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What Materials Are Used For Insulation
WuTeachClan_DetailedProjectPlan “We don’t attempt to push or drive ideology,” Birmingham, the YE official, told HuffPost. “From an entrepreneurial standpoint, we’re big on free markets, after all. We’re big on voluntary trade. We’re big on property rights. All of those things align with their [the Kochs’] thoughts. Those are things that most entrepreneurs believe in.”
Today, to show its most controversial lessons, YE often relies on videos provided by the Charles Koch-chaired Institute for Humane Studies, which operates out of George Mason University in Virginia. The videos are produced and marketed under an institute arm called Learn Liberty, which offers dozens of educational videos on libertarian and conservative topics.
One such video Davis showed his students defended price-gouging. “Anti-gouging laws do not do anything to handle” shortages, the video’s narrator argues. Another video titled “Is There a Glass Ceiling ” asserts that the gender pay gap is a myth. Women earn around 75 cents for every dollar earned by men, it says, but not due to discrimination within the labor market. Rather, it is due to “differences in the choices that men and women make.”
Other Institute for Humane Studies videos on the syllabus inform students that the cost of living is not actually rising, that minimum wage laws harm workers and that the poor aren’t “really getting poorer.”
Davis also taught a series of classes based on videos by John Stossel, a lauded journalist turned conservative commentator. He showed his students Stossel’s six-part series called “Greed,” which posits that private companies are better at protecting the general public than governments and nonprofits.
The following time his class met, Davis screened Stossel’s film “Is America Number one ” wherein Stossel concludes that laissez-faire economics are the key to global prosperity.
Davis said he presented these videos as simply one perspective among many. “Economics is so complex and I used to be never an expert on economics,” he said. “Most teachers are really good at playing devil’s advocate. We go on both sides of the fence. I was always challenging them to remain on both sides of everything.”
He supplemented the videos with worksheets and quizzes designed to reinforce the videos’ claims. “If people who make very little money have modern conveniences, are they really poor ” one worksheet asked. “True or False: International trade needs to be heavily regulated for the great of a rustic’s economy,” asked a quiz.
In February 2010, the Koch team who designed the course tested their libertarian curriculum with a one-semester class called “Market-Based Thinking” on the private Wichita Collegiate School. “Give the fitting teachers the proper curriculum [and] we can influence ‘thinking teenagers,'” they wrote of their plan. They aimed to measure the course’s effectiveness in terms of “changing attitudes and behavior,” which they acknowledged can be “hard work.”
Before teaching the class, Tony Woodlief, who oversaw the Wu-Teach Clan’s education project, wrote that he would “need to run by CGK for approval,” referring to Charles G. Koch. In December 2009, Woodlief had good news for the group. “Charles has approved the initial draft,” he wrote in an email.
Their thinking, laid out in a January project plan, was that “right-leaning private schools are more likely to have teachers and students who can be supportive of and concerned about our proposed lesson plans (the low-hanging fruit).”
“Economic philosophy is [what] we care most about: where prosperity comes from, what ‘rules of the game’ are necessary for entrepreneurship, etc.” Woodlief wrote in an email. He was not concerned about lessons about creating business plans or spotting opportunities to generate income — “all of the schlock that gets taught under the guise of ‘teaching’ entrepreneurship,” the things that “defile the word ‘entrepreneur,'” he wrote.
Woodlief declined to comment for this article.
However the pilot program’s test results showed that the private school students weren’t as receptive to overtly ideological messaging because the team had hoped. What the children did absorb were real-life examples and hands-on lessons — the type of approach that YE had been using because the early 1990s to teach basic business skills, like conducting market research or understanding a balance sheet.
Stephanie Linn, a member of the Wu-Teach Clan who now works at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, told HuffPost that the associates’ project had started out as little greater than an exercise in nonprofit management. “The target was for us to learn something about project management skills,” she said, adding, “People weren’t really thinking about developing something new with us. It speaks to the absurdity of the Wu-Teach Clan name.”
With what that they had learned at Wichita Collegiate, however, the Koch team took the next step, in accordance with the group’s emails. Rather than create a standalone class on economic philosophy, as that they had initially planned, the team proposed that they revise existing Koch-funded education programs to include more libertarian teachings. YE was a perfect fit.
