Search results for: "carnegie"

The Carnegie Corporation doesn’t have as much money to throw into the corporate reform movement as the Walton Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and the Gates Foundation but it is definitely on the same page as the big guys. Here is its report on 2011 spending. The education grants begin on p. 24. And there they are: charter schools, Jeb Bush’s favorite “digital learning,” Common Core, Race to the Top policies, and the usual reformy organizations.

This Wall Street Journal article by Ted Mann tells a story of a fascinating discovery, the kind that makes historians swoon.

Two historians were debating the fate of the Lincoln Emancipation memorial in Washington, D.C. it depicts Lincoln standing beside a kneeling, nude slave who is breaking his chains. Then one discovered a letter written by Frederick Douglass that provided a solution agreeable to all.

WASHINGTON—It was a text-message debate that led Scott Sandage and Jonathan White to discover a vital American artifact last weekend: a long-forgotten letter showing how Frederick Douglass really felt about a statue of Abraham Lincoln and a slave.

Messrs. Sandage and White are history professors who have been on opposite sides of a dispute over the Emancipation Memorial near the U.S. Capitol, which depicts Lincoln in the act of freeing a kneeling Black man.

Mr. White, who teaches at Christopher Newport University in Virginia, wrote in a newspaper that the statue should be preserved, even while conceding in passing that Douglass disliked the design.

Mr. Sandage, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, considered the statue “visually unredeemable” because of its depiction of a Black man kneeling in a subservient position to Lincoln.

Both men sit on the board of the Abraham Lincoln Institute and had been debating whether the statue should remain or come down.

And so on the last Friday evening in June, sitting on the couch with his wife watching “Gilmore Girls,” Mr. White was texting back and forth with Mr. Sandage, pondering the alleged distaste for the statue by Douglass, who had dedicated it with a famous address in 1876.

The account of Douglass criticizing the statue at its unveiling came from a 1916 book that included the recollection of activist John W. Cromwell, who was in attendance.

Mr. White pointed out the account was secondhand from three decades later, and could be apocryphal. Mr. Sandage had thought Cromwell’s account had been corroborated and cited it in his own work in the 1990s. He went searching for a corroborating account.

Last Saturday morning, Mr. Sandage started searching Douglass’s name and the word “knee” in digitized newspaper archives at He found no corroborating accounts of the remark, but something better: published blurbs headlined “Frederick Douglass says” that referred to an 1876 letter from Douglass criticizing the monument.

After 20 minutes, and narrowing the search using Douglass’s flashiest adjective (“couchant”), Mr. Sandage uncovered Douglass’s letter itself.

[A letter to the editor of the National Republican newspaper in Washington from Frederick Douglass in 1876.

Five days after the unveiling, in a letter to the editor of the National Republican newspaper in Washington, Douglass had critiqued the statue’s design and suggested how more dignified depictions of free Black people would improve the park.

“The negro here, though rising, is still on his knees and nude,” Douglass wrote. “What I want to see before I die is a monument representing the negro, not couchant on his knees like a four-footed animal, but erect on his feet like a man.”

Mr. Sandage said he didn’t at first realize the importance of his discovery, but alerted Mr. White and texted an image of the letter to David Blight, a Douglass biographer and history professor at Yale University.

Mr. Blight was “practically giddy,” Mr. Sandage said.

Mr. Blight in turn emailed Richard Fox, a Lincoln scholar at the University of Southern California, who hadn’t seen the letter either.

“This all happened on Saturday morning,” Mr. Fox said. “None of us knew until three days ago that there was any evidence in Douglass’s entire life that he had actually said these things, and then there it was.”

Mr. White and Mr. Sandage weren’t done. Their searches also uncovered an obituary for Charlotte Scott, the former slave whose $5 donation had kicked off the fundraising to pay for the monument on the day of Lincoln’s death.

The statue was paid for by donations from former slaves, including Black veterans of the Union Army, but the design was selected by the Western Sanitary Commission, a St. Louis charity run by white people, according to the National Park Service.

The commission selected the design by Thomas Ball, an American sculptor living in Trieste, Italy, after years of appeals failed to raise sufficient funds for a larger and more complex monument, historians said.

Messrs. White and Sandage also found a reference in the Washington Bee, a Black newspaper in the city, to “the Charlotte Scott Emancipation statue in Lincoln Park.”

Just like that, a document apparently unknown to Douglass’s biographers and not found in the orator’s papers at the Library of Congress had landed squarely in the middle of the debate that has swept the nation and the neighborhood around Lincoln Park where the statue stands.

Amid the Black Lives Matter Movement and the protests following the killing of George Floyd, momentum is gathering to remove or alter statues like the Emancipation Memorial, following successful calls to take down monuments of Confederate generals.

In Washington, a candidate for District Council, Marcus Goodwin, has gathered roughly 7,000 signatures on a petition to either remove or alter the Lincoln statue. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington, D.C.’s nonvoting representative in Congress, has said she would introduce legislation to move the statue to a museum. And in Boston, a panel voted unanimously on Tuesday to take down a replica of the Emancipation statue.

Mr. Goodwin has said that concerns about the statue could be addressed by adding more Black figures to the statue that are in standing positions, including contemporaries of Lincoln like Douglass. It is a compromise that the newly discovered Douglass letter seems to anticipate.

