(COMMON DREAMS) Molly Knefel — Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times (8/18/15) announced an initiative called Education Matters, “an ongoing, wide-ranging report card on K-12 education in Los Angeles, California and the nation.” The project will cover educational issues, including “the latest debate on curriculum or testing” and “how charter schools are changing public education.”
The Times, owned by Tribune Publishing, will fund Education Matters with donations and grants from philanthropic organizations like the Baxter Family Foundation and the Broad Foundation. “These institutions, like the Times,” publisher and CEO Austin Beutner writes, “are dedicated to independent journalism that engages and informs its readers.”
The problem with Education Matters’ promise to create “independent journalism,” however, is that several of the organizations funding it have a direct stake in a very specific education reform agenda. Education reform, as a project, is far from value-neutral: Reformers promote specific policies, ranging from firing teachers based on their students’ test scores to replacing public schools with privately run charter schools. Their rhetoric often directly attacks teachers unions and even public education as an institution, in favor of “market-driven” “school choice” solutions. And the organizations funding the LA Times’ new project are no exception.