Manufacturing Consent: How to Engineer an Education Activist

Statue of Liberty in Disgust

If social media platforms can predict your behavior, advocacy groups can buy access to it. They also have the power to manipulate your actions – and good intentions –  to serve their own agenda.

Customer tracking, discriminatory pricing (think airlines), and behavioral design are mature disciplines in retail marketing and the gambling industry.

Social media pulls all of these practices together by collecting users’ personal information, repackaging this data to appeal to marketers, and then selling access to the highest bidder.

It’s a complete loop of commercialized personalization.

In order to keep the cycle going: Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms use likes, retweets, and comments to keep their users engaged and eager to volunteer even more information. These hooks are similar to the tricks used to keep gamblers at the slots and in their seats.

Alison McDowel had this to say about adaptive learning systems:

My concern as a parent is within these adaptive learning systems, I don’t want an online system that has to learn my child to work. I don’t want a system that has to know everything my child did for the last six months, to operate properly. Because I think that becomes problematic. How do you ever have a do over? Like, is it just always building and reinforcing certain patterns of behavior and how you react…it’s, they, I think they present it as flexible and personalized, but in many ways I think it’s limiting.

What’s really different about the commercial personalization we experience on social media and the adaptive learning systems many fear are coming to public education under the guise of personalized learning?

Surveillance Capitalism and the Dawn of Nudge Activism

A popular dismissal of the encroaching surveillance state is ‘who cares if the government, commercial interests, or any other third party, has access to my personal information. I have nothing to hide.’

It’s a comforting argument, but misses the point. It’s not the data that’s the problem, but what can be done with it.

One piece of data could be harmless, but if it’s pooled with a millions of other bits and run through an algorithm, suddenly this information has the power to predicted your behavior.

If corporations can predict what you’re going to do next, they can also put a price on it, trade it, and build a whole market around it.

Von Shoshana Zuboff calls this evolution in big data mediated economics surveillance capitalism:

It’s now clear that this shift in the use of behavioral data was an historic turning point. Behavioral data that were once discarded or ignored were rediscovered as what I call behavioral surplus. Google’s dramatic success in “matching” ads to pages revealed the transformational value of this behavioral surplus as a means of generating revenue and ultimately turning investment into capital. Behavioral surplus was the game-changing zero-cost asset that could be diverted from service improvement toward a genuine market exchange. Key to this formula, however, is the fact that this new market exchange was not an exchange with users but rather with other companies who understood how to make money from bets on users’ future behavior. In this new context, users were no longer an end-in-themselves.  Instead they became a means to profits in  a new kind of marketplace in which users are neither buyers nor sellers nor products.  Users are the source of free raw material that feeds a new kind of manufacturing process.

Government is equally excited to get in on the predictive capabilities of behavioral surplus. Pay for Success – also known as social impact bonds – is all about creating new opportunities for Wall Street to bet on future behaviors as they pertain to education, policing, incarceration, and healthcare.

Engineering an Education Activist

If social media platforms can predict your behavior, advocacy groups can buy access to it. They also have the power to manipulate your actions – and good intentions –  to serve their own agenda.

Advocacy in this context loses its traditional meaning. Instead, it becomes a data driven exercise aimed at targeting individuals sympathetic to an organization’s issue and then encouraging these targets to repeat the campaign’s message over and over again throughout their social network(s).

Independent thought is discouraged. What’s important is your willingness to repeat the designated message.

In 2014, The Excellent Schools Now coalition, funded by Stand for Children and the League of Education Voters, launched a media advocacy campaign to convince the public to support a college and career ready diploma for Washington State.  (Excellent Schools Now – Final Report)

Who Would Make a Good Education Activist?

Feedback from social media provided the Excellent Schools Now coalition with in depth knowledge of who would be the best individuals to target as education advocates.

Desirable over-arching characteristics were: engagement in traditionally lefty-leaning issues, strong personal identification with the Democratic Party, and actively engaged with the issues they care about.

At a more granular level these individuals cared about civil liberties, transportation, gender and racial equality, alternative energy, gun control and consistently vote for Democrats.

 

Top Issues

 

Political Affiliation

 

Engagement Activities

Where’s the Nudge?

All of these individuals were over indexed in actively working on issues they care about – sharing their thoughts publicly, online, and in political articles.

The nudge would come from making the Excellent Schools Now message so attractive to potential targets that they would be unable to resist sharing it. This could be done by emphasizing the message’s connection to an admired member of the Democratic Party who also happens to shares the target’s individual sense of justice or equality.

 How to Shut Down Activism if it Gets Out of Hand

What happens when activists start thinking for themselves and no longer need an advocacy group to lead the way?

Don’t worry, the public relations firm West Third Group clearly lays out the time tested plan used to keep activists in their place and repeating the right messages.

Four types of activists — radicals, opportunists, idealists and realists — define most us-vs.-them public battles. Whether the issue is political, cultural or personal, dealing with movements antagonistic to your efforts involves dividing the different types, using different tactics for each group.

  • Isolate the radicals.
  • Get the opportunists on the payroll if needed, or ignore them.
  • Cultivate/educate the idealists and convert them to realists.
  • Co-opt the realists into agreeing to industry.

 

Repeating Messages on Social Media, Is That All There Is?

Jodi Dean has an interesting take on communicative capitalism.

In the United States today, however, they don’t, or, less bluntly put, there is a significant disconnect between politics circulating as content and official politics.  Today, the circulation of content in the dense, intensive networks of global communications relieves top-level actors (corporate, institutional, and governmental) from the obligation to respond. Rather than responding to messages sent by activists and critics, they counter with their own contributions to the circulating flow of communications, hoping that sufficient volume (whether in terms of number of contributions or the spectacular nature of a contribution) will give their contributions dominance or stickiness.  Instead of engaged debates, instead of contestations employing common terms, points of reference, or demarcated frontiers, we confront a multiplication of resistances and assertions so extensive that it hinders the formation of strong counter-hegemonies. The proliferation, distribution, acceleration, and intensification of communicative access and opportunity, far from enhancing democratic governance or resistance, results in precisely the opposite, the post-political formation of communicative capitalism.

Maybe technology isn’t designed to save us.

While we’re burning up our time tweeting, liking, and commenting, the hard work of organizing in the real world is left for another day.

Maybe that’s whole point.

-Carolyn Leith

 

 

-Carolyn Leith

 

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Beware of Tech Titans Bearing Gifts

Reposted with permission from Nancy Bailey’s Education Website.

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The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) gift likely means huge changes for schools across the country. We’ve known for a long time that Chicago school experimentation is usually the country’s pilot project. And the CZI isn’t just putting money into personalized learning in Chicago. It’s tied to all-tech Summit Charter Schools (unfairly called public schools) and the College Board. They are also working in Massachusetts.

Chicago is getting $14 million through the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) that will be used for personalized learning, placing children online for their schooling. They are advertising their gift as “Supporting Chicago’s Teachers in Personalized Learning.”

The Chan-Zuckerberg website motto is “We believe in a future for everyone.” Here’s my question. Do they believe in a future for professional teachers?

Is the CZI goal to replace teachers? Ask them that question! Get them to tell us yes, or no. It’s a great question to start off Teacher Appreciation Week!

Many teachers will jump on the tech bandwagon. Technology is a useful tool. No one can deny that. But there’s no research to indicate that total tech without teachers will succeed in getting children ready for their college and career futures.

The CZI money in Chicago will also go to LEAP Inovations—a nonprofit that pushes tech with “Appy Hours” (tech instruction at the local bars?).

