Archives for category: Gates Foundation, Bill Gates

The New York State Board of Regents received a grant of $100,000 from the Gates Foundation to hire a consultant to evaluate its testing illness. The Regents hired Achieve, an organization devoted to standardized testing and it’s proliferation. In addition, Achieve was deeply involved in the development of the Common Core.

After hearing outrage from constituents, the Regents broke ties with Achieve and replaced them with California-based consultant WestEd.

Uber-reformer John White announced that he is resigning as superintendent of Louisiana.

He has sterling disrupter credentials.

Teach for America. Broad Academy. Joel Klein’s inner circle. Briefly leader of New Orleans’ charter district.

Mercedes Schneider has the story here. She thinks the next state superintendent might actually be an experienced educator.

Under White’s leadership, Louisiana dropped to nearly the very bottom of NAEP.

Watch to see which disruption group or leader picks him up next: the Waltons? The City Fund? John Arnold? Charles Koch? Bill Gates? Jeb Bush?

 

 

Hi, Bill and Melinda,

We have never met but I feel that I know you because I am so familiar with your education projects.

I have tried in the past to meet you and have a candid conversation but have never had any luck.

You were always too busy or out of town.

But I am trying again.

I will be in Seattle on February 3-4.

I arrive on the afternoon of the 3rd and am speaking at a public event on February 4 at Town Hall. The wonderful teacher-leader Jesse Hagopian is introducing me.

I have some down time and wondered if we might be able to meet at last.

Are you available to meet in the late afternoon or evening of February 3 or during the day on February 4?

Please let me know if you can make time on your busy schedule.

My partner will be with me.

I hope you can do it!

We have a lot to talk about!

Diane

John Thompson is a historian and a retired teacher, who blogs often, here and on other blogs. He has keen insight into what’s happening in Oklahoma.

He writes:

Since 2015, the Tulsa Public Schools have cut $22 million from its budget, even dipping into its reserve fund to balance the books. Now it must cut another $20 million.

Given the huge support for the TPS by local and national edu-philanthropists, patrons should ask why it faces such a crisis, even after the state has started to restore funding. Despite the assistance of the outcome-driven Billionaires Boys Club, the TPS has lost 5,000 students, especially to the suburbs and online charters. But that raises the question of why Chief for Change Superintendent Deborah Gist and her staff of Broad Academy administrators have produced such awful outcomes.

https://www.gkff.org/what-we-do/parent-engagement-early-education/prek-12-education/

After a series of community meeting, Gist recommended school closures designed to save $2 to 3 million. Gist also seeks $3 million in saving by increasing class sizes. Then, Gist proposed $13 to 14 million in cuts to district office administrators.

It’s great that most of the burden will be carried by the central office. But that raises the question why the district has such a well-funded administration.

Even though the Oklahoma press wouldn’t dare ask what the corporate reform-subsidized administration has accomplished, Tulsans should ask why the district in near the nation’s bottom in student performance from 3rd to 8th grades. Why does it have more emergency certified and inexperienced teachers than other districts after being awarded Gates Foundation “teacher quality” grants?

https://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/education/tulsa-public-schools-patrons-weigh-in-on-million-budget-cut/article_fecdcb9d-f914-578c-913a-433ecb90d7b7.html

Participants in the recent community engagement process “were most willing to make budget reductions related to student transportation and bell times, teacher leadership opportunities, building utilization and district office services.” Perhaps as a repudiation of the Gates Foundation’s experiment, cutting teacher coaches was the recommendation that received the most votes. Tulsans were most protective of teacher pay, class sizes, and social-emotional learning and behavioral supports.

The fear is that closures and increased class sizes will result in more patrons leaving the district. Community participants also expressed concerns that closures will lead to more charter schools. The Tulsa World’s report on community meetings noted the worries of a parent, Wanda Coggburn:

Many shared Coggburn’s suspicion of a charter school taking over Jones or the other targeted elementary school buildings. But Gist said the needs of the six TPS-sponsored charter schools did not factor into the recommendation to close the schools.

