The growing reliance on private money to fund public education

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Back in early August a group of private donors, led by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, donated $1.5 million in private funding that will allow students across the state to take the New York State Education Department Regents Exams in January 2012.

This idea of private philanthropists stepping in to help SED meet its responsibility to students has raised eyebrows across the state. On the one hand, there are some who argue that private monies already fund most education in New York — in the form of school taxes. On the other, there is a growing concern that private donors are using philanthropy in a way that pressures government to follow their public policy agendas.

“Regents Pay a Political Price for Their Free Advisers, Dissenters Warn,” an article in today’s New York Times, outlines concerns about New York’s privately funded Regents Fellows program and the role these “free” advisers will play in determining education policy.

Do you think the Fellows program is “a way to add resources and expertise at a time of severe budget cutting” as Chancellor Tisch says? Or should New Yorkers be concerned that the majority of the funding for the program seems to come from folks that are viewed by many in the education reform movement to be advancing an agenda of high-stakes testing and charter schools?