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“Quality Preschool for All”. It sounds so right, just what we want for all of our children. But first, it depends upon what you define as “Quality”.
If you mean preschool that is student oriented and allows for individual growth, this is not the definition of “Quality” by the proponents of 1B.
If “Quality” to you means standardized and scripted lesson plans and assessments (nice word for tests), then you and Bill Gates are in agreement THAT is quality, at least for other people’s kids. See The Building Blocks of a Good Pre-K.
Rumors have been circulating that the same people who pushed through charter schools in our state to the tune of $10M are doing the same with Proposition 1B. Well, they’re right, with the exception of the Walton’s who have not gotten on the Universal pre-K bandwagon as their cohorts have.
The first time I heard about the preschool program, which is an offshoot of Universal pre-K, was in June of this year when I was asked to attend a presentation given by some “experts” flown in from Boston to tell us what we already knew about children and the importance of preschool. I haven’t figured out who footed the bill but it will pop up somewhere. As soon as I saw the “suits”, I became suspicious, particularly because most of the people in the audience were also suits. See Race to the Tots: Universal (for profit) Pre-K, DFER and the suits for more details on that meeting.
The next time I was in a council meeting regarding Proposition 1B, people were able to provide testimony. Many of the people who gave testimony were teachers. It wasn’t until later that I found out all of the teachers who spoke were members of the union busting, charter loving Teachers United. Teachers United (TU) has received a total of $942,113 from Bill Gates over the last few years and is run by Chris Eide. See http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2013/06/OPP1085805 and http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2011/09/OPP1035367 for the details.
For more on TU and Chris Eide see Anti Teachers’ Union Activity in the State of WA: Chris Eide and Northwest Professional Educators.
Note: 10/31/14, Teachers United is calling for volunteers to canvas for Prop 1B this weekend. Gates will get his money’s worth out of them at some point.
That’s when I decided to follow the money.
A solid line on the diagram means cash was contributed. A dashed line means public support and personal time has been contributed to Proposition 1B campaign.
To follow are the major players in terms of cash outlay and those who are paid in one form or another to sing their tune.
“I actually worked with Jackie Bezos at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Dallas to pass a resolution for universal preschool,” noted (Seattle Mayor) Murray, referring to the mother of Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos. She is the president of the Bezos Family Foundation, a Seattle-based nonprofit. –Seattle Times, October 22, 2014
Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation
Just in case 1B fails, Gates has hedged his bets by offering a grant of $750,000 to Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to set up a preK-5 program at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School in Seattle. Gates doesn’t do anything without attaching lots of strings such as assessments and data gathering. The most worrisome part is that he is now trying to extend his influence into 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grades through the proposed preschool program.
The Gates Foundation put on quite a show apparently for a selected few on Universal pre-K. Gates, along with Bezos, also provided scholarships for those invited to go on a field trip to Boston to see Universal perK programs this year.
You might have noticed there are two empty circles coming off of Bill Gates’ bubble on the diagram. That’s because I’m fairly certain that I, or someone else, will find another largess that has been given to someone to further his agenda. It’s just a matter of time to discover who else is part of his shell game.
Bill Gates is also a big supporter of charter schools. See Funding “Education Reform”: The Big Three Foundations.
Seattle Times and the Education Lab blog
Gates provided $700,000 to the Seattle Times to create the blog “Education Lab”. See Seattle Times’ Gates-funded Education Lab Blog Experiment.
The Times has come out in support of 1B. No surprise there because they have also supported over the last few years merit pay (teachers evaluated using student test scores), Teach for America and charter schools, all part of the Bill Gates plan for public education.
Seattle Foundation/Norm Rice
Bill Gates has given the Seattle Foundation at least $4M over the last several years, see the Lines of Influence in Education Reform for the specifics. Norm Rice was the President and CEO of the Seattle Foundation until July of this year and is the spokesperson in the Proposition 1B television ad. The Seattle Foundation supports whatever Bill Gates desires including charter school and Teach for America.
An organization called Save the Children Action Network paid for the 1B television ad. What money went to this organization to run the TV ad is still a question mark as shown on the diagram.
Bezos Family and Foundation
Talk about a shell game! It took some research to find information on the Bezos family and their donations. Thanks to PAC’s, folks with money can hide their political support in the weeds. It’s called “Dark Money”.
Each member of the Bezos family contributed as much as they could legally as individuals, then their foundation kicked in some cash. The Bezos also contributed money to the League of Education Voters PAC, Education Voters Political Action Fund, which supported the charter school initiative.
The Bezos along with Gates provided “scholarships” to those who were invited on the field trip to Boston to see preschool programs but required financial assistance.
The Bezos, along with Gates, were huge financial supporters of the charter school initiative. See Bezos Family Funds Four PACs in Charter Schools Shell Game
From Diane Ravitch’s blog:
Last fall, Bill Gates collected $10 million from his friends to push through approval of a referendum to permit privately managed charter schools in Washington State, which voters had turned down three times previously. Among the friends of Bill Gates who helped make charters possible was the Bezos family, the parents of Jeff Bezos.