The World also reported the fears of parents with disabilities. The parents of a child who has cerebral palsy and a developmental delay that causes behavioral issues say he was moved from a special education to a general education class against their wishes, and “they worry that adding more students would hinder his progress even further.”

Betty Casey of TulsaKids also describes the protests of parents whose deaf children attend Wright Elementary, which the superintendent wants to close. She talked with a mom who said of Wright:

She fears that it will be given to Collegiate Hall Academy, a charter school which currently shares space with Marshall Elementary. She wants her child to continue at Wright, not a charter school. She pointed out that Marshall has two gyms and a swimming pool currently not being used that could be put to use by public school students. Why not close College Bound Academy and put those students in Wright and Marshall? Closing a small charter school without a building would be much less disruptive.

https://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/education/tulsa-s-jones-elementary-school-was-closed-once-before-and/article_2a08579f-2236-5bb8-b2a5-feb9db156682.html
https://www.tulsakids.com/where-does-tps-find-20-million/

Why would patrons have such fears? Maybe it’s because Gist responded to a question about a closed building saying “she’s confident the growing TPS-sponsored charter schools are interested in the potential space and are closely watching this process.”

I previously said that the traditional press hasn’t dared to investigate the results of corporate reform in Tulsa. However, Ms. Casey’s TulsaKids is a parents’ magazine that asks the questions that journalists have ducked. She recently wrote:

Why is it that when public schools are starved, and resources are stretched to the breaking point, that TPS is supporting a parallel school system of charters that drain more resources from the public schools? … The savings in closing schools is a drop in the bucket, but once the school is closed, it’s very difficult to go backward. Didn’t the superintendent say she was going to try to draw families back to TPS? Where will those returning families put their children? If Wright becomes a College Bound Charter, the families who wish to remain at a neighborhood school will have only one “choice” of a charter school.

Casey further explains:

I’m glad that Superintendent Gist has vowed to interview all the families leaving TPS. But, it seems a little late to wonder why people are leaving as they walk out the door. Why not work to create public schools that families love right now? …

Maybe it’s time to look at the “reforms” being implemented by the superintendent, and prior to that, Dr. Ballard’s acceptance of Gate’s Foundation money (MAP testing), and admit that those changes aren’t working for our kids, and families are leaving as a result.

https://www.tulsakids.com/where-does-tps-find-20-million/

Among rightwing think tanks, none has more intellectual firepower than the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, due to its leading thinker Chester E. Finn Jr., who has an Ed.D. from Harvard Graduate School of Education and worked in the administrations of Reagan and Nixon, as well as working for Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Lamar Alexander.

The Institute, formerly a foundation, is based in Washington, D.C., where it has a large voice in Republican politics, but its actual (if not physical) home is Ohio, because the money came from a Mr. Thomas B. Fordham, who lived in Ohio.

TBF is very influential in Ohio, where it recently wrote the state’s academic standards. TBF has been a loud cheerleader for the Common Core standards, having received millions from the Gates Foundation both to evaluate them and advocate for them.

Fordham looms large as an advocate for charters, vouchers, high-stakes testing, and punitive policies towards teachers and principals. I was an original member of the TBF board, when it was launched, and resigned in 2009, when I realized that my views were no longer aligned with those of TBF. One of the projects I disliked intensely was a “manifesto” funded by Eli Broad, which argued that one did not need to be an educator to be a school principal. I disagreed. I also disagreed with the TBF decision to accept Gates’ funding, since it would hamstring TBF’s role as an independent think tank and put it in the debt of Gates. It was also unnecessary, since TBF had $40 million in the assets at the time. Since I left TBF, it has accepted many, many millions from Gates, Broad, Walton and other external funders.

Who was Thomas B. Fordham? How did his fortune become the founder of a rightwing think tank?

Mercedes Schneider here reviews an analysis of the origins of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, based on a paper by Richard Phelps. 

