Do you sometimes wonder why the Seattle Times does so many puff pieces on Bill Gates and his failed education initiatives?

It’s become clear to folks outside the circle of educators and public education advocates that all of Bill Gates ideas on how other children should be educated have failed and for many reasons.

Bill Gates is not an educator, never taught one day in his life in a public school, never took classes in education or child development but because he has money, he thinks he  has the answers to all that ails society. His children have never attended a public school and Bill Gates himself was enrolled in expensive private schools through high school. And as most know, he dropped out of college.

But he has money and therefore influence. Unfortunately his experiments on our children, including merit pay, teachers, schools and principals judged on student test scores and charter schools, have been failures and have only ruined the opportunities of many students to a better education. The time Bill Gates was spending on his visions cost precious time and public money with students not able to go back and receive the education they should have experienced. 

The Seattle Times recently published another puff piece on Bill Gates and I decided it was time to remind folks that Bill Gates pays a lot of money to the Seattle Times for their cloying admiration.

To follow is a post I published in 2015 by Mercedes Schneider titled:

BILL GATES FUNDS THE MEDIA, INCLUDING THE SEATTLE TIMES’ EDUCATION LAB, THEN SECRETLY MEETS WITH THEM

Gates meme

Billionaire Bill Gates funds the media then secretly meets with them to do what?

Billionaire Bill Gates funds the media.

This is no surprise to me.

What did surprise me is the discovery that he meets with the media he funds (and others) regularly behind closed doors.

Yep.

gates ed

Gates Briefs a Media He Pays For (And Then Some)

In February 2013, journalist Tom Paulson wrote a piece on Gates’ private meetings with the media he funds. Paulson was not invited.

Notice some of the names:

I (Paulson) wasn’t actually allowed behind the scenes at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s recent meeting in Seattle entitled “Strategic Media Partnerships.”

The Gates Foundation funds a lot of media – more than $25 million in media grants for 2012 (but still less than 1% of the budget).  

I’m media but I wasn’t invited. I asked if I could come and report on it, but was told the meeting was off the record. Those attending included representatives from the New York Times, NPR, the Guardian, NBC, Seattle Times and a number of other news organizations, non-profit groups and foundations. Not all were grant recipients, or partners. Some just came to consult. [Emphasis added this paragraph.]

In August 2014, I wrote about the Gates-funded, Seattle Times blog, Education Lab.

Education Lab is trying to offer predominately light, benign stories arguably designed to divert public attention from the increasingly-evident documentation regarding the failure of education privatization.

In Seattle, Gates is paying for the reporting of “positive outcomes.”

What happens if the “outcomes” are not so “positive”?

Just don’t write about that.

And it is easy enough if the funded organization’s politics agree with those of Gates.

(The Gates grants website is clear that Gates actively seeks to pay those organizations that will agree with his agenda.)

In the comments section of my Gates-funded, Seattle Ed Lab post, University of Washington professor Wayne Au challenges one of the Gates-funded Ed Lab reporters on the “Gates agreement reporting” point. Here is an excerpt from Au’s comment:

What is striking to me is the thin political range of the Ed Lab. I see mainly “safe” stories about mainstream stuff almost no one would would question….

[ … ]

In many ways you are in a similar position to the other Gates funded organizations locally – like the League of Education Voters. They tell me all the time, “Gates funds us but they don’t tell us what to do.” And my response to them is always, “Gates doesn’t have to tell you what to do because your politics and agenda align with Gates. That’s WHY they fund you. If you changed your agenda, you’d lose your Gates money…” Gates doesn’t have to pull the strings. They just need to provide resources to the right policy actors. [Emphasis added.]

Au’s entire exchange with the Ed Lab reporter is worth a read.

Gates

A Gates-funded Common Core Debate (?)

Gates funds media willing to promote his agenda. Sometimes those reporting have no issues because they agree with Gates. In other cases, it seems that there might be some willful shaping of a story in order to slant the outcome towards “Gates favor-ability.”

Consider the September 9, 2014, Intelligence Squared debate on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The debate is entitled, Embrace the Common Core

No slant there.

If one scrolls to the bottom of the debate announcement page, one sees that Gates-funded NPR is a sponsor.

And as journalist Tom Paulson notes in his piece on Gates’ conferencing with the media, Bill is pushing for more “success stories”:

Well, as a journalist who covers global health and poverty and is expected to double-check and unpack the often carefully packaged messages put out by the Gates Foundation, I can tell you that quite a few people [attending the Gates media conference] – again, mostly ‘off the record’ – do kick. They’re not opposed to the overall goal, but many are concerned about the immense influence the philanthropy already has over the aid narrative.

One of the Gates Foundation’s working assumptions is that the aid narrative is a bummer, mostly bad news, and what we need is more ‘success stories.’ [Emphasis added.]

It is important to note that the “success stories” Gates wants are those in line with his agenda. When it comes to education, Gates loves CCSS, grading teachers using standardized test scores, instituting teacher pay-for-performance increasing class sizes, and an extending the school day.

gates-02

Remember: True “Success” Is Gates-endorsed “Success”

Concerning evidence that contradicts the Gates agenda, Gates is willing to undercut a “success story.” Consider his February 2011 diminishing explanation in the Washington Post of the “success” of rising state test scores in light of flat NAEP scores:

Many education leaders would say that Gates’s criticism is unfounded. While NAEP scores are flat, scores on many state tests have risen over the past decade, to great fanfare. Test scores in both Maryland and Virginia have risen substantially in that span.

Gates contends that those gains are probably largely a result of new-test phenomenon: Test scores almost always rise under a new test, as students and teachers familiarize themselves with the test and the material it measures.

“Whenever you have a new test, people learn what’s in that test over the first three or four years,” he said. “The fact that doesn’t show up on NAEP at all is a bit damning.” [Emphasis added.]

Gates is quick to dismiss the rising state scores without also acknowledging the connection between flat NAEP scores and a sputtering, test-driven reform agenda. In other words, Bill did not say what was being “damned” was Bush’s test-driven, punitive, still-floundering No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Indeed, in 2013, with an additional two years of privatizing reform under America’s belt, NAEP scores remained flat.

This is certainly not test-worshiping reform “success,” but don’t blame the corporate reform idol of the high-stakes test as the supposed end-all success marker.

Gates instead turns to “smaller classes” as the culprit:

Gates contends that the K-12 education industry has been steered for five decades by a misguided belief that the way to higher performance is smaller classes. Many states pursued class-size reduction initiatives in the 1990s. California, an example I covered as a reporter, reduced average class size from 30 to 20 in kindergarten through grade 3 in the mid-1990s, at a cost of over $1.5 billion a year.

And since test scores have not risen, it must be that smaller classes should yield to more *cost effective* larger classes, right?

And be sure to prod teachers on with merit pay. Gates just knows this will work:

Over the years, though, the research community has more or less confirmed that class-size reduction doesn’t yield significant performance gains. The most expensive education reform is among the least effective.

Gates proposes ending class-size reduction experiments, lifting caps on class size and offering good teachers financial incentives to teach more students.

“If you look at something like class sizes going from 22 to 27, and paying that teacher a third of the savings, and you make sure it’s the effective teachers you’re retaining,” he said, “by any measure, you’re raising the quality of education as you do that.”  [Emphasis added.]

This is the same Gates who admitted in a September 2013 Harvard University interview that he wouldn’t know for “probably a decade” if his “education stuff” works.

Add to the above tidbit of uncertainty the established reality that Gates himself did not attend a test-driven-reform school with large class sizes, and neither do his children. And I’m sure he would consider himself as a “success.”

But that does not help the situation of “success shaping” of test-driven educational reform for the masses, does it?

No, no. Gates education reform  “success” includes the next great idea in test-driven reform, CCSS.

gates-03

Back to That Gates-funded, NPR-sponsored, CC Debate…

Gates-funded NPR is sponsoring the September 2014 “debate” event, Embracing the Common Core.

It should come as no surprise that for all practical purposes, the “debate” leans in favor of CCSS via the inclusion of Gates-funded American Enterprise Institute (AEI) “scholar” Rick Hess, who is to argue “against” CCSS.

The best Hess has shown so far in “opposing” CCSS is a lukewarm dissatisfactionwith it. He has, however, published a pro-CCSS book in November 2013 in which he examines how to “seamlessly integrate” CCSS “into accountability systems.”

Moreover, likely during the time that he was either writing or had already finished his pro-CCSS book, in February 2013, Hess interviewed CCSS “architect” Jason Zimba.