Still others believe the existing monument should be moved, including Kirk Savage of the University of Pittsburgh, whose work includes “Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves,” a history of monuments erected after the Civil War.

“It is a distorting image,” Mr. Savage said. “It’s a white savior narrative that puts Lincoln in the position of a kind of saint, working a miracle cure on the enslaved population.”

If new additions to the memorial are done right, Mr. Sandage said, “the original statue would become an artifact and the new groupings around it would become the focus.”

Mr. White said that “people of good will are on both sides” of the issue. “If people had listened to [Douglass] it might have resolved it 144 years ago,” he said.

As for their discovery, Mr. Sandage credited the activists, whose demonstrations at the park had led to his debate with Mr. White.

“That’s how historians work,” he said. “We argue with each other and then go look again.”

Messrs. White and Sandage said the find helped them reach an agreement, which they proposed this week in an article for Smithsonian Magazine. Citing Douglass’s words, they argued that “no one monument could be made to tell the whole truth of any subject which it might be designed to illustrate.”

The historians suggest adding more statues—of Douglass and of Scott —and better explaining the story of Archer Alexander, who was the model for the slave figure. Mr. Alexander was the last man arrested under the Fugitive Slave Act, the Park Service says.

“If the statue is to stand there any longer, it should no longer stand alone,” they wrote. “Who would be more deserving of honor with an additional statue than the freedwoman who conceived of the monument?”

Write to Ted Mann at

FairTest has been battling the abuse, misuse, and overuse of standardized testing since the early 1970s. It took a global pandemic to demonstrate that students applying to college need not take a standardized test for admission. How will colleges decide whom to admit? They will figure it out. Just watch. Many colleges and universities went test-optional years ago and managed to choose their first-year class.



A new tally of higher education testing policies shows that more than half of all 4-year colleges and universities will not require applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores for fall 2021 admission. The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), which maintains a master list, reports that 1,240 institutions are now test-optional. The National Center for Educational Statistics counted 2,330 U.S. bachelor-degree granting schools during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Fully 85% of the U.S. News “Top 100” national liberal arts colleges now have ACT/SAT-optional policies in place, according to a FairTest data table. So do 60 of the “Top 100” national universities, including such recent additions as Brown, CalTech, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, UPenn, Virginia, Washington University in St. Louis, and Yale.

Bob Schaeffer, FairTest’s interim Executive Director, explained, “The test-optional admissions was growing rapidly before the COVID-19 pandemic. 2019 was the best year ever with 51 more schools dropping ACT/SAT requirements, driving the total to 1,040. Another 21 colleges and universities followed suit in the first 10 weeks of this year. Since mid-March, however, the strong ACT/SAT-optional wave became a tsunami.” FairTest has led the test-optional movement since the late-1980s when standardized exams were required by all but a handful of schools.

A FairTest chronology shows that nearly 200 additional colleges and universities have gone test-optional so far this spring. All told, U.S. News now lists more than 540 test-optional schools in the first tier of their respective classifications, including public university systems in California, Delaware, Indiana, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Washington State.

“We are especially pleased to see many public universities and access-oriented private colleges deciding that test scores are not needed to make sound admissions decisions,” Schaeffer continued. “By going test-optional, all types of schools can increase diversity without any loss of academic quality. Eliminating ACT/SAT requirements is a ‘win-win’ for students and schools.”

New Tally – Majority of Colleges Are ACT/SAT-Optional for 2021

Schaeffer also noted that interest in FairTest’s web directory has spiked over the past three months, “Daily visitor levels have nearly tripled, demonstrating the appeal of test-optional admissions to teenagers, who know that these schools will treat them as more than a score.”
– – 3 0 – –
– FairTest’s frequently updated directory of test-optional, 4-year schools is available free online at — sort geographically by clicking on “State”

– A current chronology of schools dropping ACT/SAT requirements is at

– The list of test-optional schools ranked in the top tiers by U.S. News & World Report is posted at

Our regular reader and diligent researcher Laura Chapman writes:

It is not difficult to see who is busy publicizing and brokering ideas for federal action on pre-K-12 education and who is not. The active players are all in for school choice and they have a “perfect” opportunity to dismantle and starve brick and mortar public schools. Federal policies will jumpstart what happens in states, districts, and communities.

The transition from NCLB to ESSA took longer than expected. Most states put their new DeVos-approved plans for accountability and school improvement in place during 2019-2020, later than expected.

Those plans have been pruned by the pandemic. Since April 3, 2020, every state is eligible for a range of ESSA waivers including tests and how state education agencies “permit LEAs (local education agencies) to use Title IV, Part A funds to best meet its needs without regard to customary requirements for
–spending limits on technology infrastructure, or
–completing a needs assessment.”
In addition, “the definition of professional development” is modified to allow LEAs s to provide effective teacher training for distance learning.

Although these flexibilities are in place now, no one has a clear idea about how the pandemic will shape the 2020-2021 school year, or what proposals presidential candidates will put into play for reshaping ESSA and the scheduled reauthorization of ESSA after the 2020-21 school year.

I think that the accumulated national debt will lead to massive budget cuts for federal and state funding and full-out marketing of choice programs.

