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09.09.11

Journals of Record Complain About Bill Gates’ Lobbying and AstroTurfing in the Education Arena

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception at 3:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A Microsoft-saddled education system and an increasingly-privatised infrastructure is being promoted by the Gates Foundation while top publications do take notice

THE WORLD’S most publicised monopolist, Bill Gates, has spent billions just marketing himself, alleged donations aside. Clearly his PR efforts have not been sufficient because the corporate press still steps ‘out of line’ sometimes. It publishes articles that expose Gates’ real agenda, despite fear of backlash and retaliation. Two of the arguably most highly regarded journals of record in the United States are the New York Times and Washington Post (a de facto pairing). Both have published critical piece about Gates despite his regular visits to those publishers. Those who wish to believe that Techrights presents a biased/fringe point of view ought to pay close attention to the way corporate press catches up with blogs and slowly comes to accept that the bloggers were right all along. First of all, the biasing of Harvard studies (to suit the agenda of the Gates Foundation) is a subject finally being addressed by Valerie Strauss, who writes:

Why would the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s richest foundation, hand over a $500,000 grant to Harvard, the world’s wealthiest university?

It turns out that Harvard, in July, was given a $500,000 grant fromGates, which has its financial tentacles deep in the education world and beyond, to do the following, according to the foundation’s Web site:

[...]

Who knew Harvard, with a $27 billion-plus endowment, needed Gates money for this?

Descartes imagined “Cogito ergo sum” without a Gates grant, but these days, even re-imagining comes under the Gates umbrella of largesse.

It is fair to wonder if educational institutions that take Gates money feel obliged to consider the education positions of Bill Gates.

Gates supports modern reform efforts that unfortunately apply business principles to the public education system, which is not a business but rather a civic institution, the most important one in the country.

[...]

About a decade ago, Gates decided that small schools were the answer to the high school dropout problem, so from 2000-2009 he poured in about $2 billion to help reform high schools and improve graduation rates of minority students — with most of the money going to create small schools out of large drop-out factories.

When standardized test scores didn’t go up, Gates pulled out his money and declared the effort pretty much a failure. It wasn’t entirely, but he moved on, now, to teacher assessment as the answer to troubled schools. Teacher assessment systems in many districts are in dire need of reform, but not the kind that is dominated by standardized test scores.

Do we really want experimenting philanthropists to have a role driving education policy?

One last thing:

Next time the Gates foundation decides to hand over big bucks for re-imagining, please note: For a tenth of what you gave Harvard, the education reporting team at The Post will re-imagine anything you want.

There is a lot more in that article. This author has, in general, been doing good investigative work for over a year. The paper she contributes to has wide circulation among politicians so we hope that she continues to reaffirm our position as she does. They recently got rid of Melinda Gates, so it ought to be easier to speak freely and speak truth.

The complaints from Strauss are further amplified by Ravitch, as usual. Both ladies do a good job speaking for teachers rather than corporations. Here is a good post from around the same time:

Diane Ravitch on Corporatization of Public Education

[...]

Perhaps it was the agreement between the Gates Foundation and the Pearson Foundation to write the nation’s curriculum. When did we vote to hand over American education to them? Why would we outsource the nation’s curriculum to a for-profit publishing and test-making corporation based in London? Does Bill Gates get to write the national curriculum because he is the richest man in America? We know that his foundation is investing heavily in promoting the Common Core standards. Now his foundation will write a K-12 curriculum that will promote online learning and video gaming. That’s good for the tech sector, but is it good for our nation’s schools?

Oh, and one more outrage: The Gates Foundation and the Eli Broad Foundation, both of which maintain the pretense of being Democrats and/or liberals, have given millions to former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s foundation, which i s promoting vouchers, charters, online learning, test-based accountability, and the whole panoply of corporate reform strategies intended to weaken public education and remove teachers’ job protections.

New York TimesIf Bill Gates can control this system, he then controls a budget of half a trillion dollars per year and also gets to decide what children’s minds get filled with. Scary thought, no?

Here is the AstroTurf roundup from the New York Times:

They described themselves simply as local teachers who favored school reform — one sympathetic state representative, Mary Ann Sullivan, said, “They seemed like genuine, real people versus the teachers’ union lobbyists.” They were, but they were also recruits in a national organization, Teach Plus, financed significantly by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

For years, Bill Gates focused his education philanthropy on overhauling large schools and opening small ones. His new strategy is more ambitious: overhauling the nation’s education policies. To that end, the foundation is financing educators to pose alternatives to union orthodoxies on issues like the seniority system and the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers.

In some cases, Mr. Gates is creating entirely new advocacy groups. The foundation is also paying Harvard-trained data specialists to work inside school districts, not only to crunch numbers but also to change practices. It is bankrolling many of the Washington analysts who interpret education issues for journalists and giving grants to some media organizations.

[...]

Mr. Hess, a frequent blogger on education whose institute received $500,000 from the Gates foundation in 2009 “to influence the national education debates,” acknowledged that he and others sometimes felt constrained. “As researchers, we have a reasonable self-preservation instinct,” he said. “There can be an exquisite carefulness about how we’re going to say anything that could reflect badly on a foundation.”

[...]

The foundation paid a New York philanthropic advisory firm $3.5 million “to mount and support public education and advocacy campaigns.” It also paid a string of universities to support pieces of the Gates agenda. Harvard, for instance, got $3.5 million to place “strategic data fellows” who could act as “entrepreneurial change agents” in school districts in Boston, Los Angeles and elsewhere. The foundation has given to the two national teachers’ unions — as well to groups whose mission seems to be to criticize them.

“It’s easier to name which groups Gates doesn’t support than to list all of those they do, because it’s just so overwhelming,” noted Ken Libby, a graduate student who has pored over the foundation’s tax filings as part of his academic work.

An early example of the increased emphasis on advocacy came in 2008, when Mr. Gates teamed with Eli Broad for a campaign aimed at focusing the presidential candidates on issues like teacher quality and education standards. The Gates Foundation spent $16 million on the effort.

Mr. Gates later acknowledged that it achieved little, but in the years since, the foundation has helped leverage sweeping changes. Its latest annual report, for instance, highlights its role — often overlooked — in the development and promotion of the common core academic standards that some 45 states have adopted in recent months.

Well, a lot more examples are included in this article, but to keep compliant with fair use, we’ll end it there. It is encouraging to see the press waking up.

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