The Lines of Influence in Education Reform

[Originally published in 2010 when few if any people knew the connection between Gates’ money and public education.]


See the Lines of Influence in Education Reform flow chart here.

After working on this off and on for a few months with input from several other parents, Sue and I sat down this weekend and started to hammer out a bubble diagram of the flow of money and influence in this ed-reform movement that is taking a strangle hold on this country and our children. The above link is to a hand drawn diagram that we completed.

Anyway, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

When several of us began to discover the Broad Foundation’s influence in Seattle, one parent said to follow the money. At first I thought, yeah sure, it’s always about the money but as we delved further into this, we found out just how much money was being paid to various organizations to influence communities, towns and cities. It was quite remarkable. All of this information, by the way, can be found on the web. Because these organizations are non-profit, they must publicly divulge their financial information.

In some places on the chart we note certain amounts of money. The reason for that is that some of the sums that we discovered were finite and some were not. For instance, the Gates Foundation is basically the Alliance for Education‘s bank. Whatever the Alliance needs, it seems that the Gates’ Foundation just cuts another check by providing a grant for a specific purpose. I suppose that it helps that the Gates’ Foundation’s headquarters are located in Seattle and not far from the Alliance for Education offices, just a stone’s throw away.

The other reason that total sums of money are not shown for most of these transactions is because as with Teach for America, several foundations and individuals give a certain amount of money each year for three to five years. There are three-year plans and five-year plans making it more problematic to give you a specific number. Let’s just say that it’s a lot of money and all you have to do is Google their financial statements and you will have all of the numbers that you are curious about.

Another example is the AFT, the American Federation of Teachers, where Bill Gates gave AFT $3.4M for “teacher quality initiatives” (merit pay) and $217, 200 for AFT conference expenses. See: Did Bill Gates Buy His Podium at the AFT Convention? Sometimes a breakdown of the numbers provides a more clear picture of the power and influence of money.

Then there is money “with stipulations” that the Gates Foundation provided to NPR. The purpose of that money is “to support coverage of education issues on NPR programs, including the Morning Edition and All Things Considered”. The amount provided was $750,000. I don’t feel comfortable with that on many levels.

There was also $301,768 given to Minnesota Public Radio. The purpose stated was to “strengthen the quality and quantity of reporting on issues related to the nation’s low college completion rates” which plays into the Gates’ agenda. The sad part is that NPR felt the need to take the money and potentially provide a skewed viewpoint on issues in education or report on some aspects of ed reform and not others.

Then there is the Gates$3.5M to the Broad Foundation’s Center for the Management of School Systems in June of this year. (Doesn’t Broad have enough money?) In the Gates’ statement they say “ to build capacity in Hillsborough, Memphis, Pittsburgh, and the College Ready Promise, we are partnering with The Broad Residency to place each IPS organization to directly support teacher effectiveness initiatives (high stakes testing and merit pay) , while leveraging our accelerator grant to Tulsa and secure a multi-year investment from local Tulsa foundations.”

There is $40,000 to the League of Education Voters Foundation in Seattle “to support a series of education-related speakers in Seattle”. And that they have done. The all-star list includes Kevin Johnson, once involved in a scandal regarding AmeriCorps finances and certain relationships with some of the students of St. Hope Academya charter that he founded. He also happens to be Michelle Rhee‘s (Broad Board of Directors and former Teach for America, Inc. recruit) fiance who has been defending him on what could be unethical if not legal charges. As far as I’m concerned, they deserve each other. The other speakers in the line up are Barth with KIPP charter schools and Barr with Green Dot charter schools. LEV is also involved with trying to persuade the public here in Seattle that merit pay and other elements of SERVE are good and that teachers and unions are bad as teachers are in negotiations with a Broad Director and our superintendent, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. [This paragraph has been updated from the original version which listed Teach for America instead of AmeriCorps. –sp.]