As I have often stated, I was an original member of the board of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. I objected to two major policy positions: one, the decision to become an authorizer of charter schools in Ohio, which I believed was not the role of an independent think tank. I lost that vote. As I recall, almost every one of the charters authorized by TBF either closed or failed or both. I also objected to accepting money from the Gates Foundation, as it would impair our independence and make it impossible to criticize Gates when it was wrong. And TBF didn’t need the money, it had assets of $40 million. I lost that vote too. I left the board in 2009, since I no longer supported either choice or the TBF vision of accountability. I later heard that “my seat” (the girl) was awarded to the CEO of a Gulen charter chain in Los Angeles. So there.

Every blogger who has written about MSNBC’s Public Education Forum expressed gratitude that a big cable network paid attention to our most important democratic institution.

Nancy Bailey is angry about the issues that were ignored, the ones that threaten the future of students, teachers, and public education.

She is also streamed that the program was not on live TV. Public education not important enough for live TV? 50 million children are in public schools. They have parents. Quite an audience to overlook.

Good work, Nancy!

She writes (in part, read it all):

Candidates talked about making the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes to help schools, but no one mentioned Bill Gates, the Waltons, Eli Broad, Mark Zuckerberg or any of the corporate reformers who are taking control of public schools.

They didn’t mention Common Core or the failure of the initiatives funded by the Gates Foundation and taxpayers. Nor did they speak about portfolio schools, the latest corporate endeavor to push choice and charters.

No one mentioned using Social Impact Bonds or Pay for Success to profit off of public schools. See: “Wall Street’s new way of making money from public education — and why it’s a problem” by Valerie Strauss.

CEO Tom Steyer mentioned corporate influence towards the end, but it was brief, and no moderator attempted to explore what he said.

Ed-Tech

No one mentioned what might be the biggest threat to public education, the replacement of teachers and brick-and-mortar schools with technology.

Disruption was initially described by Clayton Christensen and Michael Horn in their book Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. This is seen as the revolution by those in business and the tech industry and is being played out in online charter schools like Summit and Rocketship. Summit also has an online virtual school.

Many students across the country get school vouchers to be used for substandard online instruction like K12 and Connections Academy.Preschoolers are subjected to unproven Waterford UPSTART.

The candidates might want to review Tultican’s “Ed Tech About Profits NOT Education.”

Wrench in the Gears is another blog good at describing the threat of technology.

Teach for America

Teach for America corps members with little training have taken over classrooms, and they run state departments of education!

Do Democratic candidates have Teach for America corps members as consultants on their campaigns? It’s troubling if they do. They should not be wooing teachers with professional degrees and experience while relying on TFA behind the scenes.

Other insidious reform groups are also about replacing education professionals. Relay Graduate School, The New Teacher Project, New Leaders are a few.

This needs to be addressed, sooner, not later.

Betsy DeVos et al.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy hearing Democratic candidates say they’re going to boot Education Secretary Betsy DeVos out.

But President Obama had individuals from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other corporate reform groups, working in the U.S. Department of Education. Arne Duncan was no friend to teachers or public schools.

So, while applause against DeVos are justifiable, now’s the time to address the role Democrats have played (and continue to play) in corporate school reform.

The fact is, many groups and individuals are working to end public education, who wear Democratic name tags. It’s imperative that Democratic candidates address this.

 

Mercedes Schneider reviews the Gates Foundation’s long and costly list of failed interventions into K-12 schools and points out, quoting the words of the Foundation, that it has never admitted any failure and never apologized.

Gates paid for the interventions but the real cost was borne by teachers and public schools.

He tried breaking up big schools into small schools, convinced as he was that big schools are ineffective, but when the small schools didn’t produce higher test scores, he abandoned that idea.

He prodded Arne Duncan to include the untested of evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students, and he launched his own experiments in seven districts and charter chains. That too was a flop.

He poured uncounted millions into boosting the charter industry, despite the fact that charters do not get different results from public schools when they enroll the same students.

He spent millions promoting a charter law in his home state of Washington, which passed on the fourth state referendum only after he overwhelmed the opposition by spending 16 times as much as they did; the charters he fought so hard for have struggled to get enough enrollment to stay open (four of the original dozen have already folded), and a CREDO evaluation concluded that they don’t get different results than public schools in the state.

Gates provided almost all the funding necessary for the Common Core State Standards, which required districts and states to spend billions of dollars on new tests, new textbooks, new software, new teacher training, new everything.

