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EAG Right Wing Funders List Grows

While Kyle Olson and his Education Action Group refuse to disclose their funders, it is possible to uncover some of them. Here’s the most recent summary of the right wing foundations that pay for EAG’s work. Notice that two grants were intended to fund a new EAG Wisconsin chapter:

EAG Funders 2015

EAG Part of “Identity-Laundering Scheme”

The American Bridge 21st Century Foundation’s Conservative Transparency project provides new evidence of the right wing corporate funding that drives EAG’s agenda.

According to their database, EAG has received a total of $794,750 since 2009 from a rouges gallery of right wing foundations. These include Charles Koch, Michigan’s Dick Devos and Donors Capital Fund, which alone provided a 3rd of this funding.

Donors Capital gained national attention recently thanks to a Drexel University study exposing them as what’s been called an “identity-laundering scheme.”

The study examined the funding behind the climate denial industry, and found:

The biggest donor listed is Donors Trust/Donors Capital Fund, which accounted for almost $79 million; individuals can put their so-called donor-advised funds at Donors Trust and then direct the organization to give money on their behalf to nonprofits.

Donors Capital thereby protects the identity of these corporations, insulating them from a negative public reaction to their bottom lines. And now EAG is one of the benefactors of this scheme, depending on how many of the general public read EAG’s propaganda reported as fact, but never learn about its secret funding.

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Donors Trust acts as a money laundering service for corporations and the wealthy to secretly fund right wing causes.

 

Ron Burgundy Is More Beleivable

EAG has been against the Common Core Curriculum since they first heard about it, apparently because it’s a government initiative. So far, they haven’t found a way to blame unions.

Veld Comm Core

But their complete lack of touch with the real world has never been more evident.

Probationary teacher washout Ben Velderman recently sourced an Education Week article that described how teachers were being forced to regiment bathroom time, so as to lessen distractions and maximize learning. All in the name of performing better on standardized tests and avoiding a state takeover.

After reading this article, Velderman saw an opening. “According to our three sources, a growing number of young elementary students are hiding out in school bathrooms as a way of coping with the stress caused by …  Common Core.” Beyond the obvious ridiculousness of this story, that 10 year olds run to the bathroom to relieve stress, EAG’s “sources” have a track record that doesn’t instill confidence.

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Kyle interviews mysterious hooded source on a union-backed, international communist conspiracy.

Years ago Kyle Olson posed with a dark, hooded “source” to expose an international communist plot against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The obviously posed photo of Kyle standing like a Macy mannequin is truly laughable. After all, don’t all real reporters interview their secret sources on the street, through a darkened doorway?

These new “sources” also tell them that “Some elementary students have reportedly started an “I Hate Math Club” that meets on the playground during recess to share horror stories from math class.” Grade school kids standing around on the playground share horror stories? Perhaps Velderman has never met an actual elementary school student, but if he wants to invent believable stories about little kids on a playground, he should consider visiting an actual playground and have a look.

But beyond their obvious story inventions, EAG’s anti-Common Core position is hard to rationalize when it has so often pointed to standardized test results to condemn teacher unions and public schools. But then logic isn’t their strong suit.

Rose City: Another Chance for Manufactured Outrage

EAG is getting lots of mileage by exploiting a bad situation in Michigan. About a year ago a teacher was convicted of sexual misconduct against a student in the Rose City schools. The teacher is now serving time in prison.

That’s usually plenty for Kyle to order up an outraged column, but in this case, a number of fellow teachers sat with the teacher’s family during the trial, which EAG reads as a sign that they can’t be trusted with children. Later, it was discovered the teacher had a contract right to a severance payment, which the school board refused to pay. A grievance was filed and is now scheduled for arbitration.

This is when EAG and the Mackinac Center released the hounds. How could the MEA defend a child molester? Manufactured outrage is EAG’s bread and butter. As is a real talent for avoiding inconvenient facts.

MEA did not represent the teacher in the criminal proceedings. And the union cannot choose who gets to have the contract enforced and who doesn’t. It has a legal, fiduciary duty to enforce the whole document, even when it comes to people no one likes.

As the MEA said:

MEA is legally obligated to enforce a contract uniformly for all employees who are governed by it. We can’t enforce a contract for one and ignore it for another, even if the actions of an individual are appalling. The crime committed here is heinous, but that doesn’t change our obligation to consistently implement a contract

EAG Gets National Recongition: Pants on Fire

This is the kind of thing Kyle Olson and his writers are probably proud of. Bad press is better than no press, after all.  But EAG now ranks with Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio and Michele Bachmann after receiving Politifact’s Pants on Fire rating for published lies.

