Posts Tagged ‘Gates Foundation’

Billionaire-Powered Education

Once, back in the late sixties, I studied the interlocking boards of directors of major corporations, banks, hospitals and cultural institutions in a small mid-western city.  The power elite of the metropolitan area came sharply into view.  With that “power map” in hand I could follow the values and money shaping the community where I lived—and become a more effective community organizer.

In previous posts I have been following the values and money that shape the current “education reform” movement in the U.S.  Billionaire funders of the movement may not be represented on a formal set of interlocking directorates, but their goals overlap to serve interests of the corporate sector and the ideological right wing.  Continue reading

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Education “Reform” that Deforms

Teachers are on the “firing line” for everything from failure with students in impoverished neighborhoods, the decline of schools generally, and even the decline of the United States in the global economy.  A broad coalition of “education reform” actors, spanning the political spectrum and extending to the editorial pages of the mainstream media, has come to believe that ineffective teachers, protected by their unions, are responsible for the decline.  The “reformers” are determined to right the listing educational ship.

Joanne Barkan, in a compelling article, analyzes the powerful campaign that promotes such reform, the billionaires that fund it, and the anti-union bias that fuels it.  The implied logic of the coalition is clear: “If we can just get the right kinds of teachers, with the proper teaching strategy in union-free schools, all will be well with education and the U.S.”  Its reform strategy involves universal standardized testing and using student test results to evaluate teachers.  And, if the reformers have their way, teachers can be fired if their students do not raise their test scores to an acceptable level.

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U.S. Public Education Under Attack

The extent and agenda of funding for education from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is not well known in this country. We all know that Bill Gates is one of the wealthiest men in the world, and may be aware of the Gates Foundation’s (GF) funding of anti-AIDS work in Africa. But what of its funding of education efforts in this country? A New York Times article by Sam Dillon, published May 21, 2011, lifted the veil. Entitled “Behind Grass-Roots School Advocacy, Bill Gates,” it can be found at: http://nyti.ms/jmjJif

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