Here is how Hess chooses to present Zimba and CCSS.  I consider Hess’ writing style as “loud plaid suit with pants too short.” Perhaps readers will understand why after experiencing the following:

You didn’t think the ferment around Common Core could keep building? Hah! Prepare for several more years of increasing wackiness. In the middle of it all is Jason Zimba, founding principal of Student Achievement Partners (SAP) and the man who is leading SAP after David Coleman went off to head up the College Board. SAP is a major player in Common Core implementation, especially with the aid of $18 million in support from the GE Foundation. Zimba was the lead writer on the Common Core mathematics standards. He earned his doctorate in mathematical physics from Berkeley, co-founded the Grow Network with Coleman, and previously taught physics and math at Bennington College. He’s a private dude who lives up in New England and has not been part of the Beltway policy conversation. I’d never met Zimba, until we had the chance to sit down last week.

Now, I think readers know that I’m of two minds when it comes to the Common Core. On the one hand, it does have the potential to bring coherence to the education space, shed light on who’s doing what, raise the bar for instructional materials and teacher prep, and so forth. On the other, there are about 5,000 ways the whole thing could go south or turn into a stifling bureaucratic monstrosity-and one rarely goes wrong when betting against our ability to do massive, complex edu-reforms well. Given all this, like many of you, I’m carefully watching how all this is playing out. [Emphasis added.]

Well. Safe to note that Hess is not a “dude” with serious reservations about CCSS. He’s just “watching”– and publishing a book in favor.

As far as the Gates-backed NPR-sponsored CCSS “debate” goes, right out of the starting gate, the established anti-CCSS stance belongs to only one of the four “debaters”– New York principal Carol Burris.

Gates must be pleased. After all, he really, really wants CCSS.

I must add that I continue to enjoy the irony of the Embrace the Common Core public opinion poll, which has remained steady at 11 percent in favor of “embracing” and 89 percent opposed out of over 42,600 responses.

gates-01

Gentle New Orleans Charter Reporting, NPR-style

I have my own story of Gates-funded NPR and “success shaping,” this time in regard to charter school “success” in New Orleans.

The now-100-percent-charter, New Orleans Recovery School District (RSD) is no success. I have written extensively on the RSD fraud– on its under-regulation, its inflated school scores that don’t even raise its schools above the criteria for “failing school” according to the *also failing* Louisiana voucher program, of its shaped graduation rates and its cumbersome OneApp process. RSD is nine years old and hasn’t a single “A” school by the state’s own slippery grading criteria.

RSD is a failure.

So. In August 2014, I received an email from Claudio Sanchez of NPR. He was to be in New Orleans doing a piece on the RSD charters, and he wanted to meet to interview me. My first thought was of Gates’ funding of NPR, but I did call Sanchez, who sounded like he was familiar with my writings on the RSD illusion of charter “success.” We spoke on the phone for at least 20 minutes, during which time I summarized research on what amounts to an RSD-charter-success farce.

Sanchez and I were to meet on a Thursday, but his flight was delayed, so we rescheduled for a Friday, which he also canceled, he said, in favor of attending a union meeting at a bastion of charter mismanagement and failure, McDonough High School, a Steve Barr, Future Is Now charter failure that was supposed to have $35 million in renovations that never happened. Instead, charter manager Steve Barr pulled out two years later. Barr, who has zero attachment to the community where the school is located, said that the closure was a “facilities” decision.”

Why had the promised renovations not happened?

No explanation. Only excuses. However, if it is any consolation, in 2012, kids did get some new iPads.

And Oprah did try to sensationalize the depravity of McDonough on her short-lived series, Blackboard Wars.

Indeed, there is a story to McDonough, and Gates-funded NPR reporter Sanchez could have captured it.

Could have.

The school was closed in June 2014. All staff lost their jobs. Parents (among others) want the school to be returned to the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), which is willing to take the school back but– as seems to be true with any reversing of pro-privatizing reform– just “isn’t that easy.”

The short of it is, Sanchez knew about the issues surrounding McDonough High School because he attended a meeting there. And he had deliberately contacted me regarding supposed charter “success.”

Anyone who bothers to investigate New Orleans’ charters in the manner that a reporter should investigate surely would uncover numerous questionable leads.

What Sanchez published has all of the investigative depth of a salad plate. Major issues– like “not doing a great job on special ed”– brushed over. No depth. Statements such as, “There’s still substantial numbers of schools that struggle in New Orleans,” made without thorough examination. And no hint of the likes of McDonough High School and the problem of so-called school “management” that is completely disconnected from the community and can therefore easily dismiss an entire school as little more than a “supply and demand” issue.

After all, it’s “just business.”

However, I write not from the funding-approved perspective of what constitutes a “successful” report.

From such a sell-out perspective, surely the most important piece to Sanchez’s RSD-gone-fully-charter reporting is his benign ending:

SANCHEZ: It’s 8:20, and teachers scurry to their classrooms well aware that the entire country is watching. Claudio Sanchez, NPR News.

A shallow, soft landing to a story that had to potential of appearing too… real.

Success.

Education historian Diane Ravitch offers the following observation on Sanchez’s reporting:

Here is the trick by which radio and TV shows give the illusion of balance: first, they give the narrative, then they invite two or three people to make a critical comment. What they are selling is the narrative. The critics are easily brushed aside. At times like this, I remember that NPR gets funding from both Gates and the far-right Walton Family Foundation, which is devoted to privatizing public schools. [Emphasis added.]

Sanchez’s narrative: “I’ll raise questions, but I will not go deep. The farthest I will go is to note that America is watching. That’s it.”

Sanchez did note that his “story” is part of a “year-long series.”

If his opener is any indication, forget diving into any deep end. No floaties are even necessary for small children. Just a safe splash in a *benign* journalistic puddle.

gates-04

Education Post: Funding-fortified for “Successful” Narrative Shaping

As I read Ravitch’s note on NPR’s funding, I remember the newly-created Education Post, which may or may not be Gates funded but which is Walton funded– and which also is attempting to “reshape the education conversation” into that which evidences public-awareness-anesthetizing, privatizing-reform  “success.”

Those with the obviously-declared education privatization agenda have appointed themselves the “keepers of the education conversation.” They will publicize what they decide “works.” After all, they are above actually doing the educating, and since those of us doing the educating are “too busy,” we need for them to cement the narrative that what they pay for (test-driven reform, charters, vouchers) is what “works.” AsWashington Post’s Lyndsey Layton reports:

Bruce Reed, president of the Broad Foundation, said the idea for Education Post originated with his organization but that other philanthropic groups had recognized the need years ago. …

One of the goals of Education Post is to publicize what works in public education, Reed said.

“Administrators, school leaders and teachers have papers to grade, schools to run, and they don’t have time to get out and talk about this,” he said. “This is an effort to help spread information about what works both inside the field and outside.”

Education Post also will have a “rapid response” capacity to “knock down false narratives” and will focus on “hot spots” around the country where conflicts with national implications are playing out, [former Arne Duncan communications shaper] Cunningham said. [Emphasis added.]

Information control, my friends. And, of course, the controlled narrative will feed the idea of corporate reform “success”:

While there are myriad nonprofit organizations devoted to K-12 education,none are focused solely on communication, said Howard Wolfson, an adviser to Bloomberg Philanthropies.

“There hasn’t really been an organization dedicated to sharing the successes of education reform around the country,” Wolfson said. “You have local success, but it isn’t amplified elsewhere. And there is a lot of success. There is also an awful lot of misperception around what ed reform is, and there hasn’t been an organization . . . focused on correcting those misimpressions.” [Emphasis added.]

I’m sorry, but the “misimpression” of corporate reform as being punitive and destructive to the community-based school and the career teacher and friendly to a grossly-under-regulated privatization is beyond “impression”; it is a reality fostered not only by years of a failed NCLB but one that continues to be fostered by NCLB waiver-yanking US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

How funny that those keen on promoting the traditional public education “failure” narrative now want to shape it into a “success” designed to conceal their own failure.

Corporate reformers have begun seeking PR advice– which does include ditching the language of failure that is the foundation of the entire test-driven-reform empire.

(Cosmetic) change is hard.

Indeed, if there really were “a lot of success” surrounding privatizing reform, there would be no need for a $12 million-dollar, glorified blog to try to sell it.

I mean, who starts a blog and gets immediate coverage in the Washington Post??

Now, from that Washington Post coverage, here is some more comedy:

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — a one-time organizer for the teachers union who as mayor embraced charter schools, parent-trigger laws and other policies at odds with the unions — is leading the [Education Post] advisory board. [Emphasis added.]

Isn’t that great? Don’t you just trust the “success” narrative that this group will promote?

I know I do.

I’m *just too busy* in my classroom to exercise any critical thinking about Gates, Walton, Broad, Bloomberg, CCSS, charters, vouchers NAEP scores, merit pay, USDOE, NCLB, waiver-yanking, class size, and so many other edu-trashing issues.

Surely I should just hand it all over to those *much better funded* than I am and let them do my thinking for me.

You Can Lead a Schneider to a *Successful* Puddle…

Uhm, I’m thinking, not.

bill-gates-thinking

 

 

 

Advertisements

The “Cancel your subscription to the Seattle Times” parent campaign is on

seattle times

The majority of people I speak to are thoroughly disgusted with the Times and its biased editorials and selection  of topics headlined that seem to reflect the views and opinions of the moneyed few rather than providing real information.