“Everybody got really excited when people would find out [I used to be] with Youth Entrepreneurs,” recalled Jon Bachura, then a Koch associate engaged on a different Koch Foundation project in addition to a YE official. “We now have access to a thousand high school-aged students a year. They always wanted to speak to me or my colleagues about, ‘What are you doing ‘ or ‘How are you doing it ‘” Bachura now works for U Inc. a web based training company.
At the time the Koch associates turned to it, the YE program was already in the midst of “transitioning to teach more economics,” in response to notes of a 2010 conversation between the Koch team and YE staff, which meant that YE “may be more willing to incorporate it into their lesson plans.”
Nowadays, YE’s classes have all of the ideological trappings of “Market-Based Thinking” — but instead of the politics being served straight up, it’s baked into lessons about how to construct a business.
The mix of practical and theoretical instruction seems to have worked well for YE. Spenser Johnson, who’s currently studying criminal justice as a rising sophomore at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas, said he enjoyed the course and learned a lot.
“It teaches you sometimes you do have failure in business,” he told HuffPost. “You’ve got to maintain going through these failures to succeed. Life’s not perfect. Especially in the business world, it is hard.”
While Johnson was absorbing details about free markets, the category’s sponsors maintained a more subtle presence. “I don’t remember a give attention price of oil per barrel canada to Koch Industries,” Johnson said. “At the events you would see the name and the pictures of them, but I do not feel like this system was focused on Koch.”
In preparing to expand their course to colleges beyond Wichita Collegiate, the Koch associates worried about the optics of being generally known as a Koch-funded group. In accordance with the minutes of a February 2010 conference call, they concluded that marketers could “reference Koch Foundation,” but “would not mention it unless someone asks.”
“We need to clarify that we are part of a gaggle that trains non-profit leaders and we are desirous about working to improve economic education,” they continued. “Basically, it will be significant for us to ascertain credibility by what we know, not who we all know. We are going to talk about state standards, language that ties into economic education, etc. We need to steer clear from saying Koch Foundation.”
Because it turns out, they needn’t have worried so much. When Kevin Singer, then the superintendent of Topeka Public Schools, signed a memorandum of understanding in August 2009 that expanded the YE program there, he knew exactly who was funding the course — and it didn’t bother him one bit.
Kansas is a particularly ripe state for YE to target. In addition to serving as Koch Industries’ home base, the state has a public school system hungry for extra help: It is so underfunded that a number of months ago the state’s Supreme Court deemed school funding levels unconstitutionally low.
Singer saw YE as a welcome boon to the ailing school system — the newest in a protracted string of partnerships that turned to outsiders to increase school resources totally free. He came across the organization when teachers involved in an entrepreneurial club brought YE materials to his attention.
“If you can generate revenue outside of taxation, that is a positive thing,” said Singer, who is now executive director of the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit, a Pennsylvania agency that provides budgeting, human resources, curriculum and other services to local school districts. “We couldn’t have done what we did in Topeka, in giving opportunities for youths, had we not had our business partners.”
Youth Entrepreneurs states that it is specifically “targeted toward at-risk youth” in predominantly poor school districts. The group agrees to pay for all of this system costs at school districts where a minimum of 40 percent of kids are poor enough to be eligible at no cost and reduced-price lunches (but none of the prices in districts where fewer than 1 in 5 kids receives reduced-price lunches).
The struggling Topeka school district agreed to let YE train one new teacher a year and supply classrooms. YE would pay the teachers a stipend above their regular salary, supply them with classroom materials, arrange guest speakers and field trips, and supply students with scholarship opportunities, all for free of charge to the college district.
Such public-private partnerships price of oil per barrel canada are a growing trend in the American education system, as corporations and interest groups give you ever more innovative ways to market their products and ideas to students at school buildings.
In her book Born to purchase, author Juliet Schor recounts how General Mills paid Minnesota teachers $250 each to paint cereal logos on their cars and park them next to highschool buses. Dole offers lesson plans to elementary school teachers which are stuffed with positive messages about eating fruits and vegetables — messages that also benefit the food company’s bottom line.
