Archives for category: Gates Foundation, Bill Gates

Anthony Cody points out the contradiction between claims that the Common Core will prepare students for college and careers and the reality that the Common Core tests are designed to fail most students.

He also notes what happened to the GED graduation rate after Pearson took control of the program. The pass rate on the GED plummeted.

What is going on? Cody has two hypotheses:

“Hypothesis #1:

“Corporations are unable to find an adequate supply of highly skilled and educated people, and if we make it harder to graduate high school or earn a GED we will get a larger number of people on track for these skilled jobs.

“This is the basic reason stated by the Gates Foundation and other advocates of “higher standards.” This has been the rationale for the Common Core, along with the idea that we are somehow losing in an international race for higher test scores.

“If this were the case, we should see employers experiencing some sort of shortage of skilled workers. Economists can find no evidence of such a shortage. This report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the top seven occupations with the largest projected numerical growth require at most a two-year Associates degree, and most require only short-term on-the-job training.

“Hypothesis #2:

“Employers actually need FEWER employees with college degrees, and perhaps even fewer workers overall, due to increases in efficiency that are coming through technology. This creates a challenge to the stability of the system – how can we justify leaving many people who are willing to work idle? Perhaps we need a system to label these people “unready for college and career.”

“I do find some evidence to support this hypothesis. We are already in what has been termed a “jobless recovery,” which means that while corporate profits are sky-high, these profits are being made with fewer and fewer workers. A report in the MIT Technology Review suggests that in the next 20 years, 45% of American jobs could be eliminated as a result of computerization.

“There is an idea, most recently expounded by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, that any student, including those with significant learning disabilities, can pass ever more difficult tests. If our entire education system is re-tooled to prepare for Common Core tests, teachers are evaluated based on test scores, and energetic innovators produce new devices and “learning systems,” ALL students will somehow rise to meet the challenge. Where have we heard this premise before? Oh yes. The mythical 100% proficiency rates of No Child Left Behind. We have abandoned one myth simply to embrace another. I think it is time to call an end to this charade.

“Tests do not and cannot accurately measure who is “ready for college and career.” They can only serve to stigmatize, rank, sort, and justify the abandonment of an ever larger number of our students. The Gates Foundation’s Common Core project, in spite of Vicki Phillips’ reassurances, is NOT acting in the interests of our students when it labels large numbers of them as rejects. It is putting millions of them in grave danger. Fortunately, the Common Core tests are encountering serious trouble. The Pearson GED test ought to be rejected as well, and the sooner the better.

“Our public education system has as its noble mission the elevation of all students to their highest potential. This is not defined by their future usefulness to employers. And if corporations find ways to make their billions while employing fewer and fewer of our graduates, that will not be a failure of our educational system, nor of our students themselves. Our economic system ought to be critically examined and re-thought, if, in fact, “all lives have equal value.” As advances in efficiency allow greater productivity, those gains should be shared widely, not hoarded by the .01%. Any testing system that results in massive failure is an assault on our students and should be fought by anyone who cares for their future.”

At a meeting in Los Alamos, Bill Gates said it was easier to find cures for malaria and other diseases than to “fix” American education. Being the richest man in America, people hang on his every word.

Gates again knocks U.S. education. He said that technology should help, but it only benefits motivated students, and the U.S. has lots of unmotivated students. Usually, he blames teachers. Now he blames students.

My favorite line in the article: Gates could not land his private jet at the Los Alamos airport because his plane is too big for the runway.

What Gates needs to know:

1. The terrible effects of poverty on children’s ability to succeed in school. The fact that the U.S. has the highest child poverty rate of all advanced nations. He should read Richard Rothstein’s enlightening book, “Class and Schools,” which summarizes the social science on this issue. Or, if he doesn’t like reading books, he might read this article from the New York Times about counties in Texas where the economy is booming yet 39% of the children live in poverty. He should think about children who miss school because they are sick. Think about children who don’t get routine medical care. Think about children who are not sure there will be dinner on the table. They don’t need more tests. They don’t need schools where their teachers are evaluated by their test scores. They need economic security. If Bill thinks long enough about the lives of these children, maybe he will come up with some big ideas to do something about it.