Bill Gates bought a section of the Seattle Times and titled it the Education Lab. Yes, “Lab” as in a laboratory where he can do his experiments on our students.  It seemed it wasn’t enough that the Seattle Times was already a shill for charter schools and merit pay for teachers based on test scores, Gates now had his own pull-out section of the newspaper.

Now parents of students in Seattle Public Schools are fighting mad about the one-sided reporting and editorializing of the teachers’ strike and they are taking action.

Several parents I have come across in the first week of the Seattle teachers’ strike on various Facebook pages have stated they have cancelled their subscriptions to the Seattle Times and are urging others to do so as well.

There is a Facebook page “Cancel your Seattle Times subscription” that popped up over the weekend asking subscribers to cancel their subscriptions on Monday, September 14th.

The sticky post states:

Money talks. If you’re fed up with pathetic coverage of the Seattle teachers strike in The Seattle Times, join parents & supporters as we cancel our subscriptions on the same day.

Seattle Times customer service numbers:

206-464-2121 or 1-800-542-0820

And here is one comment:

Seattle teachers have voted to strike. Seattle Times will tell you that the strike hurts students. You know what hurts students? Racist, classist, standardized tests. 15 minutes to eat lunch. No recess. Under-resourced schools. Overworked teachers. Crumbling infrastructure. Growing class size. Reduced art, music, and foreign language instruction. Selling out kids and their curricula to the highest corporate bidder. That’s what hurts students. So I fly a big middle finger to the Seattle Times and a big thumbs up to the Seattle teachers. Go, go, go!

It’s because of a lack of real reporting anymore from mainstream media and corporate owned newspapers that blogs such as Seattle Education and Save Seattle Schools have flourished along with other websites and blogs around the country.

Dora Taylor

Bill Gates funds the media, including the Seattle Times’ Education Lab, then secretly meets with them

I am reposting this piece after an article appeared in the Huffington Post about Education Lab, a relatively new section of the Seattle Times funded by Bill Gates.

Gates meme

This post was written by Mercedes Schneider and originally posted on her website Deutsch29:

Billionaire Bill Gates funds the media then secretly meets with them to do what?

Billionaire Bill Gates funds the media.

This is no surprise to me.

What did surprise me is the discovery that he meets with the media he funds (and others) regularly behind closed doors.

Yep.

gates ed

Gates Briefs a Media He Pays For (And Then Some)

In February 2013, journalist Tom Paulson wrote a piece on Gates’ private meetings with the media he funds. Paulson was not invited.

Notice some of the names:

I (Paulson) wasn’t actually allowed behind the scenes at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s recent meeting in Seattle entitled “Strategic Media Partnerships.”

The Gates Foundation funds a lot of media – more than $25 million in media grants for 2012 (but still less than 1% of the budget).  

I’m media but I wasn’t invited. I asked if I could come and report on it, but was told the meeting was off the record. Those attending included representatives from the New York Times, NPR, the Guardian, NBC, Seattle Times and a number of other news organizations, non-profit groups and foundations. Not all were grant recipients, or partners. Some just came to consult. [Emphasis added this paragraph.]

In August 2014, I wrote about the Gates-funded, Seattle Times blog, Education Lab.

Education Lab is trying to offer predominately light, benign stories arguably designed to divert public attention from the increasingly-evident documentation regarding the failure of education privatization.

In Seattle, Gates is paying for the reporting of “positive outcomes.”

What happens if the “outcomes” are not so “positive”?

Just don’t write about that.

And it is easy enough if the funded organization’s politics agree with those of Gates.

(The Gates grants website is clear that Gates actively seeks to pay those organizations that will agree with his agenda.)

In the comments section of my Gates-funded, Seattle Ed Lab post, University of Washington professor Wayne Au challenges one of the Gates-funded Ed Lab reporters on the “Gates agreement reporting” point. Here is an excerpt from Au’s comment:

What is striking to me is the thin political range of the Ed Lab. I see mainly “safe” stories about mainstream stuff almost no one would would question….

[ … ]

In many ways you are in a similar position to the other Gates funded organizations locally – like the League of Education Voters. They tell me all the time, “Gates funds us but they don’t tell us what to do.” And my response to them is always, “Gates doesn’t have to tell you what to do because your politics and agenda align with Gates. That’s WHY they fund you. If you changed your agenda, you’d lose your Gates money…” Gates doesn’t have to pull the strings. They just need to provide resources to the right policy actors. [Emphasis added.]

Au’s entire exchange with the Ed Lab reporter is worth a read.

Gates

A Gates-funded Common Core Debate (?)

Gates funds media willing to promote his agenda. Sometimes those reporting have no issues because they agree with Gates. In other cases, it seems that there might be some willful shaping of a story in order to slant the outcome towards “Gates favor-ability.”

Consider the September 9, 2014, Intelligence Squared debate on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The debate is entitled, Embrace the Common Core

No slant there.

If one scrolls to the bottom of the debate announcement page, one sees that Gates-funded NPR is a sponsor.

And as journalist Tom Paulson notes in his piece on Gates’ conferencing with the media, Bill is pushing for more “success stories”:

Well, as a journalist who covers global health and poverty and is expected to double-check and unpack the often carefully packaged messages put out by the Gates Foundation, I can tell you that quite a few people [attending the Gates media conference] – again, mostly ‘off the record’ – do kick. They’re not opposed to the overall goal, but many are concerned about the immense influence the philanthropy already has over the aid narrative.

One of the Gates Foundation’s working assumptions is that the aid narrative is a bummer, mostly bad news, and what we need is more ‘success stories.’ [Emphasis added.]

It is important to note that the “success stories” Gates wants are those in line with his agenda. When it comes to education, Gates loves CCSS, grading teachers using standardized test scores, instituting teacher pay-for-performance increasing class sizes, and an extending the school day.

gates-02

Remember: True “Success” Is Gates-endorsed “Success”

Concerning evidence that contradicts the Gates agenda, Gates is willing to undercut a “success story.” Consider his February 2011 diminishing explanation in the Washington Post of the “success” of rising state test scores in light of flat NAEP scores:

Many education leaders would say that Gates’s criticism is unfounded. While NAEP scores are flat, scores on many state tests have risen over the past decade, to great fanfare. Test scores in both Maryland and Virginia have risen substantially in that span.

Gates contends that those gains are probably largely a result of new-test phenomenon: Test scores almost always rise under a new test, as students and teachers familiarize themselves with the test and the material it measures.

“Whenever you have a new test, people learn what’s in that test over the first three or four years,” he said. “The fact that doesn’t show up on NAEP at all is a bit damning.” [Emphasis added.]

Gates is quick to dismiss the rising state scores without also acknowledging the connection between flat NAEP scores and a sputtering, test-driven reform agenda. In other words, Bill did not say what was being “damned” was Bush’s test-driven, punitive, still-floundering No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Indeed, in 2013, with an additional two years of privatizing reform under America’s belt, NAEP scores remained flat.

This is certainly not test-worshiping reform “success,” but don’t blame the corporate reform idol of the high-stakes test as the supposed end-all success marker.

Gates instead turns to “smaller classes” as the culprit:

Gates contends that the K-12 education industry has been steered for five decades by a misguided belief that the way to higher performance is smaller classes. Many states pursued class-size reduction initiatives in the 1990s. California, an example I covered as a reporter, reduced average class size from 30 to 20 in kindergarten through grade 3 in the mid-1990s, at a cost of over $1.5 billion a year.

And since test scores have not risen, it must be that smaller classes should yield to more *cost effective* larger classes, right?

And be sure to prod teachers on with merit pay. Gates just knows this will work:

Over the years, though, the research community has more or less confirmed that class-size reduction doesn’t yield significant performance gains. The most expensive education reform is among the least effective.

Gates proposes ending class-size reduction experiments, lifting caps on class size and offering good teachers financial incentives to teach more students.

“If you look at something like class sizes going from 22 to 27, and paying that teacher a third of the savings, and you make sure it’s the effective teachers you’re retaining,” he said, “by any measure, you’re raising the quality of education as you do that.”  [Emphasis added.]

This is the same Gates who admitted in a September 2013 Harvard University interview that he wouldn’t know for “probably a decade” if his “education stuff” works.

Add to the above tidbit of uncertainty the established reality that Gates himself did not attend a test-driven-reform school with large class sizes, and neither do his children. And I’m sure he would consider himself as a “success.”

But that does not help the situation of “success shaping” of test-driven educational reform for the masses, does it?

No, no. Gates education reform  “success” includes the next great idea in test-driven reform, CCSS.

gates-03

Back to That Gates-funded, NPR-sponsored, CC Debate…

Gates-funded NPR is sponsoring the September 2014 “debate” event, Embracing the Common Core.

