06.22.10

Bill Gates and Microsoft Use Government Support to Turn Public Schools Into Private Business

Posted in Bill Gates, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 3:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: More lobbying for school reform the Gates way; Microsoft’s ‘School of the Future’ makes the headlines again and shares similar goals

D

iane Ravitch, a well-regarded and respected figure and author, has criticised the Gates Foundation for taking over public education in the United States [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Ravitch has just published this article where she explains Obama’s role in allowing it to happen:

My sense is that it has a lot to do with the administration’s connections to the Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation. Although both are usually portrayed as liberal or at least Democratic, their funding priorities have merged with those of the very conservative Walton Family Foundation. I explain this curious power elite in a chapter of my book called “The Billionaire Boys Club.”

For those who don’t know Gates’ connections to the Democrats, this recent post about Clinton and Gates ought to help. On the face of it, based on another article from last week, there is a stronger connection that may also involve staff:

Prior to coming to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Burwell spent 8 years in the Clinton Administration, including a stint as Deputy White House Chief of Staff and Chief of Staff to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.

Howard Bornstein tells another new story:

As a young analyst at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Howard Bornstein witnessed the massive philanthropic impact of the Microsoft founder and his wife. Bornstein realized his best chance to have a remotely similar impact would be to sharpen the philanthropy of others.

Today we are going to address the subject of schools being captured by Gates and by Microsoft. We have given many examples before, some also involving public libraries.

“The fastest way to the top of the Gates Foundation’s queue for new PC donations,” explained Ryan last night, “is to tell them you’re considering keeping you old systems and rolling out Linux. That’s how our library got tons of new Windows XP machines a couple years ago (Microsoft offered Vista, but they chose XP instead). I think I’ve mentioned before what a gulag those things are. You’re not allowed to use Flash. You can’t open a PDF. There’s no Firefox. I think last time I had to print out a PDF, I had to convert it to a Word document and email it to myself so I could print it at the library (they do have MS Office).”

For more on the same subject, see:

Bill Gates’ former public school turns out to be targeted by Gates right now.

And at one point the school received a major donation from the Gates Foundation, because a savvy parent who discovered that Bill Gates had attended View Ridge many years ago, and had used that as the basis for a successful appeal for a sizeable grant. Teachers and parents were working together to make a better school. Things were good, G-O-O-D, good. HUNH!!!

One of Gates’ biggest experiments with schools is actually in Hillsborough. We wrote about it in:

In Hillsborough, it sometimes seems like Gates won a bid to look after the education programme and methods. It’s a testing ground and based on the latest news, it’s truly treated as an experiment that only the Gates Foundation conducts (so it’s a franchise or monopoly):

District officials say their $100 million Gates grant also is helping them figure out which places — education schools, states, or even regions — produce their most effective teachers.

[...]

Thanks to the Gates money, statistician James Goode will now work full time to analyze the performance of such new hires.

Here is another report from Hillsborough. This type of programme has a codename now, namely “Empowering Effective Teachers” (from AP, also available here):

Called Empowering Effective Teachers, the plan was the basis for a proposal made last year to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation approved the plan and has given the district $40 million for efforts to improve teacher quality.

The district and union worked on the Gates proposal together, and rolled that into contract talks.

This codename is similar to “Elevate America” in the sense that it contains euphemisms (“Effective” and “Empowering”). It is just another case of state-supported hijack of citizens’ minds — one which is defended/advertised here:

Elevate America is an initiative by Microsoft to improve workforce readiness skills. The program will provide one million vouchers for Microsoft e-learning courses and select certification exams at no cost to recipients. Elevate America is being implemented in cooperation with state governments across the country.

For Microsoft to play “parent” with entire states would be insane. But that’s exactly what the government lets this monopoly abuser get away with. All of those actions are not donations at all; Gates’ own actions are also mentioned in [1, 2, 3]. It’s a form of lobbying.

Memphis, Tn – In the fall of 2009, the Memphis City School System was given a $90 million grant from the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation. But, in order to get the money, schools have to prove they are putting it to good use. That’s where the Envoy Program comes into play.

Here is another new article about Memphis:

With $1.1 million this year from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to Memphis City Schools, Efficacy plans to train several hundred “student envoys” responsible for preaching the gospel of discipline and self-esteem, and delivering the message that smart isn’t by chance.

[...]

With $90 million from the Gates Foundation, the district is trying to improve the learning climate in several ways, including beefing up teacher skill and nearly six-figure salaries.

Memphis is part of the experiment, as we noted in previous posts about Gates’ programme in Memphis, specifically:

“Public officials to discuss educational standards,” says this new report.

The Council of State Governments is assisting the effort, with financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Public officials”? Private officials rather. Just look who organised such meetings and who attended. It is not the first such example that we give and here is Kauffman mentioned for similar intervention that would probably startle Ravitch.