The choice advocates have a clear policy package in the works, and big bucks now from the billionaires to market it. Bellwether Partners is playing a role in this work, and so is the 74Million, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, California Community Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Charles Strauch, Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, Gen Next Foundation, Karsh Family Foundation, Park Avenue Charitable Trust, The City Fund, Walton Family Foundation, and William E. Simon Foundation.

The pandemic and special federal legislation to shore up the social safety net, including grants to schools, has accelerated the activity of groups intent on expanding federal support for choice in education.

Here is an example: “FEDS MUST HELP ALL TYPES OF SCHOOLS REOPEN: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act will support millions of workers and industries hard-hit by COVID-19. About $13 billion from the bill will make it to K-12 schools across the country for uses such as classroom cleaning and teacher training.” … “State governments, at the urging of Washington and epidemiologists, have closed all schools, public and private. This is an unusual (and necessary) instance of equal treatment for schooling sectors that normally operate under different rules. But all schools, and all sectors of out pluralistic system of public education, will need support when they are allowed to reopen; a coherent policy that supports non-public schools and homeschoolers — along with charters and traditional districts that already receive public funds — will not be a luxury. It will be an essential element of how the country’s children recover from the COVID-19 disruption.”

This marketing campaign for “our pluralistic system of public education” is gibberish for choice in education, including private and religious education. This agenda has been reinforced with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ March 27, 2020, proposal that Congress provide “Continue to Learn Microgrants” to disadvantaged students whose schools have “simply shut down.” Federal funds would be allocated for “educational services provided by a private or public school” with the priority for students in special education and eligible for food stamps. Funds could be used “to buy computers and software, internet access, and instructional materials like textbooks and tutoring. For children with disabilities, the grants could be used for educational services and therapy.”

This proposal is a variation on her push for “Education Freedom Scholarships” authorizing federal tax credits to people who donate to school scholarship programs for private school tuition and other education expenses.

Then there is news on this blog and elsewhere that charter schools are eligible for “Small Business Loans,” if, they affirm they are a “non-government entity.” That affirmation is a non-trivial and legal redefinition of charter schools with implications for how these are marketed, authorized, and supported (or not) by billionaire foundations and Congress, whether Republican or Democrat. Charters that have been profiteering from public dollars will probably move into double dipping (once for students, another as a small business) with little fear of legal action.

Over multiple years, experts in “follow the money” have identified major ‘idea brokers” and the federal policies that have emerged from their work. Some legacy brokers from the Obama Administration are still at it—promoting digital learning, charter schools, pay for success contracts, alternative certifications, and more. If the pandemic accelerates I think that the de-professionalization of education will accelerate along with the unschooling of instructional delivery. In that case, many brick and mortar buildings once known as public schools are likely to repurposed or rot, except in wealthy suburban communities.

Last night there was a grand event at the Kennedy Center where veterans of the Bush and Obama education world joined together to wring their hands about the crisis at hand. The crisis is not the mess they made of American education for the past 20 years. The crisis is that the tests are not hard enough, the punishments are not tough enough, and the nation needs to buckle down and keep on testing and firing and demanding more from everyone. Except them. Of course.

Our reader Laura Chapman explains what was behind the big party:

“I wanted to look past the PR for this one event. The event is a launch for a new campaign capitalizing on “stagnating” NAEP scores and persistent gaps among students “who have been underserved.”

“The reformists are calling for “evidence based” methods of teaching using only “high quality, standards-aligned, content-rich curriculum.” Suddenly these reformists think “deficits in content-knowledge” matter. But these reformists are really fans of the Common Core and have a lonh history of ignoring much else worthy of study, content in the arts and humanities for example.

“In addition to being sponsored by the Collaborative for Student Success, this “new literacy campaign” is sponsored by Achieve, The Alliance for Excellent Education, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Learning Heroes, Literacy Now, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Council on Teacher Quality, National Urban Alliance, National Urban League, Military Child Coalition, and The Education Trust. These have been supporters of the Common Core, and many love high-stakes tests.

“The Collaborative for Student Success is a multi-faced project of the New Venture Fund. It is supported by: Bloomberg Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, ExxonMobil, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. The website markets three of the Collaborative’s favorite math programs, but it also features “campaigns” of the Collaborative. Each campaign has a separate website. All campaigns are based on the premise that states are not living up to the requirements of ESSA. Truly, the sponsors of the Literacy Initiative are die-hard defenders of the Common Core and ESSA. Here are the camaigns in progress.

“A web-based “Assessment HQ” offers test scores and demographic breakouts for test scores “for more than half of states in grades 3-8.” This campaign is designed to claim that state assessments are not tough enough or fully reported to parents. The Collaborative scoops up state assessment results in math and ELA and puts these together in an interactive map. The Assessment HQ is actually sluggish and out of date. It is presenting data from the 2014-15 school year and it was designed to push PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests.

“The “Check State Plans” campaign offers ratings of the state plans for ESSA based on their strict conformity to ESSA. The Collaborative asked 45 reviewers to judge state plans, back in 2017, at about the same time that Bellwether Education Partners also put together a panel to review state ESSA plans. The Collaborative wanted to see “the following principles” honored in state plans. “Set the bar high for what students need to know and understand; Focus on closing the achievement gap in math and English; Ensure that parents and communities have access to meaningful data; Have a real plan for helping those schools that have been historically failing.”

