Archives for category: Gates Foundation, Bill Gates

Yesterday we learned that billionaires have assembled a fund of $725,000 (so far) to defeat Washington state Supreme Court justice Barbara Madsen. The money is being funneled mostly through a group called “Stand for Children.”

Why are the billionaires eager to oust Judge Madsen? She wrote the 6-3 decision in 2015 that declared that charter schools are not public schools under the Washington state constitution and are not eligible to receive public funding devoted solely to democratically governed public schools. For daring to thwart their insistence on charter schools, the billionaires decided that Judge Madsen had to go.

But what is this group “Stand for Children” that is a willing handmaiden to the whims of billionaires who hate public schools?

Peter Greene explains its origins as a social justice organization some 20 years ago, founded by Jonah Edelman, the son of civil rights icon Marian Wright Edelman and equity advocate Peter Edelman. Josh’s pedigree was impeccable, and Stand for Children started as a new and promising civil rights organization.

But somewhere along the way, SFC took a radical change of course. It began receiving buckets of money from the Gates Foundation and the Walton Foundation. By 2010, Oregon SFC was advocating charters, cybercharters, and a reduction in the capital gains tax. Flush with reformer cash, it became active in many states, opposing unions, supporting charters, removing teacher job security.

Strange.

The apple has fallen very far from the tree.

SFC endorsed the anti-public school, anti-union propaganda film “Waiting for Superman.”

SFC crowed about pushing legislation in Illinois that would cripple the Chicago Teachers Union. It opened a campaign in Massachusetts to reduce teacher tenure and seniority rules, threatening a referendum unless the unions gave concessions. Jonah Edelman boasted at the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2011 about his role in spending millions, hiring the best lobbyists, and defeating the unions.

Be sure to read the 2011 article by Ken Libby and Adam Sanchez called “For or Against Children? The Problematic History of Stand for Children.” They captured the beginning of the transition of the organization to a full-fledged partner of the billionaire reformers.

Old friends, now disillusioned, call Stand for Children “Stand ON Children.”

Greene lists the members of the current board. All corporate reformers and corporatists, not a single educator.

Greed is the root of a lot of evil. It turns good people bad if they can’t resist its lure.

We now know that the national convention of the NAACP endorsed a strong resolution opposing the expansion of charter schools, saying that they foster segregation, target communities of color, remove community and parent voice, and impose harsh discipline.

But what do civil rights groups think about testing?

Our reader Laura Chapman wrote about this question.

She wrote:

Before ESSA was passed, about 30 members of the 200 member of the “Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights” lobbied Congress and USDE to continue the use of use of disaggregated test scores as if this was the only “objective” way to identify disparities in education. NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., participated in this effort.

Of course, the charter industry exploits these disaggregated measures to justify their test-centric schools and to promise they can do better than public schools in providing ”high quality seats” in struggling urban districts.

In April of 2016, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights sent a letter to John King requesting that these features of ESSA not be compromised in the guidance letters he might issue to states.
http://www.civilrights.org/advocacy/letters/2016/ESSA-implementation-framework.html

Also in April, the “Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights” published a survey of African American and Latino parents on what they want from schools. The survey promotion had this headline and lead-in:

“Parents: Schools Not Preparing Students of Color for Future.” http://www.colorlines.com/articles/parents-schools-not-preparing-students-color-future

The survey was conducted by Anzalone, Liszt, Grove Research “a public opinion research firm specializing in message development and strategic consulting. For nearly 20 years, we have helped clients ranging from President Obama, to EMILY’S List, to Microsoft achieve their goals.”

The Survey promotion continued “From lack of funding to low expectations, a new survey finds that Black and Latino parents don’t trust public schools to help their kids succeed.”

Given this lead-in, I thought the survey might deal with “trust in public schools.” Not so. In fact we do not know much about the survey other than the published methodology does not meet minimal standards for research: For example, we do not know if the parents who participated in the survey by landline or mobile phone had children in public, charter, or parochial schools. We do know that the 400 African American and 400 Latino participants lived in Chicago or in Philadelphia. Perhaps Julian can discern the messaging function of the survey get the full survey not just the survey, and discern why the headlines were framed around “trust in public schools.”

https://www.dropbox.com/s/99tklsqp6aykxgk/New Education Majority poll summary.pdf?dl=0

My impression is that this is a push poll created to support a messaging campaign. I note, for example, that the “Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights” received $878,338 in October 2015 from the Gates Foundation ”to make the national education policy conversation more reflective and inclusive of a civil rights framework of equity and access by including more diverse voices and perspectives.” That is Gates-speak for promoting access to charter schools.