2. His ideas about fixing education are wrong. He is surrounded by yes men and women who don’t want to break the bad news to him.

In response to a post by Peter Greene (“The Arne Duncan Drinking Game“), this reader describes the National PTA convention in Texas. The National PTA has received $2.5 million from the Gates Foundation, including $500,000 specifically for Common Core. Also, the National PTA provided a screening of the anti-public school “Waiting for Superman” at its annual convention in 2011. Odd.

She writes:

“I was at that PTA convention in Texas and I bit my tongue through his entire speech. I wanted to throw up. I have lost faith in the PTA. While I love what PTA does at a local level for our schools, I am sickened by what I see at the state and National PTA levels. Our voices as members have been sold out to corporate interests, and the top leadership is out of touch with parents today. Most of the top leaders dont even have children in public schools anymore so they think we are overreacting about the excessive testing and problems with common core. The leaders enjoy the power and prestige of their office and won’t listen to parents and teachers.

“Even more alarming, the general meetings at the national PTA convention were sponsored by Discover Card, Microsoft, and Pearson. During the general meetings, attendees were forced to sit through 15 minute commercials about their corporations and hear about their “partnerships” with PTA. The week before the convention, delegates received emails from PTA with advertisements for Pearson, telling us to be sure to stop by Pearson’s booth in the exhibit hall. How much did PTA get to spam our inboxes with marketing? We paid a lot of money to attend that convention, I don’t appreciate my email address being sold like that, especially to Pearson.”

Jesse Hagopian of Garfield High School in Seattle wrote this speech for the protest at the gates of the Gates Foundation a few days ago:

“Comments from Jesse Hagopian For the Gates Foundation Protest:”

Teaching in the shadow of the Gates Foundation is an ominous and treacherous endeavor. Everywhere you turn there is another so-called “expert”, funded by the Gates foundation–with very little, if any classroom experience—who believes that their dollars have given them sense.

Gates believes in the right of the rich to control the schools and even the very idea of what knowledge is. We believe that education and knowledge should be democratic pursuits and that only through collaboration—not market competition—can we fully become complete human beings.

Gates believes the intellectual and social-emotional processes can and should be reduced to a test score. We believe standardized testing can’t begin to quantify the things that matter most in education: imagination, collaboration, civic courage, empathy, and creativity.

The problem for us is that Gates has a few more dollars than we have.

The problem for Gates is that we have a few more friends, co-workers, and students than he has.

The power of solidarity to defeat the powerful was on full display when teachers at Garfield High School—and then teachers around Seattle—refused to administer the Measures of Academic Progress ( or MAP) test. That struggle defeated the MAP test for high schools in Seattle and helped to ignite a movement around the nation, not only against high-stakes testing, but also to redefine the purpose of education beyond the confines of “career and college ready” to talk about education in pursuit of social justice.

I am sorry I cannot be with you in person today as I am in Omaha sharing the lessons of this growing movement and meeting new people who want to join it. I am excited to say that we are currently in the midst of the biggest uprising against high-stakes testing in U.S. history.

And when the last bubble test is thrown into the dumpster; when our libraries and computer labs are liberated from Pearson tests and can again be used again for research, inquiry, and incubators of imagination; When our schools cease to rank and sort our children and instead become centers of empowerment; you all here today will be remembered as having stared down the self appointed Testocracy Tsar, Bill Gates, and having said to him loud and clear: “our schools are not for sale!”
Jesse co

