Philanthropy magazine chronicles political evolution of ed reform, school choice

The cover story in this spring’s Philanthropy magazine opens with redefinED host John Kirtley walking beside a civil rights legend at the front of a record-setting 2010 school choice rally that urged Florida lawmakers to expand Tax Credit Scholarships for low-income students. It then drops backs a dozen years to trace his efforts at helping poor schoolchildren and, in the process, provides considerable detail about how and why he entered the arena of political action committees and campaign contributions.

The magazine is published by the Philanthropy Roundtable, which is directed by former Heritage Foundation educational affairs vice president Adam Meyerson, and the article certainly takes for granted that the public education system needs a profound push to get students back on track. But this story includes a variety of political and philanthropic voices, all of whom insist the charitable model for education reform must now apply business principles similar to those instituted by Kirtley and, more pointedly, be committed to stepping into the political arena to counter the powerful influences of teacher unions.

Those voices include New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who tells Philanthropy: “We have an obligation to stand up for our children, for their lives, their futures, their hopes and dreams. And that means putting their needs first.”

Avatar photo

BY Jon East

Jon East is special projects director for Step Up For Students. Previously, he was a member of the editorial board and the Sunday commentary editor at the St. Petersburg Times, Florida’s largest daily newspaper, where he wrote about education issues for most of his 28 years at the paper. He was also a reporter and editor at the Evening Independent and Ocala Star-Banner. He earned a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.