Archives for category: Boston Consulting Group

Margaret Spellings, who will assume the presidency of the University of North Carolina system in March, will begin with a report from the Boston Consulting Group. The management consultants are known for their dedication to privatization and profit. They were advisors in the project that led to the elimination of public schools and teachers’ unions inNew Orleans. Spellings served as their education advisor after her stint as Secretary of Education in the administration of George W. Bush. In that administration, she was one of the architects of No Child Left Behind.


Although Spellings lacks any scholarly credentials (she received a bachelor’s degree at the University of Houston), she should be an effective fundraiser among wealthy conservative benefactors. Since ideological donors often give with strings attached, UNC faculty will have to be wary.


The faculty is not at all pleased. They know what is coming down the pike: NCLB at UNC, data-driven management, corporate reform, cost-cutting, job training. Will academic freedom be respected? Stay tuned.

Peter Greene has done an amazing investigative review of the Boston Consulting Group. What is BCG? Why do reformers in so many cities hire this management consulting firm? What is its connection to the Gates Foundation and Arne Duncan?

Greene writes:

“Word went out today that immediately after Arkansas decided to make Little Rock Schools non-public, the Walton family called a “focus group” meeting “in conjunction with the Boston Consulting Group. This is worse than finding the slender man in the back of your family portrait. For a public school system, this is finding the grim reaper at your front door. And he’s not selling cookies.”

Greene reveals BCG’s business strategies, which are totally inappropriate for education but beloved by reformers.

“Bottom line? Say a little prayer for the formerly public schools of Little Rock, because BCG is in town and they’re sharpening their axe.”

Connecticut wants to transform its state university and community colleges for the 21st century. Who gets the nearly $2 million contract to redesign the system? Why, the Boston Consulting Group, of course. They are management consultants who specialize in outsourcing, privatizing, and downsizing. Jonathan Pelto reduces that the high-priced prescription will destroy the community colleges.


As Jonathan Pelto reports, BCG helps public authorities devolve their responsibilities to private entities. The lead consultant from BCG points to Néw Orleans and Dallas [?] as examples of successful transformation.


Any one of us could have written an equally compelling report for $500 or $1,000, not $1.8 million. But then Connecticut wouldn’t have the BCG logo on the cover of the report.

A friend passed along this email.

What an awesome threesome!

The Boston Consulting Group (whose reports always recommend privatization, as in Philadelphia); the Harvard Business School; and the Gates Foundation.

Lots of bright young men and women, probably graduates of our finest private schools. They will redesign public education for other people’s children. They need some good ideas.

I propose they take a field trip to Finland. There they will see happy, healthy children; no standardized testing; strong academic and vocational-technical programs; and a well-prepared, highly respected teaching profession.

What are the metrics? That will be their challenge!

Time for fresh thinking! Time to break the mold! Abandon the status quo of high-stakes testing and privatization!

Here goes:

“As part of an effort to improve the competitiveness of the United States, BCG has partnered with Harvard Business School and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to bring business and education leaders together to better understand how they can collaborate and transform America’s PK-12 education system.

“The BCG-Gates-HBS PK-12 research focuses on best practices for partnerships between business leaders and educators to accelerate improvement in America’s schools. The research has identified three high-leverage ways in which business leaders can engage with educators to bring about significant change for the better:

* Laying the policy foundations for education innovation
* Scaling up proven innovations that boost student outcomes
* Reinventing the local education ecosystem in cities and regions

“It is our pleasure to share with you two joint research reports on these important topics. We hope the first report, Lasting Impact: A Business Leader’s Playbook for Supporting America’s Schools, will inspire business and education leaders to work together on the urgent task of transforming the nation’s education system. The second report, Partial Credit: How America’s School Superintendents See Business as a Partner, summarizes the findings of a nationwide survey of school superintendents on business’s role in education.

“In 2014, we aim to spur action on many of the ideas that have been captured in the research so far. We welcome your thoughts and input on the material.

Best regards,

J. Puckett
Leader, Global Education Practice Tyce Henry
Nithya Vaduganathan

The Boston Consulting Group”

Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, harshly criticized one of Mayor Bloomberg’s signature initiatives, the school support networks.

“Me, if I were going to take over the school system, I would look heavily to change the networks,” Tisch said during a panel discussion hosted by the nonprofit group, PENCIL.

“I think the networks have basically failed children who are [English-language learners],” added Tisch, who is due to defend the state’s education policies at a state senate hearing Tuesday. “They have failed children who have special needs.”

