Archives for category: Privatization

Peter Greene puts together all the recent policies enacted in North Carolina and predicts the future. The triumph of reform in North Carolina!

Greene writes:

“Political leaders gathered to celebrate today as Department of Education bulldozers upgraded the last NC public school, replacing it with a picturesque park.

“It has been a long road,” said State Education Biggifier Harlen McDimbulb, overseeing the work as the dozer knocked down the last chart-encrusted data wall. “But our big breakthrough came with the court ruling that certified our voucher system back there a few years. That finally allowed us to get money and support to outstanding schools like God Loves White Guys High and Aryan Academy. Great private schools were being denied public tax dollars just because they wouldn’t teach state-approved so-called ‘fact’ and ‘science.'”

“Vouchers opened the door,” said Assistant Secretary of Money Laundering Chauncey Gotbux. “But with the court’s blessing, we were finally able to use public education tax dollars as they were meant to be used– as a source of profit for people who deserve it.”

“Asked about the looseness of oversight and accountability for the tax dollars, Gotbux replied, “When you give the money to the right people, you can trust that they do the right thing with it.”

“There were some serious problems,” admitted Golly Mugbungle of the Greater North Carolina School Choice Initiative Authority. “We quickly streamlined the process so that non-public schools could get their money just by asking for it and completing a simple yet rigorous form. But since the form only asked ‘Are you a school’ and we had no follow-up investigation to look at those claims, we discovered that we were mistakenly sending tax dollars to public schools.” He chuckled nostalgically. “Yeah, we had to shut that down pretty quickly.”

This is the story of what is happening in Little Rock, Arkansas, told by a white parent with children in the public schools. Barclay Key is a professor of history at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.

Little Rock has a special place in our nation’s history. In 1957, three years after the Brown decision declaring “separate but equal” schools unconstitutional, nine black students attempted to enroll in Central High School. Governor Orval Faubus called out the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the students from entering. The NAACP won a federal district court injunction against Governor Faubus. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. urged President Dwight D. Eisenhower to intervene. President Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne Division to protect the students and uphold the law.

Fast forward to to 2015. The schools of Little Rock are again under siege, different cast of characters. This it is about both race and power.

Parents have been trying to protect their public schools against a Walton takeover. What is the metaphor? Not David and Goliath. More like the lone young Chinese man who stood up against a long line of tanks during the suppression of the rebellion in Tienanmen Square.

Barclay Key writes::

“From the chaos of initial desegregation efforts to the white flight of the past few decades, Little Rock’s hopes for strong public schools have consistently been sacrificed on the altar of white supremacy. As a historian, I knew the general contours of this story before my family and I moved here in 2012. The story differs only in its details as one travels the country….

“One cannot possibly overlook the state’s role in suppressing black political power and local white elites supporting that suppression. Even though students in the LRSD have been majority black for forty years, a white majority controlled the school board until 2006. We had a democratically elected board with three new black members and a strong white ally. The state board of education replaced our democratically elected board with Tony Wood, the white state education commissioner. He literally had no specific plans for the LRSD or the “academically distressed” schools, outside of what was already occurring. There was no magic wand, no special scenario that he or the Arkansas Department of Education was prepared to implement.

“It’s worth noting, however, that the state immediately took one action. It appointed Baker Kurrus to chair a “budget efficiency advisory committee” for the LRSD. The district was not in financial distress. Cuts were looming because of the loss of those desegregation funds, but plans were already being developed by the elected board to minimize the effects of that loss. The state’s sudden concern over LRSD finances suggested fears over a progressive-minded school board with a facilities plan and firm commitment to equality that would almost certainly give a fair share of business to minority-owned companies for construction and renovation projects. Kurrus, a white businessman and attorney, previously served on the LRSD board for twelve years. The state, which had just complained of long-term dysfunction on the LRSD board, chose to appoint as superintendent a former white board member who served during some of the board’s most tumultuous—some might say dysfunctional—years….