Then there is the pocket-money for the Alliance for Education under the heading “general operating support” for $3,000 and the junket to Denver for $6,000 “to support a delegation of Seattle Public School district officials to meet with Brad Jupp and the administration in Denver for “best practices” on teacher labor agreements”. Denver, by the way, is being converted to all things ed-reform. Gates is financing much of that effort.

The list goes on but by now you’re probably starting to get the big picture. Broad and Gates have decided what is best for our children based on no experience in education and none of their own  children or grand children in public schools. There has been no dialogue between parents and teachers. It’s all top down as has been the case here in Seattle where our superintendent tells the board what she is doing and they rubber stamp it. What the school board doesn’t understand is that if they keep that up they will no longer be directors of any school board because the next thing down the pike will be mayoral control and mayor appointed school board directors. By the way, our school board has had “retreats” bought and paid for by the Alliance with books and speakers provided by Broad. Hmmm.

Sue and I will be adding to this as we uncover more information.


Post 2

A Closer Look at Seattle

Flow chart for Seattle

If you look closer at how the money and therefore influence flows in Seattle you start to find closed circles or “loops”. For example, Gates, the Alliance for Education, TR3 and NCTQ are a closed loop. Gates provides funding to the Alliance and TR3. TR3 funds the testing for NCTQ and NCTQ shows up around the country with their reports on teachers as an opener to ed reform in that town, city or community.

There is the closed loop with Seattle Public Schools, NWEA (the producer of the MAP test) and our school superintendent, Dr. Godloe-Johnson.

Patterns start to emerge that tell the story.

And about Strategies 360, on their website they state “S360 is one of the country’s leading strategic positioning firms. With offices across the Pacific Northwest and in Washington, DC, we are experts at negotiating the political landscape, crafting content, building coalitions and targeting communications.”

They have done that here in Seattle once they were hired by the Alliance for Education to create a campaign for ed reform in Seattle. One of their action items was to developed a faux roots organization that they named “Our Schools Coalition”. OSC is now bringing in ed reform speakers, creating “events” at school board meetings and contacting community leaders to get their buy in on ed reform without these leaders knowing what is really happening.

Folks, there is no reason for our community to be duped. The facts are in front of us. Let’s decide for ourselves what we want for our children.


8/24/2010 @ 2:10 PM

This just in:

This information is from a parent who has been doing an extensive amount of research regarding Strategies 360 and its’ relationship with SPS. Karen Waters is with Strategies 360 and is handling the SPS “account”. Our parent  states the following:

“Karen Waters is the contact for the Schools Now petition. She was also the contact for the Excellent Schools Now Coalition, which evidently was formed to lobby hard for the education reform bills this past session; (Washington State PTA is/was a member of the ESN coalition); she is VP at a rapidly growing marketing/p.r./public policy organization, and is responsible for the education policy and issues work of the business.”

Post 3


Norm Rice with the Seattle Foundation has an editorial in the Seattle Times today with yet another scripted article on how it’s all about the teachers.

What’s interesting about this is that on Sunday, when Sue and I were hashing out some of the details of the flow chart, Sue came across a grant that had been given to the Seattle Foundation of which Norm Rice is the CEO. Neither one of us had heard of the Seattle Foundation and at the time decided not to include it in our chart because it didn’t seem relevant. Well, I can’t believe that the next day, another grantee comes out of the wood work saying that it’s all about the teachers.

So this is how it’s been working all over the country, there is the NCTQ that comes in first waving their report around which is similar from state to state, then the faux roots organizations identifying themselves as coalitions and alliances spring up, then you get the unwitting buy-in of real organizations and others considered leaders in the community and then the editorials that are obviously scripted.

Well, we all know how it works and we can watch this unfold.

Now, will we in Seattle be duped as others have been?

I have faith in us Seattleites that we will be able to make our own, informed, decisions.

Post Script: To read more about the evolution in our state of the push towards corporate reform, see The Battle for Seattle: Part One.

