With the global financial system currently in meltdown, surely it is time to stop handing our schools over to the people who are largely responsible for this disaster.
That was the demand campaigners were making at the Anti-Academies Alliance protest in London on Friday of last week.
Between 30 and 40 people, mostly teachers and parents from across London, joined the protest. Our 1930s-style spiv fancy dress went down a storm with passers-by.
We were targeting the hedge fund speculators’ charity Ark (Absolute Return for Kids), which has launched three academies so far with another 12 planned.
According to the Ark website it is a “philanthropic co-operative” with a team of trustees made up of a bevy of hedge fund managers, merchant bankers and “financial risk managers”.
One of them is Stanley Fink. According to the London School of Economics he is “non-executive deputy chairman of Man Group plc, the largest listed hedge fund manager in the world with nearly $70 billion in assets”.
John Paulson, the man identified as one of the hedge fund bosses involved in short-selling last week, is also a big supporter of Ark. His firm Paulson and Company paid £50,000 for a table for ten people – and made a substantial donation – at an Ark fundraising gala earlier this year.
These people are currently vying for top spot in the most hated people on the earth charts. It is not unreasonable to ask, therefore, why they are being given control over so many of our schools?
Are hedge fund managers and speculators fit to run schools? What kind of role models will they provide for our kids? And what will happen to the schools when their sponsors face economic meltdown?
These are the questions that need to be asked of New Labour in the coming weeks.
Judging from the response to our protest on Friday, the fat cats who want to take over our schools are not very popular at the moment, and the government might be wise to change its policy on academies.
Whatever happens to Gordon Brown in the coming weeks, the Labour government should abandon its academies programme, sack its main instigator Lord Adonis, and bring existing academies back under the control of democratically elected local authorities.
For more on the campaign go to » www.antiacademies.org.uk