One of the CZI administrators is James H. Shelton. He used to work for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and also had the powerful position of Assistant Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Education, under President Obama. Shelton oversaw the Office of Innovation and Improvement where he managed competitive programs involving teacher/leader quality, Promise Neighborhoods, school choice, and, of course, technology.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation may appear to support teachers and public schools, but their past actions show otherwise. They have supported charter schools and groups like Stand for Children, Teach for America, and many other anti-public school, anti-teacher nonprofits. Their Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) was an insult to teachers everywhere. In Memphis, where Gates had a prominent presence, teachers wore ear buds with coaches (called experts) in the back of the room directing them how to teach!

The CZI gift likely means huge changes for schools across the country. We’ve known for a long time that Chicago school experimentation is usually the country’s pilot project. And the CZI isn’t just putting money into personalized learning in Chicago. It’s tied to all-tech Summit Charter Schools (unfairly called public schools) and the College Board. They are also working in Massachusetts.

And LEAP calls for more tech company involvement.

Want exposure to Chicago schools, educator feedback, and valuable implementation and outcome data? Pilot your product with the LEAP Pilot Network!

Think of schools and tech companies looking like NASCAR drivers competing for children’s data to increase business.

LEAP presents a report called “Finding What Works: Results from the LEAP Pilot Network 2014-2015.”

It begins:

LEAP Innovations was founded on the premise that our outdated, one-size-fits-all education system isn’t working. Instead, LEAP is driving toward a new paradigm, one that harnesses innovation—new teaching and learning approaches, along with technologies—to create a system that is tailored around each individual learner.

Isn’t it funny (not really), how those of us who disliked high-stakes testing for so many years, used to use the “one-size-fits-all” argument? Corporations were the ones that pushed that testing, now they are using that line to sell personalized learning.

It’s also funny (not really) how teachers have begged for years to have reasonably sized classrooms so they could individualize learning. It always fell on deaf ears. 

The report goes on with the usual complaints about students not graduating and not doing well on tests, and how wonderful it is that edtech is growing. The citations in the report are from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, and an article from The Atlantic.

On the Leap website they also say:

LEAP first reviewed applications internally, selecting for companies that clearly personalized the learning experience for students in literacy, as well as demonstrated a record of prior success. An external curation panel of learning scientists, educators, and other subject-matter experts was then assembled to further evaluate the applicants and decide which would be made available to schools for selection. Their criteria included the potential for student impact; company strength and stability; alignment to learning science and Common Core standards; augmentation of teacher capacity; and functionality around student feedback and motivation.

I’d love to hear from teachers, principals or any friends from Chicago involved with this panel.

There’s also talk of merging social emotional learning with tech. SEL is becoming known for its assessments that call for personal student behavioral data that makes parents nervous.

So, when schools aren’t funded and rich people with big ideas, no matter how they will impact children, come into the school district with a lot of money, public schools lose a lot of their public feedback.

For those who still don’t believe there’s a movement underfoot to replace teachers with tech, and collect even more data concerning student progress that will benefit corporations, watch the CZI in Chicago. Time always tells. It might be too late, but sooner or later we’ll learn the truth.

-Nancy Bailey

The scoop on Seattle School Board Candidates Chelsea Byers and Omar Vasquez: Buyer Beware

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Beginning in 2008, many of us saw the tsunami of charter schools and the complete privatization of school districts coming our way in Seattle with the appearance of former Broad-trained school superintendent Goodloe-Johnson.

Many of us had questions about this superintendent because her actions did not make sense in terms of the best interest of students and the communities they lived in.

After much research, we discovered a link between former school board president Don Neilson, Stand for Children, Teach for America, Inc., which staffs charter schools with uncertified college grads, League of Education Voters, Democrats for Education Reform (DFER)the Broad Foundation, Bill Gates and the push to privatize our schools. People in Seattle and Washington State had made it very clear that we did not want charter schools in our state by voting three times against it up to that point but there were outside forces who either thought charter schools would benefit students or had dollar signs in their eyes. Most saw the money.

There is a second lawsuit in the courts now in Washington State challenging the constitutionality of charter schools so if you are a parent considering enrolling your student in a charter school in the state, take heed, the school may be closed unexpectedly due to a court decision.

Because of the experiences we have had with the organizations listed above, we are wary of people connected to any of these groups which are funded by wealthy donors and corporate money. Their agendas have been made very clear, the privatization of everything connected with public schools.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at two of the following Seattle school board candidates:

Chelsea Byers supports charter schools.  She checked the “NO” box on the King County Democrats’ questionnaire, but later explained that she does not support for-profit charters. Thing is, all charter schools are for-profit and making them “non-profit” makes it easier for people to accept. The CEO’s are well paid while siphoning off tax dollars earmarked for public schools.

Ms. Byers is a former Teach for America recruit and there is no indication she has children in Seattle Public Schools.

Omar Vasquez used the same strategy with the King County Democrats. This Teach for America alum told the group that he opposes charter schools…the for-profit ones. After Mr. Vasquez filed to run for Seattle School Board, he deleted all references from charter schools on his bio. Mr Vasquez also sits on Washington State’s Summit charter school board. Summit is a charter school making a profit by having students on computers at home, therefore only a small amount of space is needed to lease, and hiring “teaching” staff who are not certified and therefore inexpensive to pay.

Summit charter school is also racially biased.

From Mr. Vasquez’s profile:

Omar has experience advising education-related nonprofits, ed tech startups, and charter schools. Prior to law school, Omar taught AP Calculus for six years in Arizona through Teach for America.  

To top things off, Candidate Omar Vasquez is now on the Teach for America Board in Washington State.

Teach for America is very clear that they groom their un-certified recruits to be in positions of determining education policy. What better way to keep Teach for America in business populating charter schools?

There is no indication Mr. Vasquez has children in the Seattle Public School system.

Both candidates will push the agenda of charter schools as well as technology being the central aspect of our students’ lives. This is in concert with IT Lead John Krull’s vision of brick and mortar buildings and libraries, along with social interaction with students and teachers, being replaced by computers.

Buyer beware. These two candidates and their backers have more than just the best interests of your children in mind. Our students are only seen as a rung on the ladder.

Dora Taylor

Recommended reading:

Colonizing the Black Natives: Charter Schools and Teach for America

A professor’s encounter with Teach for America

A checklist for parents considering Summit Sierra charter school in Seattle

Serious student privacy concerns with new Summit/Facebook platform

The endgame of corporate reform in public school education: Part 1, What do Betsy DeVos and Seattle Public School’s IT Lead John Krull have in common?

McD Happy Meal online schools for all in Seattle with SPS IT Officer John Krull

Stand for Children Stands for the Rich and the Powerful…

The deets on DFER, Democrats for Education Reform

The NAACP calls for a moratorium on charter schools

Video: John Oliver on Charter Schools

Green Dot charter schools: A cautionary tale

Charter schools and corruption

Students’ rights in charter schools: There aren’t many

A Sea of Charter Schools in Detroit Leaves Students Adrift

Two Former New Orleans Charter Principals Exploited SPED Students for Money, Among Other Issues

Ten reasons not to hire Goodloe-Johnson as Florida Education Commissioner

 

 

 

 

 

Following the charter school cash in the Washington State Primary: The latest money scheme

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UPDATE: Two mistakes have been corrected from the original post.

Voters for Washington Children spent $15,000 in digital ads AGAINST Luis Moscoso in the District 1 Senate race. In addition, Voters for Washington Children spent $10,000 AGAINST Branden Durst in the Legislative District 29, Representative race.

Our sincerest apologies to Luis Moscoso and Branden Durst.

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Nowhere is the chasm between the hard reality of our political system and the American ideals of merit, choice, and freedom more on display than during an election cycle.

Money matters – a lot.

The challenge for large money donors is how to spend big on your candidate(s) without offending the voters you’re trying to persuade. Voters understand politics is a dirty game, but they still believe in the idea that democracy should work for everyone.

