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Laura Chapman responded to this post about the nil effects of NCLB:

She writes:

“The biggest lie was NCLB. The second biggest lie was Race to the Top. The third biggest lie is ESSA.”

NCLB was the template for what followed. I wrote about that jargon-filled fiasco as a heads up to colleagues working in arts education who did not know what hit them.

Race to the Top was the double whammy with a propaganda mill called the “Reform Support Network” designed to intimidate teachers who failed to comply. USDE outsourced the problem of compliance to people who did not know what to do with this fact: About 69% of teachers had job assignments untethered to statewide tests. The hired hands working for the Reform Support Network offered several absurd solutions. Among these were the idea that teacher should be evaluated on school-wide scores for subjects they did not teach (e.g., math, ELA) and that a writing assignment called SLOs (student learning objectives) should function as a tool for evaluation.

The SLO writing assignment required teachers to specify and predict gains in the test scores of their students from the beginning to the end of the year. Teachers were graded on their SLOs and up to 25 criteria had to be met for writing a “proper” SLO. That absurdity has been marketed since 1999, first in a pay-for-performance scheme for Denver conjured by William Slotnick (Master’s in Education, Harvard). There is no evidence to support the use of SLOs for teacher evaluation. Even so, this exercise is still used in Ohio, among other states.

ESSA is like NCLB in that the high stakes tests are still there, but they are surrounded with legalese about state “flexibility.” Some parts of ESSA calls for de-professionalizing the work of teacher education (see Title II, Section SEC. 2002).

ESSA became the federal law before our current ten-yacht owner and avowed Christian missionary, Betsy Devos, was appointed to be in charge of the Department of Education.

Devos’ incompetence delayed and then mangled the “approval” of required ESSA “state plans“ for this school year, 2018-2019. In the meantime, groups that championed NCLB and Race to the Top publicized their own ratings of ESSA plans (e.g., Bellwether Education Partners, Achieve, and the Collaborative for Student Success). The Collaborative for Student Success is funded by the Bloomberg Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, ExxonMobil, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation–none friends of public education.

I think that compliance checks on ESSA, if any, will be outsourced and that the still pending federal budget will confirm the ten-yacht Education Secretary’s’ real priorities—choice and some of the increasingly weird things recently on her mind.

Many people wrongly assume that the Common Core is dead, since Trump said he would kill it and Dezvos claimed she never supported it.

But Bill Gates launched and financed Common Core, and he is still funding it.

Laura Chapman writes:

“Anyone who thinks that Gates has given up on the Common Core is wrong.

“He is still pouring money into districts that will push it. His idea of “collaboration and listening” is pay others to come into a district and offer trainings to teachers and principals whom he regards as hapless, or lazy, or incompetent, or insufficiently dedicated to the Gates agenda, including Gates-Funded the Common Core.

“I just checked the database for the Gates foundation. In just 2016 and 2017 he has poured $32,175, 526 million into pushing the Common Core.

“Grants for this purpose were sent to the twelve groups who are willing to do for-hire work defined by the Gates Foundation.

“The following received grants the largest of these grants:

Center for American Progress, $1,000,000;
EdSource Inc., $1,362,606;
New Teacher Center $2,000,000;
Loyola Marymount University, $2,000,000;
CSU Fullerton Auxiliary Services Corporation, $2,000,000;
WestEd, $4,350,875;
University of Kentucky Research Foundation, $5,000,000;
CORE Districts $6,350,000;
New Venture Fund, $7,900,010.

“Gates has sent another $7,614,758 to those CORE Districts in California in the last three years, in addition to the grant for $6,350,000 ear-marked to push the Common Core (above).

“CORE stands for the California Office to Reform Education. CORE has no formal connection to the California State Board of Education, CORE and the districts it has signed up is called a “collaborative.” I think not.

“CORE is a privately funded organization that engineered a contractual takeover of some of the largest districts in California. The contract takes the form of a Memorandum of Understanding between the superintendent of each district and CORE. That MOU allows CORE to determine almost everything that happens in some of California’s largest districts: Garden Grove, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco and Santa Ana.

“CORE is funded by the Stuart Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. The student, teachers, school, and parent data from the CORE “School Quality Improvement Index” flows directly to where school “quality” ratings are used to help market products and services to parents and other users. Zillow and Scholastic are among the companies that pay fees in order to market products and services.

“Don’t believe what Gates says. Follow the money.”