On June 7, Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post wrote a blockbuster article about how Bill Gates pulled off the Common Core coup, which the headline calls “the swift Common Core revolution.” In a short period of time, less time than it takes a state to write standards in one subject, the U.S. suddenly had “national standards,” written and then adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia. The secret, revealed in Layton’s article: Gates paid for everything, and the U.S. Department of Education used Race to the Top funding as an incentive for states to adopt CCSS. Layton credits Gates with spending some $200 million for the writing, implementation, and advocacy of CCSS, but others believe that Gates’ investment was $2.3 billion. Whether $200 million or $2.3 billion, Gates bought control of standards, curriculum, and assessment in the vast majority of American public schools. Almost every major national organization and education policy group accepted Gates funding to promote CCSS. The Common Core standards were Gates-led, not state-led.

Layton interviewed many people for the article. Her interview with Gates was attached to the article as a video.

Mercedes Schneider transcribed the interview and posted it here. Schneider is writing a book about the origins of the Common Core.

When the Gates Foundation proclaimed the need for a two-year moratorium on the stakes associated with Common Core testing, it created a lot of buzz. Was it a retreat? Was it a trick? We’re they trying to lull critics with a two-year delay? We’re they bowing to the outrage of testing opponents? Of course, most curious of all is that everyone accepts that Bill Gates is in charge of American education, and he calls the shots.

John Thompson, historian and teacher, is willing to accept the Foundation’s olive branch, but he is clear that he will never accept test-based accountability.

He writes:

“Although I once supported Common Core, I don’t see how I could now support national standards in an age of accountability-driven reform. The fouled-up mandates of the last decade are a reminder of the benefits of local governance. So, while I would work with the Foundation to help rectify a huge mistake born of their overreach, I would not trust that the next era of top-down reform would be more balanced or wise.

“I believe that test-driven reformers have now put themselves in a trap of one step forward, two steps back. Next year, as the mutually incompatible policies of Common Core testing and value-added evaluations are implemented, the inevitable trainwreck will occur in many or most urban districts. The press will be full of heart-rending stories of tearful students and frazzled teachers. Some states, like those led by Chiefs for Change, will stay the course, as they accuse their more practical allies of “dithering.” Their priority will thus be even clearer. Nothing can slow their commitment to test and punish.

“A moratorium would be little more than a truce of sorts. We educators would continue to openly oppose high-stakes testing. And, we will continue to oppose the next generation of bubble-in accountability that captures the fancy of the Billionaires Boys Club. But, the Gates Foundation and the participating states would have their hands full patching up their systems of incentives and punishment.

“After all sides make their case for another two years, more voters will want to determine the future path for their children’s schools. If edu-philanthropists and the federal government continue to act as if school improvement is above the voters’ pay grade, that technocratic hubris will backfire.

“If we go two years without high-stakes testing and the Earth doesn’t spin off its axis, more voters will be open to school improvement policies that respect students and teachers.

“Reformers won’t give up either – unless their world spins off its axis.”

Peter Greene responded to John Thompson’s post, and Greene made clear that he doesn’t trust the “reformers” for a minute.

He writes:

“The moratorium smells like a practical decision, the latest version of the Bad Tests Are Ruining Public Support for Our Beautiful Beautiful Common Core Standards argument that we’ve been hearing for a while, and the tension around it underlines one of the fault lines that have been present among the reformsters since day one– there are reformsters who want to do national standards and testing “right,” but they have allied themselves with corporate powers who got into this to have a shot at that sweet sweet pile of education tax money, and they have more inclination to wait than my dog has to sit and stare longingly at his bowl of food….The reformsters have put down their club, but that’s probably because they’ve gone to pick up a gun.”

Then John Thompson wrote a reply to Peter Greene, which Greene posted on his blog:

Thompson linked to some other great posts about Common Core and the moratorium, and he said:

“I agree with this great post, Data is the Fools Gold of Common Core

“Paul Thomas didn’t mention me, but I often ask myself what his response will be to some of my posts. He responded to Gate’s call with a brilliant passage from Hemingway. Yes, the “Road to hell is paved with unbought stuffed dogs.”

