|Flynn (top left), Gulen, Prince & DeVos.|
Education is too important to be left solely to educators. -- Francis Keppel, U.S. Commissioner of Education (1962–1965)One of the central themes running through this blog over the past 15 years has been the nexus between education and politics. It's been impossible to understand or make sense of schooling apart from the social and political environments in which it takes place. Trying to "take the politics out of education," as some have suggested to me, is like trying to teach in a dark room with the shades pulled down.
A web of intrigue...
Two examples of this nexus appeared in the news recently. The first is the web of intrigue surrounding Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her brother Erik Prince, who is apparently considering a run for senator in Wyoming. DeVos was appointed to run the DOE and its budget, because education was too important a political piece to be left to educators, parents and community members.
Prince, the founder of the Blackwater mercenary group, will likely challenge John Barrasso, a senior member of the Senate Republican leadership. Prince has been urged to run next year by "alt-right" founder Steve Bannon, who is currently leading an attack on the Republican leadership with financial backing from the New York hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer.
Prince was an avid supporter of Trump. After the Republican convention, he contributed $250,000 to Trump’s campaign, the national party and a pro-Trump super-PAC led by GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, in a likely deal to have his sister appointed as ed secretary.
Then we learned that the United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Prince and a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin, as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump.
The second story of intrigue involves charter schools and disgraced Retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn. It seems that Flynn, Trump's first appointed national security advisor, who now admits working as as an agent for the fascist Erdogan regime in Turkey, was involved in a possible conspiracy. Its objective: to "extract" reclusive Turkish billionaire Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, one of the largest charter school operators in the U.S., from his fortified retreat in Pennsylvania, and to turn Gulen over to the regime in Turkey.
According to the Wall Street Journal
The discussion... involved ideas about how to get Fethullah Gulen, a cleric whom Turkey has accused of orchestrating last summer’s failed military coup, to Turkey without going through the U.S. extradition legal process, according to [former CIA director] Mr. Woolsey and those who were briefed.Without getting into the internals of Turkish politics, it does seem strange that states and school districts would continue to grant charters to Gulen. Those include the Des Plaines-based Concept Schools network here in Illinois.
Look no further than the perks and junkets Gulen hands out to U.S. politicians. Gulen's Niagara Foundation hosted dozens of trips to Turkey for elected officials including Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and other Springfield lawmakers in recent years. Madigan also recorded a video testimonial for a Concept school.
Following the failed coup attempt in Turkey and the ensuing repression, things were bound to get more complicated,with hundreds of schools and thousands of students' futures hanging in the balance.
Now comes word that DeVos may resign, since her very presence brings the schools into the middle of all this.
If trying to make sense out of the Gulen-Prince-Bannon-charter school web of intrigue makes your head spin,welcome to the club. But one thing should be clear to all of us. There's more than one game being played out here, and the schools and school reform are a small part of a much larger agenda.