“This point deserves emphasis: a majority black school board in a majority black school district was displaced by whites who accept the status quo about the education of many of our children. Democrats were responsible for the initial damage, but now Republicans have taken firm control of state government to continue the barrage. Mr. Wood resigned his position as state education commissioner and our new governor, Asa Hutchinson, appointed a white political crony named Johnny Key to take his place. His only qualification appears to be service on the state senate’s education committee and operation of a private Christian daycare. Indeed the governor announced his appointment before the law could be changed to make Key eligible to serve in this capacity. And by serve I mean make $130,000 per year….

“Now on the eve of another school year, the state just announced that it will renege on its contract with our teachers, citing financial worries. The negotiated agreement has been in place for fifty years, and these financial worries didn’t prevent Mr. Kurrus from giving teachers a one-time bonus of $350 in the spring. Most of our teachers deserved that and more, I’m sure, but it was irresponsible to give those bonuses and clearly intended to placate union leadership before this contract controversy. I’ve been around public education for all of my life, but I’m having a difficult time understanding how undermining our teachers’ financial stability, cutting their benefits, and targeting their union for destruction will help our “academically distressed” schools. We will neither attract nor retain the best teachers for our students. Even a casual observer must admit that the state of Arkansas seems hell-bent on destroying our school system, maintaining white supremacy, and keeping our most vulnerable children in a cycle of poverty. The vultures of privatization are circling.”

And so the story goes. The billionaires are buying the schools, the children, our democracy.

Where is the national media? 60 Minutes? Rachel Maddow? Anderson Cooper? The New York Times? The Washington Post?

Karen Wolfe is an activist for public education in Los Angeles. Here she responds to the news that Eli Broad and the Walton family plan to pour millions into increasing charter school enrollments in Los Angeles; their hope is to capture 50% of the children for the privately managed schools. Despite the fact that studies show that charters on average do not outperform as compared to public schools, despite the fact that twenty-five years of charters have produced no innovations (other than to go back to the 19th century way of doing things in the strictest manner possible), despite the numerous frauds and financial scandals associated with charters, Broad, Walton, and a few more billionaires want to destroy the public school system of Los Angeles to have their way. Public education belongs to the entire community; it is undemocratic to allow a handful of billionaires to take possession of half the children enrolled in the public schools and turn them over to franchise operators.

Karen Wolfe writes that the outcome depends on Steve Zimmer, the recently elected school board president, who has walked a fine line between supporting public schools and placating the privatizers (who spent $4 million trying to defeat him when he last ran for re-election):

The timing of this plan is no surprise at all. The powerful California charter lobby seems to be at their wits end after recent losses. Let’s assess.

The first big loss was Steve Zimmer’s election two years ago, despite their spending more than any previous school board race in US history, according to published reports at the time. Subsequently, the corporate privatizers have lost almost every time a vote has been put to the people.

Last year’s election of Tom Torlakson for California’s State Superintendent was seen as a referendum on corporate privatization–and we public school advocates won. California is one of the few states that resisted Race to the Top reforms.

The LA teacher’s union election also brought in leaders with a broader understanding of the fight for public schools. They still need to prove their mettle at building support among parents and student groups who seek an ally in improving our schools without selling them off. But the potential looks better than before. CTA, the state teachers union, remains a strong force in the state capitol, despite the charter lobby’s increasing presence.

The L.A. Mayor’s office is no longer carrying the water of the corporate privatizers either. New Mayor Eric Garcetti has resisted the repeated taunts of Broad and the other plutocrats to push their agenda. Garcetti is a distinct departure to his predecessor, the self-proclaimed “Education Mayor” Villaraigosa, who was trying to share the national charter stage with Bloomberg and Emanuel.

A notable exception is the election of disgraced PUC charter founder Ref Rodriguez to the school board, joining his charter cheerleader Monica Garcia. But now Steve Zimmer is board president and, if that position carries any weight, it might be making the charter lobby nervous. Often the swing vote in a split-down-the-middle board, Zimmer is now presiding over a new board that should give him more courage than he has previously displayed. His unwavering support of John Deasy and his support of almost every single charter school petition that came before the board have alienated many of Zimmer’s backers. We are anxious to see him prove himself to be the champion of our neighborhood schools that he recently proclaimed he was (in an AFT video posted on this blog).

