Reader Laura Chapman has done some research on the education entrepreneurs  now meeting in Scottsdale to learn more about how to profit from the public education industry. Note that tickets for the event ranged from $1,000-2,000. In addition, there were many sponsors. Whatever comes from this conference, it is a gold mine for its organizers:

 

I was also doing research on this. My direct quotes come from press releases and one extended interview with Michael Moe.

 

The sell-out crowd of about 2000 ed tech promoters meeting in Scottsdale, AZ have been promised this event is their “Davos” for understanding how big profits be made in the education business— K-12 and higher education—where investors put $650 million last year. This market is expected to grow rapidly around the CCSS, and with spillover effects from the federal “college and career” mantra. The pace of innovation in tech tools for some profitable “educational use” is said to be breathtaking.

 

Over 230 “disruptive education companies” will present their wares to “industry leaders and visionaries – educators, investors, philanthropists… with “some of the world’s most passionate and energetic players in the education innovation space…” The purpose is “to stimulate opinions, debate, fundraising, strategic alliances and overall community activism toward global enrichment.” (We know what counts as “enrichment” and who wants to gets rich).

 

The summit theme is the “American Dream” — “a global aspiration rooted in the conviction that opportunity is limitless and that education makes possible social mobility and prosperity.” For the participants, limitless prosperity means scaling ”education innovation globally” thereby driving “a higher return on education.”

 

The annual Summit is the brainchild of two people: Michael Moe, serial investor in ed-tech startups and Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University since 2002. Moe is a champion of charter and for-profit schools and CEO of a big pot of money for tech industry projects. Michael M. Crow is known as a ”transformational” leader in higher education eager to have the university be a model of savvy (and cash-producing) liaisons with business.

 

President Crow’s view of the Summit is clear: “Universities must become effective partners for global development. Only through the proliferation of networks —such as those the Summit helps to build—can transformation occur at the scale that is immediately needed in order to advance our global knowledge economy.”

 

Both Michaels, Moe and Crow, think that “immediate scaling up” means disrupting public education. According to one press release, the most “disruptive organizations” in education will be presenting at the Summit, including DonorsChoose, edX, Code.org, Minerva, Inkling along with five of Moe’s investments: Coursera, Curious.com, DreamBox Learning, General Assembly, and Knewton
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/2014-asugsv-summit-to-feature-gov-jeb-bush-earvin-magic-johnson-netflix-ceo-reed-hastings-and-more-than-225-game-changing-education-companies-250681841.html

 

The event is part of Arizona State University’s Education Innovation Network described as an “open innovation platform where entrepreneurs can find the resources to validate concepts, accelerate growth, and reach transformative scale” working with “the intellectual assets of ASU, the greater Phoenix public and private educational K-20 systems and investors of all types….”

 

In a 2011 interview, Moe (who seems to be connected at the hip to ASU’s president Crow) said that he hopes ASU will serve as a model for other universities, and as a hub of innovative activity. Moe heaps praise on Crow’s “bold leadership” of ASU and its “unique initiatives such as its partnership with Teach For America, which aspires to have a scale impact.” Not mentioned by Moe, and apparently ignored by ASU’s president, are the frauds perpetuated by Teach for America. See http://www.google.com/#q=teach+for+america+%2B+Fraud

 

Moe praises ASU’s president as a skilled and visionary manager of intellectual talent working in and on behalf of education. Crow’s bio shows that he lauded by free-marketers who want to see many more public universities function as service-providers for full-spectrum entrepreneurial activity and economic development. This agenda is not entirely new, but the trend is clearly against a tradition of academic freedom in scholarship, with the university nurturing a mental environment for basic research and many studies not tied to economic values.

 

Moe was also impressed with Crow’s recent success in recruiting faculty in education, specifically “a highly regarded head of research from Vanderbilt.” I have not been able to determine who that person is, but since 2006 Vanderbilt’s research in education has been devoted to teacher pay-for-performance, aided by a $10 million USDE grant in addition to a relationship with Mathematica on a five-year, $7.9 million study on the same topic. Well-designed experimental studies, including some by Vanderbilt researchers, have shown that such schemes have no significant and uniform influence on student test scores, even if the bonus is up to $15,000 !! USDE poured $600 million into similar grants to market this idea through “research.”
see https://my.vanderbilt.edu/performanceincentives/about-us/ also http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/education/tif.asp
The study with the $15,000 bonus is at http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED518378.pdf

 

In addition, Moe sees the state of Arizona leading the way, not only as an early adopter of charter schools but as home state of the University of Phoenix, the world’s largest for-profit, along with Grand Canyon University, and Universal Technical Institute. All three are widely known centers of fraud in recruiting and “educating” students. Moe ignores that inconvenient truth. See:
http://www.google.com/#q=fraud+university+of+phoenix http://www.google.com/#q=fraud+%2BGrand+Canyon http://www.google.com/#q=fraud+%2B+Universal+Technical+Institute.

