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09.09.10

Teachers Demand That Bill Gates Gets Thrown Out of the Education System and Stops Controlling Coverage

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft at 2:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A roundup of complaints about Gates lobbying to change schools, put his foundation in charge of the change, and change coverage about this in the media (by paying those who cover it)

TEACHERS have become impatient with the Gates Foundation, which some of them realise is taking over their system only in order to experiment with it and break it. One Web site in particular, Seattleducation2010, is protesting against the foundation and uses the power of teachers to resist the uninvited takeover by Gates. As one writer put it a few weeks ago:

We will not sell out our profession or our students for failed and an unproven education policy driven by the Gates and Broad Foundations hidden agenda.

Microsoft’s Gates loves to control things, even coverage. Here is his foundation (umbrella for bank account and private interests) injecting its spokespeople (e.g. Chris Williams) into subscription-only magazines like Education Week News. They are controlling television coverage now, especially where the foundation’s agenda in education gets covered:

TV Networks Gear Up for Education Initiatives

[..]

Among the “partners” identified for the initiative are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which are two leading philanthropies in the education sphere, as well as Scholastic Inc. and American Airlines.

As we’ll show in a moment, a lot of the outlets which cover education are in the pocket of Gates now. He pays them for their obedience.

Diane Ravitch, one of the more vocal opponents of Gates’ dangerous agenda in schools [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], gets mentioned in the following recent post, which is titled “Did Bill Gates buy his podium at the American Federation of Teachers’ Convention in Seattle?”

Over here in Seattle, however, the American Federation of Teachers had Bill Gates as their keynote speaker. Gates, who heavily supports non-union, privately run charter schools, is on a rampage against teachers, declaring that many aren’t “effective,” based solely on standardized student test scores, and wants to tie their pay to high-stakes test results (even though this is proven not to improve teacher or student performance), force them to compete against each other for money, spy on/videotape them, and dissect their teaching methods, maybe even replace teachers and schools altogether with online lectures.

In other words, he’s not an obvious or uplifting choice for keynote speaker to a conference of teaching professionals.

[...]

It’s true that Gates spends millions of dollars on education, but he has zero background in the field, and all his grants have heavy strings attached. He has pet projects and the weight of his wealth and his connection to the Obama administration (former Gates Foundation staffers now staff the Obama administration and vice versa – also see p. 5 of the recent Businessweek article about “Bill Gates’ School Crusade” and the attempted move by Brad Jupp from the Obama administration to the Gates Foundation) gives him a disproportionate and unchecked influence on the direction of public education in this nation right now.

Some have jokingly referred to Gates – not Arne Duncan — as the true Education Secretary. This has a number of sound-minded people worried – including Ravitch, who was recently interviewed on KUOW, and had this to say about Gates: “I’m just concerned about the unaccountable power of the Gates Foundation. They are now virtually managing education policy in the United States.”

So why did AFT invite ‘Bill the teacher-basher’ to address a national conference of its teachers?

Perhaps this has something to do with it: That same month, the Gates Foundation gave the AFT $3.4 million to push for “teacher quality initiatives,” and another “$217,200” in June for “conference support.”

From the Gates Foundation web site:

American Federation Of Teachers Educational Foundation

Date: July 2010

Purpose: to continue the American Federation Of Teachers Innovation Fund’s efforts to support local affiliates that engage in research-based, union-developed teacher quality initiatives and to work with a consortium of local and state affiliates—the Teacher Excellence Collaborative—to create and implement a comprehensive development and evaluation system based upon the American Federation Of Teachers framework

Amount: $3,421,725

Term: 2 years and 1 month

Topic: High Schools

Region Served: North America, Global

Program: United States

Grantee Location: Washington, District of Columbia

Grantee Web site: http://www.aft.org

As it says in the comments: “So basically Mr. Gates paid for the AFT convention. I’d like to know what teachers think about that.”

In an essay published the following day, Gates’ payment to NPR (to cover education matters the way he likes it) gets a mention:

In some places on the chart we note certain amounts of money. The reason for that is that some of the sums that we discovered were finite and some were not. For instance, the Gates Foundation is basically 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. I suppose that it helps that the Gates’ Foundation’s headquarters are located in Seattle and not far from the Alliance for Education offices, just a stone’s throw away.

