Archives for category: Gates Foundation, Bill Gates

Peter Dreier, a professor at Occidental College and fervent advocate for public education, asks why public education continues to lavish so much favorable attention in the leaders of the privatization movement while disregarding dissenting voices or–worse–treating our nation’s public schools shabbily.

He suggests that the Republican attack of public funding of PBS may have made the network dependent on the billionaires who favor privatization and view public schools with contempt.

With the sole exception of Bill Moyers, who has run programs about ALEC’s efforts to destroy every public service, and who recently interviewed me about the profit motive in the privatization movement, PBS has made no effort to investigate the assault on public education across the nation.

Dreier contrasts the lavish attention devoted to the privatization propaganda film “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” with the absence of attention to a remarkable new film celebrating the daily struggles of public schools in Pasadena, California. This film, “Go Public,” tells the true story of life in a public school. Will it appear on public television? That’s up to you.

The same might be said of “Rise Above the Mark,” another well-produced film that tells the story of real life in schools today and the insidious efforts to destroy public education by the powerful and complicit politicians.

David Sirota recently compelled PBS to return $3.5 million to billionaire John Arnold, who had underwritten a series on the “pension crisis,” an issue dear to him as a critic of defined benefit pensions.

Maybe Dreier’s critique will encourage PBS to give equal time to our nation’s public schools, not just their critics.

PS: I mistakenly attributed the article to another wonderful Paul–Paul Horton. Wrong! My bad!

Anthony Cody connects the dots. Bill Gates has invested more than $2 billion in promoting Common Core because he sees the need for a standard curriculum. When speaking to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Gates explained that the standard electrical plug in all 50 states facilitated innovation.

Cody shows how the Common Core makes possible a standard platform for all kinds of devices. These devices essentially take over the role of the classroom teacher. Gates might at long last achieve his dream of larger class size, fewer teachers, great cost savings. Other vendors are ready with their product line, ready to plug into the standard curriculum that has long eluded suppliers of educational materials.

Cody believes that the best motivation for learning does not from a device but from human interaction.

He writes:

“It is understandable why people who have made their fortunes on the transformation of commerce and industry through the almighty combination of computers, software, data and the internet would project a similar revolution in our schools. However, there is a fundamental difference between commerce and the classroom. Our students learn in a social environment in which human relationships remain central. A model which makes a device central to the learning process is flawed.

“These devices have some value as tools. I am not suggesting they be abandoned. I am suggesting that they are being greatly oversold, and the imperative to standardize our classrooms so they become uniform “sockets” that will allow these devices to readily plug in is misguided. We stand to lose far more from this stultifying standardization than these devices can ever provide.”

The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who think that the world can be divided into two kinds of people and those who don’t. No, let me try that again: those who think that everything that matters can be measured, and those who think that what matters most cannot be measured. Count me in the latter group. What matters most is love, friendship, family, imagination, joy….I see no reason to develop measures for those things. And if they were developed, I would doubt their value or accuracy.

But here comes another attempt to measure creativity. This comment was posted by Laura Chapman in response to a discussion of the PISA problem-solving test:

“The PISA examples are math and logic problems. They are not tests of creativity. Look up the tests and informed theoretical work of Joseph W. Getzels and E. Paul Torrance.

“The Torrance tests, available from Scholastic, are most often used to identify children, adults, and “special populations” as gifted. The pictorial and verbal tests measure three strengths in thinking: fluency, flexibility, and originality. In the figural tests, participants create simple drawings and respond to images. Scores are derived from evidence of qualities such as elaboration, expressiveness, storytelling, humor, and fantasy.

“Relatively few people are aware that the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a developing a web-based scale for measuring creativity, one of several in the “EdSteps” project—funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and operated by the CCSSO

“EdSteps had a low profile until July, 2010 when Newsweek announced a “The Creativity Crisis,” citing a steady decline in scores on the Torrance Tests of Creativity since 1990. The tests are widely used and respected, in part, because records have been kept on the childhood scores and the later-in-life creative accomplishments of each cohort of test takers since the late 1950s (e.g., citations in art publications, patents and awards, books and articles published).

“In response to inquiries, the CCSSO issued a press release that dismissed the Torrance tests and referred its own work on creativity, emphasizing that EdSteps is a project to “advance creativity to the highest possible international standards, and measure creativity in a way that is situated in a context of actual activity.” Creativity is defined as “the valued uses and outcomes of originality driven by imagination, invention, and curiosity.”

“The Edsteps creativity scale a work-in process. The website solicits work samples on any subject from people of all ages and abilities, “globally”…”in any form, genre, or media”…” “writing, videos, images, charts, or other graphics.” People who visit the site are asked to compare two submissions and decide which is the most “effective” (undefined, but the favorite word of Bill Gates).