Big donors have come up with a practical two step solution to this problem:

  1. Keep the money moving through various PACs.
  2. When it’s time to spend the money, use independent expenditures to further mask the source.

Openly supporting charter schools is a still a risky position for many politicians in Washington State. Let’s take a look at how pro-charter PACs supported their preferred candidates through the use of a PAC with a different name and independent expenditures.

The Name Game

Between July and August of 2016, three PACs contributed $265,500 dollars to Voters for Washington Children. They were:

Stand for Children Washington PAC

7/14    $76,000

7/25    $10,000     

Total: $86,000

Washington Charters PAC

7/15   $70,000

7/25   $27,500

7/25   $10,000

8/03   $15,000    

Total:$122,500

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) Washington PAC

7/14   $40,000

7/18   $  7,500

7/25   $10,000    

Total:$57,500

The Independent Expenditure Shell Game

Voters for Washington Children contracted with a group called RALLY in San Francisco to produce digital ads and mailers for the candidates Stand for Children, DFER, and Washington Charters PAC supported.

Never heard of RALLY?

Their clients include: Teach for America, Inc. (TFA), TFA-Bay Area, the Green Dot charter chain, National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), Students Matter (of the lawsuit Vergara v. California), and Act Now for Washington Students.

Remember the charter school ads that ran during Seahawks games last year? RALLY was behind them. They also bused kids to Olympia to testify for the charter bill and coordinated all of those heartfelt cards and letters sent to the state Legislature.

From RALLY’s website:

The Washington State Charter Schools Association, along with coalition members Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), Stand for Children, the League of Education Voters, and leaders from the business community, partnered with RALLY to find and drive a solution that saved the existing schools and reinstated the will of the voters. RALLY developed and managed a high-impact legislative advocacy campaign that forced legislators, especially elected Democrats, to confront the prospect of being held responsible for closing public schools that serve a racially and economically diverse student population – or taking action to support their constituents.

To deliver our message, RALLY created a campaign that truly put parents and students front and center. We built, encouraged, and supported a strong grassroots advocacy team that made more than 1,000 calls per week to elected officials, flooded legislative offices with homemade postcards and letters, and brought hundreds of people to Olympia for multiple rallies to keep schools open. A statewide petition activated 20,000 new public charter supporters and created a backbone for a strategic digital effort that augmented the on-the-ground tactics.

Grassroots efforts were coupled with an aggressive paid media campaign designed to make it impossible for state leaders to ignore the plight of public charters. RALLY produced four television ads, which aired during Seattle Seahawks games and nightly newscasts. Additionally, voters in key swing districts around the state received a series of direct mail, robo-calls, and targeted earned media. Statewide, every major newspaper endorsed saving the schools and called on Democrats to stay true to their social justice roots. These tactics were combined with a PAC fundraising effort, a relentless online digital presence, and a robust social media strategy.

RALLY’s Independent Expenditure Ads and Mailings

How did the candidates supported by the pro-charter PACs do in the primary? Let’s take a look at the races where RALLY’s services were put to use:

Legislative District 29-State Representative Pos. 1

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David Sawyer, Democrat, Representative, 29th District

7/26   $10,000 for digital ads AGAINST Branden Durst, Democrat

7/27    $10,000 for digital ads

Total: $20,000

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Legislative District 1-State Senator

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Guy Palumbo, Democrat, State Senate, District 1

7/21   $10,925 for digital ads

7/23   $11,714.55 for mailing

7/26   $15,000 for digital ads AGAINST Luis Moscoso, Democrat

Total: 37,639.55

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Legislative District 5-State Senator

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Mark Mullet, Democrat, State Senate, District 5

7/21    $10,658.19  direct mail

7/23    $16,189.83  two mailings

7/26    $11,525.07  direct mail  

Total: $38,373.09

Legislative District 41-State Senator

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Stephen Litzow, Republican, District 41, Senate

7/22    $4,000  digital ads

7/25    $19,930.28  direct mail

7/26    $16,782.63  direct mail

Total: $40,712.91

Not to be forgotten, 0n 7/27 RALLY was contracted to produced $30,000 worth of digital ads for Steven Hobbs, Democrat, who ran for the Lieutenant Governor position during the primary. Hobbs ended up coming in fourth after Cyrus Habib, Marty McClendon, and Karen Fraser.

Conclusion

Besides the Lieutenant Governor’s race, every campaign where RALLY’s services were engaged resulted in one of Voters for Washington Children’s candidates advancing to the general election.

Seems like Stand for Children Washington PAC, Washington Charters PAC, and Democrats for Education Reform Washington PAC got a solid return on their investment.

-Carolyn Leith

 

 

 

Bill Gates has spent $440M to push charter schools: Here is the list of recipients

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Per a previous post titled, “Before you can fund the charter school, you have to fund an advocacy organization that can create a climate for the charter school to exist”, Bill Gates has been busy for several years funding established organizations or creating new ones to funnel cash into a push to establish charter schools in Washington State and around the country.

To follow is a list of organizations and schools that have received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The organizations and schools with figures shown in bold relate directly to charter school promotional activity in Seattle and surrounding areas. For the amounts given to all other recipients, go to Google docs.

Stand for Children: $9,000,000 +/- (I got tired of counting and recounting)

Aspire Charter Schools: $21M +/-

National Council of La Raza : $32M +/-

Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle (CPPS): $159,440 (per the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website , “Purpose: to develop a strategic plan for building a dynamic parent network that can embrace and catalyze change within Seattle Public Schools”, meaning integrating charter schools into Seattle, particularly in the minority communities.)

Charter School Growth Fund: $5M

University of Minnesota

New York Charter School Resource Center Inc

Chicago Charter School Foundation

Success Academy Charter School: $400,000

Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund

St. HOPE Academy

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Thomas B. Fordham Institute: $7M

New Schools Fund dba New Schools Venture Fund: $93M +New Schools Fund dba New Schools Venture Fund: $93M +/-

Progressive Policy Institute

University of Washington Foundation: $1,089,761 (Lot of papers and “studies” came out of the UW supporting charter schools. Also a Teach for America, Inc. training ground was set up in the School of Education.)

GreatSchools, Inc.: $9M +/

Perspectives Charter School

Noble Network of Charter Schools: $2M +/-

California Charter Schools Association: $6M +/-

NCB Capital Impact

Progress Analytics Institute

High Tech High Foundation

Keys to Improving Dayton Schools, Inc.

Cesar Chavez Public Policy Charter High School: $1.6M +/-

Pacific Charter School Development Inc.

Charter Schools Policy Institute: $200,000

Charter School Leadership Council: $800,000

Illinois Network Of Charter Schools: $1.4M +/-

Stanford University: $12M +/- (Charter school “studies” were produced here. Unfortunately for Gates, the most well known study Stanford produced, the CREDO Report, stated charter schools were either the same or lower performing than public schools.)

RAND Corporation: $7.5M +/-

National Alliance For Public Charter Schools: $12.5M +/-

Green Dot Public Schools: $9,675,588 (One  was approved for Seattle.)

KIPP, Inc charter schools.: $10,000,000 (KIPP charter schools were touted by state legislators as the best thing since sliced bread. Sad day for them, they’re not and none were approved for Washington State.)

Institute for Research and Reform in Education Inc.: $11M +/-

Marquette University

Aspira Inc of Illinois

Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools: $670,000 +/-

Charter Fund Inc dba Charter School Growth Fund: $57.5M +/-

California Charter Schools Association: $6.5M +/-

New Schools for New Orleans Inc: $8.6M +/-

Houston Area Urban League Inc

District of Columbia College Access Program

Newark Charter School Fund, Inc.: $3,595,070

National Association Of Charter School Authorizers: $15M +/-

Trustees of Dartmouth College

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Texas Charter School Association: $1.6M

FSG, Inc.