It should come as no surprise that for all practical purposes, the “debate” leans in favor of CCSS via the inclusion of Gates-funded American Enterprise Institute (AEI) “scholar” Rick Hess, who is to argue “against” CCSS.

The best Hess has shown so far in “opposing” CCSS is a lukewarm dissatisfactionwith it. He has, however, published a pro-CCSS book in November 2013 in which he examines how to “seamlessly integrate” CCSS “into accountability systems.”

Moreover, likely during the time that he was either writing or had already finished his pro-CCSS book, in February 2013, Hess interviewed CCSS “architect” Jason Zimba.

Here is how Hess chooses to present Zimba and CCSS.  I consider Hess’ writing style as “loud plaid suit with pants too short.” Perhaps readers will understand why after experiencing the following:

You didn’t think the ferment around Common Core could keep building? Hah! Prepare for several more years of increasing wackiness. In the middle of it all is Jason Zimba, founding principal of Student Achievement Partners (SAP) and the man who is leading SAP after David Coleman went off to head up the College Board. SAP is a major player in Common Core implementation, especially with the aid of $18 million in support from the GE Foundation. Zimba was the lead writer on the Common Core mathematics standards. He earned his doctorate in mathematical physics from Berkeley, co-founded the Grow Network with Coleman, and previously taught physics and math at Bennington College. He’s a private dude who lives up in New England and has not been part of the Beltway policy conversation. I’d never met Zimba, until we had the chance to sit down last week.

Now, I think readers know that I’m of two minds when it comes to the Common Core. On the one hand, it does have the potential to bring coherence to the education space, shed light on who’s doing what, raise the bar for instructional materials and teacher prep, and so forth. On the other, there are about 5,000 ways the whole thing could go south or turn into a stifling bureaucratic monstrosity-and one rarely goes wrong when betting against our ability to do massive, complex edu-reforms well. Given all this, like many of you, I’m carefully watching how all this is playing out. [Emphasis added.]

Well. Safe to note that Hess is not a “dude” with serious reservations about CCSS. He’s just “watching”– and publishing a book in favor.

As far as the Gates-backed NPR-sponsored CCSS “debate” goes, right out of the starting gate, the established anti-CCSS stance belongs to only one of the four “debaters”– New York principal Carol Burris.

Gates must be pleased. After all, he really, really wants CCSS.

I must add that I continue to enjoy the irony of the Embrace the Common Core public opinion poll, which has remained steady at 11 percent in favor of “embracing” and 89 percent opposed out of over 42,600 responses.

gates-01

Gentle New Orleans Charter Reporting, NPR-style

I have my own story of Gates-funded NPR and “success shaping,” this time in regard to charter school “success” in New Orleans.

The now-100-percent-charter, New Orleans Recovery School District (RSD) is no success. I have written extensively on the RSD fraud– on its under-regulation, its inflated school scores that don’t even raise its schools above the criteria for “failing school” according to the *also failing* Louisiana voucher program, of its shaped graduation rates and its cumbersome OneApp process. RSD is nine years old and hasn’t a single “A” school by the state’s own slippery grading criteria.

RSD is a failure.

So. In August 2014, I received an email from Claudio Sanchez of NPR. He was to be in New Orleans doing a piece on the RSD charters, and he wanted to meet to interview me. My first thought was of Gates’ funding of NPR, but I did call Sanchez, who sounded like he was familiar with my writings on the RSD illusion of charter “success.” We spoke on the phone for at least 20 minutes, during which time I summarized research on what amounts to an RSD-charter-success farce.

Sanchez and I were to meet on a Thursday, but his flight was delayed, so we rescheduled for a Friday, which he also canceled, he said, in favor of attending a union meeting at a bastion of charter mismanagement and failure, McDonough High School, a Steve Barr, Future Is Now charter failure that was supposed to have $35 million in renovations that never happened. Instead, charter manager Steve Barr pulled out two years later. Barr, who has zero attachment to the community where the school is located, said that the closure was a “facilities” decision.”

Why had the promised renovations not happened?

No explanation. Only excuses. However, if it is any consolation, in 2012, kids did get some new iPads.

And Oprah did try to sensationalize the depravity of McDonough on her short-lived series, Blackboard Wars.

Indeed, there is a story to McDonough, and Gates-funded NPR reporter Sanchez could have captured it.

Could have.

The school was closed in June 2014. All staff lost their jobs. Parents (among others) want the school to be returned to the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), which is willing to take the school back but– as seems to be true with any reversing of pro-privatizing reform– just “isn’t that easy.”

The short of it is, Sanchez knew about the issues surrounding McDonough High School because he attended a meeting there. And he had deliberately contacted me regarding supposed charter “success.”

Anyone who bothers to investigate New Orleans’ charters in the manner that a reporter should investigate surely would uncover numerous questionable leads.

What Sanchez published has all of the investigative depth of a salad plate. Major issues– like “not doing a great job on special ed”– brushed over. No depth. Statements such as, “There’s still substantial numbers of schools that struggle in New Orleans,” made without thorough examination. And no hint of the likes of McDonough High School and the problem of so-called school “management” that is completely disconnected from the community and can therefore easily dismiss an entire school as little more than a “supply and demand” issue.

After all, it’s “just business.”

However, I write not from the funding-approved perspective of what constitutes a “successful” report.

From such a sell-out perspective, surely the most important piece to Sanchez’s RSD-gone-fully-charter reporting is his benign ending:

SANCHEZ: It’s 8:20, and teachers scurry to their classrooms well aware that the entire country is watching. Claudio Sanchez, NPR News.

A shallow, soft landing to a story that had to potential of appearing too… real.

Success.

Education historian Diane Ravitch offers the following observation on Sanchez’s reporting:

Here is the trick by which radio and TV shows give the illusion of balance: first, they give the narrative, then they invite two or three people to make a critical comment. What they are selling is the narrative. The critics are easily brushed aside. At times like this, I remember that NPR gets funding from both Gates and the far-right Walton Family Foundation, which is devoted to privatizing public schools. [Emphasis added.]

Sanchez’s narrative: “I’ll raise questions, but I will not go deep. The farthest I will go is to note that America is watching. That’s it.”

Sanchez did note that his “story” is part of a “year-long series.”

If his opener is any indication, forget diving into any deep end. No floaties are even necessary for small children. Just a safe splash in a *benign* journalistic puddle.

gates-04

Education Post: Funding-fortified for “Successful” Narrative Shaping

As I read Ravitch’s note on NPR’s funding, I remember the newly-created Education Post, which may or may not be Gates funded but which is Walton funded– and which also is attempting to “reshape the education conversation” into that which evidences public-awareness-anesthetizing, privatizing-reform  “success.”

Those with the obviously-declared education privatization agenda have appointed themselves the “keepers of the education conversation.” They will publicize what they decide “works.” After all, they are above actually doing the educating, and since those of us doing the educating are “too busy,” we need for them to cement the narrative that what they pay for (test-driven reform, charters, vouchers) is what “works.” AsWashington Post’s Lyndsey Layton reports:

Bruce Reed, president of the Broad Foundation, said the idea for Education Post originated with his organization but that other philanthropic groups had recognized the need years ago. …

One of the goals of Education Post is to publicize what works in public education, Reed said.

“Administrators, school leaders and teachers have papers to grade, schools to run, and they don’t have time to get out and talk about this,” he said. “This is an effort to help spread information about what works both inside the field and outside.”

Education Post also will have a “rapid response” capacity to “knock down false narratives” and will focus on “hot spots” around the country where conflicts with national implications are playing out, [former Arne Duncan communications shaper] Cunningham said. [Emphasis added.]

Information control, my friends. And, of course, the controlled narrative will feed the idea of corporate reform “success”:

While there are myriad nonprofit organizations devoted to K-12 education,none are focused solely on communication, said Howard Wolfson, an adviser to Bloomberg Philanthropies.

“There hasn’t really been an organization dedicated to sharing the successes of education reform around the country,” Wolfson said. “You have local success, but it isn’t amplified elsewhere. And there is a lot of success. There is also an awful lot of misperception around what ed reform is, and there hasn’t been an organization . . . focused on correcting those misimpressions.” [Emphasis added.]

I’m sorry, but the “misimpression” of corporate reform as being punitive and destructive to the community-based school and the career teacher and friendly to a grossly-under-regulated privatization is beyond “impression”; it is a reality fostered not only by years of a failed NCLB but one that continues to be fostered by NCLB waiver-yanking US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

How funny that those keen on promoting the traditional public education “failure” narrative now want to shape it into a “success” designed to conceal their own failure.

Corporate reformers have begun seeking PR advice– which does include ditching the language of failure that is the foundation of the entire test-driven-reform empire.

(Cosmetic) change is hard.

Indeed, if there really were “a lot of success” surrounding privatizing reform, there would be no need for a $12 million-dollar, glorified blog to try to sell it.

I mean, who starts a blog and gets immediate coverage in the Washington Post??