 

Finally, in praising ASU, Arizona, and the Phoenix area as the milieu for the Summit, Moe notes the presence of corporate giants such as INTEL and Honeywell and innovators such as First Solar. Again, no mention of the multi-year class action lawsuit filed by investors in First Solar. See http://www.google.com/#q=First+Solar+%3D+Lawsuits

 

Here are some hints from Moe on where education innovations will go in the near term. 1. Investors will be drawn to the iphone, apps, and related networks as a learning platform for K-12 with adaptive technology for individualized learning similar to recommendation systems of Amazon and Netflix. 2. Teacher training and tools for the CCSS are “a sweet spot.” 3. In higher education, more “partnerships” of universities with online corporations offering courseware and social learning. More at http://higheredmanagement.net/2011/01/13/asus-education-innovation-network-an-interview-with-michael-moe/

 

Education Week reports that inBloom is going out of business.

The company was started with a grant of $100 million from the Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, to gather confidential student data and store it on an electronic “cloud.”

The technology for collection and storage of student data belonged to Wireless Generation, a subsidiary of Amplify, run by Joel Klein and owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Parental objections were strong wherever inBloom planned to gather data.

The last state to sever ties with inBloom was New York, where the Legislature barred the State Education Department from sharing data with inBlooom.

See this story in the New York Times and you will understand why parents got angry. InBloom would have collected 400 data points about students: “But some of the details seemed so intimate — including family relationships (“foster parent” or “father’s significant other”) and reasons for enrollment changes (“withdrawn due to illness” or “leaving school as a victim of a serious violent incident”) — that parents objected, saying that they did not want that kind of information about their children transferred to a third-party vendor.”

The national leader of the fight was Leonie Haimson, leader of a New York City-based group called Class Size Matters, who testified across the nation and alerted parents to the possible breach of their children’s confidential data.

A reader from the Netherlands noticed  the recent post by Mario Waissbluth in Chile. Waissbuth said that Chileans were looking to the Netherlands as a possible model as Chile tries to extricate itself from decades of privatization. The privatization was launched by the dictator Pinochet, whose advisors admired the libertarian ideas of Milton Friedman.

 

Our reader from the Netherlands commented:

 

In The Netherlands, the situation has changed in the past 15 years. It used to be the case that about 60% of all schools were privately owned. The umbrella term for these schools was, and is, ‘Bijzonder Onderwijs” and this includes all schools on a religious basis (either Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim or any other denomination) as well as schools with a special educational denomination (such as Montessori, Jenaplan, Dalton, Democratic etc.). The remaining 40% of schools used to be governmental, i.e. really ‘public’.

All of these schools were (and still are) paid for by public money. Parents are asked a small yearly fee (about 25 to 100 dollars) in order for a number of extracurricular activities.

Then came the neolib overhaul. All school boards were privatized, which is merely a legal construction by which private non-profit foundations took over the former public schools. Now all Dutch primary, secondary or tertiary schools are part of some private Foundation of Union. They are not marketed, and don’t have shareholders. They receive about 8000 dollar of public money for each subscribed student. School boards can do with that money what they like, within very, very wide limitations. The ‘freedom of education’ has turned into an increased freedom for school boards, and a decreased freedom for teachers (who have to obey the boards’ working orders) and limited freedom for parents (who can send their children to a limited number of schools).

The neolib privatization overhaul was sold to the Dutch public by the usual pretexts: ‘more quality for a lower price’. As the sceptics expected, the result turned out exactly the other way. The public expenses have more than doubled in 13 years time (the cumulative inflation being less than 30%), salaries for non-teaching staff have increased hugely, as have their number. Teaching staff, however, receive lower pay, and both teaching hours and class size have increased. PISA comparisons show that results have steadily decreased, compared to similar countries, as have the qualifications of newly arrived teachers.

I find it a bit ironic that Chile would consider The Netherlands an example in order to fight segregation. The neolib overhaul and the government-forced ‘concurrency’ between schools has resulted in dramatic segregation in urban areas. The percentage of either ‘black schools’ and ‘white schools’ has increased from 25% to 75% in only two decades, and is still growing.

I used to be proud of Dutch education. That was when I started my career as a teacher, and researcher. At present, I see very little in my country’s education system or policy that can make me proud. And I certainly would not recommend it as an example to other nations.