[..]

Another example is the AFT, the American Federation of Teachers, where Bill Gates gave AFT $3.4M for “teacher quality initiatives” and $217, 200 for AFT conference expenses. See: Did Bill Gates Buy His Podium at the AFT Convention? Sometimes a breakdown of the numbers provides a more clear picture of the power and influence of money.

Then there is money “with stipulations” that the Gates Foundation provided to NPR. The purpose of that money is “to support coverage of education issues on NPR programs, including the Morning Edition and All Things Considered”. The amount provided was $750,000. I don’t feel comfortable with that on many levels.

We already knew about Gates’ payment to NPR (as well as many other outlets), but we did not know the money to NPR was specifically targeted at areas where Gates was lobbying for his personal interests. That’s just appalling and it damages the impartiality of NPR too.

Based on the following, Gates is abusing and corrupting national radio beyond NPR. Here is another communication channel/radio station which gets “bribed” as some people may put it:

There was also $301,768 given to Minnesota Public Radio. The purpose stated was to “strengthen the quality and quantity of reporting on issues related to the nation’s low college completion rates” which plays into the Gates’ agenda. The sad part is that NPR felt the need to take the money and potentially provide a skewed viewpoint on issues in education or report on some aspects of ed reform and not others.

[...]

Then there is the pocket-money for the Alliance for Education under the heading “general operating support” for $3,000 and the junket to Denver for $6,000 “to support a delegation of Seattle Public School district officials to meet with Brad Jupp and the administration in Denver for “best practices” on teacher labor agreements”. Denver, by the way, is being converted to all things ed-reform. Gates is financing much of that effort.

The list goes on but by now you’re probably starting to get the big picture. Broad and Gates have decided what is best for our children based on no experience in education and none of their own children or grand children in public schools. There has been no dialogue between parents and teachers.

Just to say that again, “Broad and Gates have decided what is best for our children based on no experience in education and none of their own children or grand children in public schools. There has been no dialogue between parents and teachers.”

Based on some other posts, certain teachers really hate the guy. Read the following:

THIS JUST IN! –

Courtesy of LEV (League of Education Voters–FUNDED BY THEs GATES FOUNDATION) an onslaught of ed reform profiteers are coming to Seattle this October to speak as part of LEV’s imaginary “revolution.”

“Voices from the Education Revolution Speakers Series“

featuring:

Richard Barth, CEO – KIPP Foundation (and the BROAD FOUNDATION; FUNDED BY THE GATES FOUNDATION)
Timothy Daly, President – The New Teacher Project (FUNDED BY THE GATES FOUNDATION)
Steve Barr, Founder & Emeritus Chair – Green Dot Public Schools (FUNDED BY THE GATES FOUNDATION)
Moderated by Don Shalvey (Ed Director of the GATES FOUNDATION, former CEO and founder of ASPIRE CHARTER SCHOOLS, Board member of GREEN DOT — ALL FUNDED BY THE GATES FOUNDATION)

Also coming to town, Kevin Johnson, Sacramento mayor and fiance of Michelle Rhee, Broad Foundation board member & chancellor of Washington DC School District (FUNDED BY THE GATES FOUNDATION).

And coming soon — a new motto for Seattle Public Schools:

Seattle Public Schools — bought from you by THE BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION!

(in partnership with the Broad Foundation — because all these billionaires can’t be wrong!)

As Dora Taylor puts it, they (the teachers) want to be represented by themselves, not a convicted monopolist/abuser with infinite ambitions and highly-inflated ego.

Also, the school board president, Michael DeBell, is on the Alliance for Education Board of Directors. The Alliance for Education receives the majority of its’ money from the Gates Foundation.

We want board members who represent us, not the Broad Foundation or the Gates Foundation. See Lines Of Influence of Education Reform for the larger picture.

They are already writing to Obama and taking general action, but as we showed in previous posts, Gates has already ensured that Democrats push his agenda. It’s therefore unlikely that the government can help much by regaining control of education. Watch how the Chief Administrative Officer for the Gates Foundation gets embedded in the system. What can stop Gates from hiring heads of school districts and putting staff of his in charge (we gave actual examples)? The system is not built/designed to deal with such a power grab by private powers. It is a form of hostile takeover.

