Would it surprise you to learn that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently gave more than $300,000 to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a shadowy right-wing organization that has inordinate power in state legislatures across the country?
In November, the foundation announced that it has awarded the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) a grant of $376,635 earmarked for ALEC’s work on an assortment of education projects, over a 22-month period. The Gates Foundation’s official description of the grant reads: “to educate and engage its membership on more efficient state budget approaches to drive greater student outcomes, as well as educate them on beneficial ways to recruit, retain, evaluate and compensate effective teaching based upon merit and achievement.”
Robin Rogers is an associate professor of sociology at Queens College and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York (CUNY), and the author of “Why Philanthro-policymaking Matters” in The Politics of Philanthrocapitalism, Society 2011, The Welfare Experiments: Politics and Policy Evaluation (Stanford University Press, 2004). In a recent piece at The Education Optimists titled “Billionaire Education Policy,” Rogers pointed out that the Gates Foundation’s grant to ALEC was aimed at “influenc[ing] state budget making - where the rubber hits the road on education policy.” Rogers noted that after the grant’s announcement, “Twitter was buzzing with the news” and the debate revolved around “whether this constituted a Republican takeover of the state budget process, a Gates Foundation takeover of ALEC or both. No one suggested it was a victory for democracy.”
A typical computer nerd has trouble understanding fuzzy systems like societies, governments and economies.