If you live in Colorado and care about the future of our society, join this group of students, educators, and citizens, meeting on May 1.

Join the fight to reclaim our schools for learning and resist the corporate takeover.

RAVE: Re-igniting Association Values for Educators

BY PEGGY ROBERTSON

Welcome to RAVE. The RAVE caucus in Colorado has been created in a determined effort to unify Colorado through education and action as we reclaim and improve our public schools. We are parents, students, teachers, AFT members, NEA members and citizens of Colorado. We speak truth to action and we are clear in our goals to take down corporate education reform and bring authentic teaching and learning back to Colorado’s public schools. We recognize that federal mandates designed to privatize public education, along with corporate money and corporate ideology, have become the guiding forces within our public schools and many organizations that profess to support public schools. We, the citizens of Colorado, can reclaim our public schools as we organize as one and move forward with integrity and with students at the forefront.

To find out more about RAVE join us for our first meeting. We will meet at Yard House in Lone Tree on May 1st at 5:30 p.m. RSVP for the event here: RAVE May 1st Meeting and join us on FB here. See you soon!

Starting today, the nation’s leading entrepreneurs will gather for their annual conference at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, to exchange ideas about the ongoing monetization, privatization, innovation, and profits in the education “industry.” This summit was originally organized by Michael Moe, who has for years predicted that the education sector could be monetized. He was right. His company—GSV stands for Global Silicon Valley–says on its website: “Our founders have spent the past two decades focused on the Megatrends that are disrupting the $4 trillion global education market along with the innovators who are transforming the industry.”

Some of the sponsors: Pearson, the Gates Foundation, Microsoft, McGraw-Hill, Cengage, amazon, Scholastic, etc.

The speakers’ list reads like a who’s who of the privatization movement, which it is.

Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, billionaire heiress to the Hyatt fortune, former member of the board of Chicago public schools; Jeb Bush, Chris Cerf, Cami Anderson, Reed Hastings, Margaret Spellings, Tom Vander Ark, Kaya Henderson, James Shelton, Jonathan Hage, and many more in the business of education reform.

Stephanie Simon wrote about this GSV annual conference here for politico.com:

“ED TECH’S ‘DAVOS’ STARTS TODAY: Hundreds of ed tech investors and entrepreneurs will rendezvous in Scottsdale, Ariz., this week for the Education Innovation Summit. The massive meet-and-greet will surely be lively, as business is booming. The ed tech market has been on a sustained boom the past several years, with no signs of a slowdown: Capital flows into companies serving the K-12 and higher education markets jumped to $650 million last year – nearly double the $331 million invested in those spheres in 2009.

–”You’re seeing people who can invest money anywhere” turn to ed tech, said Michael Moe, co-founder of GSV Capital, a sister company to GSV Advisors. The rapid growth of companies such as Coursera, Edmodo and Knewton “attracts the big players,” Moe said, who see an opportunity for big profit. And the Common Core is helping the cause: The standards are making ed tech more attractive because entrepreneurs can now tailor their product to a single set of academic guidelines. Several notable investment deals have closed in the past month alone.

More for Pros, from Stephanie Simon: http://politico.pro/1pmsymu

An editorial in the Glens Falls (NY) Post-Journal deplores Governor Andrew Cuomo’s disastrous policies, which are stripping rural public schools of resources and driving them into economic calamity.

 

Governor Cuomo is not just balancing the state budget on the backs of poor school children, the editorial says, he is literally standing on their backs in his reach for the presidency.

 

So eager is he to preserve his reputation as a fiscal conservative that he has denied rural schools the funding they need to provide a decent education to its children.

 

To meet Cuomo’s demands, class sizes have increased, schools have closed, teachers have been laid off, the middle school band was eliminated, foreign language classes were cut, and the Glens Falls district still can’t balance its budget.

 

We know that Governor Cuomo loves testing and loves the Common Core, but neither of these initiatives will compensate for the damage that his policies are doing to the children in upstate New York.

 

In the latest state budget, Governor Cuomo became a champion of the billionaires’ charter schools, which enroll 3% of the children in the state. What about the children in impoverished rural districts? Don’t they count? Governor Cuomo also found it in his heart to eliminate a tax on the banks, removing a source of revenue that could have been used to replenish the coffers of rural schools.

 

Let’s face it. Our governor, who once declared himself the “students’ lobbyist,” is the lobbyist for Wall Street. He doesn’t care about public education. He doesn’t realize that the children in school today are the future of our state. It’s all about him and his campaign contributors.

 

 

 

Alan Singer gets credit for one of the most creative headlines of the year. He calls his article “The Dishonorable Andrew Cuomo Meets the Hedge Fund / Charter School Zombies.”