While other major philanthropies, such as the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation of Bentonville, Ark., have given millions of dollars to charter schools, it is believed that the Kauffman Foundation is the largest and most prominent private foundation to have decided to run its own charter school. And though other organizations with “foundation” in their names have started charter schools, staff members from national charter school organizations and philanthropic organizations couldn’t point to any that are grantmaking foundations, as is the Kauffman Foundation.

And now we come to Microsoft’s own role. It’s almost inseparable. Microsoft has this thing called “School of the Future”, which sounds similar to some of Gates’ objectives.

From USA Today:

When the Microsoft-designed School of the Future opened, the facility was a paragon of contemporary architecture, with a green roof, light-filled corridors and the latest classroom technology, all housed in a dazzling white modern building.

It might as well have been a fishbowl: Educators and media from around the world watched to see whether Microsoft could reform public education through innovation and technology.

Microsoft’s potential connection to the Gates Foundation when it comes to schools mustn’t be ignored (also in public libraries, as we showed before). There is a lot in common there. “Microsoft could reform public education through innovation and technology,” says the above. Well, “reform” being a euphemism for control is the same term Gates uses when he gives money to schools with strings attached (conditional upon reform).

There was some more coverage about Microsoft’s “School of the Future” last week [1, 2, 3] and this time there are no sob stories like there were a few years ago. Children from the school were literally crying.

AP has this article titled “Microsoft’s Philly high school traveled rocky road”:

Microsoft’s liaison to the school, Mary Cullinane, says the school has overcome its early challenges.

Microsoft is in the school “business”. What would be the reaction to having a “BP university” or “Walmart academy”? It’s pretty much the same idea. It’s ludicrous when schools are branded by and run by corporations.

Meanwhile, Microsoft pretends to be a defender of children for PR purposes. It also appeals to the religious community with more PR [1, 2] which ignores Microsoft’s embarrassing advocacy of underage sex (the Kin “boob” incident if just the latest among more). Why would anyone sincerely believe that a company like Microsoft should be interested in real education? It has shareholders to serve.

Interestingly enough, a few days ago we found more lobbying regarding education and other areas, courtesy of Brad Smith:

Top Microsoft executive shares company views on state issues

[...]

Education, livability, and economic ties with Asia will determine the long-term success of Washington, according to Microsoft’s top public-policy man.

So Smith is lobbying for Microsoft again. What could possibly go wrong? We’ll discussed this in the next post.

Faking Freedom

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, Microsoft, OSI at 2:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“There’s free [gratis] software and then there’s open source… there is this thing called the GPL, which we disagree with.”

Bill Gates, April 2008

Michael TiemannSummary: The Open Source Initiative (OSI) needs to rethink its methods; Groklaw asks the OSI, “have you pruned out the Microsoft toadies/partners yet?”

Simon Phipps joined the OSI only some months ago and it is encouraging to hear him speak about bringing software Freedom ‘back’ to this organisation. When a company like Microsoft can join it while attacking “Open Source” and clearly describing it as a competitor, then something is obviously wrong. Over a Groklaw, Pamela Jones wrote about an OSI group: “I was part of that original group, and I quit in short order. My answer to his question would be this: have you pruned out the Microsoft toadies/partners yet? Got a plan at least? Until that happens, I won’t ask anyone to volunteer to help and I surely won’t either. I’d rather start from scratch.”

The OSI’s mistake of allowing Microsoft entryism is still costing it. By allowing proprietary software companies on board they diluted the impact of this organisation. We wrote about the subject in posts such as:

Yesterday, one reader sent us this item of news which shows how organisations that describe themselves as “Open” (Open Cloud Community Initiative in this case) are not truly interested in openness or even freedom. It’s just a marketing tool to them.

Why does an open cloud standards proponent get the boot from an open cloud organisation for wanting more open standards?

It sounds like a bad riddle or some strange joke on the old Orwellian concept of “some things being more equal than others”. But it’s no joke for Sam Johnston, secretary of the Open Cloud Community Inititiative (OCCI) Working Group – or at least he was until yesterday when he was abruptly sacked by the working group’s chairs

The background to all of this has been over which open licence to use. Sam Johnston has been pushing for the Creative Commons licence, and arguing against the Open Grid’s own licence, which he sees as more restrictive.

Maybe it’s time to return to “software Freedom”. It’s less susceptible to misuse.

“The FSF is needed now – more than ever,” argues Sam Varghese in his response to Brockmeier's latest insult.

When would one expect an organisation like the Free Software Foundation to be really relevant to the world of computing at large – when there is a limited threat to freedom in computing or when the threat is increasing exponentially?

One would think that in the latter case, the need for an organisation like the FSF would be that much greater. But some people think differently. People like Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier, for example.

Last week, Brockmeier put forward his views – the FSF should not just say no to the use of non-free software, things like SaaS (software as a service) and devices like the iPad, it should provide alternatives, was his take.