Under the $90 million network system, principals choose from about 55 Department of Education or nonprofit-run support providers, which assist schools with teacher training, budgeting and more.

This is important, as the Boston Consulting Group (a management consulting firm) advised the Philadelphia School Reform Commission to replicate the Bloomberg networks,

Why BCG was impressed by the geographically dispersed networks is anyone’s guess.

This reader has a question.

I am aware that BCG recommended mass school closings in Philadelphia and handover of students to private organizations.

Can you help?

“Which cities has the BCG done this work in so far: Memphis, New Orleans, Cleveland, Philadelphia… what about chicago/DC/Detroit??? Was that BCG work too? The BCG never released their criteria for evaluating which schools to close- nor did they do site visits…. I want to piece together their decision-making process in order to reveal it for what it is… but I do not have a complete list of cities where they have made recommendations- can you provide that, Diane?”

The School Reform Commission of Philadelphia plans to close 37 schools to save money while opening charter schools.

Parents, students, teachers, and others are fighting back.

The city’s schools have been under state control for the past decade.

The School Reform Commission was urged by management consultants–the Boston Consulting Gtoup–to privatize more schools, even though Philadelphia tried it a decade ago and it didn’t work.

People often ask what can be done to slow down the galloping pace of privatization, which has the enthusiastic support of so many Republican governors and legislatures (see Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Indiana, Tennessee, Louisiana), the Obama administration (see Race to the Top), and wealthy foundations (see Gates, Walton, Broad).

Philadelphia parents are not sitting back and wailing against the proposed privatization. They have lodged ethics complaints against the city’s largest foundation and the Boston Consulting Group for being unregistered lobbyists.

This is a letter from parent leader Helen Gym explaining why parents acted:

Dear Colleagues:

This week, Parents United for Public Education, the Philadelphia Home and School Council and the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP filed a complaint with the City ethics board that the activities of the Boston Consulting Group and the William Penn Foundation should constitute lobbying under the city’s new lobbying ordinance. We believe it is the first real test of the lobbying law which went into effect in January and was designed to prevent secretive attempts to influence policy, including the School District of Philadelphia.

We did not make this decision easily or hastily. We requested a thorough legal analysis from the venerable Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. We arrived at this decision after months of observation and study around the murky activities of the Boston Consulting Group and the wealthy donors who funded them. Just a week before the Philadelphia School District is expected to announce dozens of school closings which will throw our city into turmoil, we believe the public deserves to know the full influence of private money and access on decisions that impact us all.

Please read and share our post: “The public deserves to know what’s happening here” at Parents United’s new website:

As always, I would love your feedback, critiques, suggestions and shares.



Helen Gym
Parents United for Public Education

Contact us:
Visit us:
Yes, we tweet! Follow us @parentsunitedpa

Wherever the Boston Consulting Group goes, certain outcomes are predictable:

1. It will recommend closing public schools.

2. It will recommend opening privately managed charter schools.

3. Most of the schools closed will be in African-American neighborhoods.

4. Most of the teachers laid off will be African American.

5. The Boston Consulting Group will get a fee that is outrageous in comparison to the work they do in writing a report (the report is everywhere the same, just change the name of the city).

In this case, they make the usual recommendations for Memphis.

Before, their handiwork was seen in Philadelphia.

Who advises them? Margaret Spellings.

Earlier this year, the William Penn Foundation commissioned a report from the Boston Consulting Group on the future of the Philadelphia public schools. BCG, as is customary, recommended closing dozens of public schools and opening dozens of privately managed charters.

Parents and community leaders were outraged.

One group, Parents United for Public Education, complained that the William Penn Foundation was engaged in lobbying, and it sought a legal opinion from the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia to support its claim.

Please read the linked article. It reveals an intent to privatize public schools, not to study their needs dispassionately.

The hard-charging president of the William Penn Foundation has suddenly resigned, in what appears to be an ouster by the board. Is this a mini-replay of the Ford Foundation’s ill-fated intervention into school politics in New York City in 1968-70? No one knows, for now. Perhaps the foundation did not enjoy being cast in the role of villain in the city’s struggles.

The interesting story here is that Philadelphia parents (and give credit here to the tireless Helen Gym) pressed the theory that the new muscular venture philanthropy crossed a clear line from philanthropy to political activism.

In the past decade, a handful of very wealthy foundations have used their funding to steer public schools, without regard to the wishes of parents or to the democratic process. Philadelphia parents just threw a wrench into the gears of the privatization machine.


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