“His post prompted an equally good metaphor by Anthony Cody. Common Core is like a road through the Amazon forest. Stop the road and you can save the forest. (That explains why I said that I can’t see myself supporting a new set of NATIONAL standards, after Common Core is defeated.)

“I’d say that that metaphor is supportive of both sides on the point that separates Curmudguation and me. In the overall fight against the road, don’t we accept as many temporary delays as we can get while trying to kill it? Students who would be damaged next year by Common Core testing are like a village that is first in the road’s path. Saving that village is a first step. Saving the village of teachers who would have been punished in the next two years is a second step.

“Whether we’re environmentalists fighting a road or educators fighting corporate reform, we must discuss and debate the best ways to win short term and long term political victories.”

In a note to me, John Thompson pointed out that our side, which doesn’t have a name, cherishes the clash of ideas. The “reformers” march in lockstep (my words, not Thompson’s) in support of test-based accountability for students and teachers, Common Core, and school choice. Our side, whatever it is called, is more interesting, more willing to disagree, readier to debate and to think out loud.

PROTEST

The Gates Foundation

When: June 26th 5PM

Where: Rally at Westlake Park (401 Pine St, Seattle)

March to Gates Foundation (440 5th Ave N, Seattle)

Our schools are under attack from the mega rich who seek to reduce education to standardized test scores while busting unions & denying at-risk youth a rich and holistic school experiences. To broaden and deepen public awareness about this, the BadAss Teachers (BATs) of Washington & allies are protesting The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday June 26th.

The Gates Foundation is a symbolic site because many of their experimental ‘reforms’ have done untold damage to our school system. Over-testing, charter schools, replacing teachers with computers, competitive grants, Teach for America, new standards profiting publishing companies instead of funding basic education; these will continue until we rise up & say NO. Educators should lead education, profit-driven entities & their foundations should not.

The monetary power of this one foundation has changed the face of our country’s school policy and agenda.

With this protest we galvanize a coalition of supporters to demand that teacher assessments are measuring student learning, that education policy is transparently & democratically created, & that every child’s needs are met in their public school.

Our Demands:

Redirect monies spent on experimental school reforms to empower citizens and promote whole child education. Further, we demand that philanthropists and the rest of the 1% pay their fair share for a socially just society.

Speakers: Anthony Cody (prolific education leader from CA) & Kshama Sawant (speaking as a teacher & city council member) will engage the crowd by connecting public education issues to larger issues of democracy vs. oligarchy. Morna McDermott & other education heroes will also make the case for school transformation, not corporate reformation.

From Westlake Park we will march to the corner of 5th AVE N and Mercer with chants and our chorus leading songs about positive education themes.

The RALLY to Save Education is an initial step in the movement to reclaim public schools from corporate interests. We are protesting The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Thursday June 26 but after that public demonstration, organizers are gathering to plan next steps. We are building a coalition, you are needed.

Anthony Cody will be speaking at 10:30 on Friday June 27th at the University of Washington HUB Room 332. His talk about the education ‘reform’ movement and how to reclaim our schools will be live streamed @ schoolhouselive.org

There will then be three breakout sessions for you to choose from (these are as valuable as YOU make them! We aren’t teaching you what to do, we are asking you to plan next steps for yourselves & to inspire others new to organizing):

Opt Out planning in your locale: Why & How?
Creating 21st Century Schools-what is our vision?
Coalition Building with other organizers who see Gates as a threat to social justice

Following those three work groups we will show the movie Standardized. A panel of speakers will do some Q & A following the movie.