When the backlash grew against the Common Core, Gates simply didn’t understand it, since he compares education to an electric plug with standard current into which all possible appliances can be plugged in and get power.

This year, the Gates Foundation awarded 476 grants, but only seven went to K-12, mostly to promote charter schools, a passion he shares with the rightwing Walton Foundation and Betsy DeVos and her foundations.

Read the Gates Foundation’s statement that Mercedes includes in her post. You will see that the foundation acknowledges no failures, no errors, no miscalculations. It doesn’t even own its almost total responsibility for CC, nor for its disastrous reception by teachers and the public.

The legacy of Bill Gates: Teachers and principals who were fired based on a phony measure of their “effectiveness.” Schools in black and brown communities closed because of their test scores. A demoralization of teachers, and a dramatic decline in the number of people entering the profession. A national teacher shortage. The elevation of standardized testing as both the means and the ends of all education (tests that were never used in the schools he and his own children attended).

Here are a few things that Bill Gates NEVER funded or fought for: class size reduction; higher salaries for teachers; a nurse and social worker and librarian in every school; higher taxes to support public schools.

Mercedes concludes:

It may be too much to expect Bill Gates to completely exit K12 education. After all, we have been his hobby for years.

But the fewer Gates dollars, the smaller the petri dish.

Unfortunately the lingering effects of his failed experiments continue to ruin schools, such as the value-added measurement of teachers by test scores, still written into law in many states; the Common Core persists, often under a different name to disguise it; and of course charter schools continue to drain students and resources from underfunded public schools.

 

 

In her latest post, Nancy Bailey draws a contrast between a summit of fake education leaders and the summit that actual teachers reach when they teach their students and fight for their students and their schools.

Bailey describes the pseudo summit taking place in San Diego, where people who have never taught discuss how to reinvent education for fun and profit.

Read her list at the end of her post. It is a who’s who of the Disruption Industry, assembled in one place to celebrate themselves and the damage they have done to schools, students, and teachers across the nation.

 

Bailey writes:

Today’s National Summit On Education Reform meeting is a nightmare for teachers and parents. It involves those who want to replace democratic public schools with technology, ending schools and teaching as we know it. They will have children sitting in front of screens for instruction in warehouse charters, or at home all day.

Most of these self-acclaimed experts have not struggled to teach in gritty, overcrowded classes. They have not wiped runny noses or dealt with the trauma that some children bring to school. They never had to work towards unproven curriculum standards through Common Core. Nor have they had to face the reforms that, ironically, they and their ilk created.

They blame teachers for what goes wrong in schools due to their own back ass policies, but they’ll step up and take credit for anything that goes right!

You won’t find them on the streets of their cities fighting for the needs of children and a profession that nurtures those children. These individuals are above all that.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush leads the summit. As an American citizen Bush has every right to speak out about schools, but he doesn’t have the right to own them. Bush, whose educational background is in real estate and Latin studies, has leveled accusations against schools without doing due diligence to help students. His 3rd grade retention plan is a failed idea, but no one seems to have the power to end it, so children still are hurt by it.

Bush has been against schools and teachers every step of the way. When he had the chance to improve class sizes in the 90s, he hated the idea so much he was caught saying he had a “devious plan to end it.” Think what it would have meant if he’d studied the issue and been supportive of teachers, even negotiated.

What if he’d said, we can’t afford to lower all classes, so let’s lower class size in K-3rd grade when children are learning to read. But Bush didn’t want that. Look at life in Florida and the country now, a mix of underfunded public schools and unproven charters, and vouchers to questionable schools.

Please open the link and read it to the end.

The New York Times published an editorial chastising the billionaires who are outraged by Senator Warren’s proposed tax on billionaires.

No plan emerges through Congressional hearings unscathed, and you can bet K Street lobbyists will work overtime to protect the nation’s 607 billionaires.

The Times said:

When Bill Gates founded Microsoft in 1975, the top marginal tax rate on personal income was 70 percent, tax rates on capital gains and corporate income were significantly higher than at present, and the estate tax was a much more formidable levy. None of that dissuaded Mr. Gates from pouring himself into his business, nor discouraged his investors from pouring in their money.