Now, from that Washington Post coverage, here is some more comedy:

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — a one-time organizer for the teachers union who as mayor embraced charter schools, parent-trigger laws and other policies at odds with the unions — is leading the [Education Post] advisory board. [Emphasis added.]

Isn’t that great? Don’t you just trust the “success” narrative that this group will promote?

I know I do.

I’m *just too busy* in my classroom to exercise any critical thinking about Gates, Walton, Broad, Bloomberg, CCSS, charters, vouchers NAEP scores, merit pay, USDOE, NCLB, waiver-yanking, class size, and so many other edu-trashing issues.

Surely I should just hand it all over to those *much better funded* than I am and let them do my thinking for me.

You Can Lead a Schneider to a *Successful* Puddle…

Uhm, I’m thinking, not.

bill-gates-thinking

The Proposition 1B “Preschool for All” Wheel of Fortune: Same players, new game

Wheel

Proposition 1B “Preschool for All” Wheel of Fortune

(Click the image for a better view. Click the title for a pdf.)

 

“Quality Preschool for All”. It sounds so right, just what we want for all of our children. But first, it depends upon what you define as “Quality”.

If you mean preschool that is student oriented and allows for individual growth, this is not the definition of “Quality” by the proponents of 1B.

If “Quality” to you means standardized and scripted lesson plans and assessments (nice word for tests), then you and Bill Gates are in agreement THAT is quality, at least for other people’s kids. See The Building Blocks of a Good Pre-K.

Rumors have been circulating that the same people who pushed through charter schools in our state to the tune of $10M are doing the same with Proposition 1B. Well, they’re right, with the exception of the Walton’s who have not gotten on the Universal pre-K bandwagon as their cohorts have.

The first time I heard about the preschool program, which is an offshoot of Universal pre-K,  was in June of this year when I was asked to attend a presentation given by some “experts” flown in from Boston to tell us what we already knew about children and the importance of preschool. I haven’t figured out who footed the bill but it will pop up somewhere. As soon as I saw the “suits”, I became suspicious, particularly because most of the people in the audience were also suits. See Race to the Tots: Universal (for profit) Pre-K, DFER and the suits for more details on that meeting.

The next time I was in a council meeting regarding Proposition 1B, people were able to provide testimony. Many of the people who gave testimony were teachers. It wasn’t until later that I found out all of the teachers who spoke were members of the union busting, charter loving Teachers United. Teachers United (TU) has received a total of $942,113 from Bill Gates over the last few years and is run by Chris Eide. See http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2013/06/OPP1085805 and http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2011/09/OPP1035367 for the details.

For more on TU and Chris Eide see Anti Teachers’ Union Activity in the State of WA: Chris Eide and Northwest Professional Educators.

Note: 10/31/14, Teachers United is calling for volunteers to canvas for Prop 1B this weekend. Gates will get his money’s worth out of them at some point.

That’s when I decided to follow the money.

A solid line on the diagram means cash was contributed. A dashed line means public support and personal time has been contributed to Proposition 1B campaign.

To follow are the major players in terms of cash outlay and those who are paid in one form or another to sing their tune.

 

“I actually worked with Jackie Bezos at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Dallas to pass a resolution for universal preschool,” noted (Seattle Mayor) Murray, referring to the mother of Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos. She is the president of the Bezos Family Foundation, a Seattle-based nonprofit. –Seattle Times, October 22, 2014

 

Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation

Just in case 1B fails, Gates has hedged his bets by offering a grant of $750,000 to Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to set up a preK-5 program at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School in Seattle. Gates doesn’t do anything without attaching lots of strings such as assessments and data gathering. The most worrisome part is that he is now trying to extend his influence into 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grades through the proposed preschool program.

The Gates Foundation put on quite a show apparently for a selected few on Universal pre-K. Gates, along with Bezos, also provided scholarships for those invited to go on a field trip to Boston to see Universal perK programs this year.

You might have noticed there are two empty circles coming off of Bill Gates’ bubble on the diagram. That’s because I’m fairly certain that I, or someone else, will find another largess that has been given to someone to further his agenda. It’s just a matter of time to discover who else is part of his shell game.

Bill Gates is also a big supporter of charter schools. See Funding “Education Reform”: The Big Three Foundations.

Seattle Times and the Education Lab blog

Gates provided $700,000 to the Seattle Times to create the blog “Education Lab”. See Seattle Times’ Gates-funded Education Lab Blog Experiment.

The Times has come out in support of 1B. No surprise there because they have also supported over the last few years merit pay (teachers evaluated using student test scores), Teach for America and charter schools, all part of the Bill Gates plan for public education.

Crosscut

Also received a largess from Gates to the tune of $800,000 in 2010 for “Special Projects”. They have come out for 1B. See Gates Foundation quadruples Crosscut grant for additional information.

Seattle Foundation/Norm Rice

Bill Gates has given the Seattle Foundation at least $4M over the last several years, see the Lines of Influence in Education Reform for the specifics. Norm Rice was the President and CEO of the Seattle Foundation until July of this year and is the spokesperson in the Proposition 1B television ad. The Seattle Foundation supports whatever Bill Gates desires including charter school and Teach for America.

An organization called Save the Children Action Network paid for the 1B television ad. What money went to this organization to run the TV ad is still a question mark as shown on the diagram.

Bezos Family and Foundation

Talk about a shell game! It took some research to find information on the Bezos family and their donations. Thanks to PAC’s, folks with money can hide their political support in the weeds. It’s called “Dark Money”.

Each member of the Bezos family contributed as much as they could legally as individuals, then their foundation kicked in some cash. The Bezos also contributed money to the League of Education Voters PAC, Education Voters Political Action Fund, which supported the charter school initiative.

The Bezos along with Gates provided “scholarships” to those who were invited on the field trip to Boston to see preschool programs but required financial assistance.

The Bezos, along with Gates, were huge financial supporters of the charter school initiative. See Bezos Family Funds Four PACs in Charter Schools Shell Game

From Diane Ravitch’s blog:

Jeff Bezos: Another Billionaire for Privatization of Public Education

Last fall, Bill Gates collected $10 million from his friends to push through approval of a referendum to permit privately managed charter schools in Washington State, which voters had turned down three times previously. Among the friends of Bill Gates who helped make charters possible was the Bezos family, the parents of Jeff Bezos.

Jeff Bezos is the founder of amazon.com. He is a billionaire many times over, one of the richest men on the planet.

Yesterday he bought the Washington Post.

An article in the Washington Post today describes his interest in education.

It reads:

“Like Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham, Bezos has shown support for efforts to change education policy, including the creation and expansion of public charter schools.

The Bezos Family Foundation — whose board includes Bezos, his parents and other family members — gave more than $11 million in 2011 to an array of national organizations such as Teach for America, Stand for Children and the KIPP Foundation, according to tax filings. The foundation also gave grants to scores of individual schools around the country as well as several charter school chains, including Uncommon Schools, which operates schools in New York and Massachusetts.

Bezos’s parents, Mike and Jackie, were active in a fierce battle last year to allow the creation of public charter schools in Washington state. Washington had been one of a handful of states that did not permit charters, which are publicly funded schools that are privately run and largely without unions. Teachers unions opposed the ballot measure, which narrowly passed with financial backing from Mike and Jackie Bezos as well as Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Netflix founder Reed Hastings.”

In short, Bezos is no friend of public education.

Live Wire

…is funded by the Bezos and is part of the Seattle Times.

Live Wire and Microsoft recently sponsored an event titled See what happened at The Case for Early Learning with guests Mayor Ed Murray, Representative Ruth Kagi (see below), and others extolling the virtues of the Mayor/Burgess preschool plan.

Do you see where this is going?

Matt Griffin

$100,000 in total contributions to Proposition 1B and a big supporter of charter schools. He also contributed money to the Seattle Foundation to bring Teach for America to Seattle.

He also contributed $30,000 to the Great Seattle Schools PAC to support School Board Director Stephan Blanford (see below) and Sue Peters’ opponent Suzanne Estey who was defeated.

Christopher Larson

Microsoft millionaire Chris Larson contributed $100,000 to the Proposition 1B campaign and was a financial supporter of the charter initiative even though he doesn’t have any children in the Seattle Public School system.

He is also on the Board of Directors for the League of Education Voters.

Nick Hanauer

$30,000 contribution to Proposition 1B. Hanauer is also on the Board of Directors of the League of Education Voters and big supporter of charter schools.

The Seattle Chamber of Commerce PAC the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy

Contributed to the Proposition 1B campaign and to the coffers of Councilmember Tim Burgess and the Alliance for Education. They also paid for a nasty attack ad about McGinn during the mayoral campaign. See Pro-Murray PAC Uses Battered Women as Pawns in Deceptive Smear Campaign.

The Alliance for Education

The Gates Foundation has over the last several years basically been the Alliance for Education‘s bank. Whatever the Alliance needs, it seems that the Gates’ Foundation just cuts another check by providing a grant for a specific purpose. See The Lines of Influence in Education Reform for the details.

