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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.

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