“The “Educators for High Standards” campaign has offered about 12 fellowships to teachers willing to voice enthusiasm for ESSA, along with “partners” from the following groups, all known to push for high-stakes tests and the Common Core: The National Network of State Teachers of the Year, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, PARCC, Teach Plus, Student Achievement Partners (Achieve the Core), National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Hope Street Group, The New Teacher Project (TNTP), Teach for America, Center for Teacher Quality, and Educators4Excellece.
The” Military Families for High Standards” campaign features the work of advocates for schools serving military families. Among the resources is an article from the Center for American Progress titled “How the Common Core Improves Education for Military-Connected Children.”

“The Honesty Gap” campaign asserts that states must take NAEP’s definition of “proficiency” as the standard for judging the “honesty” in state tests. State tests that claim students are “proficient “are dishonest unless the state standard is the same as for NAEP tests. The “honesty gaps” for each state are shown on an interactive map. The explicit message is that schools are often lying to parents about student achievement. The website should be called Arne Duncan’s BS.
The “Understanding ESSA” campaign provides news about USDE activities (up-to-date) and links to state actions that comply with ESSA.

The whole website is devoted to belligerent judgments of states, districts, and schools while bolstering advocacy groups who will insist on “strict fidelity” to ESSA in state plans.

These birds of a feather intent on repeating the misery of two decades of top down reform.



Laura Chapman, our loyal reader and diligent researcher, writes:


If you want to get past the Dintersmith rhetoric, carefully contrived to make an appealing plausible story (with some help from Frameworks, you need to look at the website Education 2020 (ED 2020) to see the underling incoherence (hot air) in Dintersmith’s project, and who is supporting it.

About Education 2020: “We (partners) have come together to advocate for a shared vision to advance a comprehensive education agenda that promotes universal inclusion and access to ongoing learning opportunities for everyone living in America. We call on all 2020 Presidential candidates to develop comprehensive education proposals aligned to this shared vision.”

Our coalition members (partners) include: Alliance for Excellent Education, American Federation of Teachers, Autism Society-, Center for American Progress, Children’s Defense Fund, Community Change Action, Institute for Educational Leadership, Learning Policy Institute, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Disability Rights Network, National Education Association, National Public Education Support Fund, National Women’s Law Center, Reach Higher-, Save the Children Action Network, Save the Children-, Teach Plus-, The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Education Task Force, The Education Trust-, The Institute for College Access & Success, The Partnership for the Future of Learning, The United State of Women, UnidosUS-, Young Invincibles-, ZERO TO THREE.

Education 2020 offers a “Briefing Book” for this promotional activity aided by Dintersmith’s article. The briefing Book includes brief “policy pitches” offered by each of the partners, presented in alphabetical order. These policy pitches are brief, and they do not add up to a “comprehensive agenda” or reflect a shared vision. For example, there are pitches from Teach Plus and the Education Trust, both unsupportive of unions along with pitches from both teacher unions, AFT and NEA.

The Briefing Book includes this idea from the Center for American Progress: “High-quality charter schools are a valuable strategy to increase the number of good public school seats for students. But the growth of charter schools should not be an end in itself, and there are legitimate critiques of the sector that must be addressed. The next administration should take a nuanced approach to charters that includes both the expansion of good school options and the coordination across the traditional district and charter sectors to avoid potentially negative impacts.”

The Learning Policy Institute calls for these actions among others: “Monitor, support, and enforce ESSA’s equity provisions. Key indicators of opportunity and outcomes can be used to inform “equity audits” for low-performing schools to support improvement and effective targeting of resources. “ also “Provide federal funding to support state and district efforts to create greater socioeconomic and racial school diversity and fund the Magnet School Assistance Program at a minimum at parity with the Charter School Program, currently funded at $440 million.”

The Briefing Book for this promotional activity also says: Education 2020 is a coalition housed and supported by the National Public Education Support Fund (established 2009, EIN 26-3015634).
Next question: what do we know about the National Public Education Support Fund? Here is what the fund does according to IRS form 990 for 2017.

“The mission of the National Public Education Support Fund (NPESF) is to promote equitable opportunities for all children to receive a high-quality education from birth through college and career. NPESF is a network hub for EDUCATION PHILANTHROPY, policy, advocacy and practice focused on equitable systems change.” What does “system change mean?” Systems change means reforms favored and charted primarily by billionaire-funded non-profit foundations, as if these tax havens are also sources of superior wisdom about education. The National Public Education Support Fund–a network for education philanthropy”–has the following projects in motion.

A. Partnership for the Future of Learning. Previously called the New Models Working Group. This working group dates to 2009. It was launched by Bill Gates to push the Common Core and aligned tests. The working group of participating foundations had quarterly meetings in DC). The current version funds organizations that offer “a forward-looking vision and policy framework for a 21st century public school system” (more and deeper learning, grounded in the core values of equity, democracy, and shared responsibility to ensure all children are prepared for college, career, and citizenship). Progress over the year: launched a STORYTELLING and NARRATIVE CHANGE effort with a microsite and about 50 partner organizations; publication of a community schools playbook and toolkit; and expanded participation to over 100 partners across dozens of education organizations.

B. We sponsor Education Justice Network. With six national education nonprofits advocating for greater education equity and opportunity with “alignment among the partners to amplify their work on policy, research, and advocacy.” Over the past year, members have created a governance structure for the network and its activities (e.g., working groups on community schools, school finance, redesigning districts, narrative shift, and democratizing knowledge).