This revelation that the charter groups have lost their patience and are announcing a public attack should be met with redoubled resistance. We have done the work to elect officials who will champion our public schools, even against wealthy special interests like the groups in this article. But the board needs to listen to community members and truly consider the supports that are necessary to enable our neighborhood schools to stand up to the threat of charters. We advocates need to know our school board is behind us as we fight for the very survival of our schools. I wrote this article for our local newspaper about what we need in Zimmer’s district, where I live, and have never heard from the school board about it.
http://argonautnews.com/power-to-speak-school-choice-whose-choice/.

There are advocates in other neighborhoods that have come up with similar plans and the board should solicit them. The point is that the board needs its public constituency or eventually no one will care who wins this policy debate.

Howard Blume reports that the Broad Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and other foundations plan a major expansion of privately managed charter schools in Los Angeles.

Broad and Walton are leaders in the movement to privatize public schools, eliminate unions, and break the teaching profession. Their goals align with the extremist agenda of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The Waltons and Eli Broad have long funded privatization and Teach for America.

They are undeterred by the numerous studies showing that charters on average get no better results than public schools and that many have participated in swindles.

“One person who attended a meeting said the goal was to enroll in charter schools half of all Los Angeles students over the next eight years. Another said there was discussion of an option that involved enrolling 50% of students currently at schools with low test scores. A source said the cost was estimated to be $450 million; another said hundreds of millions of dollars are needed…

“Currently, more than 100,000 L.A. students attend charters, about 16% of district enrollment, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District. L.A. Unified has more charters, 207, and more charter students than any other school district in the country….

“School board President Steve Zimmer said that while some charters serve students well, a rapid expansion could undermine the district’s own school improvement efforts. L.A. Unified enrolls students who are more difficult and expensive to educate than those at charters, he said. Those students would be left with fewer resources if there were an exodus to charters, Zimmer said.

“The most critical concern would be the collateral damage to the children left behind,” he said…..

“Charter proponents considered it a setback when former Supt. John Deasy resigned under pressure in October. Deasy now works for the Broad Foundation as “superintendent in residence” to help train and coach current or aspiring senior school district administrators.

“Broad had said Deasy was the best L.A. superintendent in memory. Deasy’s departure may have been a catalyst for Broad to pursue an aggressive strategy outside the school system, some observers said.”

Great news from NPE!

When award winning principal Carol Burris announced that she was retiring early to dedicate all of her energies to “fighting the assault on our public schools and our teachers,” many wondered how and where she would continue that fight.

There is no need to wonder any longer.

Today NPE President Diane Ravitch announced that Carol Burris will become the new Executive Director of the NPE Fund, NPE’s non-political 501C3.

“The Board of the Network for Public Education is thrilled that Carol Burris has agreed to serve as Executive Director of the NPE Fund. NPE Fund will conduct research, issue policy papers, and communicate to the public about the crucial issues facing public education today. With Carol’s extensive and exemplary experience as a principal, a teacher, and a writer, she is exactly the right person to lead the NPE Fund at this time.”

Burris had this to say about her new role with NPE:

“We are living in a time of unrelenting attacks on the women and men who have dedicated their life’s work to educating and caring for children. Our youngest students are buckling under the pressure of excessive testing, and our most vulnerable children are unfairly classified as failures. Parents are skeptical of and confused by the Common Core. Profiteers are seeking to capitalize on dissatisfaction and confusion.

“We must now stand together to stop the privatization of our democratically controlled local schools and protect all children’s rightful heritage to a free and equitably funded public education. I am proud to join Ravitch and the members of the NPE in leading that fight.”

And NPE Board Member Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig added:

“Carol Burris brings the perspective of a life long educator and an important national voice to the position of ED for the NPE C3. I am thrilled to be working with her to connect communities and allies across the nation in the important work for our nation’s children.”