Governor Cuomo has indeed dishonored his office by selling out the public schools, which enroll the vast majority of children in New York State, and paying court to his campaign contributors who love charter schools, which enroll 3% of the children.

Singer refers to the Camp Philos meeting in the Adirondacks, where Governor Cuomo will host a group of other cheerleaders for privatized charter schools.

The meeting is sponsored by a hedge-fund back group called “Education Reform Now.” What they mean by “education reform” is hand over your community public school NOW to a corporation that will pay outrageous executive salaries and will keep out the students with the highest needs and boast about its test scores.

Who will join Governor Cuomo to promote the strangulation of public education?

As Singer writes:

According to the online agenda, break-out sessions include discussions on “The Next Big Thing: Groundbreaking Approaches to Teacher Preparation,” “Up, Down, and Sideways: Building an Effective School Reform Coalition,” ” Tight-Loose Options for Ensuring All Kids Have Access to a Great Education,” and “Collaborative Models for Changing State and Local Teacher Policies.” But really only one topic will be discussed – How to promote and profit from the privatization of public education in the United States.

Education Reform Now (ERN) is a non-profit advocacy group that lobbies state and federal public officials to support charter schools and tougher teacher evaluations and tenure requirements. In Washington state it supported a successful effort to lift the state ban on charter schools. While ERN claims to be left-leaning, in New Jersey it has been allied with Governor Chris Christie in efforts to weaken the teachers union, increase the number of years before teachers are eligible for tenure, and to evaluate teacher based on student performance on high-stakes standardized assessments.

It is no surprise that Cuomo, who has presidential ambitions, is lending his name to the retreat. Education Reform Now has donated $65,000 to Cuomo’s campaign chest since 2010 through a series of political action committee. Members of the ERN Board of Directors and founders of its “unofficially” affiliated political action committee, Democrats for Education Reform, also give individual contributions to Cuomo. They include John Petry, a board member for ERN, co-founder of DFER, founder and manager of Sessa Capital, and co-chair of New York City’s Success Academy Charter Schools. Other ERN/DFER deep pocket hedge fund operators who help bankroll Cuomo are Joel Greenblatt, founder of Gotham Capital and co-chair of the Success Academy network and Whitney Tilson, founder and managing partner of Kase Capital Management. A DFER representative described the retreat as an “opportunity for elected officials, advocacy leaders, and philanthropists to come together to discuss policy and political ideas to reform education.”

The board of directors of Education Reform Now reads like a list of the royalty of the hedge fund world, Singer writes. Quite a coup for a man with Presidential ambitions to gather so many of the super-rich in one location.

No wonder people refer to Andrew Cuomo as “Governor 1%.” He knows where his priorities lie. No, it is not with the children.

 

A teacher wrote this comment in response to a post asking why English language learners, who barely know any English, are required to take the state English test.

 

 

I agree, it is painful to watch our English Language Learners struggle with these ridiculous tests, tests which label students 1,2,3,or 4. I have worked with refugees, many of whom arrive with little or no formal education, for over 20 years in what I consider to be one of the best schools in Buffalo. They, like all students, are much more than 1,2,3 or 4. The kids are remarkable in how they adjust to the cultural, academic, and linguistic demands of school. Their families are supportive and very appreciative of the what the school does to help them and their children. The staff is incredibly dedicated and rallies our school community to help provide many of the basics for our students’ and their families – clothes, food, boots, household items, books, school supplies, etc.

We have over thirty languages represented among our students, most are considered “low incidence languages” such as Burmese, Karen, Nepali, Somali, MaiMai, Karenni, Chin, Turkish, Kinyarwanda, and the list goes on… Some of our classrooms are over 70% ELL – English Language Learners. Of those non-ELLs in our school, many were English Language Learners who have tested proficient in years past or they come from homes of English Language Learners. The teachers are tuned in to the academic and language needs of these kids and provide safe, supportive, engaging, yet demanding environments for these students to learn and grow. There is not a teacher there who would trade a student in front of them for more “4′s.”

These immigrants have added to a culturally rich community, and have introduced their neighbors to amazing and interesting food, art, music, and traditions. Many of the students go on to great success in high school and beyond. Each June, when the local paper publishes pictures of all the local high school valedictorians and salutatorians, our former students are among them, English Language Learners who with enough time and support achieve great success. The operative word there is time.

Most research suggests that it takes 5-7 years (minimum) for English Language Learners to reach academic language proficiency – and that is for students with formal education in their first language. For all the “data” rage, it amazes me that this fact continues to be ignored by policy makers.