The Alliance for Education, along with the Great Seattle Schools PAC, supported Stephan Blanford in his bid for Seattle School Board Director. Six months before Burgess formally presented his preschool initiative to the Seattle School Board, Blanford told the Levy Oversight Committee that SPS was in full support of the initiative.

Sara Morris, CEO for the Alliance for Education, recently sent out a letter on Alliance for Education letterhead endorsing Proposition 1B . Was that Kosher? I think not, unless the Alliance has another status other than a 501c3, they are not to participate in any political campaigns or actively support a candidate.

Washington State Director of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) and Lisa Macfarlane:

Ms. Macfarlane gave a personal donation to the 1B campaign.

An excerpt from the post Lisa Macfarlane with WA DFER wins the Walton Award for privatization:

According to the PR Newswire, Lisa Macfarlane, formerly with the League of Education Voters (LEV) and now Director of Washington State Education Reform Now/Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), received a $10,000 grant from the Walton’s as an “Education Reformer to Watch” for her work on pushing charter school initiative 1240 in the state of Washington.

And what does Ms. Macfarlane plan to do with the cash? Ensure that charter schools open in the state of Washington of course.

Per DFER Watch:

Democrats for Education Reform is a political action committee supported largely by hedge fund managers favoring charter schools, merit-pay tied to test scores, high-stakes testing, school choice (including vouchers and tuition tax credits in some cases), mayoral control, and alternative teacher preparation programs.

Diane Ravitch describes DFER in her post Follow the Money.

If you want to know why so many politicians think so highly of charters, there is a basic rule of politics that explains it all: Follow the money.

The most visible organization promoting corporate reform is called Democrats for Education Reform, known as DFER (commonly pronounced “D-fer”). DFER is the Wall Street hedge fund managers’ group. It always has a few non-hedge funders on the board, especially one or two prominent African-Americans, to burnish its pretentious claim of leading the civil rights movement of our day. Kevin Chavous, a former council member from Washington, D.C., fills that role for now, along with the DFER stalwart, Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark. DFER has its own member of the U.S. Senate, Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado. It has also raised money generously for Congressman George Miller, the senior Democrat on the House Education and Labor Committee.

This group bankrolls politicians, woos them, raises campaign cash for them, and persuades them of the advantages of turning the children of their district over to privately managed schools. Watch their website to see which politician they favor this month and scan those they have recognized in the past.

In New York City, Hakeem Jeffries, DFERs’s candidate for U.S. Congress, announced his support for tax credits for religious schools on the day after he won the election.

For more on DFER, go to https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/democrats-for-education-reform-also-known-as-dfer/.

School Board Director Stephan Blanford

Stephan Blanford spoke to the Levy Committee six months before the 1B Initiative was formerly introduced to the board and stated that Seattle Public Schools ( SPS) would have no problem with supporting Burgess’ plan*. School Board Director Stephan Blanford also went on the field trip to Boston sponsored by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce to look at preK programs in Boston. His trip was paid for by the League of Education Voters (LEV). The expenses for all other SPS staff who went on the trip, and it was a selected few, were paid for out of Seattle Public School funds.

Blanford has been bought and paid for by the following contributors:

Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess, the champion of 1B

Don Neilson– The Godfather of Education Reform in Seattle

The Ballmer’s

The League of Education Voters

Matt Griffin

The Hanauer’s

Christopher Larson

The Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (Seattle Chamber of Commerce PAC)

Peter Maier (twice). Remember him?

School Board Director Sherry Carr

Director Carr has received campaign donations from Matt Griffin and has shown support for 1B.

Ms. Carr showed up at a 46th District meeting where Burgess presented Prop 1B without providing members an opportunity to speak up against it before it was endorsed. Ms. Carr did not speak but was standing in the back with Burgess, Harium Martin-Morris and the 1B campaign manager.

She is also one of the School Board Directors who voted for all things ed reform when Broad Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson was in power including bringing Teach for America to Seattle. Hmmm, I wonder why? Well, let’s look at her sponsors:

Civic Alliance for a Sound Education

Matt Griffin

Christopher Larson

The Ballmers

K & L Gates PAC (Bill Gates Sr. law firm is K&L Gates)

Mary Jean Ryan of the Community Center for Education Results (CCER) Gates backed organization

School Board Director Harium Martin-Morris

Director Harium Martin-Morris has spoken publicly in support of 1B. He also showed up at a 46th District meeting, even though it’s not his district, to give moral support (?) to Burgess who made the push for 1B even though no one was allowed to speak against 1B.

By the way, over the years, Harium has received campaign donations from Matt Griffin, Christopher Larson, the Ballmer’s, Bill Gates and Lisa Macfarlane.

Legislative Representative Ruth Kagi of the 32nd District

Representative Kagi is a fierce supporter of 1B but does not represent a Seattle district. Could it have anything to do with the fact that the Bezos’ have contributed to her campaigns?

Those who didn’t get on the Wheel of Fortune chart but are of interest are:

Mimi Gates- $5,000

William Gates, Sr.- $5,000

Microsoft- $10,000

Lucy Gaskill-Gaddis, Families and Education Levy Committee member $500

 

And who contributed to Ed Murray’s campaign?

Leslie Hanauer  $700

Nick & Leslie Hanauer Foundation $700

Nick Hanauer  $700

Christopher Larson  $700

Strategies 360  $700, see Seattle School District hires staffer from Strategies 360 – the political marketing firm that misused private student contact info to push ed reform agendaand Loose Ends – Strategies 360, Susan Enfield, Crazy Talk & Quakes.

Tim Burgess  $700

Matt Griffin $700

The Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy Contributed $10,000 to People for a New Seattle Mayor.

The People for a New Seattle Mayor ran the domestic violence hit pieces against McGinn. See Pro-Murray PAC Uses Battered Women as Pawns in Deceptive Smear Campaign.

And who stands to gain from Proposition 1B passing?

So far:

Acelero: A business enterprise that privatizes Head Start programs. See Seattle PreSchool for All Proposition 1B: Acelero, the fox watching over the hen house.

KIPP, the charter school chain: See Race to the Tots: Universal (for profit) Pre-K, DFER, KIPP and the suits.

Teach for America, Inc.:  “Pre-School for All” in Seattle, student information sharing, Jump Start, Teach for America and more. They’ve already got their hooks into Detroit.

In the 1B lanaguage it states:

The City will work with local colleges and universities to develop an alternate route program for teachers with Bachelor’s Degrees in fields other than Early Childhood Education. The City will also develop an alternative process through which experienced, high-quality lead teachers — as defined in the Implementation Plan — may be granted waivers.

When it is stated that way, it means Teach for America, Inc. recruits. UW established a program where TFA recruits can do their five weeks of course work to “prepare” them to teach our children. Trust me, that is the plan here.

Also, Gates gave $1M to Teach for America, Inc. a few years ago to open an office in Seattle.

Pearson: The educational publishing company being bandied about to develop lesson plans and tests for the preschool program.

Mayor Ed Murray: Murray tried to pass legislation while a State Senator for mayoral control. This is a subject for another post that will be to you shortly but suffice it to say for now that to have a Department of Education as Murray has just declared will happen in Seattle, you have to have programs to oversee to show how well a politician can run a school district.

For more detail on mayoral control, see Mayoral Control: The short of it.

New Note: A New York hedge fund PAC and a few other notables donated to the 1B campaign during the last week before the election. For the details, see New York hedge fund managers jumping onto the Seattle Preschool Proposition 1B gravy train.

Submitted by Dora Taylor

What’s happening in Seattle is happening around the country. Watch Bill Moyers’ segment:

Who’s buying our midterm elections?

 

Post Script:

A big thank you and shout out to all who sent me information and prodded me to keep following this money trail. This could not have been done without the diligence and hard work of others who have helped me with research or sent me information they found to be of interest and noteworthy.

Keep those cards and letters coming!

 

Notes:

There is a pdf of the Wheel of Fortune here that can be downloaded and printed.

*I asked for the Families and Education Levy meeting minutes because they are not all posted on the website. After two weeks, they have yet to appear. These minutes have provided great insight on how the levy committee has been working behind the scenes on this issue and this information needs to be available for the public to view.

 

 

 

 

Scrappy Seattle Blogs Scoop the Seattle-McKenna Times on Charter School Initiative News

Both the Seattle Education Blog and the Seattle Schools Community Forum have reported on the Seattle School Board’s unanimous vote this Wednesday supporting a resolution to oppose the controversial charter schools initiative I-1240.

But over at the city’s only remaining print newspaper of record: Crickets — and problematic free ads for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna.

The Seattle School District is the largest public school district in the state, making this resolution obviously newsworthy, and a significant vote of No Confidence in I-1240.

Could the Times’ silence on the growing community opposition to the heavily financed charter school initiative have anything to do with the fact that the paper endorsed I-1240?