She began her career as a high school teacher in Eugene, Oregon.

And now she helps harm teachers, who are obviously dissatisfied with losing their voice to someone who is funding things only to lead/control them, e.g.:

Hunter R. Boylan (LES/NCDE) presented a session titled “What We Know About Professional Development” at the State Higher Education Policy Meeting sponsored by the Lumina Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

There is some new PR in Brown right now [1, 2, 3] and it’s the usual thing about “improv[ing] high school graduation rates”, with the clear intention to give the illusion it’s all about improving things using the Gates Foundation. Here is another attempt to use money to steer the conversation: “To increase the graduation rate, Priority Spokane worked with the Inland Northwest Community Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide a grant that would fund research on proven methods and develop specific suggestions for the Spokane district.”

As a little bit of background about what Gated does in Memphis (experimenting to prepare for similar overhauls elsewhere), see:

Here is one of the latest updates from Memphis, which Gates tries to change before he moves on to other areas where he won’t even need to invest money.

With the recent investment of $90 million by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative and Tennessee being one of two initial winners in the Race to the Top federal grant program, Memphis is showing the nation that it is committed to addressing the needs of education. Though views differ on how we ensure that our students avoid the pitfalls that prevent them from reaching their educational goals, we all agree that all of them must be afforded the best opportunity to do so.

There is also more meddling with Hillsborough, which we previously wrote about in, e.g.:

Diane Ravitch’s criticism is mentioned in the following new article about the region:

At its convention this summer, the 3.2 million-member NEA welcomed as keynote speaker one of the fiercest critics of the Gates Foundation and its education agenda, New York University education historian Diane Ravitch.

The smaller American Federation of Teachers union, meanwhile, invited Bill Gates himself. Most Florida teachers unions are allied with both groups.

More from Hillsborough includes that boring old sound bite about “effective teachers” and one has to wonder, why don’t just say it’s part of the lobbying effort?

The program is funded by the $100 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help develop more effective teachers. Veteran teachers will be evaluated by their peers.

How much of the coverage is also paid for? As we showed before, journalism on these matters too is often funded by Gates, not to mention books.

There is a new Web site which helps track spendings in education right now and Gates control this one too [1, 2] (by paying for it). Giving Gates too much control here is taking decision-making powers further away from teachers and other educators/officials. As the Michigan Citizen put it a week ago, “the nearly decade-long $2 billion effort of the Gates Foundation to push small high schools produced disappointing results.”

Here is the Gates Foundation using money to distort perception again, using a so-called ‘poll’ or survey it controls: “The survey was backed with money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the William E. Simon Foundation.”

Push polling a possibility here? Why can’t the survey be conducted without the influence of Gates? Another new example of agenda being set in education by the Gates Foundation:

Last spring, Public Agenda, a nonprofit research organization, released a report on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

They’re everywhere. Now they are calling university buildings after them, creating a “Gates campus” and building more mansions/headquarters [1, 2] to administer/manage this whole power grab. “Gates uses summer for school work,” says this article without covering the strings being attached to grants.

In July and June alone, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded 25 high school-related program grants worth a combined $18.6 million, according to the Gates Foundation web site.

Gates’ influence in education is mostly a threat in the United States at this stage and it is closely tied to Microsoft, which is also trying to command the school systems. Some days ago we found Microsoft reaching out for European school systems too. From a troubling press release:

European Schoolnet and Microsoft announced a new eLearning Award to reward outstanding teachers in Europe for their work with ICT in education. As part of their work with innovative teachers, Microsoft is supporting the eLearning Awards 2010 and invites all teachers to apply to the special category for outstanding teachers. “Focusing on 21st Century skills, project based learning and interdisciplinary teaching is crucial in order to meet the demands of today’s society. And ICT is an important tool in this process. In Microsoft we find it a privilege to be able to contribute to celebration of innovative teachers that are frontrunners in the new way of teaching and learning,” said Kirsten Panton, regional leader for Learning in Western Europe.