New York City Charter School Center: $4.7M +/-

Friendship Public Charter School

New Visions for Public Schools, Inc: $73.5M +/-

School District of Philadelphia

Denver School of Science and Technology Inc

The Arizona Charter Schools Association: $200,000

New York Charter Schools Association Inc: $204,988

Partners for Developing Futures Inc.

Mastery Charter High School

Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools: $650,000

League of Education Voters (LEV) Foundation: $2,586,378

Colorado Education Initiative

Black Alliance for Educational Options Inc.

100 Black Men of America, Inc.

Colorado League of Charter Schools: $818,471

The Boston Educational Development Foundation, Inc.

E.L. Haynes Public Charter School

The King Center Charter School

Rocketship Education: $200,000

Georgia Charter Schools Association Inc.: $250,000

Jumoke Academy Inc

Denver Public Schools: $4,001,999 (The Seattle Public School board members took a trip to Denver a few years ago to visit charter schools. They came back with rave reviews about KIPP charter schools.)

Hartford Public Schools

Spring Branch Independent School District

Achievement First Inc.

Philadelphia Schools Project

Boston Private Industry Council Inc

American Federation Of Teachers Educational Foundation: $10M The AFT had Bill Gates as their main speaker when their convention was in Seattle.

Harvard University: $33.6M +/- (Lots of papers and “studies” favorable to charter schools were produced at Harvard for Eli Broad and Bill Gates.This number is based on grants tagged for K12 education and doesn’t include community grants)

Washington State Charter Schools Association: $10.5M +/-

Mississippi First Inc.

CHIME Institute

Seneca Family of Agencies

Summit Public Schools: $8,000,000

Spokane School District #81: $525,000 

Children’s First Fund, The Chicago Public School Foundation

LEAP Innovations

East Lake Foundation, Inc.

New Schools for Chicago

Low Income Investment Fund

Fund for Public Schools Inc

Friends of Breakthrough Schools

Puget Sound Educational Service District: $27.5M +/- (See CCER, the Road Map Project and the loss of student privacy)

Franklin-McKinley School District

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The list above does not include Teach for America which Bill Gates granted $2.5M to open an office in Seattle and the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) that came to town with their dog and pony show bashing teachers and trying to make way for Teach for America. Bill Gates has granted that group $12M+/- between 2009 and 2013.

Also see The Fordham Institute and the National Council on Teacher Quality: Manipulating Teacher Layoffs (& Union-Busting?).

It is also interesting to note that the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) recently received $1,743,064.

For the list with all of the numbers see Google docs. The list was put together by a Parents Across America Portland member using information provided at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Awarded Grants website.

So, if Gates paid his fair share of taxes in our state rather than be the man behind the curtain, would it help us fund public schools adequately?

My guess is “YES!”.

Dora Taylor

Post Script:

Check out Mercedes Schneider’s post to find additional expenditures made by Bill Gates pertaining to charter schools:

Who Does Gates Fund for “General Operating Support”?

 

Have you received a robo-call from Ready Washington about the wonders of Common Core Standards and the SBAC? If so, this is why

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People around the state are receiving robo-calls from a (Gates backed Teachers United) teacher who was declared “Teacher of the Year” by The Office of the State Superintendent (OSPI) which is headed by the State Superintendent Randy Dorn. Mr. Dorn is also on the board of CCSSO which is an organization receiving $84M from Bill Gates to promote the Common Core Standards. Do you see where I’m going with this? Lyon Terry representing “Ready Washington” declares in his unsolicited call the virtues of the Common Core Standards and the importance of the SBAC test. So who or what is “Ready Washington”?

We did a quick search and oh, what a surprise, a coalition of the bought. Here’s the list:

Ready Washington Coalition:

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)

Partnership for Learning, the education arm of the Washington Roundtable. From the Gates Foundation website. received $499,492 “to support the Ready Washington Coalition and stakeholder groups to improve communications and outreach around the Common Core State Standards”.

Stand for Children Washington (Gates)

Washington STEM (Gates)

Excellent Schools Now, from their website, The steering committee of Excellent Schools Now consists of: League of Education Voters, Partnership for Learning, Schools Out Washington, Stand for Children Washington and Tabor 100. Received money through the League of Education Voters to the tune of $1,499,543 for the “Purpose: to continue public engagement and action project to advance the policies and priorities of A+ Washington through the Excellent Schools Now (ESN) Coalition.

Washington State PTA (Gates money)

Council of Presidents State Board for Community and Technical Colleges

Department of Early Learning: $6M+ from Mr. Gates

League of Education Voters (Gates)

ReadyNation (Gates)

Democrats for Education Reform (Gates and corporate money)

Puget Sound Educational Service District (Who brought us Race to the Top and data mining of our students’ information)

Washington State Board of Education (populated with a few of the usual suspects. Dorn, Deborah Wilds-Gates and Peter Maier)

The Parents Union (Gates)

College Spark Washington

Schools Out Washington (Gates-$2M+)

Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (Gates- $1M+)

Washington Association of School Administrators

Washington Student Achievement Council (Gates)

Washington Roundtable (Big business money)

Renton Technical College (?)

Consider the source.

Most of these faux roots organizations and even some who are not, including the Washington State PTA, receive money from Bill Gates.

Check out How to create a faux grassroots ed reform organization!

images Dora Taylor

House Rep. Eric Pettigrew, House Bill 1497, mayoral control and the money

pettigrew
Washington State House Representative Eric Pettigrew

 

The cities where our foundation has put the most money in is where there’s a single person responsible. In New York, Chicago and Washington, DC, the mayor has responsibility for the school system. So instead of having a committee of people, you have that one person. And that’s where we’ve seen the willingness to take on some of the older practices and try new things, and we’ve seen very good results in all three of those cities.

Bill Gates

Actually Philadelphia parents are fighting to regain control of their school board through state legislation after the closing of schools on a massive scale and the conversion of schools into charter schools. New York’s school system is a mess after former Mayor Bloomberg took over the New York City public schools and Chicago is reeling from school closures and bad decisions made by Mayor Daley and then his predecessor Rahm Emanuel.

See:

Standards Raised, More Students Fail Tests (New York)

Mayor Bloomberg’s Crib Sheet

Mayoral Control Means Zero Accountability

 A Parent Explains the Chaos of NYC School Reform

Mayoral Control Gets an F from New Yorkers

Chicago Coalition Wants to End Mayoral Control

Chicago Schools CEO Choice Shows Problem With Mayoral Control

Problems with Mayoral Control in Chicago

House Representative Eric Pettigrew sponsored House Bill 1497 that puts the control of two school board votes within the hands of the mayor.

Here is the critical excerpt:

…any first class school district having within its boundaries a city with a population of four hundred thousand people or more ((which)) shall have a board of directors of seven members, five of whom are elected and two of whom are appointed by the mayor of that city. A vacancy by an appointed member under this subsection shall be appointed by the mayor for the unexpired term.

I have written about this bill in a post titled Bill 1497: Looks like Mayor Murray wants to run the school district now

Now I want to look at Eric Pettigrew, Representative of the 37th District in Seattle, and find out whose water he’s carrying. It will explain why he sponsored the mayoral control bill and his other legislative actions.

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) description of Pettigrew previously on their website:

… in a state with a dearth of education reform leadership, he’s a real pioneer.

… Eric has been working with other education reformers to lift Washington’s ban on public charter schools. After his Democratic colleagues killed his charter school bill in the last legislative session, he urged education reformers to put charter schools before the voters. And he bravely stepped up to be a spokesperson for Initiative 1240.

As always, I like to start with the money, particularly when a public figure is making decisions that harm rather than help the people they are representing, their constituents.

