"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, May 24, 2011

"Education is the Wild West and There is Alot of Money to be Made". Is this the underlying philosophy of education "reform"?

Yesterday we wrote a piece likening Bill Gates to Pac-Man as he eats educational stakeholders in his quest for his educational vision. The taxpayers, parents, students, unions, teachers, administrators, state educational offices, etc are being replaced for Gates' vision of US public education models.

Gates is spending a fortune paying governors and states so they will adopt common core standards, which will then necessitate the expansion of the state longitudinal data systems. Software companies will reap the windfall, as well as Pearson, an educational publishing company that partners with the Gates Foundation. With the mandate of these new assessments having to be completed on line, the computer and assessment companies will realize an infusion of cash. Where this cash will come from is still a question that hasn't been answered; most observers believe the computers mandated will have to be bought by individual school districts which are presently strapped for cash. The districts won't be able to ask their states for assistance as they are pinching pennies themselves.

With the standards and assessments being controlled by private consortia, the ability for the taxpayers to have any say in what their children will be taught (or not taught) is extremely slight, if not impossible.

Susan Ohanian has been following Gates' educational quest for many years and she has posted extensively on The Gates Foundation providing huge infusions of cash to states for their purposes. Ohanian has written an extensive supplement to the latest NY Times article on Gates' involvement and she chronicles how this influence has just about taken over the constitutional rights of states to set educational policy, and how we are on the verge of a national curriculum (which, by the way, is illegal):

In June 2006, Joshua Benton of the Dallas Morning News reported that within the Texas Education Agency, contracts often were not competitively bid but depended on whom one knew at the Gates Foundation. Diane Ravitch was on target in a July 30, 2006 Los Angeles Times piece: "In light of the size of the foundation's endowment, Bill Gates is now the nation's superintendent of schools. He can support whatever he wants, based on any theory or philosophy that appeals to him." This was positioned as an opinion piece and there was no follow-up from the education press.

Dillon's mention that National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CSSEO) received "millions of dollars" is rather like identifying half a dozen root canals as "a dental procedure." Since January 2008, Gates has shelled out more than $35 million to the Council of Chief School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, the two primary organizations charged with drafting and promoting common standards. Daniel Goldman's Bill Gates' School Crusade (Bloomberg Businessweek, 7/15/10) was one of two articles I found revealing that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation "bankrolled the development of the common curriculum standards." Golden observed that our U. S. Department of Education and the Gates Foundation "move in apparent lockstep" on an agenda which is "an intellectual cousin of the Bush administration's 2002 No Child Left Behind law."
These are just a few of the examples she offers on who the Gates Foundation has been funding in education. Here is her connection to the "school choice" industry and the Gates Foundation:

We--you and I--are paying for Gates' pet projects. Kenneth Saltman points out something few people seem to realize: For every ten dollars given by the Gates Foundation, four dollars is lost from the public wealth in taxes. The philanthropist’s dollars would otherwise go to the public in the form of taxes. So a big chunk of all that money Gates is spending to get teachers on script, destroy tenure, and standardize curriculum is actually OUR money; Bill Gates is using our tax dollars to mold America. And part of the plan--well on its way-- is to de-professionalize teachers. Saltman calls on readers "to stop applying business metaphors and logic to educational thinking derived from discredited market fundamentalism." Such terms as choice, monopoly, turnaround, efficiency need to be dropped in favor of public language and assumptions. Taxpayers are subsidizing (as tax-free) an organization bent on undermining their best interests. [See Kenneth Saltman's The Gift of Education: Public Education and Venture Philanthropy and Philip Kovacs' edited collection, The Gates Foundation and the Future of U. S. "Public" Schools.

This is a takeover of education. Gates and others can couch it in terms of choice and turnaround schools, etc, but the fact remains, these models of providing education and the delivery and setting of standards/assessments/curriculum is being set by private companies, the National Governor's Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

Capitalism is a great theory and when it works as it was intended to do, it helps this country operate in a positive business manner. However, the Gates idea of education and setting certain companies in line to deliver the services is crony capitalism:

A description of capitalist society as being based on the close relationships between businessmen and the state. Instead of success being determined by a free market and the rule of law, the success of a business is dependent on the favoritism that is shown to it by the ruling government in the form of tax breaks, government grants and other incentives.

Ohanian goes on to describe the web of players in this crony capitalism venture. It's stunning and here are just a few of the organizations:

The National PTA received $1 millon grant to mobilize parents for the Common Core Standards in four states. -- Dec. 2, 2009 The May 18, 2011 Education Week (which gets its own Gates funding, as in $2,534,757 in 2005, another $100,000 in 2005, and $1,997,280 in 2009.) ran a ¾ page ad from ASCD. It was presented in the form on an opinion piece by Executive Director Gene R. Carter offering strong support of the Common Core. The ad doesn’t mention that The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $3 million to ASCD> "to support that group's efforts to help education leaders and educators themselves understand the standards and implement them." -- The Journal, April 5, 2011

You might just want to rethink if your local PTA really needs funds for pet projects when the national organization is pushing "reform" which takes parental and taxpayer control away and lines up with crony capitalists. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Education Association Foundation (NEA) have also received substantial amounts to support Gates' agenda, which has evolved into the Department of Education's agenda. She has many more organizations and think tanks listed funded by the Gates Foundation.

When did it become appropriate for billionaires to set educational policy? Has it been occurring in incremental steps and this is the last grasp of control? There is a theory why this "concern" about the "educational crisis" is being addressed by the billionaire community. When the dotcom bubble burst, the next area to make money was in...education. It probably has less to do with a desire to "help the children" as it is to "make money". In fact, Scott Joftus, closely aligned with Bill Gates and his foundation since the early years of 2000, had this to say about education in an article aptly titled "Is the Stimulus Really "No Consultant Left Behind" "?:

That metaphor is an apt one for the market as well. In the fall of 2009, Mr. Joftus was contacted by a former contractor who was working for Global Partnership Schools, a new school turnaround venture funded by GEMS Education, a Dubai-based company founded by entrepreneur Sunny Varkey. The caller was hoping to obtain copies of Mr. Joftus’ contract for school improvement services in Kansas.

“You know we’re in a new era when school turnaround firms in the U.S. are being funded out of the Middle East,” Joftus said. “To me, that says there’s money to be made. I call this period the Wild West in education.”

"There's money to be made...and school turnaround firms in the US are being funded out of the Middle East...there's money to be made". Does anyone still believe this is all for the children?

Bill Gates is eating the Constitution and buying the players to implement the change HE wants for HIS ends. He and his cronies will become quite wealthy and powerful. The taxpayers, students and parents...schools, administrators, teachers....well, they'll be operating under one man's vision. And the irony is our tax dollars are funding a plan in which we had no voice and works against individualism and true education. This is not how a republic is to operate, is it? And why is our government complicit in this plan?

1 comment:

  1. Wow ..... fabulous article - how much time did you spend putting this together BB? I'm not worthy! I will share this far and wide!



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