What does the state say? New York State labeled us a “PLA – Persistently Lowest Achieving” school in the first round of PLA schools. Why? Because we didn’t make AYP in ELA for our English Language Learners. Based on what? The N.Y. State tests.

Isn’t that obvious? The tests are used to label our kids as failing, our schools as low achieving, and our teachers as ineffective.

In response to “Confessions of a Teacher in a ‘No Excuses” Charter School,” this comment was posted:

 

Thank you for writing about your experience. I taught at a “no excuses” charter school in Brooklyn for a year. It was the most frustrating and disturbing experience of my life. The ridiculously punitive disciplinary system enforced by a teaching staff of young white recent college graduates felt like a mission to “tame the savages.” The students were forced to lose all individuality and become a white persons ideal of a perfect representation of the black race.

In the end, the school claims that 100% of the student to a four year college. What they don’t tell you about are the numerous students (particular males) that are discarded because they could not be tamed by demerits, detentions and suspensions for speaking without raising their hand or not looking at a classmate when they are speaking or slumping in their chair or speaking out of turn or resting their hand on their chin or talking in the hall.

I have always wanted to tell my story. I applaud you for doing it.

Julie Vassilatos, a Chicago parent, blogs about school issues.

 

In one of her latest posts, she realized she could  no longer use the term “education reform” because it was a complete phony and misrepresentation of reality.

 

She writes:

 

Something in me snapped today and I realized that I am finished using the phrase “education reform.”

 

That’s how folks refer to the constellation of ideas firmly entrenched in the White House right now, upheld by almost every governor of every state, red and blue, and most mayors, notably our own. It includes the tenets that privatizing our schools will improve them, that the Common Core State Standards are the fix for all that ails our failing schools, and that testing our students more and more will raise test scores.

 

But this, truly, is not “reform.” Some of these are ideas that have been implemented for 25 years all over the country to little effect.

 

This is the status quo.

 

So I’m not going to call it reform anymore.

 

I’m going to call it what it is. Corporate control of education.

 

 

I want you to read her whole post so I hate to print too much of it. But it is so on-target, so clear-headed, so obvious that I am going to have to give you even more to think about, then go open the link and read how this Chicago mom went straight to the heart of the beast:

 

In every instance, every plank in the platform, every element of this effort can be traced back to cash–flowing into the coffers of very rich corporate entities and individuals.

 

Like Pearson, one of the testing companies that is creating the tests and the test prep materials, all new and improved and Common Core aligned, and who lobbies Congress to mandate more tests.

 

Like Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, a huge proponent of charters and innovative uses of technology in schools. What kind of technology does he advocate as the best fix for students today? In Learning Lab modules at his Rocketship Charters kids sit at a computer monitor, streaming video content for 100 minutes per day.

 

Or Rupert Murdoch. He is a cheerleader for what he calls a $500 billion industry of education technology including content and assessment.

 

Or Bill Gates. His push for the Common Core, the inBloom initiative to harness students’ big data, and his vision for the classrooms of the future, which will be heavily dependent on his own technologies.

 

The proponents of this snake oil have managed to control the rhetoric for so long that we don’t even blink when they say that their education plan is “the civil rights issue of our time.” They say this a lot.

 

So if we wish to stand up against the corporate control model we are not only anti-reform but anti-civil rights.

 

They say they want “excellent teachers,” and by this they mean they want to get rid of union teachers and replace them with uncertified, pensionless staff handling up to 50 kids at once who receive their education from handheld devices or monitors.

 

They say they want “school choice,” which usually means less choice: families can’t choose their neighborhood schools that the city has underfunded to the point of death throes, pouring its available money instead into privately supported charters.

 

 

I don’t know Julie, but I know this: She has seen through the sham rhetoric and the phony claims. She has seen through the facade to the internal workings of a machine that hurts children, closes community schools, and will ultimately do grievous harm to our democracy.

 

She writes:

 

Enough little bits of reality have popped out that folks are starting to notice. The stranglehold grip on the narrative held by the corporate education controllers is beginning to weaken. Because we can all see with our own eyes that it isn’t actually civil rights for kids to have their school closed or subjected to a turnaround. It isn’t actually higher order critical thinking to bubble in bubbles. And it isn’t education and it isn’t reform to work toward the dismantling of public schools in our city and our country.

 

It’s stale old rhetoric that is losing its power. And it can no longer conceal the naked emperor, nor the naked greed of the corporate power grabbers.

 

Thanks, Julie, for seeing through the PR baloney.

 

I am so tired of the media accepting the corporate bosses’ claim that they are “reformers.” Listen up, reporters. They are NOT reformers. Their program is the corporate control of education.

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