State House Representative Eric Pettigrew has never been part of the vanguard fighting for public school education except on two other occasions when he wanted us to think he was working in the best interest of the children, first, when he sponsored a charter school bill and the second time when he bashed Rainier Beach High School, a school in his district, on the behalf of the League of Education Voters. That didn’t go over very well either. See Rainier Beach High School Responds to the League of Education Voters Attack on Its School and Community.

So now he’s back with a bill that would remove two publicly elected school board directors and replace them with political appointees, people who the mayor, a politician, would select.

Let’s look at his donors. Here’s the relevant list:

10/27/2014 K12 Management, Inc., $400 (Online charter school)
10/22/2014 Christopher Larson, $950 (League of Education Voters, LEV)
10/20/2014 Stand for Children, $950
10/6/2014 Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) Pac $950
8/05/2014 Democrats for Education Reform, $950
9/27/2014 Dennis Bassford, CEO of Money Tree, $950 (Pay day loans and high fees on check cashing. Bassford successfully fought legislation to regulate payday loans.)
9/27/2014 Robin Bassford, Attorney for Money Tree, $950
9/27/2014 Dennis Bassford CEO of Money Tree, $950
9/27/2014 Robin Bassford Attorney for Money Tree, $950
9/15/2014 Microsoft, $500
9/1/2014 Suzanne Dale Estey, Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County, $100 (Estey ran against Sue Peters for a school board position and lost even though she out spent Peters about 5 to 1. Most of Estey’s donors were the usual corporate reformers.)
8/5/2014 Cash America $425 (Cash America was fined for robo-signing documents and charging 36 percent interest on payday loans in violation of the Military Lending Act.)
8/4/2014 Education Voters (LEV) PAC $950
6/3/2014 Matt Griffin $250 (Matt Griffin is a big supporter of charter schools. He also contributed money to the Seattle Foundation to bring Teach for America to Seattle.)

These pay day loan companies listed above prey on the same community that Pettigrew represents. LEV, Stand for Children and DFER receive money from Bill Gates and in turn support and carry out his agenda which is mayoral control, charter schools, high stakes testing (grading teachers, principals and schools based on test scores with severe consequences for those deemed failing), closing schools (when a school is deemed to be failing and usually converting them into charter schools), online learning (also called blended learning) which means putting students in front of a computer the majority of a school day, Common Core Standards, Teach for America, Inc. (an organization that recruits college students and gives them five weeks of training upon graduation and places them in classrooms, usually charter schools). The corporate reform agenda targets people of color and has proven to be at best an ineffective revision to our public school system and at worst, creating broken school communities and bonds, a decrease in teachers of color due to mass firings of teachers in schools deemed to be “failing” and the growth in the ranks of unqualified Teach for America staff.

And, needless to say, putting a child in front of a computer for at least 50% of the school day is not an education.

So, if you wonder why Pettigrew sponsors the bills that he does, you now know why. It all comes down to the money.

My question to him and others is why is he not doing his Paramount Duty, which is to come up with a budget that adequately funds our public schools? Our State Legislators have been held in Contempt of Court by the State Supreme Court for not funding our schools adequately.

Of course, Gates et al don’t want people in our state to focus on that because it would mean higher taxes on their businesses, a potential income tax put into place and losing tax breaks. We have Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks in our state receiving billions in income but we see very little of that even though they use our infrastructure and resources. That’s why, when we bring up the need for adequate funding, their minions say that’s it not all about the money. Well it is if your school can’t afford a nurse or librarian or has to depend on the PTA to pay for a teacher who otherwise would have to be laid off. It matters when a school doesn’t have appropriate facilities for special ed students or art classes or drama classes or a sports team. It matters when there are not enough computers for students to take all of the standardized tests required so the library has to close for a month or two so that library computers can be used. It matters when teachers have to ask parents for donations for books in a Language Arts class. It matters when our school buildings are deteriorating. It matters when trailers are used to house students because we have run out of class space. Yes, the money does matter.

What Pettigrew and his colleagues need to focus on now is not carrying water for the wealthy and privileged few but on ensuring our children receive the education they deserve.

For additional information on the groups that have filled Pettigrew’s coffers, individuals mentioned in this post and related issues, see:

A checklist for parents considering Summit Sierra charter school in Seattle
A Look Back at the League of Education Voters
Bill 1497: Looks like Mayor Murray wants to run the school district now
Bill Gates in Washington State: Mayoral Control and Charter Schools
“College and Career Ready”, also known as Common Core Standards: Impossible assumptions and real sacrifices
Common Core Standards
Democrats for Education Reform also known as DFER
Greendot Charter Schools
High Stakes Testing and Opting Out
Mayoral Control
Online (Blended) Learning
Stand for Children Stands for the Rich and Powerful
Stand for Children: For or Against Children?
Teach for America
Teach for America cashing in on ed reform?
The Lines of Influence in Education Reform
The Trouble with Common Core Standards
What is a charter school?

Dora Taylor

Post Script:

Here are the PDC listings:

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxzZWF0dGxlZHJlZmVyZW5jZXN8Z3g6MWYwNWM2ZDU5ZmM1NTAyOA

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxzZWF0dGxlZHJlZmVyZW5jZXN8Z3g6NzExMzk4OWRiMDkxZDBhMw

An update on contributions to the League of Education Voters by Bill Gates:

Date: July 2014
Purpose: to contribute to a fund to support charter schools in Washington state
Amount: $2,100,000
Term: 12
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website: http://www.educationvoters.org

From http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2014/07/OPP1108842

Date: October 2013
Purpose: to build capacity for a state-wide public charter school support organization in Washington State
Amount: $4,200,000
Term: 24
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website: http://www.educationvoters.org

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2013/10/OPP1095105

Date: June 2013
Purpose: to support general operating functions
Amount: $250,000
Term: 12
Topic: Community Grants
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website: http://www.educationvoters.org

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2013/06/OPP1089746

Date: April 2013
Purpose: to support the formation of an independent Washington State charter school organization
Amount: $797,170
Term: 8
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website: http://www.educationvoters.org

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2013/04/OPP1086099

Alliance for Education/League of Education Voters:

Date: October 2011
Purpose: to provide the Alliance for Education and its sub grantees, the League of Education Voters and the Alliance for Technology, funds over three years for Our Schools Coalition
Amount: $760,100
Term: 26
Topic: Community Grants
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website: http://www.alliance4ed.org

Date: May 2012
Purpose: to support a research internship for the League of Education Voters
Amount: $3,000
Term: 1
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website: http://www.educationvoters.org

Date: August 2014
Purpose: for general operating support
Amount: $3,500,000
Term: 25
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Grantee Website: http://www.all4ed.org

Stand for Children has received about $9M over the last five years from Bill Gates. For more on Stand for Children, see Stand for Children Stands for the Rich and Powerful and Stand for Children: For or Against Children?

 

A vote for Sue Peters is a vote for the rest of us

sue-peters-logo

Suzanne Estey’s claim to fame, as she has stated during her campaign, is her involvement as a board member of Community Center for Education Results (CCER), an “organization” that was created out of thin air by Bill Gates to the tune of over $4M to go after Race to the Top funding. This was a three-year push for funds that allow any interested third party to access not only the basic information of name, address and social security number of our students, but now lots more, more than any parent would want to see made public. And all for a pittance. For more on the subject, see CCER, the Road Map Project and the loss of student privacy.

The accumulation of student information is a nationwide effort by Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and former New York Mayor Bloomberg to have a national database called inBloom.

Sue Peters 4 School BoardSue Peters, always tracking the school district’s actions, was the first to catch a leak of our students’ information three years ago during the same time that Estey was pushing to gain more information on our children, see Should the School District Be Allowed to Give Our Kids’ Phone numbers, Addresses and Photos to Every Tom, Dick and Pollster?