Details here: https://m.facebook.com/events/742638552449687

Location here: http://depts.washington.edu/thehub/reserve-the-hub/hub-spaces/hub-332/

Rally has been formally endorsed by:

Network for Public Education

http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/about-npe/

United OptOut
Parents Across America
Seattle Education Association
Renton Education Association
Highline Education Association
Tacoma Education Association
Marysville Education Association
Reynolds Education Association
Social Equality Educators (SEE) of SEA
Chicago Teachers Union CORE Caucus
Save Our Schools national organizing committee,
Fairtest.org (event is publicized on their action network- http://www.fairtest.org/testing-resistance-reform-spring)
National BATS

Online Presence:

Facebook Group:

https://www.facebook.com/EducatingTheGatesFoundation?ref=hl

Facebook Event (RSVP here or on Weebly site below):

https://www.facebook.com/events/1414946478760549/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Flashmob Info (everyone is welcome! Practices are on Saturdays but dance can also be learned online!)

https://m.facebook.com/events/250271828430004

When the Gates Foundation issued a press release calling for a two-year moratorium on the use of test scores to evaluate teachers, its position met a mixed reception. Some saw it as a victory for the critics of high-stakes testing; others as an attempt to weaken the critics by deferring the high stakes.

Anthony Cody says, don’t be fooled. The Gates Foundation gives no indication that it understands that its path is wrong, it is simply buying time.

The question we should all be asking is how this one very rich foundation took charge of American education and is in a position to issue policy statements that should be the domain of state and local school boards. What we have lost is democratic control of public education; while no one was looking, it got outsourced to the Gates Foundation.

Cody writes:

“As a thought experiment, what would it look like if the Gates Foundation truly was attending to the research and evidence that is showing how damaging the new Common Core tests and high stakes accountability systems are? Would they simply be calling to defer the worst effects of this system for two years?

A real appraisal of the evidence would reveal:

“VAM systems are unreliable and destructive when used for teacher evaluations, even as one of several measurements.

“School closures based on test scores result in no real gains for the students, and tremendous community disruption.

“Charter schools are not providing systemic improvements, and are expanding inequity and segregation.

“Attacks on teacher seniority and due process are destabilizing a fragile profession, increasing turnover.

“Tech-based solutions are often wildly oversold, and deliver disappointing results. Witness K12 Inc’s rapidly expanded virtual charter school chain, described here earlier this year.

“Our public education system is not broken, but is burdened with growing levels of poverty, inequity and racial isolation. Genuine reform means supporting schools, not abandoning them.

“The fundamental problem with the Gates Foundation is that it is driving education down a path towards more and more reliance on tests as the feedback mechanism for a market-driven system. This is indeed a full-blown ideology, reinforced by Gates’ own experience as a successful technocrat. The most likely hypothesis regarding the recent suggestion that high stakes be delayed by two years is that this is a tactical maneuver intended to diffuse opposition and preserve the Common Core project – rather than a recognition that these consequences do more harm than good.”

Moratorium or no, he notes, we are locked into a failed paradigm of testing and accountability. Standards and tests are not vehicles to advance equity and civil rights. If anything, they have become a way to undermine democracy and standardize education.

Gary Rubinstein wondered how the “reform” sector reacted to the two big events of the past two weeks: the Vergara decision and the Gates Foundation’s advice to suspend test-based evaluations for teachers for two years. Reformers like Arne Duncan, StudentsFirst, and The New Teacher Project were delighted by the Vergara decision, which strikes at job protections for veteran teachers (more openings for newbies). Teach for America was unusually silent.

But what about the Gates moratorium? He found some confusion among the usual cheerleaders for high-stakes testing. Again, Teach for America stayed out of the fray. Reformers split into two camps.

Gary writes:

“You’ve got Bill Gates, who is essentially the Secretary of Education in this country, saying to slow down on this. And you have StudentsFirstNY, though not yet StudentsFirst, saying that slowing down is a mistake. And maybe this is all for show, some good cops and some bad cops — as long as things continue to move in the ‘reform’ direction.

