12.27.11

Increasing Number of Complaints About Increasing Number of Gates-funded AstroTurf Groups for Education ‘Reform’

Posted in Bill Gates at 5:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gates map

Summary: A somewhat belated roundup of reports about what Bill Gates is doing to privatise (and perhaps monopolise) US education

THE school/public education agenda has been mentioned briefly in our daily links, but we have not touched on this subject in relation to the Gates Foundation for quite some time.

Things have not changed for the better because Gates’ ego is still funding AstroTurf groups that do the opposite of that they claim to be doing. Many of these are funded by Bill Gates for his selfish agenda and teachers bemoan this over and over again. To quote a fairly recent observation (we catch up chronologically):

Since the last board meeting, it was announced by Norm Rice of the Seattle Foundation that he was funding TFA, Inc. This is the same foundation that in 2010 received almost $6M in grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The same Bill Gates who last year gave TFA, Inc. $2.5M to open up an office in Seattle.

We are hoping that people who work for Gates on this agenda will realise how evil this agenda is. Many such people are already fleeing. To quote a recent article:

Hilary Pennington, director of education, postsecondary success, and special initiatives in the foundation’s United States program since 2007, told grantees in an e-mail last month that she would leave her position by spring 2012 to “get closer to work on the ground.” Pennington, who has led the foundation’s gradually intensifying involvement in issues of college completion, productivity and technological innovation, said in announcing her departure that she was optimistic that the foundation’s work would continue because “I am so confident about the strength of the strategy, the [postsecondary success] team, and our grantees and other partners.”

We wrote about more such departures before. Going back to examples of Gates’ privatisation of education systems:

Our state PTA is busy promoting charter schools along with the Gates backed League of Education Voters, Stand for Children and DFER.

Some of those front groups were covered here before and their Gates ties shown.

Gates’ folks are trying to bash and silence the truth, which does not have as much PR funds (if any) allocated to it. Teachers, parents and students/pupils are helpless in this battle. Here is a relevant article on this subject:

The New York Times recently ran a story portraying the Gates Foundation as the puppeteer of American education policy, bribing or bullying scholars and politicians into dancing as it desires. Rick Hess, of the American Enterprise Institute, feels that the story misrepresented his position on the potentially corrupting influence of foundations, making it sound as though he were referring to the Gates Foundation in particular when in fact he was referring to the impact of foundations generally.

Front groups are easy to expose, but they keep changing names and “one of their wealthiest financiers, Bill Gates” (to quote this article) funds the shell du jour as long as it promotes his agenda. To quote further:

But, this is how the PTA has worked over the past few years in our state. From my experience as a Legislative Chair during the last legislative session, which was an example of top down decision making using typical ed reform manipulative language to push the agenda of one of their wealthiest financiers, Bill Gates, who has funded the National PTA for $2M as well as the Washington State PTA this year for $191,000 and is a big proponent of charter schools, I have seen how far away the Washington State PTA has drifted from its’ roots as an advocate for parents, teachers and students. The PTA in our state no longer represents all or even many of the parents, teachers or students which explains one of the reasons for the quick growth of Parents Across America.

There is more here:

Besides the fact that they have received a few mil from Gates?

Part of Washington State PTA’s mission is to be a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for the well-being and education of every child. Charters could promote school choice, flexibility and local autonomy, and give communities new options.

As critics of Gates point out, the PR/spin that their PR agents keep plating and seeding (yes, they hired many and spend hundreds of millions on it) keep bubbling to the surface, arguably showing the futility of fighting against this sort of corruption. With Melinda Gates pushing her agenda in the Huff & Puff (quite frankly as usual) we constantly see that PR and money can trump truth. Most people out there still think that Gates reformed his behaviour.