It is indoctrination, not education. It is the perception that spreadsheets are synonymous with Excel and therefore Microsoft Excel cures cancer, amongst other things.

If more teachers stay idle and do nothing to prevent a takeover of their system by private hands, it might be too late to reverse. There is a reason why Bill Gates was called “the most dangerous man in America” in a recent Huff&Puff headline. The PR campaign being used to whitewash the image of an ex-con is part of the danger. People rarely change over time, they just market themselves differently.

“Children are often taught “computer skills” that are really “Microsoft Windows skills” – how to use Microsoft’s operating system and its Office suite (its two monopolies) – rather than the possibilities of making computers do what you want. As such, children are being equipped to be uncreative office workers, just as those at the end of the 19th century were equipped for the routine of adding up huge lists of numbers in the accounts departments of big companies.”

The Guardian

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6 Comments

  1. gnufreex said,

    September 9, 2010 at 3:43 am

    Gravatar

    Luckily, there is one guy that always spoils Gates’ diabolical plans. He first “scared the creeps out” of Bill Gates (by Gates’ own admission) in 1995 by releasing Java VM. Now he founded Curriki. Maybe he will screw Gates again?

    http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Main/WebHome

    Yeah, I am talking about Scott McNealy.

  2. twitter said,

    September 9, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Gravatar

    The more of this I read, the more convinced I am that Gate’s primary motive is to prop up Microsoft in schools and that he’s not concerned about the damage done. Details of the donations support this theory well and there’s prior experience of “revolution” from Massachusetts. When institution structures might allow Microsoft to be kicked out, Gates eliminates the instigators and changes the structure. It is pretty clear that Microsoft and Gates are trying to redirect “school reform” to serve themselves. Only teachers themselves are able to tell us about how much harm is being done. Thanks for covering this important issue to this depth!

    We can assume that the same kinds of software deals are going along with Gate’s school reform as have been imposed on other recipients. From chatting with a librarian about a “donnation” from the Gates Foundation that software made up a large portion of the supposed value and that one of the strings was exclusive use of Microsoft on the hardware that came with it. For a few thousand dollars worth of hardware, Gates got exclusivity, format lock in, and orders of magnitude more money in tax write offs. What’s more disturbing is that the librarian did not understand software freedom and though of the software exclusivity as a minor detail.

    It may seem absurd that Gates would go through all of this trouble with schools just for the sake of Microsoft, but US schools are indispensable for them. They provide revenue, brand familiarization, lock in and brag power. Gates knows that universities can be kept as customers as long as students all come in knowing Windows. The ruthless crushing of the One Laptop Per Child project shows us just how terrified they are of alternatives. If US schools stop using and advocating Windows, the rest of the world will quickly dump it and everything else follows what people learn in school. Microsoft is already folding up, but the Microsoft people must have seen the school threat long ago. Because Microsoft can no longer afford the effort, Gates is stepping in with his own tax shelter and is recruiting textbook publishers and other profiteers to help out. Like a zombie, Microsoft carries on down the path laid out in the late 90s and will do so until they are bankrupt.

    The Massachusetts example for this kind of institutional take over is the ouster of Peter Quinn and subsequent reorganization of the state IT department structure. Peter Quinn modestly proposed that the state could save lots of money by using Open Office instead of Microsoft Office. Microsoft sent in a storm of lobbyists who smeared Quinn in the local press, forced him out and then managed to change state law to give IT trump power to the governor and reorganize the IT department so that it would not dare try again.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    An important point to add is that the appeal of schools is tax-funded (or parents-funded) Microsoft trainers called “schools teachers”. With ‘American EDGI’ Microsoft might still have the pay the Microsoft trainers.

    Gates is creating a self-serving (to himself) system which is funding itself. That’s genius businessmanship.

    twitter Reply:

    Well, yes, it’s another Microsoft tax of the sort Gates specializes in. Creating the impression of expert endorsement in order to collect state revenue. In this case, he will be collecting revenue for the ability to indoctrinate and then sell that to others.

