. . . the charter advocates don’t need to win the high-visibility offices to prevail. By spending sufficiently to shift the composition of Democratic caucuses in legislatures, city councils or school boards to the right, they can undermine public education. Whether they mean to or not, by backing more conservative Democrats, they can also impede unrelated progressive initiatives for greater environmental protections and workers rights. And by making Democratic elected officials even more dependent on the mega-donations of the 1 percent, they make campaign-finance reform all the harder to win.
In their mix of good intentions and self-serving blindness, the billionaire education reformers have much in common with some of the upper-class progressives of a century ago, another time of great wealth and pervasive poverty. Some of those progressives, in the tradition of Jane Addams, genuinely sought to diminish the economy’s structural inequities, but others focused more on the presumed moral deficiencies and lack of discipline of the poor. . . . .