35 thoughts on “The Lines of Influence in Education Reform

  1. My wife and I have been trying to get a grasp on all of this baloney for a year! It’s sooo nice to see someone making sense of all this.
    The Philanthroprofiteers rely on the fact that any issue requiring a complex explanation will be poo-pooed as a conspiracy theory. Therefore the simpler and more concise the explanation, the greater it’s chance of acceptance. Your flowchart, although illuminating, looks like something Glenn Beck would cook up. How about using an Excell Flowchart Template. Mrs. Gates himself is providing those for free. Wouldn’t it be great if he could help clarify this convoluted web of money and influence? Go here:
    and pick a flowchart. Open it in Excell and create a PDF that can be Emailed.
    People want everything explain in a neat little package. If the thing is so long that it cuts into DANCING WITH THE STARS they won’t read it.

  2. Dawn,

    I agree with you. It just takes one person to bring someone else along. That person can be a parent, a teacher or someone else who cares and spends time with that student, helping them as they can.

    You might be interested in my post: 4th of July

    What we don’t need are others coming in who know nothing about our children or education in general but possibly with the best intentions attempt to realign our educational system and in so doing, impact in the worse way the children who need the most.


  3. I tripped upon Seattle 2010 the way things are tripped upon online. It is so difficult and unreal to be following the dots from Seattle Schools 1990 and before. My biological children are now 4o, 36 and 27 but I laid claim to all children failed by our public schools along the way. As to Seattle Public I gave up on schools and committed to individual teachers who committed to teach children, they could have failed.

    Parents for Student Success is not PTA, I am not mad at PTA but we have to admit it is an illegal monopoly of parent involvement with free access to parents and use of public facilities even using public schools to send and receive information from parents. We are about parent learning to manage their children’s education careers, and being good advocates for their child. So as the schools shift gears, change positions, punt, do end runs, we must maintain our own game plan.

    Public Schools as they exist are employment and economic centers for adults and have little to do with a real education for children. In WA state they have been orientation centers for the juvenile justice system and Dept of Correction. Research tells us that planners know how many prison beds they will need based on the the number of 4th graders not reading at grade level.

    I had what I thought was an easy conversation with a LEV director recently, just passing the time, and he could not maintain even a civil level of discourse about the unethical failure of African American and Hispanic children in Seattle Schools.

    I wish I had something encouraging to say to you in your work. I wish I could say that parents not money will prevail in our current public school system. I wish I could say that the WEA cares about our children. What I can say is that a parent informed, capable and willing to manage their children’s education can get through this game successfully. Our family did. I learned what I know from a teacher in Chicago IL, back in 1976 when my son was 6.5 years old. At age 12 we found ourselves enrolling in Seattle Public Schools, I was shocked and amazed at what I found. But I knew exactly what I had in a student, and never gave in, never gave up on him or his siblings. We were in and out of the public schools, private schools were not that much better. We won, my kids are intelligent, socially aware, global citizens, and self assured. Along the way we brought along hundreds of others parents and children who ride under the radar along the I-5 corridor.

    WA is a place a bit different than many states. How is it that we have the most educated population but schools that consistently say they can not teach equitably all children. My time for the past decade has been dedicated to such places as First Place in Seattle for children living in poverty and with trauma, Maxine Mimms Academy in Tacoma that teaches students who have been suspended and expelled, and the many other low or no tuition schools that teach those traditionally failed.

    I am on the side of students and parents who declare their right to a life of success and well being and are willing to walk the mile to get there. Parents will go to meetings that make sense, they do care about the well being of their children, even if they had parents who did a crappy job with them. We need to hold parents accountable but give them a fighting chance by telling them the truth. That is, our schools can fail a quarter of the children without blinking an eye or losing funding. The deal is how do you make sure it is not your child. So if each parent who knows how to get through the maze, teaches one who does not, we can win at this game of equity and social justice. Education 2010, you can wear yourself out, looking for the who owns the schools, or you can form an army of parents who know how to get through the maze.

