Schools as Sacrifice Zones & The Gates Foundation’s Avoidance of the Toughest Question

Kinder egg ban-not assault weapons

Here’s my toughest question for Bill and Malinda Gates:

What are you doing to end school shootings in the United States?

What is your plan – given your immense power and influence –  to create safe, humane learning environments for America’s students.

Schools which don’t require invasive surveillance technology, or divestment in school buildings through online learning or other outsourcing schemes AND avoids the militarization of campus.

Schools which value each individual student for who they are and respects their personal, cultural, and intellectual boundaries.

For the last couple of years I’ve had a very small part-time job in a public school. Every morning before I leave for work my youngest says, “Don’t die today” and I respond, “I won’t.”

This is a ritual rooted in hopelessness and desperation. Both of us are painfully aware of the frightening reality that public schools are often sites of mass murder.

Ours is a comforting lie that makes us feel like we have some power over a situation which is completely out of control. Magical thinking is the last refuge for the abandoned.

We’ve also had plenty of practice preparing for the unspeakable: Lockdown drills and learning how to shelter in place. During these drills, there’s more than enough time to wonder: What if this was real. What would I do?

Practicing lockdowns are what fire drills used to be just a generation ago – with one subtle difference – it casts shootings in schools as a natural event, similar to earthquakes – which we also can’t control – but can prepare for.

The Toughest Question of All

One day before the student massacre in Florida, The Gates Foundation pushed out its Annual Letter which this year is titled “The 10 Toughest Questions We Get”.

Still reeling from yet another school shooting, I scrolled through the “toughest” questions. Guess what?  None of the “toughest” questions were about how to stop school shootings. How could this be? Especially for an organization that claims education to be one of its prime focuses.

Here’s my toughest question for Bill and Malinda Gates:

What are you doing to end school shootings in the United States?

What is your plan – given your immense power and influence –  to create safe, humane learning environments for America’s students.

Schools which don’t require invasive surveillance technology, or divestment in school buildings through online learning or other outsourcing schemes AND avoids the militarization of campus.

Schools which value each individual student for who they are and respects their personal, cultural, and intellectual boundaries.

Money is Power

Allowing the rich to void paying government taxes, while still controlling their wealth through foundations, has deeply undermined our democracy.

The idea of the government being accountable to the people through elections has been thoroughly discredited by the loophole foundations has created for the rich.

Foundations have the power to build their own advocacy organizations, think tanks, and leadership training programs. Now, with an LLC designation, foundations can have all of this unseemly activity shielded from the embarrassing public scrutiny of records requests.

Once the right politicians are in place, the wishes of a foundation can be planned and executed at “cabinet level” meetings between designated representatives of the foundation, elected officials, and heads of NGOs and other community partners.

Legislation, created as directed by these cabinet meetings, is usually rushed through the halls of government at state capitals or Washington D.C. – without testimony from the public, because ordinary citizens aren’t in the know.

We now have a government run by and for the benefit of the wealthy.

One Small Problem

So when Bill and Melinda Gates inevitably trot out the pat answer that stopping school shootings isn’t really their foundation’s thing, I have these words of warning:

In the abstract, people may have bought into The Gates Foundation marketing campaign that cheerfully reduces every aspect of life to a measurable economic unit.

Abstract units which can be enhanced though the interjection of science, big data, and the benevolent guidance of Bill and Melinda’s entrepreneurial wisdom combined with the magic of the free market.

But when it comes to willful silence over the mass murder of children in schools – you’ve lost us – and with it, any credible claim to a higher purpose.

Do the right thing. We’ll be watching.

-Carolyn Leith

 

 

 

2 comments

  1. You have perfectly summarized the belief operating at the Gates Foundation:
    “every aspect of life to a measurable economic unit”–

    but not just at the Gates Foundation.

  2. Yea, Bill Gates is really focused on gun control legislation. He spends billions to meddle with and/or destroy community-based, democratic, transparent, traditional, unionized public schools but only spends $1 million to support stricter controls on gun sales in Washington state.

    https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/08/30/in-washingtons-initiative-594-bill-gates-brings-a.aspx

    If Gates spent as much money to support stricter firearms legislation as he has to wreck the public schools, we’d probably have that legislation in most of the states.

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