Sue has been an active parent in the Seattle Public School district for ten years, an education journalist, a member of the district’s Superintendent Search Community Focus Group and the Strategic Plan Stakeholder Task Force as well as a founding member of Parents Across America and the Seattle Math Coalition.

As with any campaign these days, though, we need to follow the money.

Estey has received $176,000 worth of campaign contributions from a relatively small group of people and yet doesn’t seem to know who her funders are or why anyone would be concerned. This is according to what Estey said in a candidate’s forum last month. Is this naiveté or a just little white lie? From what I’ve seen, she doesn’t seem to be the type to easily bold face lie to others…or is she? Check out the video of the 37th District Democrat’s Forum, go into the video to 10:36 and judge for yourself.

Is Estey clueless? Does she truly have no idea of the issues swirling around her and the players involved? If so, we can’t afford a school board director who has no idea what they are getting into and then take two years to get up to speed while Rome burns.

Does Estey not understand the devastating effects that the big money takeover has on the democratic process in our public schools as seen with the proliferation of charter schools, the Common Core Standards, high stakes testing and Teach for America, Inc.?

This makes her putty in the hands of her big donors. You can see the effect it had on previous board members who received much less in campaign donations from this same group of donors a few years back.

In a Stranger article One Funny Thing About That Old Suzanne Dale Estey Story, Anna Minard writes:

…one of the main themes in this race is that Estey is supported and funded by charter schools advocates, other corporate ed reformers, and some of the crappiest board members in recent history, but she promises that just because they endorse her or give her lots of money, they don’t really speak for her. In our SECB meeting, when we asked her about her endorsements from the scandal-tinged Peter Maier and ineffective incumbent Michael DeBell, she told us: “Just because someone is supporting me doesn’t mean I embrace all of their weaknesses.”

Let’s take a look at Estey’s major contributors.

Matt Griffin:

Matt Griffin, a developer in Seattle, set up the PAC “Great Seattle Schools” to support Estey’s campaign.

When developers begin to invest money in campaigns that are related to public schools, odd things begin to happen that are not so good for students but great for investors. For example, check out what developers had in mind in Chicago when Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, was CEO of the public schools, a district with a public school system that now looks more like what’s left of Iraq than Main Street, USA. It was called Renaissance 2010.

According to a previous post on Seattle Education, The Seattle School Board Incumbents, Stand for Children and Other Corporate Reform Backers:

Matt Griffin, a wealthy developer in Seattle, donated $1,000 to Defeat 1098 (an income tax on the wealthy)in 2010. He also donated to all of the incumbents’ campaigns in 2010. Mr. Griffin gave Peter Maier and Steve Sundquist $1,000 each and Sherry Carr and Harium Martin-Morris, $2,000 each.

These same incumbents also received funding from Stand for Children and rubber stamped everything that our Broad superintendent at the time sent down the pike including allowing Teach for America, Inc. into Seattle, the costly and unnecessary school closings debacle and RIF’s which caused unnecessary consternation and chaos with the majority of teachers returning the following fall.

Mr. Griffin also contributed to the  Seattle Foundation to cover the Seattle Public School district’s cost of hiring Teach for America, Inc. temps.

The contributors to his PAC include:

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER): $10,000

DFER-electionDemocrats for Education Reform (DFER) 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 allowing Teach for America, Inc. to staff public schools.

For more on DFER in Washington State, check out Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) candidates in Washington State , Lisa Macfarlane with WA DFER wins the Walton Award for privatization, EduShyster’s two great posts Biz School Boyz 4 Reform and Stuff White People Like: Education Reform and Diane Ravitch’s post Follow the Money.

Nick Hanauer: $20,000

A self-proclaimed “venture capitalist” living in Seattle who put up $450k for the charter school initiative and is a founder of the League of Education Voters.

For information on his most recent activity, see The League of Education Voters is at it again. This time they’re going after the teachers.

Chris Larson: $30,000

A retired Microsoft executive and self-described “Investor”.

Sloan Stuart: $2,500

CEO of QFC.

Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE) : $2,750

Basically the Chamber of Commerce for Seattle.

Other contributors to Estey’s campaign include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Jeff Raikes, head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, bringing the grand total to $176,000, a record for school board races in the Seattle school district. And yet, Estey doesn’t have a clue why anyone would be concerned who her donors are. Hmmm.

Funding for Sue Peters:

The rest of us who she will stand with and fight for: $28,000

We need someone in office who knows what they’re doing and can do a great job of it.

Vote Sue Peters for School Board and share this post far and wide.

For more on Sue Peters and her campaign, check out Sue Peters for School Board.

You can download a postcard sized flyer to share with your friends and neighbors.

****************************************************************************

Sue’s endorsements include the following:

The Stranger

Seattle Education Association (SEA)

Social Equity Educators (SEE)

National Women’s Political Caucus

of Washington

M. L. King County Labor Council

International Union of Operating Engineers – Local 609

Teamsters Joint Council No. 28

Greater Seattle Area Local of the American Postal Workers Union

11th District Democrats

32nd District Democrats

34th District Democrats

36th District Democrats

37th District Democrats

43rd District Democrats

King County Democrats

Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle

Washington State Progressive Caucus

Green Party of Seattle

Eat the State

FUSE – Progressive Voters’ Guide

Municipal League of King County – Very Good – “Makes significant contributions, is a skilled builder of consensus, inspires confidence in the way he/she would serve, is thorough and attentive to issues.”

SEAMEC (Seattle Metropolitan Elections Committee) – 4 – Exceeds Expectations = Highest rating in the race!

The Network for Public Education

Elected Officials:

State Senator Maralyn Chase

State Representative Gerry Pollet

State Senator Bob Hasegawa

State Representative & Chair of House Education Committee, Sharon Tomiko Santos

State Representative Cindy Ryu

State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon

King County Councilmember Larry Gossett

Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata

Seattle School Board Director Marty McLaren

Seattle School Board Vice President Betty Patu

Seattle School Board Director Sharon Peaslee

Seattle School Board President Kay Smith-Blum

Former Seattle School Board Director Mary Bass

Former Seattle School Board Director Amy Hagopian

Former Seattle School Board Director Sally Soriano

Former Seattle School Board Director Irene Stewart

Mercer Island School Board Director Dave Meyerson

This post submitted by Dora Taylor

Protect.Your.Education.02.Illustration

Legislative Alert: Grading schools (but not charter schools?) (HB 1476), teacher and principal evaluations based on test scores (SB 5246), cashing in on online learning and, of course, ALEC

Unfortunately most of the bills coming from Litzow & Co. are right out of the ALEC playbook. We have watched this happen across the country with tragic effects and now legislators with ties to Stand for Children are taking the lead to continue the efforts of privatizing public schools in our state.

There are ways to make our voices heard and it is imperative that we do. A few with money and dollar signs in their eyes are whispering into the ears of some of our legislators. It’s time for the rest of us to be heard loudly and clearly.

You can call the hotline at  1-800-562-6000 and leave a message regarding a particular bill, call or e-mail individual legislators  in Olympia or take a day off and visit them. If you want to visit your legislators, make appointments with them or a staff member and carpool with other parents, teachers, concerned citizens and even students, providing them with a great lesson in civics.

Also, because the Seattle Times has simply become a mouthpiece for business interests in their op-ed’s, an editorial offered to community newspapers and blogs is an opportunity to inform the public of what a few are trying to push through as state legislation.

Here is a little bit about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) from ALEC Exposed:

Eliminating tenure for teachers in favor of “performance,” allowing districts to fire older teachers in favor of lower-cost young teachers.

Undermining teacher’s unions indirectly through the above bills, and directly through bills like this one, this one, and this one. See also the anti-union bills on the Worker Rights page.