“That process is carried out in multiple iterations, by multiple judges, with multiple examples. This process is supposed to result in a scale representing a progression of achievement from novice to expert, without the need for written criteria or explanations.

“The process is not different from a popularity contest, with samples of work identified by age, gender, ability level, geographic region, type of work, and the like.

“I could not discover how the EdSteps addresses this fact: Works created by children can be judged more creative than work produced by well-trained adults (e.g., a quote attributed to Picasso: ”It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child”). I cannot imagine how a single scale of creative achievement can be constructed from an “anything goes” basket of work from around the world, subject to further editing by EdSteps into web-friendly snippets. The release forms for the project are horrific.

“I think this effort is a crock, but I could be wrong. My sources: Bronson, P. & Merryman, A. (2010, July 10). The creativity crisis. Newsweek. Retrieved from .///. Council of Chief State School Officers (2010). CCSSO response to ‘The creativity crisis.’ Press release Retrieved from //// EdSteps. (2010b). February 22). Developing the EdSteps continuum: Report of the EdSteps technical advisory group. Retrieved from // EdSteps. (2011b). Creativity launches. Retrieved from”

Valerie Strauss received an odd April Fool’s column, allegedly written by her, announcing that Peter Cunningham, known as Arne Duncan’s mouthpiece or his brain, had had a conversion experience, has turned against the Race to the Top policies, and plans to go on tour with me to explain why we now are on the same page.

Valerie checked with him, and he is game. Now, I admit I like Peter even though I don’t agree with the things he used to say.

But I want to debate Arne or Bill.

No insult, Peter, but I don’t want to take a victory lap with you. I am delighted to know you have joined our side (how about joining the Network for Public Education?).

I want to go to the source. If I can persuade Arne or Bill to stop tormenting children and teachers, well, game over, a new day in America.

Then I will meet you for a few Bailey’s, and I will even pick up the check.

April Fool’s Day!

April’s Fool’s Day!

Mercedes Schneider came across a speech
that Bill Gates gave to state legislators in 2009
. It
lays out the blueprint for everything that has happened in
education since then. Forget what you learned in civics class.
Gates gave legislators their marching orders. Duncan already had
his marching orders. Gates laid out $2.3 billion to create and
promote the Common Core standards. His buddy Arne handed out $350
million to test Bill’s standards. All the other pieces are there:
Charter schools should replace failure factories. He is a true
believer in charter magic. (We now know that charters get the same
results when they have the same students.) Longitudinal data
systems should be created to track students. (A parent rebellion
seems to have put this on the back burner for now, although
everyone seems to be mining student data, from Pearson to the SAT
to the ACT.) The teacher is the key to achievement (although real
research says the family and family income dwarfs teacher effects).
Here is the man behind the curtain, the man who loves data and
measurement, not children. Lock the doors, townspeople. Bill Gates
wants to measure everything about your children! Ask yourself, if
this guy made $60,000 a year, would anyone listen to him?

After this blog was posted, two privacy activists–Allison White
and Leonie Haimson advised me that the collection of confidential
data about children is going forward, thanks to Arne Duncan’s
loosening of privacy rights under FERPA, the legislation designed
to prevent data mining. They write: “Actually at least 44 states
including NY are going forward with their internal P20 Longitudinal
data systems – as required by federal law – which will track kids
from cradle to the grave and collect their personal data from a
variety of state agencies.” Leonie Haimson is leader of Class Size
Matters and Prvacy Matters Allison Breidbart White is Co-author,
Protect NY State School Children Petition Please sign and share the

ALSO: I transposed the numbers describing what the Gates Foundation spent on Common Core: it was $2.3 billion, not $3.2 billion. A billion here, a billion there, soon you are talking real money (I think I am paraphrasing long-gone Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois, but who knows?)

A fascinating article in Education Week describes a verbal tiff between the Council of Chief State School Officers and the leaders of the two major teachers’ unions.

The Chiefs, as they are known, are the state superintendents. CCSSO received at least $32 million from the Gates Foundation to “write” and advocate for the Common Core, and no matter how much parents and teachers complain and demand revisions, the Chiefs “won’t back down.” They made their certainty and intransigence clear to the union leaders.

The AFT and the NEA also were paid millions by Gates to promote the Common Core, but the unions have members and both Randi and Dennis have vocally criticized the implementation of the Common Core. In some states, the rollout has been nothing short of disastrous.