You can read more about this exciting development on our website.

Robin Hiller, who has been NPE’s Executive Director since the organization’s inception in 2012, will stay on as the ED of NPE’s 501C4, which will continue to make political endorsements and “engage in the war of ideas over the future of public education.”

Ravitch lauded Hiller, saying that she has “led the way in building a solid foundation for the growth of NPE as a voice for parents and teachers.”

Please join us in welcoming Carol!

Save the date for #NPE16NC!

Click here to read more about our 3rd Annual Conference, which will feature a keynote address from North Carolina’s own Rev. Barber, the founder of the Moral Mondays movement.

We hope to see you there!

Support The Network for Public Education

The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society.

Over the past two years, donations to The Network for Public Education helped us put on two National Conferences, and the first PUBLIC Education Nation. In the coming year, we will hold more events, and work on the issues that our members and donors care about the most!

To make a donation, go to the NPE website and click the donate button. We accept donations using PayPal, the most trusted site used to make on-line payments.

James D. Hogan, a former high school AP English teacher who now works for a liberal arts college in North Carolina, spells out the dramatic changes in his state over the past few years. He reaches a considered and dire conclusion: “North Carolina is waging war against public education.”

He describes in horrifying detail how the state legislature and Governor has systematically attacked the teaching profession, literally driving experienced teachers out of the state, and opened every possible avenue for privatization and profiteering.

At a time when public education is under attack in many states (often with the silent assent or the active approval of the Obama administration), North Carolina may well be the worst and meanest state in the nation.

In this brilliant article, Hogan writes:


Let me begin by saying that I am often no fan of hyperbole. We live in an era in which blog titles like this one are used as click bait, lures to entice–and, really, to enrage–readers and provide as little meat on the figurative bone as possible.

But I really mean it when I say this: North Carolina is waging war against public education.

From the rise of mega-testing companies and the policies that mandate them, to the widespread adoption of common curriculum, to the years of economic struggle following the Great Recession, public schools have endured substantial stress, and they may very well look substantially altered by the end of this decade. The biggest change? Public education is wholly political, evenly divided and polarized by factions on the left and right. What I call war, others may call a revolution.

Make no mistake, however. Our state is dismantling its public education system. And it didn’t have to be this way–the pathway that brought us here was paved with underfunded budgets, tactical strikes against public school teachers, fundamental changes in how charter schools operate and how tax dollars can go to private or religious schools, and the erosion of our hallowed University of North Carolina. In other words, not the failure of public education.

Why? That’s the question I most often found myself asking. Why would our state government work so hard to threaten public education? Who could have the audacity, or the political capital, to take on such an assault?….

When North Carolina Republicans took control of the state government in 2012, they quickly set into motion a sweeping agenda to enact conservative social reforms and, more importantly, vastly change how the state spends its money. It was the first time in more than a century that Republicans enjoyed such political dominance in our state.

What brought them all to town? A good reason: in the 2011-12 budget year, North Carolina projected a multi-billion dollar deficit, enough to rank the state among the worst budget offenders in the country and bring a new slate of elected legislators to Raleigh. So Republicans, with a clear mandate to clean up the fiscal mess in November 2012, set to work righting the ship.

What does a state like ours spend money on? Public education, including higher education, consumes about a third of North Carolina’s budget. Health and Human Services, including the state’s Medicaid and unemployment programs, composes an even larger slice, about 37.5 percent.

Other state programs make up little bits and pieces: nearly 8 percent on transportation and highways, 5.5 percent on public safety, 9 percent on natural and economic resources.

In other words, if you want to make big cuts, public education is one of two really big targets.

After that landslide election in 2012, legislators began sharpening their knives.

A Fury of Budget Cuts

Among their first targets: reductions in unemployment benefits, cuts to public schools, including laying off thousands of teachers, and a massive, nearly half-billion dollar slash from the University of North Carolina.

Two years later, in the last budget cycle, 2014-15, the legislature provided roughly $500 million less for education than schools needed.