Connections Academy, a large online education corporation and co-chair of the Education Task Force, benefits from ALEC measures to privatize public education and promote private on-line schools.

ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board.

Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.

Who funds ALEC?

More than 98% of ALEC’s revenues come from sources other than legislative dues, such as corporations, corporate trade groups, and corporate foundations. Each corporate member pays an annual fee of between $7,000 and $25,000 a year, and if a corporation participates in any of the nine task forces, additional fees apply, from $2,500 to $10,000 each year. ALEC also receives direct grants from corporations, such as $1.4 million from ExxonMobil from 1998-2009. It has also received grants from some of the biggest foundations funded by corporate CEOs in the country, such as: the Koch family Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Koch-managed Claude R. Lambe Foundation, the Scaife family Allegheny Foundation, the Coors family Castle Rock Foundation, to name a few. Less than 2% of ALEC’s funding comes from “Membership Dues” of $50 per year paid by state legislators, a steeply discounted price that may run afoul of state gift bans. For more, see CMD’s special report on ALEC funding and spending here.

ALEC provides bill templates regarding education that legislators can choose from and “personalize”.

The two bills that will be heard next week and are the worst of the lot focus on judging teachers and schools based on standardized test scores and is referred to as high stakes testing which benefits no one. The focus becomes what will be on the test, narrowing the curriculum and quite frankly taking the joy out of learning and teaching…but I guess that’s just for kids in private schools these days.

Even The Wire got it: Jukin’ the stats.

By the way, wouldn’t it be nice if these same legislators used their time and energy on finding money to adequately fund our schools, which is constitutionally their paramount duty per the McCleary Act, instead of coming up with more pricey legislation?

First is Senate Bill  5246 : Teacher and principal evaluations would be based on student test scores in terms of “growth” and the only test now available that purportedly shows “growth” is the discredited MAP test.

There will be a public hearing on this bill on Monday, February 4th at 1:30 pm by the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee, SHR 1.

All are invited to attend and make your voices heard.

This next bill, House Bill 1476, would grade schools and districts based on test scores.

What has occurred around the country is that this is used as a way to close schools and either leave the buildings empty in (minority) neighborhoods or convert them into charter schools. The second process is referred to as a “school turnaround” and is a way to privatize schools and eventually an entire district as has been done in New Orleans and coming soon to Philadelphia.

There will be a hearing on this bill on Tuesday, February 5 at 1:30 PM by the House Education Committee. All are welcomed to attend.

Senate Bill 5328 is the same bill on the Senate side. You can submit a comment online at Public Comment on Bill 5328 and I highly recommend doing so.

Note:

Apparently wording was taken out of the Senate Bill on grading schools and districts about the exemption of charter schools but if you read the bills…

In the bill re: teacher and principal evaluations:

 1)(a) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, the

7 superintendent of public instruction shall establish and may amend from

8 time to time minimum criteria for the evaluation of the professional

9 performance capabilities and development of certificated classroom

10 teachers and certificated support personnel.

In the bill re: school and district grades:

1)(a) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, the

7 superintendent of public instruction shall establish and may amend from

8 time to time minimum criteria for the evaluation of the professional

9 performance capabilities and development of certificated classroom

10 teachers and certificated support personnel.

According to Initiative 1240, OSPI is not to oversee charter schools. Therefore, with this language, charter schools would automatically be exempted from this proposed legislation.

What these legislators are doing in our state is not new, see what happened in Wisconsin last Spring:

From the Center for Media and Democracy:

Wisconsin Education Reform Only ALEC Could Love

Measuring Teacher Performance, But Not at Voucher Schools

Also winding their way through the legislature are Senate Bill 461 and Assembly Bill 558, proposals Governor Walker alluded to in his January State of the State address. The bills include grants related to literacy and early childhood development, and also address teacher licensure, evaluating teacher preparatory programs, and educator effectiveness. Senator Darling is also an author of these measures.

The legislation echoes ALEC’s model Teacher Quality and Recognition Demonstration Act and their “model” Education Accountability Act, including the emphasis on “performance based accountability.” The Wisconsin bill would mandate that 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation is based on student performance on standardized tests and other assessments. ALEC’s accountability act says criteria for measuring school quality “must address” in some manner “the results of standardized tests that measure both minimal competencies and higher order skills.”

State School Superintendent Tony Evers, who is an elected offiical, is critical of Senate Bill 461 and Assembly Bill 558 because they do not require the state’s voucher schools to screen students or offer remedial services. Also missing from the legislation are provisions embodied in the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver request to subject all schools receiving public funds — including Title I schools, non-Title I schools, charter schools and voucher schools — to the proposed new state accountability system. Evers says Walker and the legislative Republicans previously agreed to include these measures in this legislation.

Evers says the agreement called for students in voucher schools and charter schools to take the same tests and abide by the same new standards that students in regular public schools will live by. Voucher schools would qualify for the new literacy and early childhood development grants, and teachers in voucher schools would have to abide by the new rules for teacher licensure, teacher preparatory programs and educator effectiveness. Senate Bill 461 and Assembly Bill 558 have none of that.

“While everyone claimed that we were creating this system together, it seems as if some have walked away,” Evers said in a statement. “This missed opportunity is more than a step backward. Today’s inaction leaves absolutely unclear whether the choice schools and charter schools receiving tens of millions of dollars in public funding will have public accountability. It looks as if the common accountability system that last summer seemed agreed upon may not happen.”

Recommended articles:

Diane Ravitch: What You Need To Know About ALEC

A Smart ALEC Threatens Public Education

Bobby Jindal, Using ALEC Playbook, Radically Reshapes Public Education

For a list of or legislative representatives who are also members of ALEC, go to Washington ALEC Politicians.

And finally, Bill Moyers on ALEC:

Dora Taylor

The Weekly Update: Chomsky on Public Education, SWF’s need only apply, a Stand for Children Fail in Chicago and more

The Weekly Update for the news and views you might have missed

This week we’ll start with EduShyster and their article

Single White Female

Many studies show that young white teachers are fresher and more innovative than their LIFO lifer peers of other races.

The achievement gap is the civil rights issue of our time—which is why it may be necessary for us to destroy a large part of the Black middle class in order to achieve our goal of closing said gap.

During the Chicago Teachers Union strike I encountered a stunning statistic. Since education reform arrived in Chicago, African Americans have dropped from 45% of the teaching force to just 19%. But how can that be? you must be wondering. Arne Duncan LUVS Black people. Alas reader, while the schools slated for closure, turnaround or charterization have had a significant percentage of African American teachers, the ones replacing them rarely do. But at least Chicago has made great strides in closing the achievement gap…

Chicago is not the only place where Education Reform, Inc. is quickly reshaping the teaching force into one that is fresher and more innovative younger and whiter. In urban areas across the country, middle-aged, middle class African American teachers are being pushed out to make room for the flavor of the day: vanilla.

In Boston a charter school will very likely take over Marshall Elementary, one of the city’s largest. Thirty two percent of teachers at the Marshall are African American vs just 14% of teachers at the charter, UP Academy. More striking still, not a single teacher at UP is over the age of 40. Reader: I feel old just typing those words so I can only imagine how you must feel reading them—old, old, old, and whatever the opposite of “fresh” and “innovative” is. You may be forgiven for uncorking your wine box just a bit early today.

As for Massachusetts’ other charters-on-the-move, the mini empires of excellence and innovation that are aggressively expanding through the state’s urban areas, their teaching staffs are incredibly young and  overwhelmingly white, even as the students they teach are almost exclusively African American and Hispanic.

To view the entire list, go to EduShyster.

Speaking of Chicago, most of you are aware of Jonah Edelman and the video when he boasted about how he and his political buddies along with Stand for Children’s wealthy supporters did what they thought they needed to do to crush the rights of teachers in Illinois.