Jeff Bezos is the founder of amazon.com. He is a billionaire many times over, one of the richest men on the planet.
Yesterday he bought the Washington Post.
An article in the Washington Post today describes his interest in education.
“Like Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham, Bezos has shown support for efforts to change education policy, including the creation and expansion of public charter schools.
The Bezos Family Foundation — whose board includes Bezos, his parents and other family members — gave more than $11 million in 2011 to an array of national organizations such as Teach for America, Stand for Children and the KIPP Foundation, according to tax filings. The foundation also gave grants to scores of individual schools around the country as well as several charter school chains, including Uncommon Schools, which operates schools in New York and Massachusetts.
Bezos’s parents, Mike and Jackie, were active in a fierce battle last year to allow the creation of public charter schools in Washington state. Washington had been one of a handful of states that did not permit charters, which are publicly funded schools that are privately run and largely without unions. Teachers unions opposed the ballot measure, which narrowly passed with financial backing from Mike and Jackie Bezos as well as Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Netflix founder Reed Hastings.”
In short, Bezos is no friend of public education.
…is funded by the Bezos and is part of the Seattle Times.
Live Wire and Microsoft recently sponsored an event titled See what happened at The Case for Early Learning with guests Mayor Ed Murray, Representative Ruth Kagi (see below), and others extolling the virtues of the Mayor/Burgess preschool plan.
Do you see where this is going?
$100,000 in total contributions to Proposition 1B and a big supporter of charter schools. He also contributed money to the Seattle Foundation to bring Teach for America to Seattle.
He also contributed $30,000 to the Great Seattle Schools PAC to support School Board Director Stephan Blanford (see below) and Sue Peters’ opponent Suzanne Estey who was defeated.
Microsoft millionaire Chris Larson contributed $100,000 to the Proposition 1B campaign and was a financial supporter of the charter initiative even though he doesn’t have any children in the Seattle Public School system.
He is also on the Board of Directors for the League of Education Voters.
$30,000 contribution to Proposition 1B. Hanauer is also on the Board of Directors of the League of Education Voters and big supporter of charter schools.
The Seattle Chamber of Commerce PAC the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy
Contributed to the Proposition 1B campaign and to the coffers of Councilmember Tim Burgess and the Alliance for Education. They also paid for a nasty attack ad about McGinn during the mayoral campaign. See Pro-Murray PAC Uses Battered Women as Pawns in Deceptive Smear Campaign.
The Alliance for Education
The Gates Foundation has over the last several years basically been 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. See The Lines of Influence in Education Reform for the details.
The Alliance for Education, along with the Great Seattle Schools PAC, supported Stephan Blanford in his bid for Seattle School Board Director. Six months before Burgess formally presented his preschool initiative to the Seattle School Board, Blanford told the Levy Oversight Committee that SPS was in full support of the initiative.
Sara Morris, CEO for the Alliance for Education, recently sent out a letter on Alliance for Education letterhead endorsing Proposition 1B . Was that Kosher? I think not, unless the Alliance has another status other than a 501c3, they are not to participate in any political campaigns or actively support a candidate.
Washington State Director of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) and Lisa Macfarlane:
Ms. Macfarlane gave a personal donation to the 1B campaign.
An excerpt from the post Lisa Macfarlane with WA DFER wins the Walton Award for privatization:
According to the PR Newswire, Lisa Macfarlane, formerly with the League of Education Voters (LEV) and now Director of Washington State Education Reform Now/Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), received a $10,000 grant from the Walton’s as an “Education Reformer to Watch” for her work on pushing charter school initiative 1240 in the state of Washington.
And what does Ms. Macfarlane plan to do with the cash? Ensure that charter schools open in the state of Washington of course.
Per DFER Watch:
Democrats for Education Reform is a political action committee supported largely by hedge fund managers favoring charter schools, merit-pay tied to test scores, high-stakes testing, school choice (including vouchers and tuition tax credits in some cases), mayoral control, and alternative teacher preparation programs.
Diane Ravitch describes DFER in her post Follow the Money.
If you want to know why so many politicians think so highly of charters, there is a basic rule of politics that explains it all: Follow the money.
The most visible organization promoting corporate reform is called Democrats for Education Reform, known as DFER (commonly pronounced “D-fer”). DFER is the Wall Street hedge fund managers’ group. It always has a few non-hedge funders on the board, especially one or two prominent African-Americans, to burnish its pretentious claim of leading the civil rights movement of our day. Kevin Chavous, a former council member from Washington, D.C., fills that role for now, along with the DFER stalwart, Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark. DFER has its own member of the U.S. Senate, Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado. It has also raised money generously for Congressman George Miller, the senior Democrat on the House Education and Labor Committee.
This group bankrolls politicians, woos them, raises campaign cash for them, and persuades them of the advantages of turning the children of their district over to privately managed schools. Watch their website to see which politician they favor this month and scan those they have recognized in the past.
For more on DFER, go to https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/democrats-for-education-reform-also-known-as-dfer/.