A couple of days ago, Bill Gates said he has a new plan to reform education. As I pointed out in a post, Bill Gates is batting 0 for 3. He dropped $2 Billion into breaking up large high schools and turning them into small schools. He started in 2000, didn’t see a big jump in test scores, and backed out in 2008. Then, having decided that the answer to high test scores was to punish teachers whose student scores didn’t go up, he pushed value-added Assessment, partnering with Arne Duncan and Race to the Top. Thousands of educators were fired and many schools were closed based on Gates’s fancy. That lasted from 2008 until now, and it has been written into state law in many states, although it has distorted the purpose of education and created massive demoralization among teachers and a national teacher shortage. Then he funded the Common Core, in its entirety. It is his pedagogical Frankenstein, his personal belief that education should be completely standardized, from standards to curriculum to teacher education to teacher evaluation. Speaking to the National Board for Certified Teachers a few years ago, he praised standardization and talked about the beauty of standard electrical plugs. No matter where you live, you can plug in an appliance and it works! Clearly, that was his metaphor for education. What did he spend on the creation and promotion of the Common Core? No one knows for sure, but estimates range from $200 Million to $2 Billion.

There is one other massive Gates failure that I forgot to mention: inBloom. This was a $100million investment in data mining of students’ personally identifiable data. Several states and districts agreed to turn their data over to inBloom, which wipould use the data as its owners chose. Parents got wind of this and launched a campaign to stop in loom. Led by Leonie Haimson of New York and Rachel Stickland of Colorado, parents besieged their legislators, and one by one, the state’s and districts pulled out. InBloom collapsed.

We don’t know how much money Gates has poured into charter schools, but we imagine he must be disappointed that on average they don’t produce higher scores than the public schools he disdains. He bundled millions for a referendum in Washington State to allow charter schools, the fourth such referendum. Despite Gates’ swamping the election with money, the motion barely passed. Then the State’s highest court denied public funding to charter schools, declaring that they are not public schools because they are not governed by elected school boards. Gates and his friends tried to oust the Chief Judge when she ran for re-election, but she coasted to victory.

As you see, he is actually 0 for 5 in his determination to “reform” the nation’s public schools.

But he is not deterred by failure!

So what is the latest Gates’ idea?

Laura Chapman explains here:

“At the Meeting of the Council for Great City Schools October 19, 2017, Gates said:

“Today, I’d like to share what we have learned over the last 17 years and how those insights will change what we focus on over the next five years.”

“I think that Gates has learned very little about education in the last 17 years. He is still fixated on “the lagging performance” of our students on what he regards as “the key metrics of a quality education – math scores, English scores, international comparisons, and college completion.

“Gates wants his narrow definition of “quality education” to be accepted as if the proper doctrine for improving schools and also ensuring the “economic future and competitiveness of the United States.”

“Gates wants faster progress in raising test scores, and high school graduation rates. He seems to think that “constraints and other demands on state and local budget” actually justify his plans to “ increase high school graduation and college-readiness rates.”

“Gates takes credit for funding for the deeply flawed + Measures of Effective Teaching project (MET), claiming that it showed educators ”how to gather feedback from students on their engagement and classroom learning experiences . . . and about observing teachers at their craft, assessing their performance fairly, and providing actionable feedback.” The $64 million project in 2007 tried to make it legitimate for teachers to be judged by “multiple measures” including the discredited VAM, and dubious Danielson teacher observation protocol Gates learned nothing from that micromanaging effort.

“Gates funded and promoted the Common Core. He says: “Teachers need better curricula and professional development aligned with the Common Core.”He remains committed to the ideas that “teacher evaluations and ratings” are useful ways “to improve instruction,” He thinks “data-driven continuous learning and evidence-based interventions,” will improve student achievement. This jargon is meaningless.

“Gates said: Overall, we expect to invest close to $1.7 billion in US public education over the next five years.“…“We anticipate that about 60 percent of this will eventually support the development of new curricula and networks of schools that work together to identify local problems and solutions . . . and use data to drive continuous improvement.

“Don’t be deceived by the “public education” comment. Gates wants to control public schools by dismantling their governance by and for the public. By “networks of schools” Gates means “innovation districts” where persons employed by private interests can control educational policy under the banner of “collaboration” or “partnership.”

“Gates offers several examples of networks. One is CORE, a so-called “partnership” of eight large urban school districts in California: Fresno, Garden Grove, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco and Santa Ana,

“CORE stands for “California Office for Reform in Education CORE a non-governmental organization, based in San Francisco, funded by the Stuart Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation (Stephen Bechtel Fund); and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Here are some other things you should know about CORE.