Later in the 2013 session, though, the most radical changes in state financing fell into place. Republicans reconstructed the state’s tax code, relieving the burden on corporations and wealthy residents. They continued to take aim at other parts of the education budget, cutting More at Four program dollars and decreasing accessibility for poor families. The state lost thousands more teacher and teacher assistant positions. The bloodletting was fierce. More on that in a minute.

Across the state, local education districts were faced with budget deficits of considerable proportion after legislators hacked away their funding. School systems raided fund balances, rainy day funds set aside for things like natural disasters, not political ones. Elsewhere, employees were furloughed, teachers were laid off, teacher assistants were forced to take other jobs or lose their classroom positions, and so forth. Non-personnel funding disappeared. Textbooks stayed in circulation another year. Buildings were patched together instead of replaced. Education Week called ours “The Most Backward Legislature in America.”

Republicans defended these austerity measures by saying that lower taxes would eventually yield fiscal growth. And they were right. This year, the government is enjoying a $445 million surplus–a clear victory in light of those multi-billion dollar deficits of yore–but still a statistically small number in light of the state’s $21 billion budget (about two percent), especially after considering that our state budget is still smaller than it was in 2011.

In fact, by 2014-15, North Carolina was still spending $100 million less on public education than it had before the economic recession. And over the past ten years, public schools added more than 150,000 additional students. No Republican legislator can honestly say that per pupil expenditures across the state have increased in the last six years.

Taking Aim at Teachers

Curiously, the Republican-held capital didn’t stop at defunding education. They also took aim at teachers.

NC teachers are prohibited by law from unionizing, but they did have a common advocacy group in the North Carolina Association of Educators. In 2011, the legislature passed a law targeting how the group collects dues from member teachers. Then-Governor Bev Purdue vetoed it. In 2012, the law made its way back to Purdue, who vetoed again–but the House overrode it during a sneaky, late-night vote. (The law was later found to be discriminatory, retaliatory, and a violation of free speech and thrown out by state courts.)

But with teacher’s main advocacy group effectively muzzled, the legislature was free to run rampant, and teachers quickly came under fire.

Teacher salaries fell to 46th in the nation and worst in the south after five years with zero pay increases. And when Republicans finally acted to increase teacher pay, they claimed to make the biggest pay hike in state history–but in reality only bumped up paychecks by an average of $270 per year. When you factored inflation into the mix, teachers were losing money.

Meanwhile, Texas and Virginia started actively recruiting North Carolina teachers to go work in their states. It didn’t take much to convince Tarheel teachers to flee–especially after some teachers discovered they earned substantially less money than when they started thanks to inflation.

In case pitiful paychecks weren’t enough to deter teachers from returning to work, the legislature next took aim at teacher tenure. The Republican-led proposal initially was to eliminate tenure altogether, but eventually they came up with a plan that would grant teachers pay raises for giving up their career status. It was, as I wrote then, a clever way of getting rid of veteran teachers.

Eventually, that compromise became law, and teachers state-wide began the effort of figuring out if their career status or their retirement pension was more important–and once again, the court stepped in and overturned the law. Another legislative overreach corrected by the courts.

(This year, just for kicks, the NC Senate is proposing an end to teacher healthcare coverage in retirement. “That’s something that should have been done a long time ago,” state Rep. Gary Pendleton said.)

The assault didn’t stop with the assaults on new and tenured teachers. It continued on teacher preparation programs, including the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program.

The Teaching Fellows program was arguably one of the best teacher prep scholarships in the nation; it celebrated a better retention rate than its federal cousin, Teach For America, and it produced droves of quality teachers who filled hard-up school classrooms. Its budget was a modest one, and yet Republicans uprooted it from the state budget and killed the entire program.

This year, with its final class of scholars graduating college, the program officially flat-lined. State Teacher of the Year Keana Triplett called the legislature’s shuttering of the Teaching Fellows “the single biggest mistake in public education.”

The result? Enrollment in teacher prep programs in the UNC system has dropped 27 percent in the last five years. A teacher shortage is just around the corner.

