In Missouri, we have become used to retired billionaire Rex Sinquefield as a fact of life.
We know he buys politicians, who all then say piously that no one can buy them, but that Sinquefield agrees with their way of thinking. It would be interesting to see if they still said that if his contributions were five dollars.
We also know that Sinquefield, like anyone else who is trying to sway public opinion to the side of something that is drastically wrong, follows the old Julie Andrews credo- A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.
Why else would you label an organization which has a goal of ending teacher tenure and forcing teachers to be evaluated by the results of student scores on standardized tests as Teach Great?
Last week, Sinquefield contributed $750,000 to the Teachgreat.org pact,, which is preparing for a constitutional amendment to push Sinquefield's views onto Missouri since his legislative puppets have been unable to do so to this point.
That effort is noted by national education blogger Diane Ravitch, who was a top U. S. Department of Education official under the administration of President George H. W. Bush and who is the most prominent critic of the so-called educational reformers:
We have seen in state after state that conservative ideologues can buy politicians. But we will see whether they can also buy enough of the public, through advertising and public relations, to start the purge that Sinquefield believes is necessary.
I can’t help but be reminded of the time I spoke to the Missouri Education Association about three years ago. There were about 800 teachers there from across the state. Afterwards, when I signed books, I was struck by the number of people who said things like, “please sign this for my dad, he is a retired superintendent,” or “please sign this for me and my two sisters, we are a family of teachers.” So many of the teachers came from small towns where their family had been teachers for years. If Sinquefield has his way, who will replace them? Is there a long line of graduates from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton just itching to teach in Eureka and all the towns and hamlets of Missouri, to take the place of those who are fired? And who will replace them when they move on to their real careers?