“CORE was created in order to bypass the California State Board of Education and Race to the Top accountability, by marketing its new “School Quality Improvement Index.” This index includes social-emotional learning and school climate indicators in addition to California requirements—test scores, graduation rates, and the like.
Participating CORE Districts are bound to the terms of a memorandum of understanding, signed only by each district superintendent. This MOU specifies that the district will use: CORE-approved school improvement ratings based on existing and new indicators, a CORE-approved teacher and principal evaluation process with professional development plans, CORE-specific teacher and principal hiring and retention policies with cross-district sharing data—including results from teacher/student/parent surveys of school climate and student self-assessments of their social-emotional skills.

“The final rating for each school in a CORE district is a complex web of weightings and transformations of scores into performance and growth measures: 40% of the overall rating for school climate/social emotional indicators and 60% for academics.

“An autonomous “School Quality Oversight Panel” nullifies oversight of these districts by the State Board of Education. This “oversight” panel has CORE supporters recruited from The Association of California School Administrators, and California School Boards Association, California State PTA. The main monitors/promoters of this scheme are actually two panel members: Ed Trust West and the Policy Analysis for California Education. Bot of these organizations are sustained in large measure by private funding.

“Ed Trust West is funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies, State Farm Companies, and these foundations: Bill & Melinda Gates, Joyce, Kresge, Lumina, Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family. The Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) is based at Stanford University, with participation by the University of California – Berkeley, and the University of Southern California. PACE is a conduit for grants from USDE and from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation; Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund; S. D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation; Walter and Elise Haas Fund; and The Walter S. Johnson Foundation.

“School ratings developed by the CORE Districts flow directly to —a marketing site for schools and education products. is funded by the Gates, Walton, Robertson, and Arnold Foundations. Add the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the Bradley Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, New Schools Venture Fund. and 15 other foundations.“ in a non-profit in name only. sells data from all states and districts. For a fee, it will push users of the website to particular schools. Buyers of the data include Zillow and Scholastic.

“I think that the CORE District model illustrates how the private takeover of education is happening. Policy formation and favored school practices are being determined by the wealth and the peculiar visions non governmental groups with deep pockets. In the CORE Districts, this work is aided and abetted by superintendents who are eager for the money and the illusion of prestige that comes from permitting private funders to determine educational policies and practices.

“Gates’ speech to members of the Council of the Great City Schools also includes the example of Tennessee’s LIFT Education as a “network” that is worth replicating.

“LIFT Education enlists educators from 12 rural and urban districts across the state to promote the Common Core agenda and Teach for America practices. Participants in LIFT Education are convened by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education —SCORE. The SCORE website says participants in LIFT have spent the last year and a half collaborating on high-quality early literacy instruction, focusing on building knowledge and vocabulary by piloting knowledge-rich read-alouds in early grades.

“The LIFT/SCORE alliance provides a governance structure for insisting that teachers follow the Gates-funded Common Core. Teachers are given an instructional practice guide that is also a teacher evaluation rubric from Student Achievement Partner, authors of the Common Core.

“This LIFT/SCORE non-governmental network is the result of private wealth channeled to superintendents who have outsourced the “coaching” and compliance monitoring for the Common Core literacy project to the Brooklyn-based The New Teachers Project (TNTP). In effect, TFA coaching and systems of data-gathering are present in all of the LIFT/SCORE districts.

“SCORE, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education has been funded since 2010 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, so far $10,623,497 including multiple years for operating support. Add a 2012 grant to SCORE as sponsor of a Chiefs for Change Policy Forum for district leaders so they would be “ambassadors for education reform.” The bait for the LIFT/SCORE network thus came from Chiefs for Change–Jeb Bush’s baby, unfriendly to public education.

“Gates says: “Over the next several years, we will support about 30 of these networks (e.g.., CORE, LIFT) and will start initially with high needs schools and districts in 6 to 8 states. Each network will be backed by a team of education experts skilled in continuous improvement, coaching, and data collection and analysis.””

“Our goal is to work with the field to ensure that five years from now, teachers at every grade level in secondary schools have access to high-quality, aligned curriculum choices in English and math, as well as science curricula based on the Next Generation Science Standards.”

“What else is in the works from the many who would be king of American education?

