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Smoke and mirrors: National "School Choice" Week

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

At the end of this month, the Montana Family Foundation will be hosting an event in Billings to celebrate "National School Choice Week."

What is National School Choice Week?

The week was started by the right-wing Gleason Family Foundation that also funds the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Uncommon Charter Schools, the libertarian Cato Institute and anti-union organizations that promote “right to work." - The Washington Post

What is their actual goal?

"School choice" is the term that came out of focus groups funded by wealthy special interests that want to dismantle public education across America and in Montana. What "school choice" really means is "using public dollars to fund for-profit private schools." These private schools mean big checks to CEOs, but millions of dollars (actually, a billion dollars) in wasted tax money.

Smoke and Mirrors

According to the National School Choice Week website, "National School Choice Week is nonpartisan and nonpolitical, and is not related to any legislative advocacy effort."

That's beyond disingenuous. The "planning partner" listed for the events here in Montana is the Montana Family Foundation.

In addition to pushing a deeply homophobic agenda, the Montana Family Foundation literally lists "legislative advocacy" as part of its mission. That advocacy includes pushing for school privatization.

In 2013, Mike Dennison reported the following:

"The state organization is the Montana Family Foundation, a group based in Laurel and known for its conservative push on social issues, such as opposing gay rights and abortion.

Yet in recent years, the foundation has spearheaded the school-choice movement in Montana, lobbying the issue at the Legislature, organizing school-choice conferences and throwing its political support behind candidates that will vote for school choice.

The Montana Family Foundation also gets assistance and counsel from national groups like the Friedman Foundation and the Institute for Justice, well-financed organizations promoting and defending school choice across the nation.

Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation, says he got involved in the issue several years ago when he was approached by Greg Gianforte, the then-CEO and founder of RightNow Technologies Inc., a software development firm in Bozeman.

Gianforte, who engineered the 2012 sale of RightNow to software giant Oracle Corp. for more than $1.8 billion, is a financial supporter of the Family Foundation, and his wife, Susan, is the chair of the nonprofit organization’s board.

Gianforte also chairs the board of Petra Academy, a private K-12 school in Bozeman that offers a “classical and Christian” education, and he and his wife have given tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Republican political candidates and the Republican Party in Montana."

Don't be fooled by the Montana Family Foundation and their super-wealthy backers!

National School Choice Week is about one thing: selling off Montana's public schools.


Will you help Montanans Organized for Education continue to hold school privatization advocates accountable in Montana?

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