Doug Garnett is a communications specialist and a regular reader of the blog. He writes here about reading “Policy Patrons,” by Megan Tomkins-Stange.

Been reading Policy Patrons. And it’s given me a different insight.

We all feel like Gates, Broad and others are “dictating” what happens. It’s hard – because they aren’t. What they’re doing is far more subtle but with similar results.

What they’ve done is create a “walled garden” of groups that are all paid to support their position. The list in this article is an example of creating that walled garden – a range of community organizations, researchers, university credibility, etc…

THEN, with the walled garden created, the foundations themselves never have to “tell the government what to do”. They are able to say “well, I know somebody who deals with that – you should talk with them”. Except the foundations have ensured that this “somebody” is somebody who will give the answer they want.

It’s incredibly deceptive – but politicians and press seem incapable of detecting when they’ve been had in this way. Because the “walled garden” of true “ed reform believers” are the only people they end up talking to. In a sense, Gates, Broad, et. al. deliver answers on a silver platter so that state education departments, school districts, politicians, and press don’t have to work hard.

This informal (but massive) walled garden they’ve build believes in testing as management, believes in CCSS, believes in charter schools, and believes that privatizing government services is always good.

As a result, state education bureaucrats NEVER have to wander outside the garden – so they never have to confront uncomfortable truths. (It’s dangerous outside those walls and that threatens one’s career.)

But this also explains why politicians are so shocked when citizens confront them with dissatisfaction with their policies – they’ve been blissfully living inside the Eden of Reform – unaware that they aren’t in touch with reality. I’ve seen this in Oregon. Our legislators cannot believe it when someone rational challenges what they’ve been doing.

It’s a HUGE problem for those of us who believe in public schools and believe in the value of researched answers. Because it’s not illegal what they’ve done. They believe it’s entirely moral. And they think they’re being “good people” by doing it. And it spreads blame by breaking it into tiny bits so no single organization can be blamed for much. Kind of a guaranteed “plausible deniability” clause.

Yet the result is entirely immoral – because it’s the future of our children.