There’s an old saying – well maybe not that old – Never send an email you wouldn’t want to show up on the front page of the newspaper. Apparently it’s an adage that no one told Jeb Bush’s corporate-funded Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE).
On Wednesday, the Washington Post published a front-page story about Jeb, FEE, and how the organization pushed privatization-oriented education policies that benefited their big corporate donors. The article was based on thousands of emails ITPI acquired in 2013 through open records requests of communications between FEE staff and state education officials.
Those emails revealed that FEE and their “Chiefs for Change” affiliate wrote and edited laws, regulations, and executive orders, to increase profit opportunities for the foundation’s financial backers. Those backers, including for-profit virtual charter schools like K12, Inc. and Pearson Corporation, have since reaped the financial rewards through contracts in most of the states that worked closely with FEE according to the Washington Post story.
You and I know how dangerous this can be. The setup is remarkably similar to that of the American Legislative Exchange Council, where the tax-exempt organization acts as a conduit for big business to influence our lawmakers behind a veil of secrecy and under the veneer of good government. The Washington Post story noted that the foundation even organizes private meetings between education officials and company executives at the foundation’s annual meetings.
Our team at ITPI works every day to ensure that public policy and government works for all of us, not just powerful corporations. Together, we’ll keep working to expose how corporations are trying to cash in on our democracy.