trapped in our state’s failing schools – will finally have voices to stand up and fight for them in Lansing.”

Great Lakes Education Project – Mission Statement[203]



The frame, “Failing public schools,” without the children trapped in them:


Voucher Threat Spurs Turnaround of Failing Schools

- Heartland Institute’s School Reform News, April 1, 2001[204]



“President Bush today joined Secretary of Education Rod Paige today on the No Child Left Behind Tour Across America in Wisconsin, where they focused on the accountability and teacher quality elements of the No Child Left Behind Act and highlighted the provisions of the law that empower children in failing schools to select another public school beginning next year.” 

US Dept of Education Press Release, May 8, 2002[205]



“U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige told a Kennedy School conference on education and accountability Monday (June 10) that the Bush administration's reform program of testing, accountability, and school choice is a solution for American schools that are failing to educate a sizeable number of children.”

Harvard University Gazette, June 13, 2002[206]



Some “Top” Public Schools Are “failing”

- Title of article, Daily Policy Digest, National Center for Policy Analysis, August 5, 2002[207]


Giving Our Schools a Failing Grade

- Title of article by Chester E. Finn Jr. in Hoover Institution’s Hoover Digest, March 17, 2003[208]


 “Are Vouchers the Solution for Our Failing Public Schools?”

- Speech, Hon. Ron Paul of Texas before the U.S. House of Representatives, September 30, 2003[209]



“Gov. Mark Sanford will soon unveil a proposal for improving South Carolina's struggling public school system that will likely include a plan to offer vouchers to students in low-performing schools.  Few question whether the students given vouchers to leave failing public schools would benefit. Rather, the debate has focused on the effect vouchers will have on the students who remain in public schools.”

Op-ed, Charleston Post and Courier, December 8, 2003[210]



Scenes from a Failing Public School

- Title of article by Chester Finn Jr.,, September 30, 2003[211]



Failing schools underreported

- Title of an article in The Washington Times, January 14, 2004[212]


Appendix 4: Examples of Right-Wing Organizations, their Funding Sources, and What they Fund


These are intended to show representative examples of the types of organizations aligned with the Right’s network, and illustrate some of how the core right group provides funding.  These examples by no means show the total funding these organizations receive.



Heartland Institute
19 South LaSalle Street
Suite 903

Chicago, IL 60603

Web address:


From Media Transparency’s website,

Founded in 1984, Heartland is “...a non-profit public policy research organization serving the nation's eight thousand federal and state elected officials, journalists, Heartland members, and other opinion leaders.”[213]

According to People For the American Way Foundation’s report, Buying a Movement[214], Heartland is,

" of several arch-conservative state-based 'think tanks' that focus as much energy on media relations as on policy development," Heartland's literature reaches every state legislator in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin, as well as 1,200 media centers.

Example product: School Reform News[215]


Some examples of recent foundation funding[216]:









To support general operations

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



To support publication of "School Reform News"

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



To support "School Reform News"

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



To support publication and distribution of "School Reform News"

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



No purpose given.

JM Foundation



To support School Reform News

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



General Operating Support.

Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation



To support the publication and distribution of "School Reform News"

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



Educational Programs

Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation



Intellectual Ammunition magazine

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.



Educational Programs

Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation



Toward a new national newspaper, School Reform News

JM Foundation



Intellectual Ammunition magazine

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.



Educational Programs

Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation



To support general operations

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.




Sarah Scaife Foundation



General Program

Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation



To support the Institute's attendance and distribution of its environmental education book, Eco-Sanity, at the 1994 WEAC teachers convention

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



To support a new magazine,Intellectual Ammunition

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.




Sarah Scaife Foundation



Publication Project

Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation




Sarah Scaife Foundation




Sarah Scaife Foundation




Sarah Scaife Foundation



Industrial Policy in Illinois

Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation



General operating support

Sarah Scaife Foundation




Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation



General operating support

Sarah Scaife Foundation




Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation



Purpose not available

The Carthage Foundation  (SCAIFE)



Education Study

Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation





Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-6010

Web address:


Statement from website[217]:

“The highly successful initiative on American Public Education involves numerous Hoover resident and affiliated fellows in addition to the appointed Koret K–12 Task Force, a group of nationally recognized education policy experts. The focus of the initiative is to examine issues and make recommendations on education policy designed to bring about positive improvement in K–12 education in the United States. In its fourth year of operation, the task force continues to work on its five-year study of such provocative issues as vouchers, charter schools, and student testing.”

Some examples of recent foundation funding[218]:








To support general operations

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



To support the American Public Education Initiative

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



To support the American Public Education Initiative

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



To support the American Public Education Initiative and launching of the "Education Matters" journal

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



To support the National Security Forum

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



To support the American Public Education Initiative and launching of the "Education Matters" journal

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



No comment provided

Sarah Scaife Foundation



During calendar year 2002 to prepare a book AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AROUND THE WORLD, Thomas Sowell Research Principal

Earhart Foundation



the Robert and Karen Rishwain Fellowship for Dinesh D'Souza

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.



Dr. Kiron Skinner's research and writing on Ronald Reagan

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.



No purpose given.

Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation



Education Next

Jaquelin Hume Foundation



No purpose given.

William H. Donner Foundation



To support the American Public Education Initiative and launching of the "Education Matters" journal

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



To support the American Public Education Initiative and launching of the "Education Matters" journal

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



No purpose given.

Sarah Scaife Foundation



A new journal on education, Education Matters.

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.



The television series, "Uncommon Knowledge"

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.



Dr. Kiron Skinner's research and writing on Ronald Reagan and the end of the Cold War

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.



The Robert and Karen Rishwain Fellowship for Dinesh D'Souza

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.



Chinese Leadership Analysis
H. Lyman Miller will commission and publish a quarterly report on Chinese leadership politics. The publication will track the internal politics of the communist party, as well as national politics affecting political and economic reform, national security, and foreign policy. The project will also assemble a database of Chinese leaders.

Smith Richardson Foundation



No purpose given.

Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation



No purpose given.

The Carthage Foundation  (SCAIFE)



A new journal on education, Education Matters.

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.



The Hoover Institution's television series, Uncommon Knowledge.

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.



Center for Educational Policy Evaluation and Research
Eric Hanushek will direct a center that will seek to improve evaluation practice in educational policy. The center will produce papers on education evaluation practices and encourage strong independent evaluations of education policies.

Smith Richardson Foundation



No purpose given.

Sarah Scaife Foundation



No purpose given.

JM Foundation



No purpose given.

Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation



No purpose given.

William H. Donner Foundation



No purpose given.

Randolph Foundation



A book project on the Republican party

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.



A book on Ronald Reagan's vision for ending the Cold War

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.



A new journal on education, School Reform

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.



no description given

The Carthage Foundation  (SCAIFE)



No purpose given

Sarah Scaife Foundation



To support an education initiative

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



No purpose given.

Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation



To support and education initiative

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



To support and education initiative

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.



No purpose given.

Randolph Foundation



An endowment in honor of W. Glenn Campbell

John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.



no description given

Sarah Scaife Foundation



No description available

The Carthage Foundation  (SCAIFE)



General operating; a free market think tank

Castle Rock Foundation (COORS)



No purpose given.

Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation




Sarah Scaife Foundation




The Carthage Foundation  (SCAIFE)




The Carthage Foundation  (SCAIFE)