"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bill Gates and the Education of Human Capital

Bill Gates has an intense interest in education. The question is "why"?

This 1999 Wall Street Journal article written by Michael Milken wants Bill Gates and other philanthropists to do six things: follow your passion, get personally involved, think big, foster teamwork, fight the zero-sum-game mentality, and transfer skills, not money.

Gates has followed Milken's advice, particularly in the third step, "think big":

Think big. The value of the world's financial and industrial assets, perhaps $100 trillion by conventional measures, might triple if you include (as I believe we should) the value of human capital. While even the Gates Foundation appears small in this context, it will magnify its ability to produce lasting world-wide social effects by using human capital creatively.

Bill Gates IS thinking big AND using human capital creatively. He is taking over the public education realm by his foundation providing Common Core Standards (they are all "free"-think philanthropy) to states if they will agree to use its blueprint. And if the states agree to do so (under financial pressures from the Federal Government), the Gates Foundation can control what and how students learn. He's done this by crafting the standards under which students will learn. The states have been ruled impotent in exercising their sovereign right to educate their citizens in the manner deemed appropriate by the state by this takeover of education.

The goal is to produce lasting world-wide social effects by using human capital creatively. And what world-wide social effects will human capital create? And how is it that Bill Gates is the one to decide how to "use" human capital in his idea of world-wide social effects? Do we send our students to school so Bill Gates and his foundation can control the outcome of students' education?

Regarding the fifth step, fight the zero-sum-game mentality, Mr. Milken writes:

Foundations don't "spend" money on grants. They invest in society to produce a greater return.

He's right. But in whose return are they investing? Your student...or theirs? What is the incessant need to document student data through a P-20 pipeline? Why is this data being shared with the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services? Why is data being gathered on psychometric information on your child? Is this indicative of an interest in a child as a human being or a commodity that can serve the system?

What we may be witnessing here is politicians willing to be complicit in a move towards corporatist fascism to a tyrannical ruling elite. Recall what Diane Ravitch said about Bill Gates:

“In a way, being Secretary of Education is less significant than being Bill Gates,” the education historian Diane Ravitch said, guessing that the foundation gives more money annually to education than the U.S. Department of Education has available in annual discretionary funds. “I’d rather be Bill Gates.”

Bill Gates wants to control education and has been successful in reaching that goal. Do you think his philanthropy is "for the kids" or for Bill Gates and his interests? Does the phrase "using human capital creatively" give you pause in turning your child over to public educators following common core standards and who are gathering intrusive data on your child?

1 comment:

  1. The first time I heard 'Human Capital' it gave me the willies... 'Human Resources' too. But I think it actually tends to make light of the real threat Gates poses, to assume a profit motive in what he's doing - he really believes in this stuff.

    I used to read his columns in the 90's, and of course his techy stuff... he really believes it'll be a huge bonanza for all of the public if every possible jit & jot of your life is available online, so that life can be made more 'efficient'.

    And of course he's always believed that tech is the way to improve education - not simply as an updated delivery system for books & tests and so forth, but as a way of getting around the 'drudgery' of reading books and evaluating understanding, he wants tech tools to be providing predigested summaries of ‘useful information’ and presented through things like PowerPoint, etc. He's been pushing this stuff for at least 15 years.

    Sure, he'd like, and expect, it to be a profitable business venture, but that's just a nice side effect for him.

    He believes in it... which is far more dangerous than simple profit motive.


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