School Board Director Stephan Blanford
Stephan Blanford spoke to the Levy Committee six months before the 1B Initiative was formerly introduced to the board and stated that Seattle Public Schools ( SPS) would have no problem with supporting Burgess’ plan*. School Board Director Stephan Blanford also went on the field trip to Boston sponsored by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce to look at preK programs in Boston. His trip was paid for by the League of Education Voters (LEV). The expenses for all other SPS staff who went on the trip, and it was a selected few, were paid for out of Seattle Public School funds.
Blanford has been bought and paid for by the following contributors:
Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess, the champion of 1B
Don Neilson– The Godfather of Education Reform in Seattle
The League of Education Voters
The Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (Seattle Chamber of Commerce PAC)
Peter Maier (twice). Remember him?
School Board Director Sherry Carr
Director Carr has received campaign donations from Matt Griffin and has shown support for 1B.
Ms. Carr showed up at a 46th District meeting where Burgess presented Prop 1B without providing members an opportunity to speak up against it before it was endorsed. Ms. Carr did not speak but was standing in the back with Burgess, Harium Martin-Morris and the 1B campaign manager.
She is also one of the School Board Directors who voted for all things ed reform when Broad Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson was in power including bringing Teach for America to Seattle. Hmmm, I wonder why? Well, let’s look at her sponsors:
Civic Alliance for a Sound Education
K & L Gates PAC (Bill Gates Sr. law firm is K&L Gates)
Mary Jean Ryan of the Community Center for Education Results (CCER) Gates backed organization
School Board Director Harium Martin-Morris
Director Harium Martin-Morris has spoken publicly in support of 1B. He also showed up at a 46th District meeting, even though it’s not his district, to give moral support (?) to Burgess who made the push for 1B even though no one was allowed to speak against 1B.
By the way, over the years, Harium has received campaign donations from Matt Griffin, Christopher Larson, the Ballmer’s, Bill Gates and Lisa Macfarlane.
Legislative Representative Ruth Kagi of the 32nd District
Representative Kagi is a fierce supporter of 1B but does not represent a Seattle district. Could it have anything to do with the fact that the Bezos’ have contributed to her campaigns?
Those who didn’t get on the Wheel of Fortune chart but are of interest are:
Mimi Gates- $5,000
William Gates, Sr.- $5,000
Lucy Gaskill-Gaddis, Families and Education Levy Committee member $500
And who contributed to Ed Murray’s campaign?
Leslie Hanauer $700
Nick & Leslie Hanauer Foundation $700
Nick Hanauer $700
Christopher Larson $700
Strategies 360 $700, see Seattle School District hires staffer from Strategies 360 – the political marketing firm that misused private student contact info to push ed reform agendaand Loose Ends – Strategies 360, Susan Enfield, Crazy Talk & Quakes.
Tim Burgess $700
Matt Griffin $700
The Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy Contributed $10,000 to People for a New Seattle Mayor.
The People for a New Seattle Mayor ran the domestic violence hit pieces against McGinn. See Pro-Murray PAC Uses Battered Women as Pawns in Deceptive Smear Campaign.
And who stands to gain from Proposition 1B passing?
Acelero: A business enterprise that privatizes Head Start programs. See Seattle PreSchool for All Proposition 1B: Acelero, the fox watching over the hen house.
KIPP, the charter school chain: See Race to the Tots: Universal (for profit) Pre-K, DFER, KIPP and the suits.
In the 1B lanaguage it states:
The City will work with local colleges and universities to develop an alternate route program for teachers with Bachelor’s Degrees in fields other than Early Childhood Education. The City will also develop an alternative process through which experienced, high-quality lead teachers — as defined in the Implementation Plan — may be granted waivers.
When it is stated that way, it means Teach for America, Inc. recruits. UW established a program where TFA recruits can do their five weeks of course work to “prepare” them to teach our children. Trust me, that is the plan here.
Also, Gates gave $1M to Teach for America, Inc. a few years ago to open an office in Seattle.
Pearson: The educational publishing company being bandied about to develop lesson plans and tests for the preschool program.
Mayor Ed Murray: Murray tried to pass legislation while a State Senator for mayoral control. This is a subject for another post that will be to you shortly but suffice it to say for now that to have a Department of Education as Murray has just declared will happen in Seattle, you have to have programs to oversee to show how well a politician can run a school district.
For more detail on mayoral control, see Mayoral Control: The short of it.
New Note: A New York hedge fund PAC and a few other notables donated to the 1B campaign during the last week before the election. For the details, see New York hedge fund managers jumping onto the Seattle Preschool Proposition 1B gravy train.
Submitted by Dora Taylor
What’s happening in Seattle is happening around the country. Watch Bill Moyers’ segment:
Who’s buying our midterm elections?
A big thank you and shout out to all who sent me information and prodded me to keep following this money trail. This could not have been done without the diligence and hard work of others who have helped me with research or sent me information they found to be of interest and noteworthy.
Keep those cards and letters coming!
There is a pdf of the Wheel of Fortune here that can be downloaded and printed.
*I asked for the Families and Education Levy meeting minutes because they are not all posted on the website. After two weeks, they have yet to appear. These minutes have provided great insight on how the levy committee has been working behind the scenes on this issue and this information needs to be available for the public to view.