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Member since: Sun Jul 11, 2004, 07:58 PM
Number of posts: 39,405

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RAVITCH: Time for Congress to Investigate Bill Gates’ Public Education Coup

I wholeheartedly agree with the intent here.

The problem is, who in Congress isn't bought by the privatizers of public education? The corruption is bipartisan and goes all the way to the White House.

To investigate, you need investigators who aren't involved in the crime being investigated.

The story about Bill Gates' swift and silent takeover of American education is startling. His role and the role of the U.S. Department of Education in drafting and imposing the Common Core standards on almost every state should be investigated by Congress.

[b]The idea that the richest man in America can purchase and--working closely with the U.S. Department of Education--impose new and untested academic standards on the nation's public schools is a national scandal. A Congressional investigation is warranted.

The close involvement of Arne Duncan raises questions about whether the law was broken.

Thanks to the story in the Washington Post and to diligent bloggers, we now know that one very rich man bought the enthusiastic support of interest groups on the left and right to campaign for the Common Core.

Who knew that American education was for sale?

Who knew that federalism could so easily be dismissed as a relic of history? Who knew that Gates and Duncan, working as partners, could dismantle and destroy state and local control of education?

The revelation that education policy was shaped by one unelected man, underwriting dozens of groups. and allied with the Secretary of Education, whose staff was laced with Gates' allies, is ample reason for Congressional hearings.

I have written on various occasions (see here and here) that I could not support the Common Core standards because they were developed and imposed without regard to democratic process. The writers of the standards included no early childhood educators, no educators of children with disabilities, no experienced classroom teachers; indeed, the largest contingent of the drafting committee were representatives of the testing industry. No attempt was made to have pilot testing of the standards in real classrooms with real teachers and students.. The standards do not permit any means to challenge, correct, or revise them.

In a democratic society, process matters. The high-handed manner in which these standards were written and imposed in record time makes them unacceptable. These standards not only undermine state and local control of education, but the manner in which they were written and adopted was authoritarian. No one knows how they will work, yet dozens of groups have been paid millions of dollars by the Gates Foundation to claim that they are absolutely vital for our economic future, based on no evidence whatever.

Why does state and local control matter? Until now, in education, the American idea has been that no single authority has all the answers. Local boards are best equipped to handle local problems. States set state policy, in keeping with the concept that states are "laboratories of democracy," where new ideas can evolve and prove themselves. In our federal system, the federal government has the power to protect the civil rights of students, to conduct research, and to redistribute resources to the neediest children and schools.

Do we need to compare the academic performance of students in different states? We already have the means to do so with the federally funded National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). It has been supplying state comparisons since 1992.

Will national standards improve test scores? There is no reason to believe so. Brookings scholar Tom Loveless predicted two years ago that the Common Core standards would make little or no difference. The biggest test-score gaps, he wrote, are within the same state, not between states. Some states with excellent standards have low scores, and some with excellent standards have large gaps among different groups of students.

The reality is that the most reliable predictors of test scores are family income and family education. Nearly one-quarter of America's children live in poverty. The Common Core standards divert our attention from the root causes of low academic achievement.

Worse, at a time when many schools have fiscal problems and are laying off teachers, nurses, and counselors, and eliminating arts programs, the nation's schools will be forced to spend billions of dollars on Common Core materials, testing, hardware, and software.

Microsoft, Pearson, and other entrepreneurs will reap the rewards of this new marketplace. Our nation's children will not.

Who decided to monetize the public schools? Who determined that the federal government should promote privatization and neglect public education? Who decided that the federal government should watch in silence as school segregation resumed and grew? Who decided that schools should invest in Common Core instead of smaller classes and school nurses?

These are questions that should be asked at Congressional hearings.

dianeravitch | June 9, 2014 at 8:00 am | Categories: Common Core, Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, US Education | URL: http://wp.me/p2odLa-833

If this pisses you off, copy this post and mail, fax, or email it to your senators and congressman.

If you know your zip code, you can get all your congresspeople's contact info here.

I like to send faxes since it means someone has to handle a physical piece of paper. You can do it for free at Faxzero.

RAVITCH: The Inside Story of How Bill Gates Bought the Common Core Standards

Education has become the clearest example of the profound corruption of our political system.

Billionaires and hedge fund managers, buy politicians, so the rich can dictate education policy so that it makes the rich richer. In this case, by letting one company set national curriculum, so they can sell the materials and tests states will need to comply with the federal mandate. Having one curriculum means they don't need to modify their product state by state, or even have to convince the states to buy it: they have a captive customer.

