Another post by the reader called “Democracy”:


Part 2

A new player in this realm is Lauren Powell Jobs, who has “an M.B.A. from Stanford University‘s Graduate School of Business and experience as a fixed income trading strategist at Goldman Sachs, she is the founder and chair of the Emerson Collective. The collective, which does not maintain a website, focuses on using entrepreneurship to advance social reform and find solutions to help under-resourced students in America’s public schools, according to one description. She also serves on the boards of the New America Foundation and Teach for America.”

Powell Jobs is tied to the New America Foundation (funded by the Gates and Walton Foundations) and Teach for America (funded by a host of conservative foundations and big banks). She has helped to fund a “network of small private schools” that has extensive staff ties to Teach for America, and she helped to finance the purchase of Amplify from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. It appears that Powell Jobs’ conception of “reform” is really not very different from that of Whitney Tilson, or Wendy Kopp, or the other ed “reformers.”

The network of schools Powell Jobs is helping to fund seeks to apply a “reform” formula “… to private, public, and charter schools across the country. Of course, they’re also money-making operations.”

See, for example: http://www.wired.com/2015/05/altschool/

About 10,000 public schools have applied for the Powell Jobs’ XQ Super Schools grants. I know of one in central Virginia that is under consideration for $2 million a year for five years, $10 million total. This school system touts itself as “visionary,” and has had strong, undisclosed connections to the tech company SchoolNet, which was purchased by Pearson. The school division has thrown millions at technology, and recently converted all of its high schools to STEM “academies,” never mind that there is a nation-wide glut of STEM workers. And people in the community don’t bat an eye.

The top executive at Powell Job’s “reform” entity is Russlyn Ali, a former top aide to Arne Duncan, who is also ensconced as a “senior partner” with Powell Jobs.

Ali formerly worked for the Education Trust and the Broad Foundation. She supported No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. She wrote that California should not suspend Common Core assessments because “The Common Core provides the promise and the opportunity for California to again lead the country in education.” Otherwise, she asked, “Will America be ready to compete?”

It’s pure nonsense. But many in public education have responded enthusiastically to it. They respond even more enthusiastically – it seems – when the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) bogeyman is invoked. Go figure.

Powell Jobs also heads up College Track, which “provides tutoring, SAT and ACT preparation and college counseling” to low-income students, Interestingly, according to its tax filings, College Track “qualifies as a publicly supported organization.” It receives money from the Emerson Collective – another Powell Jobs education enterprise, which is organized as a LLC and does not have to publicly report its donations – and from JP Morgan Chase, venture capitalist John Doerr, and Summit 54, a Colorado organization conceived in the wake of ‘Waiting for Superman’ and dedicated to the proposition that “Our education system is not preparing our students for jobs of the future” and “this is having a detrimental effect on our economy.”

Holy Mother of God. Why does anyone believe these people?

This is what education “reform” – especially technology-oriented “reform – has shaped up to be.

It’s not a pretty sight. And it cannot be healthy for public education.