The function of the FSF must be properly understood by potential critics. The FSF has actually stuck to its goals for 25 years; it didn’t let itself be shaped by its environment, which in the case of the OSI meant being co-opted.

Why Dmitry Medvedev Should Not Invite Microsoft

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 1:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Medvedev and Windows
Credit: kremlin.ru, modified with permission.

Summary: The Russian president makes a mistake by looking for help from Microsoft rather than from companies which distribute Free/libre software

LAST YEAR Putin told Michael Dell that Russia doesn’t need help from Dell et al. It’s a tad insulting when companies like Dell pretend to be saviours of entire large nations, whose resources they are hoping to use for personal gain. It was somewhat disappointing to find this new article titled “Medvedev Seeks Microsoft, Nokia Expertise in Building Russia,” especially now that there are plans to migrate Russian schools to GNU/Linux — plans that Microsoft is actively derailing, as expected.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev takes his plea for foreign investment and technology directly to Microsoft Corp., Citigroup Inc. and Nokia Oyj as he hosts business leaders this week in his native St. Petersburg.

There is also this item in the news:

Tieto and Microsoft present a joint offering for the Russian market – Sales Management as a Service.

Russia makes a mistake by inviting Microsoft. This is the same company that exploits; it does not contribute (see links at the bottom).

Speaking of which, watch what Microsoft does in Kuwait amid GNU/Linux moves in the government [1, 2]. More dumping in Kuwait:

Microsoft Kuwait yesterday announced that Global Innovation Company which works under National Technology Enterprise Company (NTEC), (a subsidiary of Kuwait Investment Authority) has been selected as the Network Partner for the Microsoft BizSpark Program in the region.

BizSpark is a dumping programme [1, 2] which is intended to increase lock-in, just like EDGI. It’s not something worth inviting.

Related posts

Whose Role in Antitrust Pushes Against Apple and Google?

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Google, Microsoft at 1:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News about Apple failures and offences; one of the Rockefellers names Apple and Google as companies he’s troubled about

THIS POST does not defend Google or Apple, but it’s an attempt to show that Microsoft might still be bugging Apple and Google using political means.

The relationship between the Rockefeller family and the Gates family has been explained here before. They collaborate on some of the same projects, e.g. those that promote Monsanto (Rockefeller and Gates collaborate on getting Africa addicted to Monsanto seeds). The other day we found this article where John Rockefeller is quoted as saying “shame on” Apple and Google.

Apple is famous for its veil of secrecy around the new iPads and iPhones. But Sen. John Rockefeller and others in Congress wonder whether the company has more than technological innovations to hide.

[...]

“When people don’t show up when we ask them to … all it does is increases our interest in what they’re doing and why they didn’t show up,” Rockefeller said of Apple and Google, which both declined to testify. “It was a stupid mistake for them not to show up, and I say shame on them.”

[...]

Like Microsoft and Google before it, Apple is getting attention from regulators as it grows and starts to compete more directly with other technology heavyweights.

This is probably not a big deal and Apple came under FTC investigation (and ITC investigation) earlier this month anyway [1, 2]. There are still some news articles about it [1, 2] and opinions in favour of Apple, which also turns out to have stepped in someone else’s trademark, again.

Another day, another lawsuit for Apple. This time Jobs & Company are being taken to task for naming the iPhone’s new mobile-advertising platform “iAds” when that service mark is already owned by a Southern California media company.

Online ad firm Innovate Media Group of Costa Mesa, California, has filed suit in the US District Court of the Central District of California, charging that Apple has knowingly usurped their rights to the term iAds.

An investigation is also being launched in China:

There was worldwide concern that Apple’s contractor was operating a sweatshop and that kids who found it soul destroying to make toys for rich Americans were killing themselves rather than have to look at another Iphone or Ipad.

According to Reuters, China will publish the results of an official probe into recent suicides at electronics maker Foxconn’s giant manufacturing plant in south China.

The Inquirer says that “GCHQ imposes Whitehall iPhone ban” and those who want to preorder hypePhone 4 face system errors:

Apple’s preordering system for the iPhone 4 appeared overloaded or broken on Tuesday with many complaining they were locked out from ordering the phone online in advance of its June 24 launch.

This is also covered here.

Additionally, in the news we have another connection between Microsoft and the FTC:

Microsoft, FTC, Others Form ‘Internet Fraud Alert’

A coalition of private companies, industry associations and the FTC has created Internet Fraud Alert, a service to which researchers can report stolen user credentials discovered online.

[...]

The alliance consists of Microsoft, which developed the software and donated it to the service,.the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA), with the support of Accuity, the American Bankers Association, Anti-Phishing Working Group, Citizens Bank, eBay, the Federal Trade Commission, and PayPal.

Additional coverage can be found in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. As far as we know, Microsoft has not got former executives inside the FTC, unlike the FCC for example. The FCC took on Apple just weeks after a Microsoft executive had become Managing Director of the FCC.

IRC Proceedings: June 21st, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 12:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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