Randi Weingarten was unusually outspoken in criticizing the rush to impose the Common Core, and she warned the Chiefs that the standards were in serious jeopardy. The article makes clear that while Randi is listening to teachers, the Chiefs are not. Their attitude on full display was “full steam ahead, the critics are wrong, there is nothing but anecdote on their side.” You would think they might have reflected just a bit on the terrible results of Common Core testing in New York, where only 3% of English language learners passed the tests, only 5% of children with disabilities, only 16-17% of African American and Hispanic students, and only 31% of all students.

The advocates of Common Core claim that the new standards teach critical thinking and reflection, but there was no evidence of either critical thinking or reflection from the CCSSO or the other organizations paid to promote the standards.

Andrew Ujifusa writes:

“Anxiety over the Common Core State Standards was on full display Tuesday during the Council of Chief State School Officers’ annual legislative conference. Leaders of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, the nation’s two largest teacher unions, squabbled with state K-12 chiefs over how teachers and the general public perceive the standards, and how well they are being implemented in classrooms.”

Weingarten told those present that they do not understand how angry many parents and educators are. During the discussion, Weingarten “said that in cases like New York state, the poor rollout of the common core had led to “immobilization” among teachers and a distrust that those in positions of authority knew how to do the job right.

“Weingarten added that she expects that many of her members would call for outright opposition to the standards during the AFT’s summer convention, even though both the AFT and NEA support the standards and Weingarten said she wouldn’t back away from the common core.

“On the subject of transitioning to the common core, Weingarten told the chiefs, “The field doesn’t trust the people in this room to have their backs.”

“During the same discussion, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, while he said the union remained squarely behind the standards themselves, also expressed concern that teachers were not getting enough time to learn the standards themselves, to find common-core aligned curricular materials, and to talk to parents as well as each other.

“Those remarks triggered an irritated response from Massachusetts K-12 chief Mitchell D. Chester, who said that the two national unions seemed to be “condoning” strident and vocal common-core foes “at the peril of those [teachers] who are moving things ahead,” an accusation Weingarten denied……

“Weingarten responded that attacking her for being the messenger of concerns about the standards missed the point, telling the state chiefs, “People think we are doing terrible things to them, parents and teachers alike.”

Kati Haycock of Education Trust defended the Common Core. The Gates Foundation paid Education Trust $2,039,526 to advocate for the Common Core.

Michael Cohen of Achieve, which helped to write the standards, strongly defended them.

Gates has paid many millions to Achieve to write and promote the Common Core:

“Gates money also flowed to Achieve, Inc.; prior to June 2009, Achieve received $23.5 million in Gates funding. Another $13.2 million followed after CCSS creation, with $9.3 million devoted to “building strategic alliances” for CCSS promotion:

“June 2012

Purpose: to strengthen and expand the ADP Network, provide
more support to states for CCSS implementation, and build strategic national
and statewide alliances by engaging directly with key stakeholders
Amount: $9,297,699″

The most famous line ever written by John Dewey was this:

“What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon, it destroys our democracy.”

Our frequent commenter KrazyTA has been exploring what our leading reformers–who see themselves as our best and wisest educational visionaries–want for their own children. After Bill Gates spoke to the teachers at the annual conference of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to explain why the Common Core was absolutely necessary and was the key to teachers’ creativity, KrazyTA inquired into the practices at the elite Lakeside School in Seattle, where Bill was a student and where his own children are enrolled.

This is what he found:

“Strangely, when I went to the Lakeside School website—you know, where Bill Gates and his children went/go to school—I found not a single mention of Common Core, standardization and electric plugs. Not to mention that they weren’t coupled with terms like “innovation” and “teaching.”

“Worse yet, not a single mention of how “college and career readiness” has been lacking there up until now either. Am I missing something? Anyway, let’s see what sort of institution crippled Mr. Bill Gates.

“Let’s start with “About Lakeside.”

First, their mission statement:

[start quote]

“The mission of Lakeside School is to develop in intellectually capable young people the creative minds, healthy bodies, and ethical spirits needed to contribute wisdom, compassion, and leadership to a global society. We provide a rigorous and dynamic academic program through which effective educators lead students to take responsibility for learning.

“We are committed to sustaining a school in which individuals representing diverse cultures and experiences instruct one another in the meaning and value of community and in the joy and importance of lifelong learning.

[end quote]

Second, “Mission Focus”:

[start quote]

“Lakeside School fosters the development of citizens capable of and committed to interacting compassionately, ethically, and successfully with diverse peoples and cultures to create a more humane, sustainable global society. This focus transforms our learning and our work together.

[end quote]


“Academics Overview” with the subtitle “A Commitment to Excellence”:

[start quote]

“Lakeside’s 5th- to 12th-grade student-centered academic program focuses on the relationships between talented students and capable and caring teachers. We develop and nurture students’ passions and abilities and ensure every student feels known.