    The best to you and those who are willing to pick up the baton dropped along the way. BTW Bill Gates is not the enemy, Arne Duncan is not the enemy, Board is not the enemy, nor is Norm Rice or George Scarola, I know them all. It is the parents who have figured out how to get their children educated and are not taking the hand of the parent who is clueless. All who I mentioned are mere Wizards of Oz they likewise do not have the answer. Start weekend learning centers in your communities make friends with parents you think you can not befriend or do not want to befriend. Stop attending meetings that attract only people who think and look like you. Help the students at the bottom so the entire boat will rise up. I am African American, there was a time that a white person would be arrested for teaching an slave to read. Why? Because it is impossible to enslave a person who can and will read. My daughter went to first grade in a small southern town that had reversed totally their ways of being. Every child in the town was rewarded for reading, given gift certificates from businesses, my daughter age 36 still has a silver dollar in her baby book she was given as a prize for reading the most books. People asked children, “What book are you reading, tell me about it.” That was a town that expected kids to read and they did. Her parent was not there with her, I was divorced and had to put her with older relatives for the year. When we came to Seattle, they told me that they could not teach children of single parents, so I believed them and put her in a private school. I took her out for two years for middle school and again as with my son, it was eye opening. It put me on the path that I have been on for the past 20 years and will be on until death. Yes, all children can learn once we get teachers to teach and parents to learn how to advocate for their children.

    Thanks for the space and for doing something, saying something, creating the space for discourse and dialogue.

  4. Aloha Diane,

    Sounds like Sue was not following my advice about her vacation. She was NOT to think about anything pertaining to education. She was to relax and just have a great time. So much for listening to me! ;-)

    What a nice connection to make.

    Send us updates on what’s gong on in Hawaii when you can and we will add them to our list of states that we are tracking. We’re all in this together so it’s good to hear about what’s going on in other parts of the country.


  5. Met Sue yesterday as she was on vacation here in Hawaii. Such synchronicity as I had a week of dread finding out that HI “won” RTTT. We (teachers union) had a game booth at a pre-Labor Day event sponsored by the Big Island Labor Alliance. Sue saw our sign and came up to talk to us. I had just read this piece the night before! Meeting Sue was validating for me, that there are parents who are on the same page as me, regarding the deformation of education that is being pushed by these “powers-that-be.” I always thought that it was going to take parents who would make the difference. Thank you so much for doing this, and for all the links on the side. What an incredible resource.

  6. Thanks for the information Bill.

    I just sent a letter to Sol and let him know what I thought of sending out the NCTQ report which was paid for by Gates and presented through the Alliance which is paid for by Gates and the Broad.

    I also asked for a meeting with Sol to clarify exactly where the mayor stands on all of this.

    If I don’t hear from him within a couple of days, I will request a meeting with the mayor.

    This sort of thing has to be quelled now by presenting others with the facts.

  7. from Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn’s office on Thursday, with link to NCTQ:

    Hello again, Youth and Families participants!

    I hope you’re doing well, and that you’ve had a chance to get out and enjoy the summer! In the interest of keeping you informed about major events that directly affect the priorities of the Initiative, here are two big ones:

    Seattle Jobs Plan: The need for more local jobs was something we heard over and over again at every phase of the Initiative, and it’s something that this administration cares deeply about. Earlier this week, Mayor Mike McGinn announced details of the Seattle Jobs Plan (click here for video of the launch), a vision for next-generation economic development that creates a sustainable economy with shared prosperity in Seattle and the Puget Sound region. Part of this launch was the Grow Seattle portal, a fantastic online tool for those looking to start, grow, or “green” a local business—if you own a small business, you’re thinking of starting one, or you know anyone who is, you should definitely take a look.
    Seattle Public Schools’ New Teacher’s Contract: As many of you know, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and the Seattle Education Association (SEA) are in the midst of negotiating a new teachers’ contract. The National Council on Teacher Quality (for recent news items, see here) recently completed an independent analysis of the two sides’ different contract proposals in which they provide a side-by-side comparison as well as an assessment of the importance of each individual contract item.
    The policies SPS and SEA are negotiating relate directly to priority issues and action items that you identified over the course of the Initiative, including teacher assignment, supporting teachers and fostering an environment in which teachers can be effective, teacher evaluations, and compensation. If you’re not already familiar with the contract negotiations, please take a moment now to read through the report—the new contract that comes from this discussion will be vitally important to Seattle’s youth and families for years to come.