“But I do think that the fact that any ‘reformers’ support a slow down is a big deal. You see, if I were a ‘reformer’ and I had confidence in the golden calf known as value-added, I would be against the slow down. Since the concept of value-added is that if it was already accurate enough to be 35% or 50% (in Denver) for teacher evaluations, then the harder (more ‘rigorous’) Common Core exams would not make it any less accurate. This is the whole point of value-added. It shouldn’t matter, to a value-added believer, if the new tests are more difficult. Everyone is working under the same handicap so the value-added formulas should, in theory, account for that.”

Two years is about all the time left to Duncan. What happens next? Maybe by then even the politicians will realize that VAM is a failed idea.

A year ago, Paul Horton wrote a letter to Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, asking him to conduct hearings on the Common Core and Race to the Top, and specifically to inquire about the role of the Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation in shaping federal education policy. Nothing happened. Now that the world knows that the Gates Foundation, working in alliance with the U.S. Department of Education, underwrote the creation and promotion of the Common Core standards; now that we know that Bill Gates bought and paid for “a swift revolution” that bypassed any democratic participation by the public; now that we know that this covert alliance created “national standards” that were never tried out anywhere; now that we know that the Gates Foundation’s willingness to invest $2 billion in Common Core enabled that foundation to assume control of the future of American education: it is time to reconsider Horton’s proposal. How could Congress sit by idly while Arne Duncan undermines state and local control to the chosen designees of the Gates Foundation? How could Congress avert its eyes as public education is redesigned to create a marketplace for vendors?

Paul Horton wrote:

CORPORATE INVOLVEMENT INTHE RTTT MANDATES AND CCS

Jun 4, 2013 by Contributor EducationViews.org
The Honorable Tom Harkin
Chairman, Subcommittee on Labor,
Health and Human Services, and Education
Senate Appropriations Committee
June 3, 2013

Dear Chairman Harkin,

I was very saddened to hear that you have decided not to run for reelection as a United States senator. You have always represented the most honest branch of the Democratic Party and the long proud legacy of Midwestern prairie populism extending from James B. Weaver, to Williams Jennings Bryan, to Bob LaFollette, the Farm-Labor party, Paul Simon, George McGovern, and Tom Daschle. We could also count the comedian turned senator from Minnesota in this, but he needs a few more years of “seasoning.” I am sure that you are mentoring him in the tradition. Your friend and my senator, Dick Durbin, shares this tradition, but I am worried that he has cozied up too closely with the Chicago plutocrats to be an effective spokesperson for “the small fry.”

I write because you hold a very important position in congress that has oversight over Education. I am a history teacher, a historian, a leader of history teachers, and a critic of the No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top Mandates. I have thirty years of teaching under my belt, including service to the people of the great state of Iowa at Malcolm Price Laboratory School in Cedar Falls where I taught high school students and trained pre service history teachers at the University of Northern Iowa.

Your friend and colleague, Senator Grassley, has sent you a letter expressing his concerns about the Race to the Top mandates and the Common Core Curriculum Standards, so I will not belabor the concerns that he has already expressed to you, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/19/common-core-standards-attacked-by-republicans/.

I would like to encourage you to call our Secretary of Education before your committee and ask him some hard questions about the way that the RTTT mandates were constructed. His responses to the concerns that many citizens have from all points on the political spectrum have been exceedingly evasive. He typically claims that those who are opposed to the RTTT mandates and the Common Core Standards are hysterical wing nuts who fully embrace Glenn Beck’s conspiracy theories about attempts to create a one world government: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/04/paul_horton_of_common_core_con.html
In fact, despite the claims of a recent Washington Post story (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tea-party-groups-rallying-against-common-core-education-overhaul/2013/05/30/64faab62-c917-11e2-9245-773c0123c027_story.html), critics of the RTTT mandates and the CCS come from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. In the national education debate, the status quo agenda that is being pushed comes from the corporate middle of both parties that is backed by many of those who have been the biggest beneficiaries of the current economic “recovery” in Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Manhattan (and Westchester County) and large foundations.