C. Education Funder Strategy Group. Includes more than 30 leading foundations focused on “education policy and systems change from early childhood to college and career readiness and success.” Four quarterly meetings were held on the topics of FRAMING THE NARRATIVE on public education, resource equity, systems change…8 monthly calls were held on a variety of topics.” “A special dinner was held with leaders from the OECD focused on expanding access to high quality early learning. Working groups continued to self-organize around issues including “racial equity, using research evidence for change, and social-emotional learning.” (This as the current version of the New Models Working Group started by Bill Gates.)

D. Grantmakers for Thriving Youth: We are the fiscal sponsor for foundations/funders who are investing in “non-academic youth outcomes” such as “social and emotional learning and character development.” A majority of the funders “decided to continue this collaboration over the next two years.”

There is more. The 2017 Form 990 form identifies the Alliance for Excellent Education ( as a related organization whose work advances …”the goal of remodeling US public education.”

Indeed. all4ed is supported by many foundations known to support public funding of privately managed schools. These are named: Anonymous, AT&T Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, GE Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, Kern Family Foundation, National Public Education Support Fund, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, State Farm, Stuart Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation.

If you want a deep dive into the policies favored and promoted by all of these interrelated projects and organizations, look at the “issues” section of the all4ed website. These are the topics for which there are recommendations.
Accountability, Adolescent Literacy, Assessments, Brown vs. Board, Career & Technical Education, College- and Career-Ready Standards, Deeper Learning, Digital Learning and Future Ready Schools, Economic Impacts, Every Student Succeeds Act, High School Reform, International Comparisons, Linked Learning, Personalized Learning, Science of Adolescent Learning, Teachers and School Leaders.

Dintersmith’s article is an example of the relatively new strategy for selling ideas, marketed by Frameworks with a focus on inventing stories, and forwarding narratives calculated to distract attention and elicit favorable responses to hidden-from-view power players. Many of the same “philanthropies” who have promoted failed policies for schools in the last two decades are still at it with Dintersmith trying out a refreshed story line.

This is indeed revelatory of the funding behind this “vision.”

My personal view, based on the rigorous research of the Network for Public Education into the federal Charter Schools Program, is that this program should be completely abolished. The NPE report, Asleep at the Wheel:How the Federal Charter Schools Program Recklessly Takes Taxpayers and Students for a Ride, found that at least one-third of the charter schools funded by CSP had either never opened or closed soon after opening, for a loss of about $1 billion in federal funds. The CSP is currently funded at $440 million. Betsy DeVos asked for $500 million. She is using that money to underwrite the expansion of national charter chains like KIPP and IDEA and to flood states like New Hampshire, Alabama, and Texas. Given the massive funding of charter schools by foundations, no federal funding is needed. Ongoing research by NPE shows that in some states, as many as 40% of charters were failures. Every presidential candidate should be asked if they will eliminate federal funding for new charter schools and direct the funding to Title I or other programs that meet genuine needs, not satisfy billionaires’ egos. 

Laura Chapman has been doing research on the Center for American Progress, which the media views as the voice of the Democratic Party. This may be the most depressing thing you read today. It calls for a return to the principles of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. Both failed. CAP wants to resuscitate the worst features of both. Maybe CAP can persuade Arne Duncan to return as Secretary of Education. Then the disaster would be complete.


And here we go with the new progressive agenda for schools.

Almost every week Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress (CAP) appears on television to opine about the presidential elections. Tanden is a former aide to Hillary Clinton. CAP is supposed to function as a think tank for Progressives, especially Democrats. On July 2, 2019, CAP published: A Quality Education for Every Child: A New Agenda for Education Policy.” The press release asserted: “The Next President’s Education Agenda Must Center Racial Disparities in Educational Opportunity.”

I have been studying this report. It is highly critical of K-12 education. It is also calculated to mislead casual readers. The authors claim the report is “a bold and comprehensive approach to K-12 education.” I think not. Many of CAP’s favored policies endorse two decades of federal demands for accountability. Think Arne Duncan and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (B&MGF).

CAP is on record as favoring teacher unions and higher pay for teachers, especially for those who work in low-income communities. However, CAP is also all-in for charter schools, known to be antiunion. This contradiction is one among others this report. The writers also bury important details in the endnotes. For example, CAP wants students to meet “challenging standards.” The endnote cites the Common Core. In addition, CAP’s website has over 50 articles pushing the Common Core, the latest in 2019. This affection can be explained by the $14 million CAP has received from the B&MGF, main financier of the Common Core, and specific grants: In 2013, $550,000 “for implementation of the Common Core,” and in 2016, a cool $2 million for “enactment of the College and Career/Common Core agenda, and to reduce opposition to it and associated high quality tests.”

CAP’s policy recommendations for the next President are bad news for public schools. The Introduction claims that a bipartisan consensus exists on key elements of education reform—standards-based accountability; teacher evaluations that include test scores of students; and school choice. The authors then say that these three reforms are not the problem. The real problem is that improvements have not been made “at the pace needed to give every student a fair shot at success in college and career.” CAP elaborates on all of these claims in five policy priorities for a new administration.