The Gates Foundation has a sure-fire method of winning hearts and minds.

Edushyster interviewed Joanne Barkan, one of our most perceptive writers about the farce/hoax called “education reform.”

Barkan has written a series of important articles about the reformers, they of high stature, who want to run the nation’s public schools that they do not patronize. “Got Dough?” is a classic. She quickly understood that the billionaires don’t trust democracy. And that is a theme of her work on education.

In response to one of EduShyster’s questions, Barkan replies:

Some of the wealthiest people in the United States have had an easy go of it. They started with wealth, likely went to private schools, and have no sense of what public education is and why it’s necessary. And, of course, there are also those who started with nothing and made their own fortunes. It seems that by the time they’ve made a lot of money, they’ve lost touch with the role of public education. The vast majority of the super wealthy send their own kids to private schools, which they do for a variety of reasons, including prestige. What’s interesting to me is that there are some states that have written into their constitutions that the primary obligation of state government is public education. When those constitutions were being written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, government was much more limited. We have a situation today where so many states are under tremendous financial pressure, and the first place they go when they have to cut is public education, as if public education were somehow an extra, as opposed to being a fundamental responsibility.

EduShyster: I was smitten by the subtitle of your article: *Bill Gates, Washington State and the Nuisance of Democracy.* What is it about democracy that plutocrats find so irksome?

Barkan: The plutocrats—people like Bill and Melinda Gates, Michael Bloomberg, John Arnold, or Eli Broad—have very set ideas about what they want to do. It doesn’t matter to them, or perhaps they just don’t understand, that their ideas may not be based on sound research or principles. They know what they want, and they come out of professional experiences where they’ve had complete authority. When they get to public education, they expect to be in control and to make things happen as quickly as if they were still running their companies. But as everyone should know, democracy is slow, and it’s messy, and that turns out to be a great nuisance for plutocrats.

The rest of the interview is fascinating and enlightening.

Mitchell Robinson, professor of music education at Michigan State University, writes here about the frightening new direction that is on the horizon for evaluating student teachers.

Here comes NOTE (National Observational Teaching Examination), created by ETS, in which student teachers are judged by their ability to instruct cartoon characters (“avatars”).

Robinson minces no words in chastising educators who have decided to join forces with the corporatization of teacher education-evaluation.

He writes:

Now, even some of these education experts, tempted by the prospect of previously unimaginable wealth and power, have sold out their profession for a shot at cashing in on the corporate reform gravy train. Witness Dr. Deborah Ball’s stepping down as Dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan to concentrate on her work on NOTE: National Observational Teaching Examination for ETS, the Educational Testing Service.

As I’ve written about previously here, and here, and others have written about here, NOTE is a high-stakes student teacher evaluation test that requires pre-service teachers to “instruct” avatars–yes, avatars! And if their “teaching” of these cartoon characters isn’t deemed adequate, the student teacher is denied their certification or teaching license, in spite of the fact that the student teacher in question has just completed an accredited, rigorous 4 or 5 year teacher preparation program, regardless of the student teacher’s earned GPA or demonstrated capability to teach real, live children in hundreds of hours of field experiences in local school classrooms, or the intern’s exhibited knowledge, understanding or competence in their subject area.

(And, just to rub a little salt in the wound: the persons who are remotely-operating the avatars are not teachers themselves–they are unemployed actors who have been trained to manipulate the joy sticks and computer simulations that control the avatars’ voices and movements. The designers of the avatar system found that teachers thought too much about their responses to the interns’ teaching “moves”–the actors didn’t concern themselves with matters like content correctness or developmentally-appropriate responses; they just followed the provided script, and efficiently completed the task at hand.)

Schools Matter reported on this alarming new methodology here and here, and clarifies that the new technology-driven program is funded by….(no surprise)…the Gates Foundation, which gave $7 million to “remake teacher education in a corporate high tech image, one that can be turned into deep and fast-running revenue streams by the increasingly rapacious Silicon Valley data miners and dystopian isolationists who view democratic community as a threat to unbridled corporate greed.” It seems that Bill Gates will never abandon his goal of standardizing American education.