“The cultural and economic diversity of our community, the teaching styles, and the approaches to learning are all essential to Lakeside academics. We believe that in today’s global world, our students need to know more than one culture, one history, and one language.

“Each student’s curiosities and capabilities lead them to unique academic challenges that are sustained through a culture of support and encouragement. All students will find opportunities to discover and develop a passion; to hone the skills of writing, thinking, and speaking; and to interact with the world both on and off campus. Lakeside trusts that each student has effective ideas about how to maximize his or her own education, and that they will positively contribute to our vibrant learning community.

[end quote]


“Let’s switch gears—or at least websites. Even more strangely, I found that stuff like class size matters:

[start quote]

“Finally, I had great relationships with my teachers here at Lakeside. Classes were small. You got to know the teachers. They got to know you. And the relationships that come from that really make a difference…

[end quote]

“More of this nonsense [?] can be found in the link below, like the fact that Lakeside School has a student/teacher ration of 9:1 and average class size of 16.


“Well, I could on and on but I fear we need to rescue the little tykes in the Gates family from such horrors as, well, feast your eyes on this bit of barbarity regarding the Study Year Abroad:

[start quote]

“Since 1964, School Year Abroad has sent high school juniors and seniors to study abroad in distinctive cities and towns throughout Europe and Asia where their safety and security is a priority. Widely considered the ‘gold standard’ of high school study abroad programs, SYA’s rigorous academic curriculum, paired with complementary educational travel and varied extracurricular activities, ensure students are in an optimal position to return to their home schools or proceed to college.

[end quote]


“Nuff said. Will you be joining Eva M and the pro-charterite/privatizer commenters on this blog for the upcoming “Save the Children of the Poor Millionaires & Billionaires Rally: A New Civil Rights Movement For The Truly Downtrodden” — catered, don’t you worry, by Wolfgang Puck.

I hope the above will put you at ease.”


What a mess in Connecticut!

Robert A. Frahm writes in the Connecticut Mirror about how teachers and principals are struggling with the state’s test-based evaluation system. Teachers waste time setting paperwork goals that are low enough to make statistical “gains.” If they don’t, they may be rated ineffective.

Every principal spends hours observing teachers—one hour each time—taking copious notes, then spending hours writing up the observations.

Connecticut, one of the two or three top scoring states in the nation on NAEP (the others are Massachusetts and New Jersey), is drowning its schools and educators in mandates and paperwork.

Why? Race to the Top says it is absolutely necessary. Connecticut didn’t win Race to the Top funding, but the state is doing what Arne Duncan believes in. Stefan Pryor, the state commissioner, loves evaluating by test scores, but that’s no surprise because he was never a teacher; he is a law school graduate and co-founder of a “no excuses” charter school chain in Connecticut that is devoted to test scores at all times. The charter chain he founded is known for its high suspension rate, its high scores, and its limited enrollment of English learners.

Researchers have shown again and again that test-based accountability is flawed, inaccurate, unstable. It doesn’t work in theory, and it has not worked in five years of experience.

The article quotes the conservative advocacy group, National Council for Teacher Quality, which applauds this discredited methodology. NCTQ is neither an accrediting body nor a research organization.

Our nation’s leading scholars and scholarly organizations have criticized test-based accountability.

In 2010, some of the nation’s most highly accomplished scholars in testing, including Robert Linn, Eva Baker, Richard Shavelson, and Lorrie Shepard, spoke out against the misuse of test scores to judge teacher quality.

The American Educational Research Association and the National Academy of Education issued a joint statement warning about VAM.

Many noted scholars, like Edward Haertel, Linda Darling Hammond, and David Berliner, have warned about the lack of “science” behind VAM.

The highly esteemed National Research Council issued a report warning that test-based accountability had not succeeded and was unlikely to succeed. Marc Tucker recently described the failure of test-based accountability.

But the carefully researched views of our nation’s leading scholars were tossed aside by Arne Duncan, the Gates Foundation, and the phalanx of rightwing groups that support their agenda of demoralizing teachers, clearing out those who are veterans, and turning teaching into a short-time temp job.

The article cites New Haven as an example:

“Four years ago, New Haven schools won national attention when the district and the teachers’ union developed an evaluation system that uses test results as a factor in rating teachers. Since then, dozens of teachers have resigned or been dismissed as a result of the evaluations. Last year, 20 teachers, about 1 percent of the workforce, left the district after receiving poor evaluations.”

Four years later, can anyone say that New Haven is now the best district in Connecticut? Has the achievement gap closed? Time for another investigative report.


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