In a remarkable job of reporting, Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post describes the creation of the Common Core standards. Two men--Gene Wilhoit and David Coleman--went to see Bill Gates in 2008 to ask him to underwrite national standards. He agreed, and within two years, the standards were written and adopted by almost every state in the nation.

This is the closest thing to an educational coup in the history of the United States. Our education system is made up of about 14,000 local school districts; most education policy is set at the state level. But Bill Gates was able to underwrite a swift revolution. It happened so quickly that there was very little debate or discussion. Almost every consequential education group was funded by the Gates Foundation to study or promote the Common Core standards. Whereas most businesses would conduct pilot testing of a major new product, there was no pilot testing of the Common Core. These national standards were written with minimal public awareness or participation, and at least one state--Kentucky--adopted them before the final draft was finished.

What made the Gates' coup possible was the close relationship between the Gates Foundation and the Obama administration. When the administration launched its Race to the Top competition, it issued a list of things that states had to do to be eligible for a share of $4.35 billion. One was to agree to adopt "college and career ready standards." Administration officials, Layton writes, originally planned to specify that states had to adopt the Common Core, still not yet finished, but were warned to use the term "college and career ready," to avoid the appearance of imposing the Common Core (which was their intent). Leave aside for the moment the fact that it is illegal for any federal official to attempt to direct, control, or influence curriculum or instruction.

Never before has one man had the wealth, the political connections, and the grand ambition to buy American education. But Bill Gates did it.

dianeravitch | June 8, 2014 at 7:00 am | Categories: Common Core, Gates Foundation, Bill Gates | URL: http://wp.me/p2odLa-82T

6th Graders Seeking Payment for Taking Common Core Field Tests

Corporate-driven education reform might be in trouble if sixth graders can figure out the scam and demand a piece of the action.

Letting Wall Street dictate education policy is not only a betrayal of a core constituency, teachers, but more importantly, a betrayal of students and their parents who want their tax money for education to actually go to educating their kids, not Wall Street profits.

Does every single person in America have to figure out that this is a destructive scam before the Democrats will stop doing it?

Some sixth grade students in Massachusetts who spent hours over several days taking practice versions of newly developed Common Core tests decided that they should be paid for their work and are seeking payment for serving as “guinea pigs.”

TheIpswich Chronicle reported in this story [2] about what happened after students at Ipswich Middle School field tested new exams written the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of the two multi-state consortia developing new Core exams with $360 million in federal funds. PARCC and the other multi-state consortia, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, are now field testing their Core-aligned exams, with millions of students [3] taking part, for use in the next school. Public school students often “field test” questions on standardized exams created by testing companies that then sell the exams to states. In this case, states will pay PARCC and Smarter Balanced for use of the tests that students are field testing.

The story quotes teacher Alan Laroche, whose A and B period math classes were randomly chosen to take the field tests. Laroche said that some of the 37 students who took the exams on May 19 heard a teacher joke that the kids should be paid for their time and they asked him if it was really possible. He was quoted as saying:

The kids proceeded to tell me that PARCC is going to be making money from the test, so they should get paid as guinea pigs for helping them out in creating this test. So I said, ‘OK, if that’s the case and you guys feel strongly then there are venues and things you can do to voice your opinion, and one would be to write a letter and have some support behind that letter with petition.”


to honor troops, we shouldn't "budget" the VA.

Rather than give them a set amount of money, we should treat the organization at least as well as we do defense contractors.

For defense contractors, they either make a bid or we set a price, and once they get the contract and start doing the job, they inevitably come back and say, "Gosh darn it, we just didn't realize how much it would really cost to do this. We need more money."

And Congress and the Department of Defense gives it to them.

At a minimum, the VA should be able to do that too.

"You want how little wait time? Gosh darn it, we can't do that with the number of doctors, nurse, and support staff we have. If we try to overwork and underpay these people, the private sector is going to get a lot more attractive to them and we'll have even LONGER delays.

We're going to need more money, and seriously, no bellyaching about having to raise taxes on your rich donors. You took care of them when you started the wars that gave our vets PTSD, Gulf War Syndrome, and traumatic brain injuries, and blown off faces and limbs.

If you have the "courage" to start wars, you should have the courage to tax and spend to take care of the people who fight the wars.

If not, please take off your lapel pin flag and stop saying you support the troops.

You don't.

You only support their right to die for your rich friends."

And then Congress should give them what they need and not what they feel like giving them.

Gun control might not deter regular criminals, but it would these mass shooters

The NRA argument about banning certain kinds of guns, simply driving criminals to the black market may have some grain of truth for career criminals who would know where to go to get those black market guns, but not for mass shooters.

