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Is Summit Basecamp Bill Gates’ Latest Plan for Public Education?

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So far, The Gates Foundation has given $300 million of support to promote and develop personalized learning – with more likely to come.

Now the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is adding “99 percent of their Facebook shares—worth an estimated $45 billion” to the mix.

This is enough money to overpower and colonize any system, democratic or private.

You know what I think would be great?

If people stopped giving Bill Gates a pass on his march toward total domination of public education.

What am I talking about? This comes to mind:

Screen Shot 2017-10-21 at 6.11.02 PM

Oh yes, Gates just released his latest vision of remaking education. He admits, without the least bit of irony, that “our education efforts are still evolving”.

Shockingly, as the image above shows, there’s still plenty of Gates’ apologists willing to ignore the evidence and volunteer to put some positive spin on latest plan for public education annihilation.

But think about this: it’s been 17 years since Gates decided his wealth made him an expert in education. Even more telling, this is the 17th year where his efforts have fallen short.

Who gets to fail for 17 years and still manage to set the national agenda?

Oh, it’s a billionaire who happens to be the wealthiest human on the planet.

I know who doesn’t get a pass on “failure” – students, teachers, and schools which get labeled, shut down or turned around based on test scores.

This is dangerous territory for our democracy and civil society.

And what’s more threatening to public education and democracy than one billionaire who wants to transform education?

Two.

Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have now joined forces to bring Summit Basecamp, a personalized learning platform, into the mainstream.

The Failed State of American Democracy

Sheldon Wolin wrote in Democracy Incorporated about inverted totalitarianism, the state of affairs where democratic institution are hallowed out and replaced with top down authoritarian systems ruled by money and a powerful elite. The institution remains, in name only, while the shadow parallel system holds the real power.

Wolin explains the process in detail in this article for The Nation:

Representative institutions no longer represent voters. Instead, they have been short-circuited, steadily corrupted by an institutionalized system of bribery that renders them responsive to powerful interest groups whose constituencies are the major corporations and wealthiest Americans. The courts, in turn, when they are not increasingly handmaidens of corporate power, are consistently deferential to the claims of national security. Elections have become heavily subsidized non-events that typically attract at best merely half of an electorate whose information about foreign and domestic politics is filtered through corporate-dominated media. Citizens are manipulated into a nervous state by the media’s reports of rampant crime and terrorist networks, by thinly veiled threats of the Attorney General and by their own fears about unemployment. What is crucially important here is not only the expansion of governmental power but the inevitable discrediting of constitutional limitations and institutional processes that discourages the citizenry and leaves them politically apathetic.

Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg’s team up to promote personalized learning is a perfect example of the hallowing out and replacement of the democratic structures tasked with overseeing our public schools.

From EdWeek:

In a statement, an initiative spokeswoman expressed similar sentiments.

“The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is excited to partner with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support New Profit’s work,” the statement says. “We share an interest in seeing significant improvement in education and are committed to learning from each other.”Since 2009, the Gates Foundation has given more than $300 million to support research and development on personalized learning, including past grants to New Profit totaling about $23 million. (Education Week has received support from the foundation in the past for the newspaper’s coverage of personalized learning.)

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, meanwhile, was launched in 2015. Zuckerberg and Chan said then they intended to give 99 percent of their Facebook shares—worth an estimated $45 billion—to a variety of causes, headlined by the development of software “that understands how you learn best and where you need to focus.”

Since the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is an LCC, they don’t have to respond to public records requests or other transparent practices expected of democratic institutions. In fact, The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative can operate with zero transparency, thanks to the shielding effect of the LLC designation.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is not a traditional nonprofit foundation. Instead, it’s an LLC. That organizational structure allows for direct investment in for-profit companies and political lobbying and donations, as well as philanthropic giving. It also limits the extent to which the group is legally required to publicly report on its activities.

So far, The Gates Foundation has given $300 million of support to promote and develop personalized learning – with more likely to come.

Now the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is adding “99 percent of their Facebook shares—worth an estimated $45 billion” to the mix.

This is enough money to overpower and colonize any system, democratic or private.