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This one involved a misrepresentation of school a budget, something that EAG publishes almost daily. EAG writer Ben Velderman wrote that the Portland School District spent half a million dollars to promote the racism of peanut and jelly sandwiches. From their perspective on the extreme, extreme right, this kind of Brightbart fabrication probably sounds believable, but to the rest of us its just plain stupid.

EAG spends as much time misrepresenting school budgets as does misrepresenting union contracts these days, now that it has moved on to demonizing public schools as well as unions, part of the right wing campaign to monetize public schools.

EAG has focused on Wisconsin of late, particularly those areas where school vouchers are being proposed.

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, EAG criticized a “huge restaurant tab” that was actually the rent paid on alternative learning center.

In Milwaukee, it trumpeted $300,000 in taxi cab charges, money actually paid to bus special needs and homeless students to school.

When interviewed about his racist PB&J sandwich claim,  Velderman said: “I try not to be inflammatory. I try to keep it as reasonable as possible, by not making outlandish claims.”

Right.

Velderman Manages to Write About ALEC Without Using the Word “Lobbyist”

EAG’s Ben Velderman recently posted a defense of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), blaming “government school apologists” and “other leftists” for crediting ALEC for the national rash of anti-union and anti-public school legislation. Velderman uses “private sector leaders” to describe the over 300 major corporate lobbyists who, together with conservative think tank staffers, write legislation that is introduced in state legislatures over 1,000 times every year. Legislation that is written by and designed to benefit its corporate sponsors.

ALEC produces model bills written to improve profits in a long list of markets. The bills:

Weaken environmental regulations and deny climate change;

Support school privatization;

Undercut health care reform;

De-fund unions and limit their political influence;

Restrain legislatures’ abilities to raise revenue through taxes;

Disenfranchise voters;

Increase incarceration to benefit the private prison industry;

Weaken gun laws.alec-rtw-language

ALEC came into the national spotlight when a Stand Your Ground law, written by the NRA and sold to Florida legislators by ALEC, resulted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012.

ALEC was established in 1973 after the success of the Heritage Foundation and its impact on national policy making. Among those who were involved with ALEC in its formative years were Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, John Engler of Michigan, Terry Branstad of Iowa, and John Kasich of Ohio.

In fact, the Michigan Right to Work bill is taken from the ALEC model. That model language was written by Michigan’s Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank located in Midland, Michigan.

Velderman assures us all that there’s nothing wrong with this: “If an individual lawmaker chooses to introduce one of ALEC’s “model” bills in the state legislature, the bill still has to go through the entire legislative process – just like any piece of legislation – where it is subjected to numerous votes and revisions.”

Writing from Muskegon, Michigan, Velderman no doubt was paying attention when none of this happened in December 2012, when the Mackinac Center/ALEC Right to Work law was enacted in 5 days without a single public hearing or committee vote.

EAG Cashes In. Big Time.

As part of his school reform interest group pose, Kyle Olson has always promised that his was a grass roots organization financed by regular people, most often outraged parents. His association to the Republican party and Michigan’s right wing Mackinac Center made it clear that this was a lie, but now it’s beyond dispute.

Gleason contribution 2

In 2011, the Gleason Family Foundation of Wilmington Delaware made a gigantic $4.8 million grant to finance EAG’s operations. Gleason is a well known conservative foundation that bankrolls a long list of extreme right causes. These include old stalwarts like the CATO Institute, a number of state Heritage Foundation franchises, including the Manhattan and the Pacific Research Institutes, the Reason Foundation and several others, as well as the Heritage Foundation itself. It also funds several anti-union operations that masquerade as unions, the California Teachers Empowerment Network and the Association of American Educators. Have a look at the Gleason tax return.

But the EAG grant stands out. It is of historic proportions, even among conservative foundations. Notice also that the grant went to EAG’s 501(c)(3) apparition, not it’s 501(c)(4) or 527 versions. This means these funds cannot be spent on politics, something the pages of EAGTruth show has often not been the case.

And to be fair, it’s not like the Gleason Foundation funds only ultra-conservative outfits. It also gave money to the American Red Cross.

Gleason Red Cross

Where’s the outrage?

We have come to accept the fact that teachers unions are more than willing to use students (or former students) as pawns in their political games.

Kyle Olson Education Action Group Foundation EAGNews

This is not an unusual complaint for Kyle Olson, or the rest of his writers. Complaints that teachers want to brainwash their students run rampant. EAG writers complain about indoctrination at public (“government”) schools regularly. For example here, here, here, here, here and here.

