Kochs: Buying influence from college to politicians. Just like some other billionaires we know. | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kochs: Buying influence from college to politicians. Just like some other billionaires we know.

Posted By on Sat, Sep 13, 2014 at 6:38 AM

click to enlarge PHILANTHROPY AT WORK: The Walmart logo would be a fitting addition to the display of the UA Education Reform Department, heavily financed by and attuned to the education agenda of Walton billionaires.
  • PHILANTHROPY AT WORK: The Walmart logo would be a fitting addition to the display of the UA Education Reform Department, heavily financed by and attuned to the education agenda of Walton billionaires.

The billionaire Koch brothers' effort to buy influence through the political system is well-known. (Well, maybe not as well-known as the Mark Pryor campaign wishes it were known.) But here's another way the Kochs shape the country: In the college classroom.

From the Center for Public Integrity and the Daily Beast:

In 2007, when the Charles Koch Foundation considered giving millions of dollars to Florida State University’s economics department, the offer came with strings attached.

First, the curriculum it funded must align with the libertarian, deregulatory economic philosophy of Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist and Republican political bankroller.

Second, the Charles Koch Foundation would at least partially control which faculty members Florida State University hired.

And third, Bruce Benson, a prominent libertarian economic theorist and Florida State University economics department chairman, must stay on another three years as department chairman—even though he told his wife he’d step down in 2009 after a single three-year term.

The Charles Koch Foundation expressed a willingness to give Florida State an extra $105,000 to keep Benson—a self-described “libertarian anarchist” who asserts that every government function he’s studied “can be, has been, or is being produced better by the private sector”—in place.

Hmmm. Sound familiar?

It would be unkind, Razorback flacks would say, to suggest that the Walton billionaires expected any ideological payback from the millions they've given to the University of Arkansas, home to the Sam Walton College of Business. It is strictly coincidental that the University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform, with its Walton-subsidized faculty (their pay is the envy of lowly liberal arts profs), steadily produces work that fits hand in glove with the Walton Family Foundation's initiatives on charter schools and such. Some, however, have seen an effort to influence education with Walton money, such as in this New York Times report earlier this year:

The size of the Walton foundation’s wallet allows it to exert an outsize influence on education policy as well as on which schools flourish and which are forced to fold. With its many tentacles, it has helped fuel some of the fastest growing, and most divisive, trends in public education — including teacher evaluations based on student test scores and publicly funded vouchers for students to attend private schools.

“The influence of philanthropy in terms of the bang for the buck they get is just really kind of shocking,” said Jack Schneider, an assistant professor of education at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

A separate Walton foundation that supports higher education bankrolls an academic department at the University of Arkansas in which faculty, one of whom was recruited from conservative think tank, conduct research on charter schools, voucher programs and other policies the foundation supports.

But, hey. These are OUR billionaires.

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Kenneth Starr: A comment from Betsey Wright

    Betsey Wright, former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff when he was Arkansas governor, responds bitterly to a New York Times article today quoting Whitewater Prosecutor Kenneth Starr's warm words about Clinton. She can't forget the lives Starr ruined in Arkansas.
    • May 24, 2016
  • Civil War over in Fort Smith; lawyer strikes his Rebel mascot battle tent

    KSFM reports that Joey McCutchen, the lawyer who's been trying to restart the Civil War in Fort Smith over the School Board's decision to drop the Rebel mascot and related trappingsfor Southside High School, is dropping his School Board takeover campaign.
    • May 27, 2016
  • The long and winding road: No exception yet for 30 Crossing

    The Arkansas highway department's representative on the Metroplan board of directors told the board today that the department is requesting an exception to the planning agency's cap on six lanes for its 30 Crossing project to widen Interstate 30 from six to 10 (and more) lanes.
    • Jun 29, 2016

People who saved…

Most Shared

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation