Archives for category: Gates Foundation, Bill Gates

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?

Morgan Ames is a techie. She majored in computer science at Berkeley and now works at the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society. She wants to convince you that techies know computer science, but we should not look to them for advice about child-rearing, education, or other social issues. Their range of expertise is narrow. It may make them very rich. But it does not make them wise in every field of endeavor.

in particular, she is critical of the media narrative that techies shield their children from early use of technology.

She writes:

“These articles assume that techies have access to secret wisdom about the harmful effects of technology on children. Based on two decades of living among, working with, and researching Silicon Valley technology employees, I can confidently assert that this secret knowledge does not exist.

”To be sure, techies may know more than most people do about the technical details of the systems they build, but that’s a far cry from having expertise in child development or the broader social implications of technologies. Indeed, most are beholden to the same myths and media narratives about the supposed evils of screen time as the rest of us, just as they can be susceptible to the same myths about, say, vaccines or fad diets. Nothing in their training, in other words, makes them uniquely able to understand arenas of knowledge or practice far from their own.”

Whoa. I disagree with Ames. Monitoring children’s screen time and allowing them time to read and play is one of the most important jobs of parents today.

I think Ames would have been on safer grounds had she criticized techies’ entrance into politics or other realms about which they are clueless, where they think their financial success makes them superior to everyone else and encourages them to scoff at democracy. Or where they think that their financial success gives them the right to “reinvent” education and scoff at democracy. Think Zuckerberg, Gates, and Mrs. Jobs.

 

Do you remember the prolonged battle over charter schools in Washington State? There were four referenda in the state, starting in the late 1990s, and the pro-charter forces lost the first three. On the fourth try, in 2012, Bill Gates and his friends bundled millions of dollars to buy the election. They outspent civil rights groups, PTAs, and teacher associations by a margin of 16 to 1. Sixteen to one!

And Gates and friends won the election by about 1% of the vote. Then the losing side appealed to the state courts to block charter funding, which would divert money from the state’s underfunded public schools. The State Supreme Court ruled that charter schools are not “common schools,” as defined in the state constitution, because their boards are not elected. Thus, charters are not eligible to take money from the public school, fund.

Gates and friends then waged a campaign to defeat the Supreme Court judges who ruled against them, but they were re-elected despite the money thrown into the coffers of the candidates who opposed them.

Gates then put pressure on the Legislature to fund his charters. After much lobbying, the Legislature gave lottery money to sustain the billionaire’s charters (surely, you don’t expect Bill Gates to fund them himself!)

Governor Jay Inslee decided bravely not to take a stand. He neither signed nor vetoed the law diverting lottery money to support charter schools, and the law was enacted.

Gates spent millions more encouraging charters to open.

(This story, with all the details, the data, and the footnotes, is included in my new book, SLAYING GOLIATH, which will be published on January 21, 2020.)

However, it turns out that there is not a lot of demand for charters. Three closed this year due to low enrollments, which made them financially unsound.

Just this week, another charter announced that it was closing, due to dwindling enrollments and staff flight.

The Charter was approved in 2018, opened in August 2019, and is now closing.

Ashé Preparatory Academy welcomed its inaugural class of 140 students in kindergarten, first, second and sixth grades when it opened in August. Within four years, the school hoped to grow to more than 400 studentsacross grades K-8.

But within a month of opening, several staff quit or stopped showing up to work. And by Oct. 4, the day the school’s oversight board voted unanimously to close the school, enrollment had been sliced in half. Ashé’s last day of classes was Friday…

But this fall, the school’s ambitious mission was quickly overshadowed by practical problems in the classrooms. Ashé (pronounced ah-SHAY) relied on an “inclusive” classroom model, which means that students with special needs and those with advanced abilities worked alongside their peers. Teaching all levels of students can be tough for any teacher, Sullivan said, but this was particularly true for staff new to the profession.

About six of the school’s nine teachers and paraprofessionals were new, she said. In hindsight, she added, she should have hired a full-time instructional coach to aid junior staff members. The school’s principal and several staff could not be reached for comment.

On Sept. 24, the school’s oversight board held an emergency meeting after three staff resigned or stopped coming to work, meeting minutes suggest. One option the board discussed: Stop serving sixth graders.

The board convened again three days later; at that meeting, staff pleaded for more help. A first-grade teacher asked for more professional coaching, and a sixth-grade paraeducator remarked that similar calls by sixth-grade staff had gone unanswered.

Then more staff resigned and students left, too. By Oct. 1, just 90 students were enrolled, according to board-meeting minutes. And by Oct. 4, enrollment sank to 70 students.

Charter schools in Washington are publicly funded, but privately run. Sullivan said Ashé raised close to $1 million in grants and was also eligible for state funding based on the number of students enrolled. Because so many students left, the school was expected to run a $700,000 deficit this year.

The fledgling charter-school movement in Washington has grown in fits and starts. Nine are still operating, and several have plans to open over the next few years. This month, a state charter-schools nonprofit won nearly $20 million from the federal government to help new charters get off the ground. But three charters have closed this year — and with the closure of Ashé, charter-school advocates and officials say they intend to take a hard look at what went wrong.

Good old Betsy DeVos to the rescue, giving $20 million in federal funds to open new charters in a state where there is little demand for charters.

One other interesting side note: CREDO analyzed charter performance in Washington State based on three years of data and determined that there was no difference overall between charter schools and public schools.

The findings of this study show that on average, charter students in Washington State experience annual growth in reading and math that is on par with the educational gains of their matched peers who enroll in the traditional public schools (TPS) the charter school students would otherwise have attended.

Question: If both sectors get about the same results, why did Bill Gates spend millions of dollars to open a privately managed sector? Was it sheer vanity?

 

Mike Petrilli, president of the rightwing Thomas B. Fordham Institute, published a report about the “dramatic achievement gains” of the 1990s and 2000s. 

Surprisingly, he attributes most of these gains to improving economic conditions for poor families of color, not to standards, testing, and accountability, a cause that TBF has championed for years. But, not to worry, TBF has not changed its stripes, dropped out of ALEC, and joined forces with those who say that poverty is the main cause of low test scores.

So, I give Mike credit for acknowledging that improved economic conditions and increased spending had a very important effect on student academic performance. But he can’t bring himself to say that the accountability policies of NCLB and Race to the Top were poisonous and harmful, and that Common Core was a complete bust. He seems to be straining to find examples of states where he thinks high-stakes testing and school choice really were positive.

My first thought as I reviewed his data on rising achievement was that all these graphs looked very familiar.  Yes, they were in most cases the graphs (updated to 2017) appeared in my book Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (2013). I used these graphs to debunk the Corporate Reformers’ phony claim that America’s public schools were failing.  I cited NAEP data to show the dramatic test score gains for African-American and Hispanic students. I argued in 2013 that test scores had risen dramatically, that graduation rates were at a historic high, that dropout rates were at an all-time low.

The data, I said, demonstrate the hoax of the Reformers’ narrative. Despite underfunding, despite an increased number of students who were English learners, despite numerous obstacles, the public schools were succeeding. Most of the gains occurred prior to enactment and implementation of No Child Left Behind.

Now, to my delight, I find that Petrilli seems to agree. He even admits that the decade from 2007-2017 was a “lost decade,” when scores on NAEP went flat and in some cases declined. Yet, despite his own evidence, he is unwilling to abandon high-stakes testing, charter schools, vouchers, and Common Core. How could he? TBF has been a chief advocate for such policies. I don’t expect that Mike Petrilli will join the Network for Public Education. I don’t expect him to endorse new measures to address outrageous income inequality and wealth inequality, though I think he should, based on his own evidence. And I doubt very much that TBF will withdraw as a member of the fringe-right, DeVos-and-Koch-funded ALEC.

Mercedes Schneider has a sharp analysis of Petrilli’s almost “mea culpa.”

She does not forgive him for serving as a loud cheerleader for Common Core, testifying to its merit even in states that had standards that were far superior to those of CCSS.

The title of her post sums up her distaste for his newfound insight that “poverty matters.”

“Common Core Salesman Michael Petrilli: *Economics Affect NAEP, But Stay the Ed-Reform Course.”

She does not forget nor forgive TBF’s ardent advocacy for the ineffectual Common Core Standards. She refers to TBF as “Common Core Opportunists.”

Schneider accuses Petrilli of cherry-picking the data so that he can eke out some credit for standards-testing-accountability by overlooking the irrelevance of CCSS and the big gains before the era of Corporate Reform:

Moreover, for as much as Petrilli pushed CCSS in its 2010 – 2013 heyday, he is notably silent on the CCSS lack of connection in his October 2019 NAEP score analysis. Petrilli only mentions CCSS one time, and there is certainly no encouragement to further examine any connection between his Gates-purchased CCSS push and NAEP subgroup scores.

Petrilli had yet another opportunity to do so in his 2017 “Lost Decade” piece about NAEP scores from 2007 to 2017, which Petrilli links to in his October 2019 report. No mention of CCSS at all.

It is noteworthy that Petrilli’s “lost decade” begins with 2007, the year that NCLB was supposed to be reauthorized, but lawmakers could not seem to make that happen; the bipartisan honeymoon that produced NCLB had apparently ended.

NAEP scores soared prior to NCLB and continued to do so for several years after NCLB authorization in 2001, but then came a leveling off, and for all of TBF’s selling of a CCSS, the NAEP “lost decade” continued.

Petrilli does not bother to consider whether the standards-and assessments push has negatively impacted NAEP scores. Instead, he assumes that pre-NCLB IASA was the beginning of “the real revolution.”

No word why that standards-and-testing “revolution” has not continued to raise NAEP scores even though standards-and assessments continue to be the end-all, be-all of American K12 education.

However, in convoluted and contradictory fashion, Petrilli does include standards and assessments in the NAEP-subgroup-score-raising “secret sauce,” even though he has already spent the bulk of his argument justifying the mid-1990-to-2010 NAEP subgroup-score rise as related to improved economic conditions for school children.

So, NAEP subgroup score rises appear to be correlated with socioeconomics, but a slice of credit must also go to the standards-and-assessments push, but not beginning with NCLB, sooner than that– 1994– but let’s ignore rising NAEP scores of Black students in the 1970s and 1980s.

Schneider contrasts Petrilli’s newfound appreciation for the importance of economic conditions with his deeply ingrained commitment to the Bush-Obama “test-and-punish” regime, in an article published just a few weeks ago:

Here’s Petrilli again, this time from September 23, 2019, Phi Delta Kappan, in a piece entitled, “Stay the Course on Standards and Accountability”:

So what kind of changes do we now hope to see in practice?

Here’s how we might put it: By raising standards and making the state assessments tougher, we hope that teachers will raise their expectations for their students. That means pitching their instruction at a higher level, giving assignments that ask children to stretch, and lengthening the school day or year for kids who need more time to reach the higher standards.

Gotta love the “we.” Must be the royal “we” because it sure is not “we” as in “we who work directly with children.”

For all of his promotion of “accountability,” Petrilli is accountable to no one– a hypocrisy with which he is apparently comfortable enough to “stay the course.”

 

 

 

 

The New York Times published a lengthy article about Bill Gates’ friendship with convicted sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein.

Gates visited Epstein’s lavish townhouse in Manhattan on several occasions. He hitched a ride on Epstein’s private jet. They engaged in lengthy discussions about philanthropy.

All of this hobnobbing happened after Epstein was convicted for soliciting prostitution from a minor and was required to register as a sex offender.

Gates says he now “regrets” the relationship.

Mr. Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, whose $100 billion-plus fortune has endowed the world’s largest charitable organization, has done his best to minimize his connections to Mr. Epstein. “I didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with him,” he told The Wall Street Journal last month.

In fact, beginning in 2011, Mr. Gates met with Mr. Epstein on numerous occasions — including at least three times at Mr. Epstein’s palatial Manhattan townhouse, and at least once staying late into the night, according to interviews with more than a dozen people familiar with the relationship, as well as documents reviewed by The New York Times.

Employees of Mr. Gates’s foundation also paid multiple visits to Mr. Epstein’s mansion. And Mr. Epstein spoke with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase about a proposed multibillion-dollar charitable fund — an arrangement that had the potential to generate enormous fees for Mr. Epstein.

“His lifestyle is very different and kind of intriguing although it would not work for me,” Mr. Gates emailed colleagues in 2011, after his first get-together with Mr. Epstein.

Bridgitt Arnold, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gates, said he “was referring only to the unique décor of the Epstein residence — and Epstein’s habit of spontaneously bringing acquaintances in to meet Mr. Gates….”

Two members of Mr. Gates’s inner circle — Boris Nikolic and Melanie Walker — were close to Mr. Epstein and at times functioned as intermediaries between the two men.

Ms. Walker met Mr. Epstein in 1992, six months after graduating from the University of Texas. Mr. Epstein, who was an adviser to Mr. Wexner, the owner of Victoria’s Secret, told Ms. Walker that he could land her an audition for a modeling job there, according to Ms. Walker. She later moved to New York and stayed in a Manhattan apartment building that Mr. Epstein owned. After she graduated from medical school, she said, Mr. Epstein hired her as a science adviser in 1998.

Ms. Walker later met Steven Sinofsky, a senior executive at Microsoft who became president of its Windows division, and moved to Seattle to be with him. In 2006, she joined the Gates Foundation with the title of senior program officer.

At the foundation, Ms. Walker met and befriended Mr. Nikolic, a native of what is now Croatia and a former fellow at Harvard Medical School who was the foundation’s science adviser. Mr. Nikolic and Mr. Gates frequently traveled and socialized together.

Ms. Walker, who had remained in close touch with Mr. Epstein, introduced him to Mr. Nikolic, and the men became friendly.

In Jeffrey Epstein’s will, he named Mr. Nikolic as a fallback executor of his estate, in case the two primary executors declined.

Mr. Nikolic declined the designation.

We knew Bill Gates has bad judgment about education. Now we know he has appallingly bad judgment about people. Hasn’t he ever googled people before meeting with them? Isn’t there someone on staff to do it for him?

I’ve tried many times to meet with Bill Gates, with no success. I guess I don’t have the right connections.

 

A reader of Mercedes Schneider’s blog asked her to investigate a new curriculum that the state was imposing on all teachers. Schneider took the challenge, which resulted in this post.

I play a role in this venture so I want to explain how I got involved. In 2007 or 2008, I was invited to co-chair a new organization whose purpose was to advocate for the liberal arts. The other co-chair was Antonia Cortese, Secretary-treasurer of the AFT. The board was bipartisan. Our goal was to take a stand against the narrow test-based focus of No Child Left Behind and make the case for the importance of literature, history, and the arts.  The organization was called Common Core Inc., but it had no connection to the “Common Core State Standards,” which did not then exist.

At some point in 2010, the executive director Lynne Munson decided to take money from the Gates Foundation to expand into “curriculum mapping,” changing the original focus from an advocacy group to a purveyor of services, selling its wares. I quit the board.  During the two years of my association with the board, I never received any compensation.

As Schneider shows, Common Core Inc. is now “Great Minds,” and it has a large budget.

It is big business, a part of the education industry.

 

 

Mercedes Schneider discovered that Oregon-based Stand for Children is pouring money into school board races in Louisiana. Why should an Oregon organization try to choose school board elections in another state? That’s the way the Disruption Movement works. The funding comes from the usual sources, none of which is based in Louisiana.

She writes:

Since 2012, hundreds of thousands of dollars has flowed into Louisiana elections from this Portland, Oregon, ed-reform organization, and when I examined the campaign finance filings for these three PACs, I discovered only two Louisiana contributors to one of the PACs, the Stand for Children LA PAC…

SFC is anti-union, pro-Common Core, pro-school choice—usual corporate-ed-reform fare. As for some of its major money: Since 2010, the Walton Family Foundation has funded SFC (via the SFC Leadership Center$4.1M, with $400,000 specifically earmarked for Louisiana.

Then, there’s the Gates funding…

It all sounds so locally-driven, so grass-rootsy.

It’s probably best to not mention that SFC in Oregon finances the show.

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