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Talking with the Gates Foundation, or Seeking the Light and Buying the Hype

Ohanian Comment: About Anthony Cody's conversation with the Gates Foundation, my first question would be did Gates personnel read A REPORT TO THE NEA Transforming Teaching: Connecting Professional Responsibility with Student Learning. This is the report of many teachers, which Rick Hess endorsed as "surprisingly terrific."

The disagreements about Save Our Schools (SOS) get at the heart of the preeminent education issue: Who's In Charge? It's been nearly two years since I started asking when SOS was going to come out against Common Core. I'm still waiting for a better answer than "We don't want to upset the unions." When I agreed recently to "appear" on Twitter's SOS chat one evening, Anthony Cody was the one who "answered" my questions about Common Core, with a 'we can't rock the boat' rationale.

It's way past time to rock the boat.

I'm afraid I disagree with Jim Horn that "The only way to end corporate control of education is through non-violent civil disobedience and relentless puncturing of the bad policy ideas and actions that the Gates and Broad and Walton non-educators float up into the edusphere." The looming teacher strike in Chicago is all about corporate control of education, and people in the known warn that it could get violent--when the corporate raiders bring in their goons.

The fact of the matter is that teachers are too polite, too obedient, too afraid to say no. I say this as a 20-year teacher. Chicago may show us all a different way. I sincerely hope teachers there triumph in non-violent civil disobedience. But the corporate raiders have a lot to lose.

by Jim Horn

Some weeks back I prompted a series of liberal conniption fits among the SOS upper ranks (are there any other ranks among attendees of the upcoming "People's Convention"?), when I had the gall to point out that some may be reading a conflict of interest in the SOS Board's composition. Specifically, I was referring to Steering Committee member, Bob George, Executive VP of an edu-corporation called Catapult Learning, which makes its dough in part from preying on poor and desperate schools that have been labeled failures by test designed to do just that.

The record of mass apoplexy to my post is presented below with my response to each comment that deserved one. When I talked on the phone with one Board member about what might be done to stem the likelihood that some activists may wonder why SOS has not taken a position on Common Core, even as the guy who writes their checks is selling Common Core PD to poor schools, she responded that everyone is complicit, even teachers who work for schools that use high stakes testing to sort, segregate, and punish.

When I responded that, even so, teachers do not make their living by selling products that would not exist were it not for the tests that same teachers would rather burn if they had their way, it did not seem to make an impression. And so Bob George continues to work his behind-the-scenes magic in putting together a line-up for the upcoming SOS March to Happy Hour at the Marriot Wardman, where 3 days will be devoted to creating a platform (it's the season of the Platform) that will be handed to both the DNC and the RNC this Fall. Yeah, right?

Me? I thought the platform was clear and the rationale was pretty well developed by the past 15 years or so of research and commentary by Bracey, Berliner, Ohanian, Emery, Anyon, Saltman, Substance News, Ravitch (post 2005), Giroux, Karp, etc. and by dozens of others who have published on what needs to done to end corporate interference and control of public schools. But what do I know--I thought a VP of an edu-corp on the Board of an outfit aimed to end corporate control of ED was a big deal.

Anyway, one of the first to respond to my sleazy suggestion that Bob George might be no more pure than Margaret Spellings' booking agent was Anthony Cody, who has one of the many blogs for Ed Week. So now I see that Anthony, upon his return from a pilgrimage to Gates Central in Seattle, is urging us all to tone it down, as Anthony and his readers enter a new phase of "dialogue" with Gates' lawyers and economists.

We plan a process where we will take turns posting our perspective on a given theme, followed by a response from the other party. All posts will be carried here, and at the Gates Foundation's [name eliminated to protect the innocent]. We will ask everyone to join in a lively discussion. The education reform debate has deteriorated at timesテャテつ「テδッテつソテつステδッテつソテつスour goal is to engage in a constructive conversation, to turn down the heat, and to seek a bit more light.

In a bow to post-partisan discourse, in fact, Anthony has even opened his blog up to posts from inside the inner sanctum, where the Gates war plan is spread out in hi-def virtuality across two walls (or so I imagine). I think Anthony is making a big mistake, for reasons that should be obvious to someone of Anthony's experience.

The Gates Foundation does not care what Anthony or the rest of you rabble-rousers feel or think. They are on a mission from Bill, and there is only one master who will be served. Pretending to care provides them a semblance of openness, while it provides them with a major (well, maybe not major) venue for countering anything that Anthony or you or I might post there between classes or before work. Gates has an army of Ivy-Leaguers to dissect, slice, and dice any suggestion by anyone foolish to enough to think they are interested in listening, rather than issuing communiques in the form of phony dialogue provided by a good man naive to enough to believe what they say over lattes.

The only way to end corporate control of education is through non-violent civil disobedience and relentless puncturing of the bad policy ideas and actions that the Gates and Broad and Walton non-educators float up into the edusphere. By Anthony opening his blog up to the Borg, he stands to make the "debate" about his ideas, rather than the self-serving positivized neo-eugenics of the corporate Rat Pack. Speaking truth to power is not an option when power doesn't give a shit about what you say. Action is the only way to alter the power dynamic, and the sooner the conventioneers realize that, the sooner we can begin to expand the action.

Speaking of a lot of useless talk, here is the whole thing below, based on this post that asked a simple question: Does Corporate VP Bob George's carrying the checkbook for SOS represent the appearance of conflict of interest. For this exchange of views on SOS--90 comments--go here

— Jim HOrn
Schools Matter





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