“We expect that about 25 percent of our funding in the next five years will focus on big bets – innovations with the potential to change the trajectory of public education over the next 10 to 15 years.” What does Gates means by “big bets?” He expects to command the expertise and R&D to change the “trajectory” of education. He will fund translations of “developments in neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and behavioral economics” in addition to “technology-enabled” approaches in education.

“There is money left for more.

“We anticipate that the final 15 percent of our funding in the next five years will go to the charter sector. We will continue to help high-performing charters expand to serve more students. But our emphasis will be on efforts that improve outcomes for special needs students — especially kids with mild-to-moderate learning and behavioral disabilities.”

“This proposal sounds like Gates wants to cherry pick the students with “mild to moderate learning and behavioral disabilities,” send them to Gates-funded charter schools to bring their scores up, then claim success where everyone else has failed. This same strategy is being used in “pay-for performance” preschools. Gates sounds like he expects to have a free-hand in ignoring the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Evidently he wants the “flexibility” to ignore IDEA that he believes to be present in charter schools.

“Bill Gates is still fixated on the idea that his money and clout can and will attract other foundations and private investors. He still holds on to the mistaken idea that “what works” in one community or state can be “scaled up,” and REPLICATED, elsewhere. He is ignorant of the history of education and efforts to replicate programs. He is trapped in an industrial one-size-fits-all model of education.

“Gates ends with this: “Our role is to serve as a catalyst of good ideas, driven by the same guiding principle we started with: all students – but especially low-income students and students of color – must have equal access to a great public education that prepares them for adulthood. We will not stop until this has been achieved, and we look forward to continued partnership with you in this work in the years to come.”

“Beware of billionaires who want to partner with you.

“Gates still seems to think that students, especially low income students, can and will be successful if they have “ equal access to a great public education.” He remains ignorant of the abundant research that shows schools alone are not responsible for, or solutions to, institutionalized segregation and poverty–the main causes of serious disadvantage among low-income students and students of color.

“Gates has grandiose plans. All are focused on privatizing education and selling that snake oil as if it is authentic support for public education.“

Laura Chapman noted a major promotion that is scheduled for September, when Laurence Powell Jobs tells the world how to fix public schools. What is the source of her expertise? Well, she is surrounded by alumni of the ill-fated Obama Department of Education, which managed to blow away $5 billion and accomplish nothing other than to create a teacher shortage and enrich the testing and charter industry. Arne Duncan, mastermind of the failed Race to the Top, advises Jobs. She is also extremely rich, and we know from “Fiddler on the Roof” that “When you’re rich, they think you really know.”

The Billionaires who think they have the answers to high school redesign are planning a big splash in early September.

Premise: “While technology and society have rocketed forward, high school has used the same model since 1900. We can’t prepare our nation’s students for the 21st century with this outmoded system. Let’s rethink high school.”

On September 8, 2017, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox New will be marketing the Emerson Collective’s “XQ: The Super School Project,” at 8 pm (7pm Central)

“XQ: The Super School Project was launched in September 2015 as an open call to rethink and design the next American high school. Thousands of school builders, and tens of thousands of supporters from towns and cities across all 50 states united to take on this important work. Nearly 4,000 teams of students, teachers, parents, community leaders and many more came together to conceptualize innovative models for 21st century learning. To date, XQ has pledged more than $100 million to a growing number of the most promising ideas, actively supporting these teams on their journeys to become Super Schools.” Here are some of the leaders of the project.

Laurene Powell Jobs. Chairs XQ’s board of directors, President of Emerson Collective. “Her two decades in the education field have convinced her that America is ready for a sea change to overhaul the system.” Widow of Steve Jobs.

Russlynn Ali, Chief Executive Officer. Former assistant secretary of civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education. Also serves as managing director of education at Emerson Collective.

Alexandra Berry, Chief of Staff. Designed professional development products for teachers at Amplify, Instructional faculty and operations team at Relay Graduate School of Education. Teach for America, middle school math learning specialist at Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) in Houston, Texas.

Matt Lorin, President: Former Executive Director of Honolulu-based, The Learning Coalition. Experience in philanthropy and civic engagement in public education.

Monica Martinez. Senior School Support Strategist. Expert in school redesign, policy, and philanthropy. Senior Fellow to the Hewlett Foundation, President of New Tech Network, VP of KnowledgeWorks Foundation, an associate at the Institute for Educational Leadership.

Dr. Linda Murray, Superintendent–in–Residence. Former senior advisor to the Education Trust-West and Superintendent of Schools for the San Jose Unified School District. Advises XQ on practice work …to help all students in XQ high schools reach college and career ready goals.