Yet he is now the latest affluent American to warn that Senator Elizabeth Warren’s plan for much higher taxes on the rich would be bad not just for the wealthy but for the rest of America, too.

Mr. Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, suggested on Wednesday that a big tax increase would result in less economic growth. “I do think if you tax too much you do risk the capital formation, innovation, U.S. as the desirable place to do innovative companies — I do think you risk that,” he said.

Other perturbed plutocrats have made the same point with less finesse. The billionaire investor Leon Cooperman was downright crude when he declared that Ms. Warren was wrecking the American dream. Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, complained on CNBC that Ms. Warren “uses some pretty harsh words” about the rich. He added, “Some would say vilifies successful people.”

Gates says the wealthy should pay higher taxes? Has he lobbied the state Legislature in Washington State to impose either income taxes or corporate taxes? That would certainly help the state’s underfunded public schools far more than Gates’ flailing charter schools.

John Thompson, historian and recently retired teacher in Oklahoma, assays the damage that corporate reformers and their patrons have inflicted on the public schools of Tulsa. The district is overflowing with Broadies and has Gates money. What could possibly go wrong?

 

The Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) offers an excellent case study in data-driven, market-driven school reform.  Before No Child Left Behind, we in the Oklahoma City Public School System (OKCPS) studied Tulsa’s successes, and it quickly became clear that children entering TPS had advantages that their OKCPS counterparts didn’t have. They had lower poverty rates and, due to enlightened philanthropic leadership, they had higher reading skills. Moreover, philanthropists continued to invest in holistic social services, as well as early education.

By 2010, however, when the Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) accepted a $1.5 million Gates grant, the inherent flaws of the Gates effort were obvious. Back then, I would visit and learn about great work being done on early education and by Johns Hopkins’ experts advising the TPS. I also asked how it would be possible to reconcile investments in those evidence-based efforts and their opposite – the Gates shortcuts.

https://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2010/02/OPP1005881

When I showed a scholar a scattergram on the Tulsa website documenting the extreme gap between the “value-added” of its high and low performing high schools, the Big Data expert responded in a scholarly way.  Understanding that it would be impossible to control for those huge differences, the consultant replied, “Oh, sh__!”

http://static.battelleforkids.org/images/tulsa/vascatterplots_1_and_3_year_avg_final_2-10-12.pdf

So, how well did the Gates grant work in raising teacher quality?

The TPS now has to rely on the trainer of uncertified teachers, the Teacher Corps, which “is one of many recent strategies for finding bodies to put in classrooms.” According to the Tulsa World, “This is necessary because about 30% of the district’s teaching force started working there in the past two years.” That includes 388 emergency certified teachers.

https://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/education/in-only-its-second-year-tulsa-public-schools-teacher-corps/article_cd295874-08df-5c0d-8398-cc1f382b6e23.html

As it turned out, the Gates experiment was just one of a series of corporate reform gambles. In addition to promoting charter expansion, the George Kaiser Family Foundation has joined with the Bloomberg and Walton foundations in funding “portfolio management” directors to “absorb the duties of the director of partnership and charter schools,” and “in the future, implement ‘new school models resulting from incubation efforts of the district.’” Worse, in 2015, one of the Chiefs for Change’s most notorious members, Deborah Gist, became the TPS’ superintendent. Before long, Tulsa had 13 central office administrators who were trained in the teach-to-the-test-loving Broad Academy.

https://www.gkff.org/what-we-do/parent-engagement-early-education/prek-12-education/

https://dianeravitch.net/2019/02/26/tulsa-broadie-swarm-alert/

And, how did the Broad-trained administrators do in raising student performance?

In 2017, Sean Reardon’s Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis provided the best estimate of student test score growth from 2009 to 2015. It revealed that Tulsa students entered 3rd grade ahead of their counterparts in Oklahoma City. That is likely due to the great early education efforts led by philanthropists.

From 3rd to 8th grade, however, Tulsa students lost more ground than those in all but six of the nation’s school systems. TPS students gained only 3.8 years of learning over those five years; that was .6 of a year worse than the OKCPS. Neither did 2016 outcomes reflect progress. The updated report shows that TPS scores were .81 grade levels lower than districts with similar socioeconomic status. Its racial and economic achievement gaps were worse, and poor students declined further in comparison to similar districts.

https://cepa.stanford.edu/

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/12/05/upshot/a-better-way-to-compare-public-schools.html?action=click&contentCollection=The%20Upshot&region=Footer&module=WhatsNext&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&moduleDetail=undefined&pgtype=Multimedia

https://nondoc.com/2019/10/19/school-effectiveness-linked-to-diversity/

And the bad news just kept coming.  The State Department of Education’s latest report card assigned an “F” grade to 25 percent more TPS schools than to the more-challenged OKCPS.

https://nondoc.com/2019/03/07/new-school-report-cards-sad-outcomes/

Tulsa Superintendent Deborah Gist responded with an implausible claim that the district’s own assessments are more meaningful, and show more progress. However, benchmarks tend to encourage shallow in-one-ear-ear-and-out the-other teaching and learning. Gist’s statement isn’t proof that this is happening, but it raises the type of question that report cards should lead to.

https://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/education/no-perfect-system-revamped-grade-cards-are-better-but-don/article_272ad2b5-4525-52ca-aa7f-e81462473c24.html

Part of the answer lies in another reform investment on reading instruction. Tulsa adopted the Common Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) curriculum. Betty Casey, the publisher of Tulsa Kids magazine, began her thoroughly investigated report on the CKLA in Tulsa with an example of the 3rd grade questions that Gist trusts: “Do you think primogeniture is fair? Justify your answer with three supporting reasons.”

Casey quoted a first-grade teacher’s description of a reading lesson:

“You say, ‘I’m going to say one of the vocabulary words, and I’m going to use it in a sentence. If I use it correctly in a sentence, I want you to circle a happy face. If I use it incorrectly, I want you to circle a sad face. The sentence is Personification is when animals act like a person.’”

That lesson is given 10 days after the start of school. “I had kids who wouldn’t circle either one,” the teacher said. “Some cried. I have sped (special education) kids in my room, and they had no idea. That’s wrong. Good grief! These are 6-year-olds!”

https://www.tulsakids.com/is-ckla-the-best-way-to-teach-children-to-read/

So, how is the reading experiment working?

Oklahoma Watch studied federal data and learned that the TPS retained relatively few 3rd graders. But it retained 823 students through kindergarten and second grade!
Education Watch then reported, “Benchmarking itself is not an exact science. … Some kids score poorly because they are having a bad day or they don’t know how to use a computer mouse, which is common with kindergarteners.”

https://oklahomawatch.org/2018/12/14/oklahoma-nearly-tops-nation-in-holding-back-early-grade-students/

Tulsa’s expensive love affair with data may explain its latest crisis.  Tulsa has had a net loss of 5,000 students over the last decade. That means it must cut $20 million next year.

Ms. Casey and  many others suggest that another reason why Tulsa loses teachers and students is that it’s No Nonsense Nurturer classroom management system is a top-down mandate that hurts school cultures.

https://ktul.com/news/local/teachers-speak-on-controversial-no-nonsense-nurturer-program

The TPS held a series of community meetings, but it may not like the message it heard from the community. Two of the top recommendations from the community were: 44% survey-takers “chose to reduce teacher leadership roles …. Reducing the central office was the fourth most popular choice at 43%.”

Gist expressed a different opinion, however. And, in fairness I must add that a massive school closure effort preceded Gist; it was widely praised but as a subsequent post on Oklahoma City reforms will address, it may have contributed to loss of student population. But, Gist’s take of the closures is nothing less than weird. She said that the TPS might be losing students to the suburbs because they have larger schools!

https://www.tulsaworld.com/tps-report-on-community-feedback/pdf_61104782-617b-5b75-876c-cc52dc9fa1a2.html

It sounds to me like Superintendent Gist is grasping at straws. Maybe she is asking the same question that I am: How long will output-driven funders support her expensive and failed policies?