Nearly all of these mass shooters have no prior criminal record, especially involvement in armed robbery or the drug trade that would make them familiar with how to buy illegal weapons.

For someone with a mental illness and poor relationship skills, the interactions it would take to figure out how to get those illegal arms and actually get them might be an insurmountable obstacle.

Sure, some of these guys might go on a mass knifing or cross-bowing, but I haven't heard of too many successful drive-bys with either of those weapons.

Right now, the military industrial complex is like the liquid terminator at the end of Terminator 2

He gets dumped into a vat of molten steel, and as he is thrashing, trying to get out before he dissolves into just plain steel, he morphs through all the identities he has taken on throughout the story.

So it is with the military industrial complex.

Politicians in Washington seemed so gob-smacked by the collapse of the Soviet Union that they accidentally talked about a "peace dividend" from reduced military spending for a while until the started casting about for new excuses for military action.

They tried humanitarian interventions. The problem was, since it was just a form of charity, once US troops were killed, the public could demand the pullout of the troops and at worst, look uncharitable instead of unpatriotic and cowardly.

They tried the War on Terror. They got a good couple of years out of that before most of the public figured you didn't need a Cold War sized military to chase around stateless terrorists who have no navy, air force, or ability to take and hold territory in the US.

Obama himself has inadvertently put the lie to need for a Cold War-sized military with his use of relatively cheap drones to kill suspected terrorists, and the use of a SEAL team and a couple of helicopters, as well as some old fashioned spying and deception on the ground to kill bin Laden.

Whether or not you agree with what Obama has done, it doesn't add up to needing twice as many aircraft carriers as the rest of the world combined, and bases in countries most Americans don't know exist.

Smelling their own flop sweat, the politicians "pivoted to Asia" to try to reignite the Cold War with Russia and then maybe China.

None of this was really a change in foreign policy, but instead a matter of what shade of lipstick they put on the pig.

It also shows that even the Cold War wasn't so much about ideology, but turf wars over who gets to reap the profits from which place.

Going after an old enemy who gave up the ideology we claimed was the reason for our conflict, just reminds us of the old lie, and how likely the new alarm is a lie too.

But what the hell will they do if the public stops buying what they are selling?

BILL MOYERS: Hedge Fund Managers not Teachers are 800 lb Gorilla in education "reform" fight

All teachers in America put together made $2 bil less than the top FOUR hedge fund managers alone.

Maybe this is why top Democratic politicians have turned their back on educators, one of their most reliable constituencies. Like bank robbers, they go where the money is, and teachers don't have enough to play at the high stakes table.

A lot of people don't seem to make the connection between the for-profit charters and Wall Street, but it's there.

The question is, if someone destroyed our housing market through fraud, and wrecked the economy in the process, why would you trust them to educate your children?

The 157,800 teachers of America’s little people, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us, together make about $8.34 billion a year. Hedge fund America’s top four earners alone last year grabbed $10.4 billion.


True enough. Hedge fund billionaires are indeed investing colossal millions in charters, educational entities — often tied closely to for-profits — that take in public tax dollars but operate independently of local school board oversight.


Hedge fund flacks hail this growing charter presence as a new window of opportunity for underprivileged kids in failing traditional schools. But many educators consider charters a diversion of badly needed public tax dollars into unaccountable private entities that cream off top students and refuse to take in the most challenged.

Plenty of research reinforces this perspective. One survey of recent studies, released last week, sees a charter school landscape full of “bad education, ridiculous hype, wasted resources and widespread corruption.”

Also in that landscape: plenty of high-return investment opportunities for hedge fund managers. A federal tax break known as the “New Markets” tax credit lets hedge funds that invest in charters double their money in seven years. Charters have become, notes one education analyst, “just another investor playground for easy money passed from taxpayers to the wealthy.”


If China & Russia do energy deals in non-dollars, what will US do?

In the game of 13 dimensional chess, how would our government counter that?

What would be the effect on our economy?

Also, how is our "get tough" approach to Russia and China going to change that for the better?

Most people do not take kindly to being bullied and threatened, and might choose to retaliate in ways that makes it harder for you to keep bullying.

Orwell quote on journalism vs. PR

This might help some of the people here who have difficulty with Glenn Greenwald's work on Edward Snowden.

Would a woman as obese as Chris Christie have gotten as far in politics?

I can't think of a woman politician at such an unhealthy weight who would be seriously discussed as a presidential prospect.

There's some kind of point in there about superficiality or a double standard.

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