    Thanks again for your participation and your ongoing engagement, and as always, let me know if you have any questions!

    Sol Villarreal
    Community Engagement Coordinator
    Office of Mayor Mike McGinn
    206-233-2656 (work)
    206-427-3062 (cell)

    1. Thanks for the additional info on CPPS. That CPPS is not actively involved in protesting the SERVE proposal is also concerning.

  8. Here are other education endeavors supported by Gates and Broad. You can add them to your list. They aren’t centered in Seattle, but the trend is the same nationwide. Gates is influencing everything aspect of education including but not limited to real estate, construction, food service, staffing, counseling, professional development, and more. He chips in millions of his money and then gets billions from the federal government to fund his ventures.

  9. Kristin,

    A group of activist parents have been meeting monthly and doing what we can to hand out leaflets and get the word out.

    You’re right, though, we need to get a more formalized group together to get the word out in an organized manner.

    I am proposing right now that we get as many parents as possible to meet this Sunday afternoon, August 29th at 2:00 PM to come together in an organized effort. The school board meeting is this coming Wednesday, September 1st at 6:00 PM. I have heard that the Alliance with their faux groups representing entrepreneurial/business interests will be there en masse and real parents and other community members should be there also representing our children. The union is to make some critical decisions the next day so this is the time to make our voices heard.

    Venue? We can meet at my house. It’s in Capitol Hill and centrally located. It’s a bit small so other suggestions are encouraged.

    What say you?!

    You can respond here or e-mail me at

    This is how real grass roots organizations start!


  10. “I have faith in us Seattleites that we will be able to make our own, informed, decisions.”

    Yes and no. Seattleites can only make informed decisions if we have the information. This is wonderful watchdog work you’re doing here! But we need more grassroots organizing to a) package it in forms that can be spread on facebook, tweet, blogs, and flyers; and b) make networks of parents who can spread it.

    I’m a parent. I became informed about SERVE after a parent letter went out to a moms group. That’s great! We can do more of that. Parents have the energy and desire to spread the word.

    What are the grassroots groups who are working on this?

  11. Thanks for pointing that out to me.

    When Sue and I were going through material on Sunday, getting this flow chart completed, we did come across the fact that the Seattle Foundation, a foundation that neither one of us had heard of before, was given money by Bill Gates.

    We both shrugged at the time and didn’t think that it was relevant so we didn’t include it in our chart.

    Well, lo and behold, look who should surface with a scripted editorial, none other than Norm Rice. I couldn’t believe it. Gates is shaking the trees getting all of his grant recipients to talk right now in favor of his idea of ed reform. The script that he is reading from is similar to what Tim Burgess said in an earlier editorial. Burgess got shot down for that one.

    It’s interesting watching this campaign unfold in Seattle. This must be how it’s been happening in other states. We heard the distant drumbeats last year and now they are here, the media consultants, the staged events, the faux roots organizations springing up out of nowhere with their propped up coalitions and alliances. This is quite something to watch as long as we don’t get sucked in.

  12. So cool to finally see this out there – I hope it makes people at least stop and think…

    I know its a lot of work, but what would make it even clearer to people who is running the show, is to show where all the Gates/Broad plants have been infiltrated into the education arena, at both the national/federal and state/local school district levels…

  13. Thank you so much for revealing the frightening truth behind the boondoggle of present educational policy. All the more reason for parents to refuse to subject their children to the high stakes testing regimen so strangling to anything meaningful in education.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s