Thursday, November 17, 2011

Using Illegal Drugs to Fund Charters

Leonie Haimson on

the dangerous elixir of charter schools and its funders

Jonathan Sackler is one of the founders and main contributors to the pro-charter organization ConnCan, that has now expanded nationwide and merged with Joel Klein’s vanity  project, Education Equity Project. 

His daughter, Madeline Sackler, made a pro-charter documentary called “The Lottery” (fortuitously funded by her wealthy family) and did countless interviews implying she had no connection to the charter world but her interest was simply piqued watching a news story on TV about Harlem Success lottery.  (Here’s a typically disingenuous puff piece  in the WSJ which omits her connection to ConnCan, and where she claims that she just “stumbled” by accident on the charter school issue. )

The Sackler family is also the owner of the immensely profitable, privately held drug company, Purdue Pharma, headquartered in Stamford Connecticut.  On Monday,  I happened to hear an expose on NPR about the company, which is the nation’s leading manufacturer  of Oxycontin and has been convicted repeatedly of criminal activities in hiding the dangerously addictive properties of its most profitable product. 

Here’s an article from the NYT about these convictions, and  the account of a blogger who has tied together the sins of the company to their illustrious owners.

Here is a recent article in Fortune; the interview with its author on WNYC, Oxycontin: Painful Medicine, and a summary  from Wikipedia:

In May 2007 the company pleaded guilty to misleading the public about Oxycontin's risk of addiction, and agreed to pay $600 million. Its president, top lawyer, and former chief medical officer pleaded guilty as individuals to misbranding charges, a criminal violation, and agreed to pay a total of $34.5 million in fines.[10][11] In addition three top executives were charged with a felony and sentenced to 400 hours of community service in drug treatment programs.[12]

On October 4, 2007 Kentucky officials sued Purdue because of widespread Oxycontin abuse in Appalachia. A lawsuit filed by Kentucky then-Attorney General Greg Stumbo and Pike County officials demands millions in compensation.[13]

So not only are the ill-gotten gains from Oxycontin helping to fund the charter school movement, and to buy up many of our elected officials, but a better metaphor for the false advertising and hype around the dangerous elixir of charter schools could not be found.

No comments: