The Gift of Education: Public Education and Venture Philanthropy

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Although educational philanthropy accounts for just a fraction of educational spending in the U.S., its institutions have recently acquired disproportionate influence and control over educational policy and practice. The Gift of Education is the first book to dissect the new “venture philanthropy” in education. It evaluates the educational and social implications of private super-rich donors leading reform to K-12, teacher education, and higher education. Challenging common representations of the new philanthropy as primarily about care, generosity, and opportunity, Satlman argues that the new philanthropy is at the forefront of a movement to undermine universal public education at multiple levels. That is, venture philanthropy is contributing to both the privatization of public schooling as well as the transformation of public schooling on the model of corporate culture – from charter schools to voucher schemes, from the remaking of teacher education and educational leadership to making students into consumers, knowledge into commodities, and classrooms into boardrooms. Educational philanthropy that appears almost exclusively in mass media and policy circles as selfless generosity poses significant threats to the democratic possibilities and realities of public education. Though focused on educational philanthropy, Saltman addresses much broader questions about the ideological agendas at the center of philanthropic giving, the educational and political implications of the privatization of public schooling, the assumptions behind educational obligations, and the roles that schools play in democratic societies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Philanthropy and commodification are not a set of abstract changes 'out there' that have little or nothing to do with our daily practice, our pedagogy, our social relationships. They are increasingly 'in here' – in our heads and in our classrooms. They are impinging more and more on what we do and who we are. . . Educational researchers and practitioners at all levels need to address themselves to these new realities and take up a position in relation to them. Saltman's book will help. It is informative, provocative, accessible and very, very topical." - Pedagogy, Culture, and Society

"The Gift of Education is at the same time a critique of philanthropy and of K-12 education in the United States. Saltman shows how new trends in philanthropic behavior are undermining both philanthropy and the democratic core of public education.He argues thatill-considered corporate/commercial attitudes constitute a neo-liberal attack upon public education, an approach unhappily fostered by the new Obama administration.Those of us who think that public education lies at the core of truly democratic behavior ought to take this book seriously." - Stanley N. Katz, Professor and Director, Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

"If you care about the survival of public education, you need to know about the market forces intent on its destruction. Through an incisive examination of the neoliberal agenda of redistributing the economic and cultural control of schools, Saltman delivers the goods. In calling out outfits like the Gates Foundation, who are using diverted public funds to bankroll their agenda of proclaiming that the quality of education can be reduced to student test scores, Saltman shows us why the very fiber of democracy is at stake." - Susan Ohanian, longtime teacher, maintains a website of resistance to corporate-politico destruction of public schools

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230615151
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 3/2/2010
  • Series: Education, Politics and Public Life Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 1,328,829
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth J. Saltman, Ph.D. is an associate professor at DePaul University. He is the author of Capitalizing on Disaster: Taking and Breaking Public Schools (2007), which was awarded the American Educational Studies Association Critics Choice Book Award, The Edison Schools (2005), Strange Love, Or How We Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Market (with Robin Truth Goodman, 2002), and Collateral Damage: Corporatizing Public Schools – A Threat to Democracy (2000). His edited collections include Schooling and the Politics of Disaster (2007), Education as Enforcement: the Militarization and Corporatization of Schools (2003), and The Critical Middle School Reader (with Enora Brown, 2005).

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Table of Contents

The Trojan School: How Venture Philanthropy is Corporatizing K-12
• Venture Philanthropy for a New Gilded Age
• The Gift of Education
• The Gift of Corporatizing Teacher Education
• Giving the University the Business

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