Applying An Explicit Race Equity Lens To Policy Development. “This means specifically looking at potential impacts on communities that do not identify as white or that have large concentrations of families with low incomes, without conflating the two.” This section is an argument on behalf of increasing opportunities for historically disadvantaged communities, schools, and students. CAP’s discussion of race ends in naming groups who are underserved: Students who are non-white, Black, Latinx, Native American, and some Asian American and Pacific Islander children, students from families with low incomes, students with disabilities, students who identify as LGBTQ, and students who are English language learners.

“A new administration must begin with a comprehensive strategy for addressing disparities in educational opportunity” (ideally) ”coupled with a comprehensive economic development strategy beyond the educational system.” CAP calls for $200 billion to modernize school buildings; a grant program to promote “culturally responsive pedagogy”; state audits of schools and districts for “disparate educational opportunity,” and USDE guidance to state legislatures on equitable funding.

Equitable funding seems to mean “filling the annual $23 billion gap in funding between predominantly white and predominantly nonwhite school districts.” I found the source of this estimate. It is EdBuild. EdBuild promotes “a weighted student funding formula” so that money goes to the school a student attends, aiding school choice, including vouchers. ALEC, the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange has also pushed this system of funding since 2010.

It turns out that CAP as a financial supporter of EdBuild. CAP and EdBuild also receive money from the same foundations: The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation; Carnegie Corporation of New York; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Helmsley Charitable Trust; Walton Family Foundation; Laura and John Arnold Foundation, and W. K. Kellogg Foundation among others. CAP traffics in ideas and money devoted to undermining public education.

Preparing All Students For College And The Future Workforce. CAP dwells on the economic return on investment from college and high-value work credentials. The report calls for states with “college-and career-ready academic content standards” (aka the Common Core) to make sure a K-12 ladder prepares students for careers “in the new economy.” Districts should make sure that families with children in kindergarten know requirements “for the future of work.”

CAP also wants “a new federal-state-industry partnership” empowered to identify middle and high school models for accelerated college credit and a meaningful workforce credential. This partnership is also supposed to ensure that career and technical education (CTE) programs “reflect upcoming, well-paid, in-demand jobs” in regions where the programs are offered.

CAP’s thinking about CTE is not bold. It is not progressive. It assumes that labor markets are predictable and that schools should be responsible for job training desired by potential employers. CAP’s policy ideas are vintage 1990s workforce training proposals from the National Center for Education and the Economy. They ignore the civic mission of schools and what life may offer and require of students beyond getting a job.
3. Modernizing And Elevating The Teaching Profession. Here is the major claim: “If states and school districts raised teacher pay to match that of other professions, provided training to help teachers meet the needs of the changing student population, and increased the selectivity of the teaching profession, the national narrative about and respect for the teaching profession would shift. A comprehensive policy agenda to achieve this goal should be multifaceted and must ensure that teachers are given the necessary training and resources to meet a higher bar.”

CAP’s discussion of teacher strikes, low pay, and other discontents has little bearing on a “comprehensive agenda to raise the prestige of teaching and improve teachers’ working conditions.” For teacher education programs CAP says: Be more selective in accepting candidates for teaching and explicitly seek diversity among candidates, provide high-quality clinical training and more rigorous coursework of use in modern classrooms.
For states and districts, CAP says: Align requirements for licensure with candidates’ observable readiness to teach; invest in supports for new teachers, such as high-quality induction and mentorship programs; provide dedicated time and support for professional development that improves student outcomes; and identify career pathways so excellent teachers can expand their effectiveness.

There is nothing daring or innovative about these recommendations. The puffed-up “elevating” language comes from a Obama/Duncan 2012 RESPECT program conjured by McKinsey & Company of the same points appear in CAP’s 2015 report “Smart, Skilled, and Striving: Transforming and Elevating the Teaching Profession.” Here is a scathing review of this warmed over Obama scheme from the National Education Policy Center.

4, Dramatically Increasing Investments And Improving The Equity Of Existing Investments In Public Schools. CAP writers note that about eight percent of public schools funds come from federal sources. Title I funding is dedicated to schools were many students are from families with low incomes. CAP wants Title I funding increased and full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Act.

CAP’s big new policy idea is this: “The federal government should appoint a commission to determine a specific set of critical education resources that are typically present in privileged communities but missing from historically disadvantaged schools and districts. These resources could include guidance counselors, school nurses, mental health professionals, art and music classes, or extracurricular enrichment opportunities.” (I found no endnotes or details about who would appoint the commission, with what authority, or how their deliberations might be acted upon.)

CAP proposes federal “public education opportunity grants” as a way to address inequities. This is not a new idea. Such grants are available under Title I, Part A Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies. The grants are for schools with a high proportion of students from low-income families. In 2018, these grants were funded at $15,759,802,000. (CAP does not seem to have ideas on state and local funding other than money follows the student.)

Bringing A Balanced Approach To Charter School Policy. To its credit, CAP does not support for-profit on-line charter schools. It also urges the next administration to “include strong authorizing and accountability policies for charter schools as well as efforts to proactively address the shortfalls of the sector. These efforts should include solutions for pain points, such as issues related to backfilling enrollment during the school year, providing service to students with disabilities, and maintaining transparency in financial operations—to name a few.” (Pain points? Shortfalls? Not a single endnote refers to well-documented and rampant corruption in charter schools. Not one).