If so, this is further evidence that true journalism increasingly takes a backseat to the publisher’s political bias at the Times.

— sue p.

The Seattle Times Is Wrong — Parents Do NOT Want Teachers Evaluated by Standardized Test Scores. VOTE NO on House Bill 2111

The Seattle Times published an unsigned editorial Tuesday making incorrect statements and accusing Representative Tomiko Santos of cowardice. Quite a load of rubbish for one editorial.

The corporate ed reform gang who support the discredited and failed policy of tethering teacher evaluations to standardized test scores (known as “performance pay” or “merit pay”) are apparently all in a tizzy because House Bill 1443 — reincarnated once again as HB 2111 — a mess of legislative sausage-making, is on the ropes. Teachers and parents and any intelligent person who reads the research (Vanderbilt University has conducted multiple studies on merit pay)  and others realize that this is failed concept and its inaccurate “value-added” measures  misjudges teachers and only leads to teaching to the test, cheating — as amply evidenced by Michelle Rhee’s reign of error in Washington D.C. — narrowing of curriculum (standardized tests only cover math and reading, so other subjects are dropped or de-emphasized), and hurts our kids.

I am a parent. I am not a teacher. I have no ties to the teacher’s union and I oppose performance and merit pay.

I oppose using budget induced RIFs as an excuse to address failing teachers — I want my kids’ principals to maintain a strong teaching force at all times, not just when there is a budget crisis. I believe we should reward teachers for their commitment to the profession, so I do not oppose seniority. I recognize that laying off the most recent hire during a fiscal crisis is not a policy that is unique to the teaching profession. It is applied in other fields as well. Yet the corporate ed reformers would have us all believe that “last in, first out” is some bizarre concept invented by the teacher’s union. It isn’t.

So Rep. Tomiko Santos and all the other legislators the Times calls out — Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane and House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle — should hang tough against the bullying anonymous editorial writers of the Seattle Times, and the giant wallets of the Gates Foundation and Broad Foundation whose merit pay, anti-seniority, union-bashing, and kid-harming  policies do not belong in our state laws.

Read the research. Vanderbilt University and other major studies show that performance pay does not improve student or teaching outcomes. Washington DC and Atlanta, GA — centers of cheating, the predictable human reaction to high-stakes testing. When a teacher is told that a student test score will put your job on the line — no matter what else you do for that child as a teacher — what message does that send?

The Times is wrong in implying that the unions alone oppose this seriously flawed bill. Representative Tomiko Santos and the others are also hearing from parents.

It is a common line from the corporate ed reformers to demonize the teachers’ union and declare that “standing up” to it is somehow a mark of courage. This conveniently makes those who attack the union feel like some kind of brave warrior of ed reform. Arguably it takes more courage to stand up against the slings and arrows of anonymous newspaper editorial writers or the clout and influence of billionaires like Gates and Broad and their posse.

Apparently it takes a lot of courage in this country right now to simply stand up for teachers.

And apparently, it takes courage to listen to parents.

These ed reforms are also opposed by parents who realize where they lead. These reforms are bad for teaching, bad for learning, bad for our kids.

Any conscientious lawmaker would read the real research, talk to parents — not lobbyists and foundation-funded Astroturf groups — and vote accordingly.

Rep. Santos should stand by her principles and vote NO to HB 1443/2111 or whatever it’s been rehashed into today.

–Sue Peters

Oops, I Did It Again!

What happens when you have a Broad resident doing the numbers for a Broad trained superintendent?

You get whatever Eli Broad wants.

Sounds pretty simple and basic doesn’t it? We had our naysayers but not anymore.

Brad Bernatek

It’s a long story with an interesting history that I am tackling now for an article but let’s just start with Brad Bernatek, a Broad resident, who was hired by Raj Manhaus in 2006. Raj, as he is referred to, was superintendent of the Seattle Public School system at that time and had received “corporate training” at the Broad Foundation shortly after his appointment as superintendent . The person responsible for him being sent to the Broad borg will be revealed in that article that I am working on so stay tuned for that interesting tidbit.

Brad was brought on board to be the interim manager for research, evaluation and student assessment and was paid by the Broad Foundation. He was a History major in college and received an MBA from Indiana U but has no experience in education. But education, schmeducation as far as Eli Broad, Bill Gates or Wendy Kopp with Teach for America, Inc. are concerned.

If you follow the ed reform movement closely enough, you will start to see a pattern develop. Whatever Bill Gates or Eli Broad want in terms of ed reform, they pay for. Right now, one or both of them will be paying for the next three years of TFA, Inc. recruits that will be marching into our school system in Seattle, that is, if they win one or two legal battles first. The other pattern you might be noticing is that the less experience you have in the field of education, the better candidate you will make to work  in the field of education, at least in the minds of Broad, Gates and Kopp. But hey, they don’t have any experience whatsoever in that area of expertise so who needs it?

Anyway, getting back to Brad. When I found that in 2008 he had been made head of the Department of Research, Evaluations and Assessments (of students) I was bowled over. To me that was like the fox watching over the hen house particularly when you understand how numbers can be manipulated to make a point. Brad was in charge of the MAP roll-out which later became the tool of choice for our supe to evaluate teachers. Oh, but “oops!” , according to Brad who several of us had met with previous to the superintendent’s decision to use the MAP test in that way,  said that the MAP test was not designed to measure a teacher’s performance. But I guess at the time he had no idea what the supe would do with this new tool of hers. Is it also a coincidence that he never mentioned that again to anyone, ever? Hmmm.

But that was not the only “oops” Brad has made recently.  The next one is even more egregious.

Our superintendent’s entire campaign to force the Broad’s idea of ed reform down our throats in Seattle was based on her 5 Year Strategic Plan, which to me seemed more like how long it would take to get TFA, school turnarounds and charter schools into Seattle and therefore into our state but that’s another subject for another article.

This 5 year plan of hers was based on the premise that, according to Brad’s numbers, only 17% of students who graduate from Seattle high schools meet the entrance requirements to make it into a four-year college. Wow, that was shocking! People started to freak out and ask the great one, our superintendent, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, what shall we do?

Well, she had a plan and it included re-segregating our schools, therefore allowing less choice for families particularly in the minority communities (Can you see where this is going once Broad and Gates get our legislative representatives to vote for charter schools? Something that they are working on as we speak. Also, the League of Education Voters (LEV), backed by Gates money, invited the CEO’s of KIPP and Greendot charter schools to share with us the wonders of charter schools. Kevin Johnson, also sponsored by LEV,  was in town recently singing the praises of charter schools to an African-American audience at an African-American church here in Seattle. As the topper, we will be graced with the presence of Ben Austin, the director of the Parent Revolution, who has taught parents how to demand charter schools in their neighborhoods. All of this through the overwhelming generosity of the League of Education Voters by way of Gate’s  and Broad money ).

This “strategic plan” also included more testing for students, the MAP test, and new teacher and principal evaluations based on these MAP test scores. Because you see, with the ed reform movement, part of introducing charter schools into a community is to say that a school is so bad that it has to be “transformed” into… a charter school!

Just to let you know, our supe was on the board of the company that sold the MAP test to our school district, NWEA. She resisted stepping down after the community discovered this connection and demanded that she do so. She recently stepped down quietly. She was also on the Board of Directors for the Broad Foundation until recently when she again stepped down with no fanfare. Someone brought it to our attention one day that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was no longer on the Broad’s Board of Directors’ list. That was news to us and a huge surprise. We loved pointing out that fact every time that we wrote an article about our supe. No more fun for us. Oh well.

This 5 year plan of hers was the reason given by the school board to extend the supe’s contract. This is something that the teacher’s union and many parents and students were against. The school board members in their infinite Broad trained wisdom, decided to go along with her game plan and extend her contract.

And yes, it was Broad trained wisdom shared with the board directors through their Alliance for Education funded, Broad run school board retreats. The last retreat was led by Don McAdams.

But getting back to the “oops!”

The Alliance for Education, another Gates and Broad backed faux roots organization, along with the League of Education Voters, started beating the drum of ed reform based on this number that Brad had produced.

But Sunday, the Seattle Times, to their credit, came out with an article on the truthiness of that number.

As presented by Linda Shaw of the Seattle Times:

The claim: Starting in 2008, Seattle Public Schools reported that a meager 17 percent of its high-school graduates met the entrance requirements for four-year colleges. The district quietly quit using that number then recently revised it, without comment, to 46 percent.

What we found: A little shock wave went through Seattle’s education community when the district first began suggesting that so few of its students took the courses they needed to apply to a four-year college in this state.

The 17 percent was one of the numbers district leaders used to justify the district’s five-year plan that included a new system of assigning students to schools, more testing for students, and new teacher and principal evaluations.

That statistic was false, but the district used the number in presentations to the School Board and to the public.

Other groups picked it up as well, using it to lobby for their own priorities.