The Society for Petroleum Engineers, together with Utah’s Department of Natural Resources, once sponsored an Earth Day poster contest that asked students, “Where Would We Be Without Oil, Gas & Mining “
“It is the same model that … Koch’s program is doing,” said Faith Boninger, a researcher based on the University of Colorado, Boulder who writes about private companies in schools.
While Singer signed the memorandum of understanding before the Koch team developed YE into its current form, he said the program’s connection to the Kochs did not come up once as a cause for concern during his 2008-2011 tenure. His school board voted unanimously for the program. His deputy signed another memorandum renewing the program in 2010. And in 2012, the district expanded this system to more schools and tied it to an engineering scholarship program with Westar Energy, a Kansas utility company.
“There’s no way you can do these kinds of things on your own,” Singer told HuffPost. “What you weigh against is, do I want to try and supply opportunities for kids that flat-out would not have them otherwise They grew up in a really impoverished area. When you did not have somebody [like Westar or YE] are available in … they might never, ever even know that engineering is a choice for them.”
Because the Kochs and their team continue to expand programs like YE, they’re also gathering valuable details about how kids learn and what motivates them — data they apply to other initiatives.
One of the fastest growing elements of YE is a program designed to maintain students engaged in what’s referred to across Koch-funded platforms as “the liberty movement” long after they finish the course. Launched in 2012, the YE Academy runs what it calls “economic ‘think tanks’ for high school students.”
The academy relies on the same incentive that initially drew kids to YE: the chance to earn extra money. It rewards current students and alumni of YE for attending YE-approved lectures outside the classroom. Each event is assigned some extent value, and attendees can redeem the points for scholarship money or venture capital funding.
“That’s right, the more involved you’re, the more money you may earn to place toward your online business or higher education!” reads the YE Academy homepage.
YE Academy courses are also closely tailored to suit the scholars they hope to draw. There’s an Urban Economics Academy, where students take bimonthly online economics classes on topics akin to “relocation of companies, suburban flight, minimum wage laws, constitutional rights, Affordable Health Care Act, and plenty of more!” A Rural Economics Academy tackles farming issues and is “open to anyone who has familiarity with rural landscapes and concepts.” A Migrant Economics Academy explores “the economics of immigration.”
Luis Garcia, whose mother brought him to the U.S. from Mexico in the hunt for a greater education, took part in the Migrant Economics Academy as a senior in high school, one year after he took the YE class. He told HuffPost that he earned $2,000 in scholarship money from all the YE Academy points he racked up. He put the money toward his studies on the University of Southern California, where he is currently a rising sophomore.
“I did not get capital for a business, but the capital that I did receive … I chose to take a position it in education,” he said. “It was a significant amount as to what my parents had to pay.”
The success of the YE Academy — over 500 students took part in the first year — means that offering tangible incentives to young people in exchange for consuming ideological offerings could be a winning formula, better than the Wichita Collegiate class at least. It is certainly one the Kochs were quick to replicate. On the Institute for Humane Studies, the Liberty Rising program begun earlier this year offers students “swag” in exchange for watching videos, the identical ones Taylor Davis showed in his classroom.
The Liberty Rising marketing targets teens and young adults. “Who doesn’t like freedom — and free stuff Rack up points and score sweet goodies like T-shirts, posters, and games, including the highly coveted ‘Freer Pong,'” the web site says. With a view to view the swag, users must provide a wealth of knowledge to the Institute for Humane Studies.
Youth Entrepreneurs is just one piece of the Kochs’ slow creep into America’s schools. The larger Koch effort pushes forward with think tanks, university programs and teacher seminars as well.
But with YE, the Koch pipeline for creating a brand new generation of liberty advancers now starts early: A student can take the YE course in high school, participate in the YE Academy to earn scholarship money after which use that money to pay for a level from a Koch-funded university. So it isn’t just a comparatively small but growing high school program offered in Kansas and Missouri. It’s part of a bigger mission.
“Everybody that’s interested in liberty-minded higher education and beyond is really excited about Youth Entrepreneurs,” Jon Bachura told HuffPost, adding, “It is all playing within the sandbox to see what things, what activities answer that question: What creates the liberty mindset “
“All the power is yours,” Tony Woodlief imagined teachers telling their students. “What’s going to you do to make your country wealthy