Add to that the shielding power of an LLC designation – which will keep the public’s prying eyes far away from the inner working this partnership – and we’re suddenly facing a serious democratic crisis in the fight to save public education.

The Plan

In case you were wondering, one of the focus areas of Gates’ new-new plan is “…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” and yes, Summit is called out as an example of success.

Democracy In Crisis

We need to get pass the corporate media framing that Gates is a bumbling do-gooder and call out his actions for what they are: colonization and subversion of one of the corners of our democracy – public education.

His money has taken over public education from the inside out, from funding astroturf groups to infiltrating and corrupting traditional institutions tasked with protecting our public schools.

All of this is happening behind the scenes, without transparency or accountability.

“Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Remember that one?

Money is power.

How far are we’re willing to let billionaire money go in its march to destroy public education?

It’s time to decide.

-Carolyn Leith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 comments on “Is Summit Basecamp Bill Gates’ Latest Plan for Public Education?

  1. ciedie aech
    October 24, 2017

    And add into this mix Steve Jobs’ wife now trying so hard to get her own tech-is-god foot in the Big Educational Money door…

  2. Jack
    October 22, 2017

    *** OFF-TOPIC but breathtaking news!!! * ***
    (with a Newark, New Jersey connection, no less … READ ON)

    The Summit Charter School “Rape-gate” civil suit in San Jose, CA settled THE DAY AFTER MY LONG POST ABOUT IT ON the Ravitch BLOG.

    Mind you, this was after the local Northern California media had strangely and earlier went cold following its initially thorough coverage of this sordid affair.

    Coincidence?

    I think not. (or at least I strongly suspect not.😉 )

    If I was indeed instrumental in any way in providing a positive outcome, or an early closure for the rape victim and her family …

    Well, then, I want a medal! (Just kidding.)

    (That’s something my late father would say when I showed him something like a perfect 100 score on a test or something.

    “Whadda you want a medal?” )

    The downside, of course, is that Summit Charter School Chain — noted for its replacing live teachers with computer-based “personalized learning”, btw — can now bury this embarrassing debacle with a sealed verdict that, in exchange for big $$$, the victim and her family have to clam up forever after … much like the Weinstein victims … until a few weeks ago, that is.

    This case apparently involved a different kind of … errr… “personalized learning”, if you know what I mean. 😉

    No media covered this Summitt Rape-gate settlement, by the way.

    The fear that it would get greater and extensive coverage here on the Ravitch blog, or elsewhere may have pushed the Summit folks (who include Mr. and Mrs. Zuckerberg, no less) to end this whole civil suit forthwith. Mr. and Mrs. Z. were involved in another debacle in Newark, New Jersey, when they coughed up $100 million to close public schools and convert them to privately-managed charter schools. (That worked our so well for the students at the M.E.T.S. Newark Charter School earlier this week.)

    To recap, I posted all this Summit Rape-gate stuff” — complete with links — on the Ravitch blog on September 6, 2017, complete with pictures of all the persons involved (almost all … not the teen victim, of course):

    (Check out the COMMENTS Section BELOW for a refresher course on the Summit Charter School Rape-Gate in San Jose, CA … again complete with photos. It’s quite a yarn. You won’t be able to stop reading, let me tell ya!)

    https://dianeravitch.net/2017/09/06/leonie-haimson-parents-revolt-against-summit-czi-plans/

    According to the court’s website, the attorneys for the victim and Summit settled *Rape-gate” THE VERY NEXT DAY!!! (September 7, 2017)

    https://www.docketalarm.com/cases/California_State_Santa_Clara_County_Superior_Court/16CV302178/N.V._vs_Summit_Public_Schools_et_al/
    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
    *”9 / 7 / 2017 — NOTICE: Settlement Atty Mark Boskovich”*
    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

    (Boskovich is one of the two attorneys representing the victim, the lead being B. Robert Allard, arguably the most effective attorney for victims of teacher molestation, who regularly delivers multi-million-dollar settlements for his clients.

    Okay, Attorney Allard may have played a small role in settling Rape-gate as well … but still 😉 )

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