CAP is on record as favoring charter schools. CAP’s 2017 “The Progressive Case for Charter Schools,” offers praise for Teach for America and Relay Graduate School of Education. CAP’s 2018 “Charters and the Common Good: Spillover Effects of Charter Schools in New York City” includes this astonishing claim: ”There is suggestive evidence that spillover effects (from co-location) are larger if the charter school appears to be of high quality, (defined) as either having high average scores on annual 4th-grade math and reading exams or being operated by an established, respected charter management organization such as KIPP, Success Academy, or Uncommon Schools.” (Respected? Franchise cookie-cutter schools are great?)

According to CAP, charter schools represent a solution to racial and economic inequities in education. “In too many places across the country, there are not enough good seats in schools, especially for Black, Latinx, and Native American students, as well as students from families with low incomes. A strong charter sector is a critical component to expanding the number of good public school seats, and high-quality charter schools are a valuable strategy to address that problem.” (CAP refuses to acknowledge that charter schools are not legally equivalent to public schools. They are now and historically have been a means to further segregation. “Seats” is shorthand for a calculation used to market charter schools in any community where schools are ranked A-F or in league tables. The enrollments in all schools not rated A or B, or an equivalent system are counted as all of the “seats” that could be replaced by the imagined “high quality seats” in charter schools).

CAP wants the next administration to “apply a race equity lens to public school choice policies generally and charter schools specifically, with a focus on equitably expanding access to opportunities for underserved students. This means that decisions on where to locate schools and programs and how to make enrollment decisions—for example, boundaries, admissions requirements, and lottery rules—should be analyzed with a race equity lens.“ (CAP assumes that school choice is an uncontested and established policy. Notice the absence of any reference to elected school boards. Decisions are “just made” as if from some invisible decider).

“This approach should include a balanced assessment of potential charter growth and the impact on traditional districts. This assessment should always focus on how to increase the number of good seats for students but may imply different specific recommendations in different places and circumstances.”

CAP’s eagerness to endorse school choice and charter school growth is not just in accord with Trump/Betsy DeVos’ policies. It also responds to the wishes of key funders of CAP. For example, the Walton Family Foundation has sent CAP $1,228,705 in three grants for K-12 education, with a 2017 ”special projects” grant of $453,705 for work on “Supporting High-Quality Charter Schools” and “Implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act.”

CAP’s report is designed to promote charter school growth and double down on every misguided policy of the last two decades. I have left a ton of references and rants on the cutting floor. By the way, all five of the authors of this Report had staff positions on the Hill and four worked in Obama’s Department of Education.


I am often asked what billionaires should do with their money if they stopped investing in privatization.

Here is a small project for billionaires in California.

Los Angeles may close its elementary school libraries. 

Can’t afford them.

Where are you, Reed Hastings? Eli Broad? Bill Bloomfield? Arthur Rock? Mark Zuckerberg?

You give millions to charters and TFA, and what good have you done?

Do something real.

Be the Andrew Carnegie of LA.

Support libraries for elementary schools.

No, it won’t transform everything. But it will change lives.

Steve Lopez wrote in the LA Times:

Here we go again, tumbling down the shaft and into a bizarro world in which school libraries lock out students who need them most.

L.A. Unified elementary school libraries are on the chopping block once again, and library aides, many of whom could lose their jobs, are screaming for justice.

Some L.A. Unified board members, meanwhile, have made passionate pleas to keep the doors open.

“If you’re not reading by grade level by third grade, you’re going to struggle for the rest of your life,” said board member Scott Schmerelson, who has introduced a resolution calling for the district to come up with the necessary funding.

But just a few months after the L.A. Unified teachers’ strike drew strong public support for better pay and more resources for the struggling district, budget woes are forcing miserable choices that will hit students hard.

“An elementary school library is one of the more magical places in a child’s life,” said Meredith Kadlec, a second-grade parent who has been writing letters in the campaign to ward off cuts. “Imagination is born from books, and what about the kids who don’t get that enrichment at home? I feel like we’re going the wrong way in America when libraries are at risk.”

They’ve been at risk for years now in L.A. Unified. Many years ago, every school had a fully funded librarian. But as budget problems became more severe, teacher-librarians gave way to library aides, who then got laid off by the hundreds before being rehired. In the recent past, some libraries have been locked up despite the district having spent millions on new books. Typically, elementary school libraries are open only every other week as it is, and aides split their time between two schools

The strike settlement earlier this year resulted in teacher raises and promises of eventual reduced class size, nurses on every campus, and a commitment to have a teacher-librarian on every middle and high school campus.

But elementary schools got no commitment on library aides. In recent years, those positions — which used to be directly funded by the district — became optional expenses made at the discretion of principals. But those principals have to make gut-wrenching decisions with limited discretionary funds at their disposal. And the needs, in a district in which 80% of the roughly 600,000 students live in poverty and 90% are minorities, always exceed the available money.


Former Governor Jim Hunt will speak “In Praise of Public Education” in Raleigh on May 22 from 6-8 pm. His talk is sponsored by PublicSchoolsFirstNC. Tickets are limited so sign up soon!

Governor Hunt was a champion for public schools when he was in office. The Tea Party has done everything possible to destroy his great legacy.

“Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. is widely considered the nation’s education governor. He is the longest-serving governor in the history of North Carolina (1977-1985 and 1993-2001). Among many accomplishments during his 16 years in office, Hunt pioneered the Smart Start early education program, added teacher assistants in grades 1-3, and increased education investments to put North Carolina at the national average in teacher pay.

“Gov. Hunt currently serves as chairman of the Hunt Institute, “a national nonprofit organization that brings together people and resources that help build and nurture visionary leadership and mobilize strategic action for greater educational outcomes and student success.” He also sits on the board of the Institute for Emerging Issues at N.C. State University in Raleigh.

“Governor Hunt’s work has been recognized with numerous national awards.

“His Smart Start program received the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award from the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In 1985, he co-chaired the “Committee of 50,” which led to the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy and eventually to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. He has also provided education leadership as chairman of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, chaired the National Education Goals Panel, served as board vice chair of Achieve, Inc., and chairman of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

“Learn more about Gov. Hunt here!  Don’t miss his talk at our event on May 22 at 6 pm. Don’t delay – purchase your tickets to hear this amazing education advocate!”


In this comment, posted not long ago, reader Laura H. Chapman describes the Ohio view of education as workforce preparation. The pioneers of education had nobler goals. Above all, they considered the purpose of education to be preparation for citizenship in our emerging democracy. That meant literacy and numeracy but also character development with the hope of cultivating a commitment to democratic values and a readiness to participate in improving society on behalf of the community, not just oneself.

A resident of Ohio, Chapman describes the state’s narrow, utilitarian view of the goals of education. She notes that this goal was announced without any public discussion.

Several days ago, she wrote:


Today March 30, 2019, several Ohio newspapers had variations on the same announcement of a new non-profit headed by Lisa Gray, a long standing point person for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gray is now the “founder” of Ohio Excels, a corporate-led non-profit intent of making evidence of job preparation the priority for all high school graduates . The mission statement also includes educational choice, a policy perfectly consistent with the view that early apprenticeships and career prep from preschool are the singularly important missions of Ohio’s public schools.

This set of policy and practice priorities, comes to us hard on after the State Board of Education published Each Child, Our Future. Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education: 2019-2024 in June 2018. That plan also included a strong emphasis on workplace skills and early career education, notably with Lisa Gray participating in a “workgroup” on “ High School Success and Postsecondary Connections ” led by LEAH MOSCHELLA from JOBS FOR THE FUTURE (JFF) where Moschella is a senior program manager for the Pathways to Prosperity Network, a collaboration between the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

I judge that plan 2018 Ohio plan (a conceptual mishmash) left too many CEOs unhappy, so Ohio Excels will be putting a new plan is in place–one that is an offshoot of Jobs for the Future (JFF) and the Pathways to Prosperity Network.

I looked at the board of Ohio Excels and see lots of CEOs, many from activist positions in metro area business committees and civic and cultural groups. One is also on the board of Hillsdale College–a radical right school. I recognize another as a major supporter of the arts. Another was leading an initiative instigated by the MindTrust in Indianapolis, seeking more charter schools in Cincinnati with the usual patter about needing more “high quality seats.”

I am still unravelling the connections among all of these outfits, but so far I have discovered that JFF has received 35 grants for a total of about $122.5 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation dating from 2002. Early grants pushed the Common Core with “college and career” readiness, beginning in earnest in grade 9.

The Pathways to Prosperity Network has been funded within each member state (e.g., annual participation fee for California, $500,000) in addition to funds from the Carnegie Corporation of New York $450,000, the James Irvine Foundation (about $12 million, most in California), the Noyce Foundation (before it closed in 2015), and SAP an international Software company.

Jobs for the Future,appears to be inseparable from the Pathways to Prosperity Network. JFF has 18 projects in Ohio. All of these are designed to make Ohio education serve corporate interests. I have not yet done research on each of these projects.

Pathways to Prosperity Network (a project and all host to other efforts);
Center for Apprenticeship & Work-Based Learning;
Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative;
Postsecondary State Network;
Student Success Center Network;
Nudging to STEM Success;
Early College;
Improved Reentry Education;
Jobs to Careers;
Counseling to Careers;
Middle-Skill STEM Pathways Initiative;
New Skills at Work;
Digital Career Accelerator;
Great Lakes College and Career Pathways Partnership;
Lumina Foundation Talent Hubs;
Google IT Support Professional Certificate;
Policy Leadership Trust, and the big surprise:
“Pay for Success in K–12 Education” wherein venture capitalists overtly hope to make money from turning K-12 education into a financial product with little or no public voice and oversight.

Jobs for the Future has “partners.” These are

California Endowment, (cloud computing, artificial Intelligence),
Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) Foundation,
The James Irvine Foundation,
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation,
Social Finance (Pay for Success contracts), and yes–
US Department of LABOR and US Department of EDUCATION.

This national network of interlocking programs, foundations, and corporate groups has an agenda far removed from vocational eduction.

Ohio Excels, the new Ohio non-profit to be led by Lisa Gray has three staff and a policy agenda for public education that has not been shaped by public discussion. Our students are to part of the “talent pipeline” that CEOs say they want. Never mind what the life of our students may offer or require beyond getting a job and getting ready for a job beginning in Kindergarten. I hope to offer more detail about “Ohio Excels,” Jobs for the Future, and Pathways to Prosperity in another post.