Sebastian Turner, Special Projects Lead: Worked as a personnel management consultant for Fortune 500 companies, human capital consultant and talent recruiter for charter management organizations. Former elementary school teacher.

Deep collaborators ( role not clear) include:
Yo-Yo Ma, the globally accomplished musician and creator;
Marc Ecko, Chief Brand and Creative Officer of COMPLEX, youth and justice advocate;
Geoffrey Canada, education advocate, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone;
Michael Klein, global strategic and financial adviser and Managing Partner of M Klein,
Leon Wieseltier, Isaiah Berlin Senior Fellow in Culture and Policy at the Brookings Institution, listed as the philosopher for the Emerson Collective.

More information about the high school project go to

For more about the people and projects of the Emerson Collective go to

My generation would label many of these efforts variants of the 1960s alternative school movement with a lot more tech. I hope that someone or some group (other than the promoters) will track the longevity of these school, transformations, and what happens when the grant money and glow of publicity fades. Notice how some of the recruits to lead the project are “formers”… of TFA, of Relay (not) Graduate School of Education, the Education Trust, and active in pushing tech. ALmost forgot: Arne Duncan is a Partner in the Emerson Collective.

Laura Chapman posted this comment, which I hope you will read:

Readers should know that website supports redlining. This is a non-profit website and organization in name only. Zillow, for example, pays a fee to lease all of the data and the ratings of schools. Specific schools can pay a fee to steer users to their websites.

The following supporters of redlining via the great schools website are not friends of public schools. They want to preserve schools and communities that are segregated by income, race, ethnicity, ownership of major assets (e.g., homes, automobiles), access to public services and amenities (e.g., public parks, libraries).

These supporters of segregation hide their agenda under a lot of rhetoric about saving children from failing schools. Wrong. These are the billionaires who are determined to misrepresent and undermine schools and neighborhoods through the irresponsible use of school “performance data,” especially scores on state standardized tests and more recently spurious surveys about school climate, the physical appearance of the school, and usually anonymous “customer” satisfaction ratings.

Major supporters of this redlining website are (logo displayed): Walton Family Foundation, Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Einhorn Family Charitable Trust; The Leona M and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust,
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Other supporters: The Charles Hayden Foundation; Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation; Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation; David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Heising-Simons Foundation; The Joyce Foundation; Excellent Schools Detroit; The Kern Family Foundation; The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation; The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation;

Four other supporters of this website that forwards redlining sould be noted

America Achieves now calls itself “a non-profit accelerator” of large-scale system-wide change in public education. Achieve was and is the major promoter of the Common Core, college and career agenda, and associated tests. Achieve is funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Charles Butt, the Heckscher Foundation For Children, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Kern Family Foundation, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (among others).
EdChoice is the updated name for the Milton Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. EdChoice wants market-based education, unlimited choice, but subsidized by tax dollars–The DeVos/Trump policy.
Innovate Public Schools is a California-based national organization that uses GreatSchools reports to promote “new” school formation, especially charter schools, through extensive parent “fellowships” and training.
Startup:Education is a grantmaking project of the Chan/Zuckerberg Initiative founded by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. Everything promoted by Start;Up Education and the larger Chan/Zuckerberg initiative is tech-based and mislabeled personalized learning.

There are other commercial supporters of the website. They pay fees for advertising space and market a range of products called “educational.”

Laura Chapman writes here about “computer-based education” and who profits from it.

“Frankly, the scariest for-profit ventures are the tech companies that hope to replace teachers and schools with their “scalable” models.” Diane Ravitch.

Yes. Computer-based Education (CBE) is being marketed as personalized when it is exactly the opposite. Legislators in Ohio and elsewhere are counting on CBE to produce a radical reduction in brick and mortar schools and the need for educators who have college degrees and professional credentials.

CBE is part of the reason that we states are trying to install student-based budgets as the norm for schools and districts. Accountants are dissecting a district’s budget so costs can be allocated to specific schools, then to courses and grade levels in the school, including each teacher’s salary with benefit package, and the estimated cost of educating an individual student to a specific standard of mastery, given the student’s SES characteristics and the like. These estimates would take into account local revenues, the value of federal and state funds (usually less than 12% each), and so forth. The aim is to lay claim to CBE as the “best bang for the buck” while pointing to a system that “objectively” monitors student mastery of pre-determined content (delivered by computers).

