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Funding Public Schools

The most telling moment in The Agenda, Bob Woodward's book on the Clinton presidency, occurs when the President-elect first realizes that Wall Street's bond markets wield more power than he does as Commander in Chief of the lone remaining superpower. "You mean to tell me," Bill Clinton screamed at his aides, his face turning red with anger and disbelief, "that the success of the program and my re-election hinges on the Federal Reserve and a bunch of f---ing bond traders?" Woodward does not say whether Clinton acted on his campaign promise to lower interest rates by going long on the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond for his own account. Presumably not; Hillary, after all, is the rainmaker in the Clinton family.

The subtext of Woodward's book is that the bond market and the Federal Reserve, in the form of Chairman Alan Greenspan, hold the real power. As the 21st century unfolds, all roads lead to Wall Street, even those associated with American education. Neoconservative policy wonks may fantasize about privatizing the little red school house or propose a "school choice" utopia that resembles nothing so much as the liberal dream of busing. But these think tank schemes, funded by non-profit foundations, are a sideshow; increasingly, the public education agenda is developed by corporations and implemented by politicians who need their campaign contributions.

The public education...

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