This is class war. They don’t use guns or anything heavy in this war, but they loot massively and enslave people around them, including teachers. Mind this blog post “Privatize Everything! Say the 21st Century Pirates”. It says quite shrewdly that:

Gates, along with hedge funds, are pushing an agenda of privatizing public schools, and funding a PR push in support of that cause with films like “Waiting for Superman” and the NBC “Education Nation” that included a panel with the title “Does Education Need a Katrina?“.

Diane Ravitch’s book review with the heading “Class Warfare” addresses some of these issues and the title is not so strong on a relative basis.

“One of the chairs of the Gates Foundation is quoted: “There’s class warfare, all right,” Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”” (source)

Quoting further:

The wealthiest American is Bill Gates, who in recent months has attacked teacher tenure, teacher pay schedules, seniority layoffs and smaller class sizes. The Gates Foundation is now actively pursuing those regressive goals: it provided significant resources to promoting the anti-teacher, anti-union propaganda movie “Waiting for Superman.” (Gates himself appeared in “Waiting for Superman” as an ‘educational expert.’) Since the second wealthiest American, Warren Buffet, does his philanthropy through the Gates Foundation, he is effectively aligned with Gates’ educational agenda.

[...]

Teachers and teacher unions have not sought out this class warfare. To the contrary, the American Federation of Teachers made an effort to establish a dialogue with Bill Gates, inviting Gates to address our last national convention in Seattle. This overture had its critics, but it would be a serious mistake for unions to talk only to those who agreed with us. By the same token, we need to be honest about the results of our efforts at dialogue: Gates has become outspoken in his anti-teacher pronouncements. There’s not much left to discuss when he assumes such a posture.

It’s getting quite serious and OWS protesters should not lose sight of Gates. He uses the most PR to whitewash his past and he knows why he is doing it. The population increasingly recognises its real enemies. They are domestic ones.

One of Gates’ PR angles is that Khan Academy is a model to be mimicked, but as several bloggers and others writers point out [1, 2], that is just a load of nonsense. The PR offensive has not got the support of experts. As one critic of the foundation points out, however, Bill and Melinda are just preaching, they are not listening. To further illustrate this point: “Like tens of thousands of folks (soon to be millions), I now follow Melinda Gates on Twitter. I also follow her husband’s Tweets.” They never respond, they just instruct. It’s more like tyranny, even dictatorship, to use words from the previously covered op-ed. As another critic points out:

Melinda tweeting is not going to solve the ‘communication problem’ at the Gates Foundation. Twitter is talking. There is no way to ensure Melinda is listening to the small dairy farmer in Kenya who probably works too many hours to use Twitter anyway.

The Gates family can screw up the education system for their profit and not face the consequences, let alone the liability. As Alliance Magazine put it some months ago:

It’s a truism that foundations lack accountability – unlike (democratic) governments and companies, which are at least in theory accountable to voters and shareholders. The justification for this – in the eyes of the philanthropy world, and presumably the wider world – is the assumption that foundations probably do quite a lot of good, and almost certainly don’t do any harm.

Bill and his wife are meanwhile celebrating on the taxpayers’ ATM (half a trillion dollars per year for education) with permission from Duncan, their accomplice, whose role in this we covered here before. Here is more on that:

In anticipation of the new NCLB initiative rolled out yesterday (my response in the making), Arne Duncan announced recently a new corporate ed reform money maker called “Digital Promise,” which promises to fill the pockets of some of Duncan’s favorite techie sidekicks who are already lining up at Duncan’s “innovation-inspiring” federal ATM machine at the U. S. Department of Ed. Take Reed Hastings, for instance (please), whose rattle-trap outfit, NetFlix, is beginning to flicker toward extinction just as Hastings moves into the edu-biz in a big way.

What can be done to stop Gates, his AstroTurfers, the PR machine, and corrupt politicians who let him take over childrens’ minds? It is a truly serious issue even if it is not purely tech-related.

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A Single Comment

  1. Michael said,

    December 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Gravatar

    Charter schools are public schools. Private schools are private.

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