Here are two maps that show the rapid uptake of CBE as if it is the new panacea for education. Look beyond the maps for excellent research on how CBE is being marketed.
Hoping to escape Competency-Based Education? Looks like Wyoming is your only option.

Here you will find amazing and disturbing stats and graphic illustrations of some interlocking initiatives, all designed to have a rapid and “collective impact” on the educational landscape.

The Gates Foundation is investing in a program that would train adults to serve as “providers” of CBE, therby eliminating the need for state certification to teach. In fact the whole CBE movement is aimed at “deschooling” education. That requires demonizing place-based brick and mortar schools and grade-by-grade instruction as part of the antiquated lock-step factory model.

The International Association for K–12 Online Learning (iNACOL) aims to expand access to online formats for learning, with mobile phone access for some programs. See especially their publications calling for “innovation zones” that would provide for “competency-based, personalized learning” free of brick and mortar schools.

“Policy makers establish innovation zone authority or programs through legislation or rule-making to catalyze the development of new learning models. The innovation zone authority provides increased flexibility for a state to waive certain regulations and requirements for schools and systems beginning to plan, design and implement personalized, competency-based education models. Innovation zones offer state education policy waivers in order to support practitioners in the process of developing and implementing new learning models. As practitioners implement their models, any rules or regulations that impede the model development are brought to light and can be addressed through waivers in a state, which has provided such innovation zones. This shifts the role of the state agency from one of compliance enforcement to support in enabling new model development to occur in districts.”

iNACOL lists the states with favorable legislation: Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Mississippi, and New York. INACOL is supported by the The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, and The Walton Family Foundation.

The work of iNACOL is closely connected with the National Repository of Online Content (NROC). NROC Project is a non-profit network focused on “college & career readiness.” It is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, and NROC institutional members. Members provide multi-media content and applications to websites like HippoCampus (six sources of online content in Math, Science, Social Studies, English and Religion) and EdReady (math to prepare for commonly used placement exams, such as AccuPlacer, Compass, SAT, and ACT). Membership in NROC keeps costs low for institutions, and free for individuals. NROC operates under the umbrella of The Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE), a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation founded in 2003. MITE is staffed by three people. Taken as a group, they have worked for McGraw-Hill Education, CTB/McGraw-Hill, Harcourt Brace, in addition to having experience in corporate training, media, and financial management. MITE has received $16.2 million from the Gates foundation.

Although it is wise to keep attention focussed on the damage to public education being done by charter schools, vouchers, and the standardized testing requirements in ESSA, I think the larger threat to public education is CBE. Venture capitalists are investing in educational management systems and apps galore. markets CBE as teacher-free, learner-centered education organized by playlists of “opportunities for learning” with for-hire “sherpas” to guide students on “learning journeys.”

So far, there is very little discussion of the Trump/Republican roll-back of privacy regulations that once applied to internet service providers. There is little discussion of the prospect that this administration may eliminate the principle of net-neutrality in delivering content. The former means that student privacy (already thin and fragile as a moth’s wing in school contracts) is open to confabulation by personal/parental choices of products and services. The latter means that the speed and cost of internet services, including the e-rate program for schools, may become strictly market-based–supported by ads or other pay-to-play schemes.

CBE promoters see education organized in an ecological landscape with informal learning centers (for working parents), abundant on-line resources; opportunities for learning via community organizations such as art museums, libraries, parks, zoos, courts; and local businesses/workplaces.

Each of these providers of education would offer a badge or credential symbolic of learning. The badges or credentials are “stackable” so students who may verify their competencies as needed in seeking a job or advanced education. There is not much talk about the actual costs of CBE, the shelf life of hardware, the quality of on-line instructional materials, and unlimited possibilities for commercial exploitation of children and their parents. Choice through vouchers and CBE are perfect partners for creating the illusion that all children can and will have access to the best education in the world and completely personalized.

Since I posted this without the link yesterday, I am re-posting so readers have the opportunity to read Tom’s post in full.

Tom Ultican, a teacher of high school math and physics in San Diego, accepted an invitation to attend a Gates-funded conference for teachers last week. Having attended the bare-bones Network for Public Education, Ultican immediately spotted the differences in meals, facilities, staff, and other provisions.

He writes:

“On Friday, July 29, National University hosted the San Diego “Better Together California Teacher’s Summit.” I like National University and have nothing but praise for the wonderful job Dr. Judy Mantel and her excellent staff did. However, the conference underwriter was the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. That gave the proceedings a darker hue.

