Integrity in Education, a new education advocacy organization dedicated to exposing and confronting the corporate interest groups working to privatize public education, launched its first campaign today by calling on the United States Department of Education to disclose its associations with profit-driven corporations working to influence education policy.
As part of this campaign, the organization filed requests today under the Freedom of Information Act seeking communications among Department of Education officials with known connections to for-profit education corporations, as well as any ethics waivers filed for department leaders and staff.
“The Department of Education’s immense power to shape education policy means it is imperative that the department staff work on behalf of all of us, not outside interest groups” said Sabrina Joy Stevens, Executive Director of Integrity in Education. “It’s alarming that our initial research reveals what looks like a revolving door between corporate interest groups and the Department, rather than the diverse set of school stakeholders who should be part of the policymaking process.”
Working with a network of supporters, Integrity in Education will run aggressive media campaigns to address problematic trends in education frequently backed by corporate interests, including a sharp increase in high-stakes testing, the forced displacement of public school communities through school closures, attacks on democratic school governance, and increasing private control of public schools. The group will take on front groups like those led by Michelle Rhee, Jeb Bush and others.
“Education policy works best when it’s driven by all of the people who will be most directly affected by it. Yet for too long, education policy has been driven by a small group of people connected to the corporations who can most directly profit from it,” added Stevens. “Integrity in Education is committed to ensuring that those of us who learn in, work in, and send our children to public schools every day are the primary people influencing education policy.”
“We admire all of the incredible grassroots advocates fighting for our public schools, and look forward to contributing new resources and information to benefit our cause and our colleagues in this movement. Right now, that means taking a careful look at the revolving door at the Department of Education in an effort to better understand who is blocking our entry to the halls of power.”
For a copy of Integrity in Education’s requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), contact Alec Saslow at [email protected].
ABOUT INTEGRITY IN EDUCATION
Integrity in Education is a new organization focused on restoring integrity to the education policy conversation in this country. Integrity in Education exists to shine a light on the people making education for democracy a reality, and to expose and oppose the corporate interests standing in their way. Learn more at IntegrityinEducation.org.
Sabrina Stevens, the Executive Director of Integrity in Education, is a teacher-turned-writer and education advocate. A proud public school graduate and an alumna of Swarthmore College, she originally intended to spend her career as a public school teacher. After an eye-opening experience teaching in a so-called ‘failing’ school in Denver, Sabrina left the classroom to speak out against the abuses of the movement to privatize public education. In 2011, she helped organize the first Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action. Since then, she has worked with numerous education advocacy organizations and campaigns as an organizer, trainer, communications strategist and spokesperson.
Deborah Sagner, LCSW, is the Chair of the Board of Integrity in Education and president of the Sagner Family Foundation, whose mission is to support non-profits working to make structural change in order to advance social, economic, and racial justice. She is also the vice president of The Sagner Companies, Inc., a residential and commercial real estate development company.