In a new lower-level attempt to take control of the country, the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity is spending big money on a local school board race in the Douglas County School District, an affluent community just south of Denver.
The school board has been taken over by a conservative majority which has waged a war against the teachers’ union and the separation of church and state. The Koch-backed candidates are facing a hard fight for next Tuesday’s race from parent’s groups and the teachers’ union. School board elections are not noted for big money campaigns but this one is looking at an expenditure of $800,000 with the Koch money pouring in. More than $350,000 is being spent by the Colorado chapter of the AFP.
The board has already effectively neutered the teachers’ union, refusing to negotiate a contract through collective bargaining–instead negotiating individual contracts and eliminating tenure. The result is what the conservative board majority sees as an improvement in the way that teachers are compensated, with some subjects having a higher value than others. For example, an eighth grade Algebra teacher may be paid $20,000 more per year than the teacher who teaches those same students World History.
The greater valuation of math over history is understandable when one considers what the far-right values. They value subject matter that may be useful to business but would prefer that students not be educated in history, as we all know those who do not remember (or ever learn) history…are doomed to become Tea Partiers.
The current board is fighting a lawsuit brought by the teachers, parents, the Colorado ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State over an attempt to privatize the schools through a voucher program.
Most of the 23 schools that were accepted into the Douglas County program were religious schools, teaching creationism and requiring mandatory attendance at religious services. The case is pending before the Colorado Supreme Court on appeal after being rejected by the Court of Appeals.
Mark Silverstein, legal director of the local ACLU chapter said, “Taxpayers in Colorado should not be compelled to subsidize religious education.”
Spokesman for the school board has said, “The ruling from the Colorado Court of Appeals was very clear in declaring the Choice Scholarship Program constitutional and rejecting all statutory claims made by the plaintiffs. The ruling was a huge victory for the students and parents of Douglas County, and we are confident that the Court will once again reject the arguments made by the ACLU.”
This is a clear attempt to allow corporate interests to take over the education of out children, using religion, as was done for centuries in Europe, to gain control of the masses. This is a concept rejected by the founders and the reason for the first amendment, demanding the exclusion of the church from matters of state.
A victory on Tuesday for the teachers and parents will be a victory for the people of the county, and the U.S. in general. to allow this to continue would be another step toward the corporate take over of the entire country which is, of course the ultimate goal of the far right on behalf of the wealthiest few.