Two years later, the Chicago Teachers Union with Karen Lewis at the helm, took on Mayor Rahmney and won.

This article highlights that point. To follow is an excerpt from:

The MASSIVE Failure of Jonah Edelman

I just can’t let this go without comment:

Less than two months into a new school year, teacher strikes have popped up in Chicago and four suburbs — with a handful of potential walkouts on the horizon — despite a new state law that was expected to make it harder for work stoppages to occur.

Similar themes have surfaced in each district — the latest during last week’s one-day strike in Highland Park’s North Shore School District 112 — but officials on both sides agree that often, the issues go beyond disputes over raises. Before this year, there had been only one Chicago-area strike since 2009.

…District 112’s brief strike ended after 17 hours of negotiations. Chicago Public Schools and districts in Lake Forest, Evergreen Park and Crystal Lake have largely settled on new contracts after walkouts. Meanwhile, unions in Carpentersville, Geneva, Grayslake and Huntley each have authorized strikes while continuing negotiations. [emphasis mine]

But wait a minute: the plutocrats who run the New Chicago Mob hired Jonah Edelman to make sure this would never, ever happen. He told them strikes were now impossible in Illinois:

With the unions then on board, the IEA and the IFT were relieved to have a deal. They came out strongly in support of this agreement, which was this wholesale transformational change, and with that support there was no reason for any politician to oppose it. So the Senate backed it 59-0, and then the Chicago Teachers Union leader started getting pushback from her membership for a deal that really probably wasn’t from their perspective strategic. She backed off for a little while but the die had been cast – she had publicly been supportive – so we did some face-saving technical fixes in a separate bill – but the House approved it 112-1. And a liberal Democratic governor who was elected by public sector unions – that’s not even debatable – in fact signed it and took credit for it. So we talk about a process that ends up achieving transformational change – it’s going to allow the new mayor and the new CEO [of Chicago schools] to lengthen the day and year as much as they want. The unions cannot strike in Chicago. They will never be able to muster the 75% threshold necessary to strike. And the whole framework for discussing impact – you know, what compensation is necessary – is set up through the fine print that we approved to ensure that the fact-finding recommendations, which are nonbinding, will favor what we would consider to be common sense. [emphasis mine]

Talk about a complete failure. If a teacher was as bad at her job as Edelman is at his, she wouldn’t last even one school year.

I’ll say it again: why do these extremely wealthy “reformers” keep hiring people who are really, really bad at their jobs?

To read this article in full, go to the Jersey Jazzman.

You know that a Weekly Update can’t go by without me describing the trials and tribulations that neighborhoods go through when they decide charter schools are a really good idea.

Edu quote of the week, from Rocklin Charter School Shuts Its Doors Amid Controversy:

“How can you throw 400 families out?”

Dr. Ravitch breaks it down on her blog:

Charter Closes, Kids Abandoned

A charter school in Sacramento abruptly closed its doors, locked out the students, and called it quits.

The charter operator said the space could only handle 75 students, but he had enrolled 400.

The parents were not happy. They said the school had collected $2 million or so.

They were puzzled.

So am I.

Hey, that’s the free market. Stores come and go.

Stuff happens.

Go shop somewhere else, consumers.

You get to “choose” another school. Isn’t  that what “school choice” is all about?

This weekend I will leave you with Noam Chomsky and the video titled

Corporate Attack on Public Education, Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky talks of the longstanding hostility of the rich to truly educating the public so they don’t realize they are victims of an economic system they need to replace with one that truly serves the public. March 16, 2012 at St. Philip’s Church of Harlem


Oh yeah, and…

The Chicago teachers strike, Rahm Emmanuel, Stand for Children, the Gates Foundation, DFER, the Tea Party, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan

So what do all of these folks have in common?

Listen up Seattle.

The Chicago Teachers Union is currently on the front lines of a fight to defend public education. On one side the 30,000 members of the CTU have called for a contract that includes fair compensation, meaningful job security for qualified teachers, smaller class sizes and a better school day with Art, Music, World Language and appropriate staffing levels to help our neediest students.

On the other side, the Chicago Board of Education—which is managed by out of town reformers and Broad Foundation hires with little or no Chicago public school experience—has pushed to add two weeks to the school year and 85 minutes to the school day, eliminate pay increases for seniority, evaluate teachers based on student test scores, and slash many other rights.

Teachers, parents and community supporters in Chicago have fought valiantly—marching, filling auditoriums at hearings and parent meetings, even occupying a school and taking over a school board meeting. Most recently, 98 percent of our members voted to authorize a strike. But now we find ourselves facing new opponents—national education privatizers, backed by some of the nation’s wealthiest people. They are running radio ads, increasing press attacks, and mounting a PR campaign to discredit the CTU and the benefits of public education.

For the full video on Edelman and his patting on the back rhetoric about Stand for Children breaking the back of the teachers’ union, go to Stand for Children Stands for the Rich and the Powerful…

And from Mike Klonsky’s blog, Romney, Ryan Support Rahm.
Dora

Post Script:

It seems so far that the best source for information on the Chicago teachers’ strike is at Substance News.

Bain Capital, Stand for Children and Initiative 1240

Birds of a feather and all, Stand for Children, which is about the takeover of our public schools, has not only received donations from members of Bain Capital but the Managing Director at Bain Capital is on the Board of Directors for Stand for Children. Oh what a web…

Stand for Children is also behind Initiative 1240 in our state which is an illegal maneuver to privatize our public schools by setting up charter schools with no local or state oversight by a public entity. See the article Why Initiative 1240 is Unconstitutional by David Spring.

To get a better understanding of the history of Stand for Children, check out an article published in Rethinking Schools, For or Against Children?
For an article that begins to connect the dots between ALEC, Bain Capital and Stand for Children, see:

Bain Capital has received a lot of negative press lately from President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign as it’s the corporation once run by current Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

As it turns out Romney made a killing from his time as CEO of Bain, but he was far from a job creator. Through his work thousands of people lost their jobs. The corporation uses a “Corporate Reform” model that looks a lot like the current model being used by billionaire-backed Astroturf groups claiming it will fix schools.

 Bain’s a private equity firm that specialized in “leveraged buyouts.” According to Slate.com:

Leveraged buyouts, which are what private equity firms do, load companies with debt, extract value for middlemen, and displace workers.

The company profits off of lowering the standard of living for workers It cuts middle-class jobs and funnels wealth upwards, much like the way education is being done in Chicago.

In Chicago, during a claimed fiscal crisis the Chicago Board of Education hired more middle management at six figure salaries fired large swaths of experienced and therefore pricy labor, replaced them with neophytes who stay on the job just long enough to be utterly burned out. This may be a way to make unscrupulous stockholders happy, but it’s no way to run a school system.

One instance where the connection was crystal clear was a school run under Bain outside of Salt Lake City, Utah where students died due to cuts to services.

This is not a coincidence; companies like Corporate Reformer Bain Capital have a shared ideology with Corporate Education Reformers likeStand for Children. One might ask why a Corporate Reform model would be employed in public policy. Well, most of the policy proposals Stand For Children supports are lifted right out of the ALEC playbook.

ALEC, is of course the American Legislative Exchange Commission, which is described as a “collaboration between multinational corporations and conservative state legislators.” Bain itself was so impressed with the parallel approach to corporate education reform that it gave $1 million dollars to Stand for Children in Massachusetts.

That $1 million in revenue could have been used to maybe lay off less teachers but instead it was used to fund an organization whose goal is to further destabilize the schools in America. What’s the end game of Bain, and for that matter Stand for Children? They are creating a race to the bottom. They want a steady supply of new teaching recruits each year who get paid peanuts and are too afraid to speak up for themselves and the children they serve.

This is not how we give America’s children the schools they deserve.

Dora Taylor