Worst of all, they complain that teachers bring politics into the classroom, over and over and over and over. Well, union teachers. The standard is different for teachers that agree with EAG’s school “reform” stands. Policies which are uniformly non-union.

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Not a word from EAG in the face of Georgia charter school teachers promoting an initiative that would expand charters in Georgia. A New York Times article covered this, including photos of kids making campaign signs.

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So where’s the EAG outrage? Could it be that they only oppose progressive classroom campaigning? Is conservative brainwashing okay? Is indoctrination not indoctrination when its right wing indoctrination?

Kyle’s long-term habit of making this sort of hair-on-fire commentary isn’t unique to EAG. It’s a common theme of the right wing echo chamber:

…sending your kids to government schools is a good thing. It will help prepare them for life in the Islamified America of the future.

That from something called  Moonbattery.

Google “indoctrination” and you’ll get another 6.5 million examples. EAG is part of this right wing campaign to neuter unions and convert public schools;  school reform is the cover they use to convince reporters to publish their invective.

Kyle Olson, School Reformer, on Cow Farts

It hard, some days, to think of a way to take a shot at teachers unions and public schools, but Olson recently made a unusually thin complaint, even for him.

Kyle Olson Education Action Group Foundation EAGTruth

Complaining that too many schools have instituted meatless Mondays, Olson recently co-posted on the Breitbart Big Government site and the ultra Republican Townhall.com that these events are part of a campaign to get HIV tests and condoms on Mondays. Not that these campaigns are actually related in any way to school vegetarian days, they both take place on Mondays, and that’s enough for Olson.

But what’s the agenda? Less cholesterol? Fewer fatsos? Perhaps, but a “K-12 Tool Kit” lists several other benefits of “Meatless Mondays,” including:

Reduce carbon footprint: The UN estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate climate change.

Outrageous! The UN! Again the problem is that this tool kit comes from the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health and its battle against obesity; it doesn’t come from any of the schools Olson complains about.
But then this kind of paranoid conspiracy theory is what BigGovernment readers want. As one of Olson’s fans writes:

Meatless Monday is intended to facilitate the indoctrination of our children and their parents into acceptance of  U.N. Agenda 21.  Meatless Monday is just a tiny piece of a HUGE Global Agenda of Eugenics, Earth Worship, and Utopian-ism.

And Olson still sells EAG as ” a non-partisan non-profit organization … promoting sensible education reform …”

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Kyle Olson Venarates Andrew Breitbart

EAG recently launched its 1st Annual Andrew Breitbart Memorial Essay Contest, a “patriotic essay contest” for K-12 children by offering $500 to kids entitled “What Does American Mean to You?” because EAG considers the  deceased Breitbart a near saint for his success working the press.

Kyle Olson Education action group foundation EAGNews

Olson on Fox News complaining about politics in the school house.

His best known success involved the ACORN pimp videos, where Breitbart protégé James O’Keefe posed as a pimp that got financing advice from ACORN staffers.  It turned out the whole thing was a hoax:

But it was all a hoax. And for weeks now, ever since the trick was highlighted by blogger Brad Friedman, Breitbart has been wrestling with the glaring contradiction and struggling to explain his own role in the hoax.

Even more troubling is Brietbart’s doctoring of a video of USDA official Shilley Sherrod, painting her falsely as a racist:

Conservatives including David Frum and Ann Coulter have acknowledged that the video Breitbart posted is a fraud. But Frum, a former speechwriter in the Bush White House, wrote that he has seen this act too many times to expect Breitbart to apologize for “distributing a doctored tape to defame and destroy someone.”

Sherrod was fired. Her defamation lawsuit against Brietbart continues.

So naturally Kyle Olson wants to paint the godfather of press manipulation as a saint by equating him with great Americans. He is actually reserving a $500 prize for 100 word essays written by kids between kindergarten and the 5th grade, even though he has long invoked the evils of the political manipulation of our youth. In fact, he wrote the book on it.

Olson wrote the book on political manupulatin of school kids

Olson wrote the book on non-conservative manipulation

One blogger was so offended by the contradiction, he encouraged protest entries. Penn State Altoona professor Dr. Timothy Slekar, who maintains @ The Chalk Face, suggested his readers write submissions that reflect the real Breitbart rather than the revisionist history version.

EAG reacted in its usual fashion by attacking the man rather than the argument. Not being able to defend Breitbart, they attacked the critic:

Slekar is yet another radical professor who despises everything that the patriotic Breitbart stood for…Leave it to radical leftists to try to hijack a children’s essay contest and subvert an opportunity for students to tell why they value America. Can’t these desperately unhappy misfits just leave kids alone?

Agreed. Lets just leave the kids alone.

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