“During the 2016 NPE conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, Diane Ravitch mentioned how much easier it would be if we got a deep pocket sponsor for our movement, but she jokingly lamented that Anthony Cody would not stand for it. When I arrived at the Town and Country Convention Center in San Diego’s hotel circle, I saw what she meant. They had breakfast prepared for all 700 of us. The ballroom was plushly appointed and there appeared to be hotel staff everywhere. Twenty event staff were already on duty when I arrived.”

“Unfortunately, I had not read the agenda closely enough and had already eaten. I was only hoping for free coffee.”

Actually, I would be very happy to find a non-conformist billionaire or two to help NPE fight for public education and the public interest. Where Anthony and I disagreed publicly was on the wisdom of accepting corporate sponsorship. I would gladly take money from corporations to help us out and sponsor our conference. Anthony would not. Since we operate by consensus, NPE has no corporate sponsors and a tiny budget.

Not so with the conference, Tom Ultican attended. Common Core and testing were mentioned often and positively.

“Better TogetherVideo link connected us with a simultaneous event being held at California State University, Fullerton. Three massive screens projected keynote speaker, Ernie Hudson who was in Fullerton. Besides being a popular actor, Hudson is a wonderful speaker. His speech was moving and entertaining.

“However, I wondered if an accomplished professional educator speaking would have been more appropriate. For example, I will never forget the address Professor Yong Zhao gave at NPE Chicago but then he didn’t blame teachers for his son’s problems and he doesn’t support standards based testing. Hard to imagine Gates’ money being spent on a speaker that does not support Gates’ ideology.

“The Sponsors

“The money came mainly from the Gates Foundation, however, the official sponsors were AICCU, the California State University and the New Teacher Center. The sponsors page of the Better Together California web presence lists many corporate supports including: TFA, The S.D. Bechtel Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the California Charter Schools Association, Chevron….

“The New Teachers Center seemed to be the key organization overall in charge. Their funders page lists the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation as $10,000,000 plus patrons. Thirty listed entities are credited with donating between $1,000,000 and $9,999,999 including: Carnegie Corporation of New York; The Joyce Foundation; The David and Lucile Packard Foundation; SeaChange Capital Partners; The Goldman Sachs Foundation; Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust; National Education Association; and NewSchools Venture Fund.

“In addition to New Teacher’s Foundation, Edcamp was another major force present at the summit. Started by the George Lucas Foundation Edcamp has a small presence in communities across the country. There are two Edcamp groups in San Diego County according to the Edcamp representative from Baltimore.

“On his Edutopia internet page Lucas is quoted, “When I was in high school, I felt like I was in a vacuum, biding time. I was curious, but bored. It was not an atmosphere conducive to learning. Once I had the means to effect change in this arena, it became my passion to do so.” Sounds like another rich guy education “expert” with no training or experience, but he has a boat load of money so his opinion is important.

“On the good side, Edutopia and George Lucas do not appear to have a pecuniary interests in privatizing public education.

“I realize many people may wonder why I am not pleased that all of these rich people love kids so much. There is an insidious side. For example, instead of questioning the idea of adding engineering standards to basic science education, the conversation is shaped so all we discuss is how to best implement engineering principles into science education.

“Before students reach approximately their junior year in college, they are not ready to study engineering. I am for shop class, cooking and pottery projects, but these are not engineering. There is no useful purpose in confusing teachers and students by larding a bunch of inappropriate engineering standers onto seventh graders. Unfortunately, there appears to be no room for dialog that does not support the philosophy of the wealthy CEO that demanded engineering standards.”

You will enjoy Tom’s reflections on this high-powered gathering. I would love to know what the budget was.

Thanks to Leonie Haimson for this item.

By and large, foundations do not make grants to for-profit enterprises. If you are seeking funds to start a for-profit business, please consult the resources below for more information. You might also consult the business section of your local public library, or economic development agencies in your city, county, or state.

Social enterprises

If your for-profit business has a strong social mission, it might be considered a social enterprise. Social enterprise, also known as social entrepreneurship, broadly encompasses ventures of nonprofits, civic-minded individuals, and for-profit businesses that can yield both financial and social returns.

A small but growing number of foundations may provide program-related investments (PRIs) to social enterprises as well as nonprofits. PRIs are low-interest loans that a foundation can give to organizations or projects that match the funder’s giving interests.