The Seattle Council PTSA, for example, cited the statistic in stating why the district needed to make the high-school curriculum more consistent from school to school. In a newsletter sent to school PTAs all over the city, the council said Seattle Public Schools’ data “shows that only 17 percent of its students finish high school able to meet the actual admission requirements to public four-year colleges and universities in Washington.”

And as recently as August, former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice cited the statistic in a similar way in arguing for what he wanted to see in Seattle’s new teacher’s contract.

The new teacher’s contract, by the way, includes merit pay based on student scores, a method used in charter schools to keep teachers focused on test taking and little else. The supe also tried to push through her agenda item of bringing in TFA, Inc. but that had been tabled during negotiations with the teachers’ union. Then the supe found another way to bring in TFA, Inc, through our school board, but that’s another story for another article. One thing that I must say as an aside, this supe has been keeping many of us busy on developing our writing skills.

All joking aside this is a very serious situation. Everything that our supe has gotten through in terms of her and the Broad’s agenda was based on a lie. A lie created by Brad Bernatek, a Broad resident.

A lie that was perpetrated and echoed far and wide.

And what does Brad have to say for himself at this juncture in his professional life?

From the Seattle Times:

In retrospect, Bernatek said, he wished he’d done more to make sure the public knew the issues with the number and why the district stopped using it.

“I didn’t communicate that well enough” he said. “In fairness to the people who used it, it was still on our website.”

Kind of sounds like Michelle Rhee when describing her failure as Chancellor of the DC school district. It was just a matter of not being able to get the word out about her program.

And our supe? What did she say? In her usual corporate style double speak, she was quoted as saying, “We should have changed the public conversation”. Huh? That’s all she can say after two rounds of unnecessary school closures, based on bogus census numbers that Brad’s office produced for the school board, and a new assignment plan that has been an enormous failure in terms of logistics and the overcrowding of schools and leaving others without appropriate programs?

Because you see, for some unknown reason, the number was recently changed from 17% to 46% with no announcement or fanfare. The 46% was always the true number but was misrepresented by the use of a much lower percentage.

As written by Linda Shaw:

While staff understood what the number was supposed to be, she (the superintendent) said, she acknowledges the district didn’t make its meaning clear to the public, especially after it decided to quit using it.

“We should have come forward sooner,” she said.

We should have come forward sooner!? How about just starting out with the truth and sticking with that?

One of my many reasons for disliking this ed reform movement is that it has not been a transparent process, at least not here in Seattle.

There are faux roots groups backed by Gates and Broad touting their idea of ed reform. The methods used have been underhanded. An example of that is when the supe put the TFA, Inc. proposal on the table to the school board. Our superintendent and the school board president Michael DeBell decided that community engagement regarding bringing Teach for America, Inc. into the Seattle Public School system, a huge deal to all involved, would simply be a Q and A with a TFA, Inc. rep, the President and Vice President of SEA, the teachers’ union in Seattle, and the Chief Academic Officer of SPS during a board meeting for about 15 minutes. The premise of such a hurried process without community input was based on TFA’s requirement that they needed to have a certain number of districts to buy into this idea within a very short period of time. If TFA had sufficient buy-in, they would move into our state, something that they had been planning to do for a while now anyway.That is what you might call the tail wagging the dog or the supe putting the pressure on the board to make a hurried decision without any significant community notification and involvement. Take your pick.

There are many examples of this tactic being used to gain the school board’s approval on the superintendent’s proposals including school closures.

Some people think that if the community as a whole understood what the final result of this push to ed reform would be, that we would not want it, therefore clandestine methods have been used by Broad and Gates to achieve their goals. The process that they are using does reflect a paternalistic approach to governing and is undemocratic. It also illogical due to the fact that their approach is corporate rather than based on the understanding of successful approaches to educating a child. There is a huge conflict in terms of their vision and what is reality.

Getting back to Brad and our supe. We have had too many disingenuous “oop’s!” by both of them. Whether this was based on complete incompetence, which I doubt, or a willful use of misinformation to mislead the public, we don’t need this in Seattle. We don’t need them and we don’t need the Broad/Gates agenda which is doing nothing in terms of encouraging the success of our children in the Seattle Public School system and has only brought about confusion, chaos and a lack of confidence in the leadership of SPS.

By the way, Jim Horn with Schools Matter did an even more brutal piece on this debacle. (I must be getting too “Seattle nice”.)

Looks like this story is taking on a life of its’ own. Check out Substance News.

To read what the Seattle Public School community is saying about this Brad/Broad lie, see the Save Seattle Schools blog.

Dora

“Special to the Times” — Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson

Seattle Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson has an op-ed in yesterday’s Seattle Times about the new teacher’s contract, “Much work needed to build on Seattle’s groundbreaking contract.” What a surprise! There has been such a parade of fawning and blinkered (and downright inaccurate) editorials and articles coming out of the Times this year in support of the superintendent and her unmandated, often underhanded, Broad/Gates ed reform agenda that some of us suspect the school district PR office has its own cubicle inside the newspaper’s building.

Here are my Friday morning thoughts on this latest effort at SPS spin.

First off, the superintendent has got a better writer crafting her texts for her these days. She sounds more human in this one. Nice appeal to fellow parents with the last paragraph about her own child. (Of course her own child attends the most highly funded school in the district in a new — if problematic — building, so she’s not exactly feeling all our pain.)

Secondly, glad to see she’s  finally dropped the redundant and kind of regal “Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D” title from her every byline.

Thirdly, the SPS or MGJ spin machine is at work here. I’m not sure how “groundbreaking” the contract actually is.  The superintendent didn’t get “SERVE,” her radical and unacceptable last-minute Molatov of a deal she threw at the teachers, so she’s got to spin this compromised contract into gold somehow, perhaps to save face.

And maybe shore up some support for the upcoming levy, because various elements of this contract depend on the levy passing this November. (The third education levy in a year for Seattle voters. Levy fatigue anyone?)

Next, she is wrong about this: “The research is unequivocal: Quality teaching trumps all other factors in determining student success.”

Research is not “unequivocal” about teachers being the number one influence on a child’s performance in school. Teachers are certainly important. But research shows that the number one factor that influences a child’s ability to perform in school is their socioeconomic status. That doesn’t mean poor kids can’t do well in school; it just means that there are a lot of factors in their lives that make it harder for them. Geoffrey Canada of Harlem Children’s Zone fame seems to recognize this, and that’s why his approach to helping underprivileged kids do well in school takes a lot of time (years) and money (millions).

But the quick-fix, increasingly McCarthyite, corporate ed reformers are not interested in tackling this larger, more complex issue. Instead they are throwing all the blame for “underperforming” kids at teachers, and chaining our kids to standardized tests. They really need to read their Diane Ravitch, because these “reforms” are doomed to fail. Maybe Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson can take a cautionary lesson from the fall of her fellow Broad Foundation board member colleague Michelle Rhee whose slash and burn treatment of teachers in D.C. has possibly ended her career in D.C. along with that of the mayor (Adrian Fenty) who brought her.

(One of Fenty’s first moves as mayor of D.C., by the way, was to dissolve the democratically elected school board and take mayoral control of the school district. This is directly out of the Broad Foundation public-ed privatizing playbook.  He then hired Rhee, and this lack of public oversight arguably allowed for such an imperial chancellorship.  Seattle should definitely take a lesson from this and not allow our mayor to do the same.)

I had to laugh at Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson’s reference to the “local public-opinion research” which, she claims, “also demonstrated overwhelming support among Seattle parents and taxpayers for the changes outlined in the new agreement.”

I assume she is referring to the so-called “Our Schools Coalition” telephone poll and survey of earlier this year. If so, her statement is incorrect.

It was a bogus push-poll conducted by a political marketing firm (Strategies 360/DMA Marketing) using illegally obtained private contact information of Seattle school children and teachers.

It was paid for and used by the Alliance for Education to fabricate the Astroturf “Our Schools Coalition” in order to put pressure on the teachers union to accept reforms that the Gates-puppet Alliance is pushing.

They apparently felt the need to try to trick teachers into caving into their demands at the bargaining table by creating the illusion of grassroots support for a discredited ed reform agenda that no parents or teachers asked for.

A big clue that this survey was a nonorganic, outside agenda being grafted onto Seattle is the survey’s out-of-the blue final suggestion of bringing “Teach for America” recruits to Seattle’s schools. (That’s “Teach for America, Inc.” by the way, a multimillion dollar enterprise with ties to the Broad Foundation and support from the Gates Foundation.)

What?

Who among us asked for that? Fresh college grads who only do 5 weeks of training, are underpaid and placed in the neediest schools, and only required to stay in teaching for 3 years CORRECTION: only 2 years before abandoning the profession and the kids for their “real” careers?

No thanks.

My first laugh was at the byline, though. Yes, Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson certainly is “special to the Times.”

‘Wish our kids were special to them too. Maybe then our city’s only remaining print daily would offer better coverage of what’s really going on in Seattle’s schools.

–sue peters, M.A. (;-)