First, weaken schools. Then print parents a ticket out–and into for-profit schools….

Let’s review. With an unassailable, veto-proof majority, North Carolina Republicans seized control of this state and unleashed a devastating blow to public schools.

They have systematically pared budgets to the bone. They have insulted, antagonized, and demoralized teachers through stingy salary offerings–and they’ve muted the organization that had for many years protected them.

Make no mistake: this is a war against public education. Teachers are losing. I have been reading and writing about education in North Carolina for several years now, and while it might not always appear obvious, our state has formed a cohesive and coordinated attack against public schools.

Public education is at risk. And with every measure–every budget cut, every insult, every weakening–our school house slides toward complete devastation.

– See more at: http://www.forum.jamesdhogan.com/2015/08/the-war-on-north-carolinas-public.html#sthash.hU8suCTK.dpuf

GSV Advisors is leading the movement to bring investors into public education and to create new companies to profit from public education funding. GSV stands for Global Silicon Valley.

Who are they, you might wonder? Here are their leaders. Note how much they know about investing and building equity. Note how little experience they have as education professionals (none).

 

Here is what I previously described as a “field guide to the education industry,” produced by GSV.

 

Here are some of the partnerships they have underwritten.

 

The founder of GSV is Deborah Quazzo. She is also on the boards of KIPP, Teach for America, and other “reform” (privatization) groups. Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her to the Chicago Board of Education in 2013 to replace billionaire Penny Pritzker. However, in early 2015, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the public schools had tripled their spending on companies where Quazzo had a financial interest (she said she recused herself from votes on those contracts). Demands for her resignation forced her to resign in June 2015.

 

In the movement to privatize public education, GSV is a national leader.

 

Jennifer Berkshire recently spend ten days in New Orleans, where she attended a research conference about the changes in the schools since Hurricane Katrina, and met with a number of local African-American activists who are disenchanted with the reforms.

These are her reflections, on the gains and losses.

She doesn’t get into the convoluted debate about whether test scores went up. She thinks the data wars are hard to decipher because people are using different standards and benchmarks. In any event, if the scores did go up, there are other issues that may be even more important than test scores.

The parents and advocates she interviewed were all former enthusiasts for the charter revolution.

Part of the “reform” was the wholesale firing of some 7,000 teachers, most of whom were black, who formed the backbone of the city’s middle class. That hurt.

One parent complained that the all-choice system actually disempowered parents. If she complained, she risked being asked to leave the charter school. The schools have more autonomy, but parents have less power.

Berkshire says the charter sector is now consolidating, with chains taking over most of the stand-alone charters, and with the successful charters defined as those that produce the highest scores. Innovation is hard to find. What is common practice is long days, tough discipline, testing, and “no excuses.” One parent lamented that the charter sector thinks that parents and children are problems, not patrons of the schools.

Ignored in the celebratory accounts, she says, is the large number of young people who are not in school and the persistence of poverty and youth violence:

The challenge for architects and advocates of the reform effort here is that, expanded even slightly beyond these narrow metrics, the case that life is improving for the children of New Orleans gets much harder to make. Child poverty stands at 39%, a figure that’s unchanged since Katrina, even though the city is now home to tens of thousands fewer children. Inequality is the second highest in the country, on par with Zambia. And violent crime remains a persistent plague here.

“The measure of the work has to be about how it changes the life outcomes of our children,” says OPEN’s Deirdre Johnson Burel. “If my baby isn’t alive, it doesn’t matter what he got on his ACT. If he’s been divorced from his reality and has no idea who he is, what does it mean that he’s on a college campus, lost and confused?”

Then there are the huge number of young people in New Orleans between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither in school or working. The recent Measure of America study, conducted by the Social Science Research Council, found that the greater New Orleans/Metarie region is home to more than 26,000 so-called “opportunity youth. The youngest would have been just six when the overhaul of the school system began.