Liquid Interactive

Date: May 2014

Purpose: to fund development of a web-based tool to help improve students’ writing skills
Amount: $200,000
Term: 12
Topic: College-Ready
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Brisbane
Grantee Website:

Liquid Interactive creates engagement between businesses and customers using digital technologies. Combining strategy, creative and technology, we connect brands and products with audiences in a multiplatform communications environment to deliver business outcomes.

Marketing and education go hand in hand at Liquid Interactive and this unique value proposition assists us in developing strategies and solutions for behavioural change, consumer engagement, product education and information retention and recall.


Writelike is a platform designed to teach users how to write more effectively—in any style, for any purpose. It is based on a large library of text snippets taken from all manner of sources—novels, children’s stories, newspapers, magazines, instruction manuals. Learners are presented with snippets and asked to rewrite them in different styles, and in so doing they learn differences of form and craft.

Writelike is one of Liquid Interactive’s internal, experimental projects that we are hoping to develop in the near future into something usable in Australian schools.

LightSIDE Labs LLC
Date: March 2014
Purpose: to develop a system that automatically assesses and gives feedback on student writing, and supports the revision process for students
Amount: $200,000
Term: 13
Topic: College-Ready
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Grantee Website:

Automated Support for Student Writing
Educational technology is failing to provide tools for writing in the classroom in a way that benefits actual teachers. The current practices of automated essay scoring are focused heavily on summative, standardized testing. When they do give formative feedback, it emphasizes mechanics and grammar over content and literary awareness of elements like genre, audience awareness, and argumentation. That’s not enough – especially with the upcoming shift to Common Core and the increased workload it represents. LightSide is developing tools that really work in schools, based on conversations with teachers and direct classroom experience. Our mission is to improve writing skills. We’re doing that with our flagship writing platform, the Revision Assistant, and with our automated scoring product, LightBox, which provides truly customizable and open access to the education industry.

April 2012: LightSide’s automated essay scoring engine was proven reliable in a study commisioned by Smarter Balanced and PARCC in a bake-off competition hosted on Read more about the competition.

Automated scoring of student essays is fast, accurate, and affordable. That was the conclusion drawn from two prize competitions sponsored by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. ASAP began in February of 2012 with a demonstration of capabilities of the eight largest testing vendors. The “bake off” was hosted on the Kaggle platform and, as Mark Shermis and Ben Hamner reported, demonstrated that current scoring engines could match expert graders across eight sets of essays. A case study, “Automated Student Assessment Prize Phase One and Phase Two: A Case Study to Promote Focused Innovation in Student Writing Assessment,” was published in January.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the ASAP competitions was the stunning performance of LightSide, an open scoring engine developed at Carnegie Mellon University. Grad student Elijah Mayfield and the open source code held their own against testing companies and data scientists from around the world.

The OECD has created tests that schools can administer to their students in order to compare them to the nations of the world.

Some schools have gleefully administered the tests, happy to discover how their students compare to children of the same age in the rest of the world.

Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg, a visiting professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education this year, warned that it was not valid to compare schools to national systems.

The OECD test has sponsors now but it will eventually be a money-maker:

“Although these early administrations have been partly subsidized by private philanthropies, most districts will have to pay $11,500 per school in order to participate starting next year, according to Peter Kannam at America Achieves, a nonprofit that has been recruiting new schools and coordinating exchanges among participants.”

“The development of this new diagnostic tool by the OECD was made possible by America Achieves, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carnegie Corporation of New York, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Kern Family Foundation. Additional support was provided by the Craig and Barbara Barrett Foundation, National Public Education Support Fund, the Stuart Foundation, and the Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona.”

Many educators can’t resist the temptation to administer yet another test. What would they do without data? Would they know how to diagnose children’s needs and plan for education without external tests to guide them? Surely, they cannot trust teachers to write their own tests or evaluate student needs.

In the ideal world of the future, school will be devoted entirely to testing, preferably to tests created solely by Pearson and/or the OECD. All learning will be standardized, and all children will be test-taking machines, programmed to find the right answer to every question. Th questions and the answers will be the sole property of Pearson and/or OECD.

Any learning not on the test will be considered a waste of time. Those who choose to think for themselves will be considered outliers, rebels, outcasts, possibly dangers to society. All “knowledge” will be strictly monitored by the Pearson/OECD bureaucracy.

The rules of life in this new society will be:

“We measure what we treasure.”
“You can’t control what you can’t measure.”
“Whatever cannot be quantified does not matter.”
“All problems can be solved by measurement and data.”
“Test scores determine one’s life potential.”
“Test scores are the best measure of students, teachers, and schools.”

Welcome to our Brave New World.