Koch-funded think tank offers schools course in libertarianism

Chris Young
August 26, 2014

Pop quiz, teachers: Would you like to inject a strong dose of libertarianism into the curriculum you take back to school this fall?

If you answered yes, then a Koch-funded think tank has exactly what you need. And it won’t cost you or your school a penny.

The EDvantage, a project of the libertarian Institute for Humane Studies, bills itself as an online “curriculum hub for pioneering educators.”

The website offers high school teachers and college professors educational videos, articles and podcasts on topics including economics, history and philosophy. But as people might expect from a think tank whose board is chaired by billionaire libertarian Charles Koch, most of the project’s economics content features two common themes: vilify government, promote the free market.

For example, teachers using EDvantage can find economics videos explaining how the Environmental Protection Agency is bad for the environment, how sweatshops are good for third-world workers and how the minimum wage costs workers jobs. Content featuring opposing viewpoints, however, is sparse.

“The minimum wage is supposed to help the poorer, less-skilled and younger workers in the economy,” says the narrator in “The Truth About the Minimum Wage,” a video produced by the libertarian Foundation for Economic Education and featured on EDvantage. “But it doesn’t. It gets them fired.”

According to its website, EDvantage is funded by the John Templeton Foundation, whose core funding areas include “individual freedom and free markets.”

Program director Daniel Green said through a foundation spokeswoman that the two-year, $739,000 grant is meant “to further Sir John Templeton’s objective of supporting education about the enhancement of individual freedom and free markets.” In addition to funding free-market initiatives, the foundation — founded by the billionaire global investor and mutual fund pioneer — supports a variety of other causes, including ones related to science and religion.  

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Copyright 2014 The Center for Public Integrity. This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.