Center for Political Awareness

The Uber Rich Are Funding “National School Choice Week” to Attack Public Schools

The school privatization PR stunt is a pet project of the Gleason family and Koch family fortunes. (Click image for article.)

Photo: Then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during a “National School Choice Week” rally in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., on January 18, 2018. DeVos has stated, “I personally think the Department of Education should not exist.” TOM WILLIAMS / CQ ROLL CALL

The last week of every January, right-wing groups like Charles Koch’s Americans for Prosperity promote “National School Choice Week” (NSCW). Unlike other commemorative national weeks or months — such as Black History Month or Pride Month — NSCW did not emerge from an organic grassroots movement. Though touting a misleading notion of equal access to education, its billionaire-backed policy agenda pulls money away from universal public schools.

National School Choice Week is the pet project of a superrich family, the Gleasons, whose fortune dates back to 1865 when William Gleason created a machine shop to make gears in Rochester, New York. By 1999, the business was valued at $332 million. As of March 2022, a 501(c)(3) private foundation funded by that industrial fortune, the Gleason Family Foundation, had net assets of nearly $140 million on hand. Its primary activity is promoting National School Choice Week.

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