But even this number fails to convey the sheer number of young people here who have left the city’s schools, and are in one of the fast-expanding alternative programs, or are in work-training programs to prepare them for jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry. Added together, the number of students who’ve dropped out of the New Orleans’ schools begins to creep up uncomfortably close to the 43,000 students who are still in them.

Berkshire’s account should be read alongside the inevitable stories about the “New Orleans’ Miracle.” The question is: a “miracle” for whom?

Mercedes Schneider did some digging into Teach for America’s budget and promotional activities on Capitol Hill and discovered some fascinating facts.

She writes:

“According to its 2013 990, TFA’s end-of-year total assets were $494 million, with $73.5 million of its 2013 revenue designated as “government grants” and $31.6 million of its 2013 revenue earmarked as “service fees revenue….

“For eight hours of work per week, TFA chair Wendy Kopp drew a 2013 salary of $176,657. Co-CEOs Matt Kramer and Elisa Villanueva Beard drew salaries of $381,946 for 42 hrs/wk (Kramer) and $342,134 for 40 hrs/wk (Beard).

“TFA began as a Peace Corps-like temp agency that sends college graduates outside of the field of teaching into classrooms for usually two years. However, by 2001, TFA had established a second goal: To move former TFA corps members into positions of influence in education, business, and politics in order to solidify and expand TFA’s influence over public education.”

Schneider says that TFA charges districts up to $9,000 to place one of their inexperienced temps. “TFA really needs those temp fees. After all, it takes almost a million dollars a year to just pay Kopp, Kramer and Beard for their combined 90 hrs/wk ($900,737), and they are not the only TFA board members pulling a salary. Eight others work 40 or 41 hrs/wk and have salaries ranging from $190,638 to $282,759….

“But TFA has other needs, as well. Consider, for instance, the need for TFA to establish its presence on Capitol Hill. Now, according to its 2013 tax form, TFA only spent $595,870 on lobbying that year. However, if TFA pays interns to gain experience on Capitol Hill, it isn’t really lobbying– it’s just putting talented TFA alumni to work:

One of Schneider’s most fascinating discoveries is that TFA is seeking a new Government Affairs director, I.e., lobbyist.

And here is the kicker: a requirement for the job of lobbyist is SEVEN YEARS EXPERIENCE.

Isn’t that interesting?

TFA tells the world that a “great” teacher doesn’t need experience. It tells college seniors that they can change the “trajectory” of children’s lives if they commit to teach in the neediest schools, starting the September after graduating college.

Just five weeks of “institute,” no real teaching experience necessary.

Yet when TFA hires lobbyists, it requires seven years experience!

Is the job of lobbyist so much harder and so much more valuable than that of teacher?

Mitchell Robinson read Schneider’s post and raised some interesting questions:

*What does it say about your organization’s values when you require 7 years of experience for a lobbying position and require zero years of experience for teachers in charge of classrooms full of young children?

*What does it mean when your organization charges resource-strapped school districts up to $9000 per year in “service fees” for each recruit placed, while private and public universities charge nothing when their graduates get hired for the same positions?

*What does it say about your “non-profit” organization’s values when your top 3 executives are paid $381,946 (Co-CEO Matt Kramer) $342,134 (Elisa Villanueva Beard), and $176,657 (Wendy Kopp), while you attack public schools, teachers and unions for their “greed”?

Yes, curious contradictions.

Angelo Gavrielatos is the executive director of Education International, an association of teachers’ unions from around the world. Previously he led the Australian Teachers Federation.

Gavrielatos writes: The case for a Global Response to the Commercialisation and Privatisation of Education is not only clear, it is urgent. In the context of the many challenges that confront public education systems globally, the increasing commercialisation and privatisation in and of education represent the greatest threat to education as a public good and to equality in education access and outcomes.