I humbly recommend that Mr. Duncan be called before your committee to answer some serious questions under oath about corporate and investor influence on Education policy. Mr. Duncan told a committee of congress that he did not want to “participate in the hysteria” surrounding the RTTT and the CCS. Because he is a public servant, it is his duty to serve the people of the United States. Part of his job is to be accountable to the public.

I recommend a few questions that any populist or progressive senator would have asked in the 1890s or early twentieth century:

How many of your staffers have worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation? Who are they, and why did you hire them?

What role did these staffers and Bill Gates have on the formulation of the RTTT mandates?

How much classroom teaching experience do the principal authors of the RTTT mandates have, individually, and as a group?

Why are these individuals qualified to make decisions about education policy?

Were you, or anyone who works within the Department of Education in contact with any representative or lobbyist representing Pearson Education, McGraw-Hill, or InBloom before or during the writing of the RTTT mandates?

What is the Broad Foundation? What is your connection to the Broad Foundation? What education policies does the Broad Foundation support? How do these policies support public education? How do these policies support private education? What was the role of the Broad Foundation in the creation of the RTTT mandates?

How many individuals associated with the Broad Foundation helped author the report, “Smart Options: Investing Recovery Funds for Student Success” that was published in April of 2009 and served as a blueprint for the RTTT mandates? How many representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation assisted in writing this report? What was their role in authoring this report? How many representatives of McKinsey Consulting participated in authoring this report? What was David Coleman’s role in authoring this report?

Do you know David Coleman? Have you ever had any conversations with David Coleman? Has anyone on your staff had any conversations with David Coleman? Did anyone within the Department of Education have any connection to any of the authors of the Common Core Standards? Did anyone in your Department have any conversations with any of the authors of the Common Core Standards as they were being written?

Have you ever had any conversations with representatives or lobbyists who represent the Walton Family Foundation? Has anyone on your staff had any conversations with the Walton Family Foundation or lobbyists representing the Walton Family Foundation? If so, what was the substance of those conversations?

Do you know Michelle Rhee? If so, could you describe your relationship with Michelle Rhee? Have you, or anyone working within the Department of Education, had any conversations with Students First, Rhee’s advocacy group, about the dispersal foundation funds for candidates in local and state school board elections?

This is just a start. Public concerns about possible collusion between the Department of Education and education corporations could be addressed with a few straightforward answers to these and other questions.

Every parent, student, and teacher in the country is concerned about the influence of corporate vendors on education policy. What is represented as an extreme movement by our Education Secretary can be more accurately described as a consumer revolt against shoddy products produced by an education vendor biopoly (Pearson and McGraw Hill). Because these two vendors have redefined the education marketplace to meet the requirements of RTTT, they both need to be required to write competitive impact statements for the Anti-Trust Division of the Department of Justice.

Senator Harkin, I have a simple solution to this education mess. You represent a state with a great education system. In Iowa, there are great teachers in Cumming, Hudson, and West Des Moines. Most teachers across the country are dedicated, talented, and creative. They, and not Pearson, McGraw Hill, or InBloom , have a better sense about what is good for kids. Allow teachers to create national rubrics to evaluate authentic assessments and allow teachers to do their jobs and grade these assessments. We can save billions of dollars in a time of austerity if we do this. You have control over the disbursement of RTTT funds. These funds should go to teacher assessments, not assessments designed by people with little or no classroom experience. Likewise, these assessments should be graded by teachers, not by temporary employees or computers under the control of for profit corporations.

Let’s invest in our teachers to insure that this investment stays in our communities and states. Education vendors are not loyal to kids, parents, or states. They seek profit, and they will invest their proceeds wherever they can make the most money. It is time for some common sense. We need education policy for the small fry, not education policy for plutocrats.

I would love to speak to you and to your committee on these issues.

The very best to you,

Paul Horton

History teacher, The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (former History Instructor, The University of Northern Iowa, Malcolm Price Laboratory School, Cedar Falls, Iowa)

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