Our reader Jack Covey supplied this video.

Do you suppose that future teachers might master teaching cartoon avatars yet lack the skills and knowledge of a well-prepared teacher?

Jon Parker, a teacher in Pittsburgh, warns that the corporate reformers are trying to reverse the results of the school board election that they lost by attacking the board’s choice of a pro-public education superintendent. The reformers (Gates-funded and called “A+ Schools”) are abetted by the pro-privatization Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Reformers don’t like democracy unless they can buy it. The pro-public education board ended the Gates’ experiment with test-based evaluation and canceled a contract with Teach for America. That sort of thing makes reformers really angry. How dare they assert a vision different from the great Bill Gates! How dare they end his experiment in evaluating teachers! How dare they say no to TFA!

Parker outlines the scenario:

Chapter 1: Pittsburgh has a democratically elected school board.

Chapter 2: Pittsburgh’s citizens vote for pro-public education candidates.

Chapter 3: A+ Schools’ (a.k.a. Bill Gates’ employee) candidates lose.

Chapter 4: A+ Schools doesn’t know what it feels like to lose and becomes upset.

Chapter 5: Pittsburgh’s democratically elected school board selects a pro-public schools superintendent without allowing A+ Schools to railroad the process.

Chapter 6: A+ Schools becomes more upset and elicits the support of local media in a witch hunt against the new superintendent.

Valerie Strauss reviews the flap-flap over Bill Gates’ conclusion that poor people should raise chickens. She wonders what teachers would say to Gates if they had the chance, having suffered through his disastrous education theories and experiments for nearly 15 years.

The best line in her post is this one:

Some critics said the program was a publicity stunt and wouldn’t solve the underlying problems of poverty in Africa. “Our father, Who art Uncle Bill, Hallowed be thy whims …” Nigerian satirist and author Elnathan John wrote on Twitter.

Gene V. Glass, distinguished education researcher, gives Bill Gates a short lesson about chickens and generational poverty.

Bill Gates recently advised poor people to raise chickens to improve their lives.

He had Africa in mind, but he also offered chickens to Bolivia.

The Bolivian government was offended by Gates’ offer. Bolivia raises millions of chickens and exports them to the world.

“How can he think we are living 500 years ago, in the middle of the jungle not knowing how to produce?” Bolivian Development Minister Cesar Cocarico told journalists. “Respectfully, he should stop talking about Bolivia.”

Wouldn’t it be great if public schools and superintendents could respond like that to Bill Gates? Something like this: “We are professional educators and we know what we are doing. Please don’t offer money to try out your experiments on our children. Please take your advice and your money elsewhere.”

Yesterday our friendly reader Raj reacted with outrage to the post about Bill Gates telling poor people around the world to improve their lot in life by raising chickens. Raj said the source was a disreputable British rag, and I should be ashamed for referring to such “sensational” claims.

 

To satisfy Raj’s curiosity (and my own), I did a wee bit of Internet research, and in four seconds, I found the original source of the story: it was an article written by Bill Gates.

 

The guy with $70 billion says if he were poor, he would raise chickens.

 

Now don’t get get me wrong. Raising chickens is a swell thing to do, and I donate to the Heifer Fund to help buy animals for people in poverty. Of course, I can’t raise chickens myself because I live in an apartment building, and it is probably against the house rules to raise chickens in an apartment. Also, I am not poor, so he wasn’t talking to me.

 

Bill Gates is different from me. He has about $70 billion. World leaders listen to him. I would expect him to have more fully developed ideas about how to reduce poverty. There is a big difference between abject poverty and subsistence. Maybe raising chickens would help large numbers of people live at a subsistence level.

 

But with Gates’ billions and his huge staff, I expected deep thinking about the structural nature of poverty. Not chickens.

 

 

Bill Gates knows everything. He even knows how poor people can raise themselves out of poverty. With all his billions, he has become an expert on everything there is to know.

He advises poor people everywhere to keep chickens if they want a better life.

That’s better than VAMming their teachers.

Poor Bill Gates. He doesn’t have anyone near him or on his payroll to tell him when to be quiet.