    Microsoft is only special in taking school based indoctrination to its logical conclusion. As the power of broadcast and print publications fail, Gates is building up alternate methods of manipulation. Other big companies and special interests have been cramming their viewpoints into textbooks and classrooms for a long time. Microsoft’s efforts are particularly crass and obvious. Not many special interests would have the nerve to charge money for textbooks when there are excellent free alternatives available. Microsoft would be the textbook provider and charge all the others access to children’s minds. Giving school programs over to Microsoft is the 21st century equivalent of giving classrooms over to cable TV operators in the last century or to newspaper publishers previously, all complete with the ability and special focus on selling advertisement space. It is better to keep big publishers out of classrooms and give preference to free textbook efforts like Wikipedia’s.

    twitter Reply:

    There’s a story in today’s Times Picayune about Algiers charter schools that touches close. New Orleans is my home town, so I’m happy to see glowing reports of success that is not filled with Microsoft marketing. Microsoft’s efforts towards those goal of advertising and control was apparent in the past but don’t look so generous today. In the mean time, the students and faculty seem to have made the best of things.

    A year after Hurricane Katrina, locals like the Mayor got all sorts of VIP treatment:

    “I have had the wonderful opportunity to go to a lot of different technology companies,” Nagin said. “Intel is one; Microsoft is another. The tools are out there for us to do something special. It’s just up to us. Now that you have this opportunity, go for it.”
    Algiers Charter Schools Association hosted HELP’s “Education Technology Experience” at the William J. Fischer Elementary School. Other leaders speaking at the opening ceremony included representatives from National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the State Education Technology Directors’ Association, and the International Society for Technology in Education. … “I have had the wonderful opportunity to go to a lot of different technology companies,” Nagin said. “Intel is one; Microsoft is another. The tools are out there for us to do something special. It’s just up to us. Now that you have this opportunity, go for it.”

    Algiers Charter Schools Association hosted HELP’s “Education Technology Experience” at the William J. Fischer Elementary School. Other leaders speaking at the opening ceremony included representatives from National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the State Education Technology Directors’ Association, and the International Society for Technology in Education. … Although two dozen companies were on hand to demonstrate their solutions, the event was decidedly not “a sales pitch,” Smithson [Intel Education director] explained to the educators. This event is “about coming together and showing you what a 21st century learning environment can be like.” The recovery project began taking shape last December. Approximately 35 vendors, nonprofit organizations, state and national leaders, and national ed-tech advocacy groups came together to form the HELP Team, offering time, equipment, and expertise to the effort.

    There’s something very sad in the gee-wizz talk. They brag about table PCs being good for running away from hurricanes in front of people with ruined libraries. How nice would it have been if Intel, Microsoft and friends supplied all the students with one laptop per child computers? Had the world been allowed to digitize their print collections, or simply share libraries like Google books, the hardware would matter a lot less. Microsoft partners treated the schools like they might have treated a cube farm.

    So, what kind of 21st century classroom did Algiers charter schools get? Just what you would expect from the average Microsoft addicted institution. According to the 2008 Tech plan, they have a fleet of aging P4s running XP, 25% of which would be “retired” in 2009, the rest with “Security” from Norton. Classrooms had one or two PCs, perhaps a whiteboard. It was tied together with 100 mbps LANS which they were trying to tie together with some kind of Microsoft server. Basically, they created a captive, state funded customer. Hopefully, some of the local penguins can help them break free.

    It is a miracle that these schools did not end up in complete failure like the Philadelphia School of the Future they so resemble. Because they are using all the second rate software Microsoft could dump on them, we can assume they had all of the problems most people do – out of control viruses, broken equipment and networks that barely function for business purposes and do even less for education. If students learned at these schools is had nothing to do with the computers and everything to do with the staff and parents sharing to make ends meet and encourage each other. The cynic in me worries that the miracle reported is more PR than reality but that would make the remarkable achievements cited all the greater.

  3. Seattle Ed2010 said,

    September 23, 2010 at 1:15 am

    Gravatar

    Hi Dr. Roy,
    Thanks for bringing all this info together. I just wanted to clarify that our site, Seattle Education 2010, was created by two Seattle public school parents — not teachers — Dora Taylor and myself. But we certainly know that many teachers share our views.
    Regards,
    Sue Peters

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