It should therefore not be of any surprise to anyone that this issue dominated the proceedings of the 7th World Congress of Education International (EI)[i], which took place between 22-26 July in Ottawa, Canada, Noting the dimension and the threat to students, teachers, education support personnel and quality public education for all posed by the ongoing commercialisation and privatisation of education, the World Congress , consisting of nearly 2,000 delegates, resolved that we need a global response to the rapidly expanding for-profit corporate sector involvement in education. Whilst this carries on from EI’s existing work on privatisation and member organisation national campaigns focused on privatisation, the Global Response to the Commercialisation and Privatisation in and of Education aims to draw these efforts together with a view to delivering a stronger more focused response by harnessing collective energy and influence.

This Global Response aims to focus on the engagement of education corporations[ii] in various aspects of education governance, in particular the sale and provision of for-profit education and education services, such as standardised testing and evaluation tools, and policy formation and implementation. It seeks specifically to advocate against the expansion of profit-making in public education where it undermines the right of all students to free quality education, creates and entrenches inequalities in education, undermines the working conditions and rights of teachers and other education workers, and erodes democratic decision-making and public accountability in relation to education governance. This is informed by an analysis highlighting the rapid growth of education corporations/edu-businesses, the size, reach and influence of which had not been foreseen.

With little, if any regard for national borders, the nation state of national sovereignty, the rapid growth of education corporations/edu-businesses is driven by the desire on the part of global capital to access the relatively untapped education market valued at approximately $4.5 to $5 trillion USD per annum. A figure predicted to grow to $6 to S7 trillion USD per annum in a couple of years. Having identified the lucrative nature of the education market, and in particular how much the limitless, sustainable resource of children, our students, and their education represents, global education corporations/edu-businesses have set about trying to influence and control education in order to satisfy their profit motives. This Global Response will also focus on governments which in too many cases are abrogating their obligations to ensuring that every child, every student has access to a high quality free public education by either allowing or indeed facilitating and encouraging the growth in the commercialisation and privatisation of education.

The danger of governments outsourcing education activities to profit-making corporations is that it makes it possible for these actors to not only ‘reap uncontrolled profit’, but also to assert their influence in policy processes and to steer education agendas in ways that may not align with international agreements and national priorities. This poses a risk not only for public education systems themselves, but also their ability to promote democracy, social cohesion and equity.

Moreover, it raises fundamental questions about whose interests are being served by these developments in education, and with what outcomes. Now more than ever, the global political landscape and the growing influence and dominance of global corporate actors require us all to reach out and build community alliances in a way we have never done so before if we are to resist and, more importantly, reverse current trends. Failure to do so will put at risk that great social enterprise of public education. [i] Education International (EI) is the Global Union Federation which represents more than 32 million teachers and other education workers form more than 170 countries. [ii]

Among the most influential corporations operating in the global education market is the education conglomerate Pearson. Through aggressive lobbying, campaign contributions and PR efforts, Pearson exerts great influence over policymaking and policymakers in many countries. Describing what could be interpreted as giving rise to a potential conflict of interest, new research by Jünemann and Ball, Pearson and PALF: The Mutating Giant http://www.educationincrisis.net/resources/ei-publications highlights why the profit motive has no place in dictating what is taught, how it is taught, how it is assessed nor how schools, colleges and universities are organised. Of Pearson’s modus operandi, Jünemann and Ball note: “as Pearson is contributing to the global education policy debate, it is constructing the education policy problems that will then generate a market for its products and services in the form of the solutions. In effect, part of the more general aim of activities like the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF)…is the creation of more market opportunities for Pearson’s products. More generally, global education reform packages which include the use of information technology and shifts from input-based to output-led policy-making, offer a whole new set of market opportunities to Pearson.

Pearson is involved both in seeking to influence the education policy environment, the way that policy ‘solutions’ are conceived, and, at the same time, creating new market niches that its constantly adapting and transforming business can then address and respond to with new ‘products’. In this sense, the fulfilment of social purpose is directly and indirectly related to the search for and creation of new opportunities for profit…”(p3) Education International Internationale de l’Éducation Internacional de la Educación Angelo Gavrielatos, Project Director | Brussels |Belgium Tel.:+32 2 224 06 11 | Fax: +32 2 224 06 06| http://www.ei-ie.org

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