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An Inside Look at Diplomas Count 2009


Warning to those who are not feeling in shipshape. . . proceed at your own risk.

by Susan Ohanian

Two friends advised me not to look at Education Week's special report Diplomas Count 2009: Broader Horizons: The Challenge of College Readiness For All Students while I was still trying to recover from asthma. Now I know why. Underneath the title on the cover we see "With Support From the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation." But that's just the beginning. Gates money is behind many of the players in this publication.

The inside front cover is a full-page ad "Dropout Prevention" by Kaplan K12 Learning Service, "Your Partner in Propelling Achievement." Oh, yes, Jay Mathews of the Washington Post, which owns Kaplan, sits on the Board of Trustees of Education Week Editorial Projects in Education.

Half of page 5 is devoted to brief blurbs by foundations giving Education Week big bucks. It reminds us to read everything appearing in this rag with a skeptical eye.

$2,500,000 or more:

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The Pew Charitable Trusts

$1,000,000--$2,499,999
The Annenberg Foundation
The Wallace Foundation

$500,000--$999,999
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation {They have an entrepreneur in residence.)

$250,000-$499,999
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (Remember when they gave money to Sacramento--providing they used SRA?)
The Joyce Foundation
The Spencer Foundation

$100,000--$249,999
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
The MetLife Foundation

Education Week acknowledges technical advisors. Here are some. Follow the Hot Links. The funders of the outfits these people work for will hit you like a ton of bricks.

  • Robert Chait, associate director for teacher quality, Center for American Progress

  • Jon Erikson, vice president of educational services, ACT Inc. And. And.

  • Paige Kowalski, senior associate, Data Quality Campaign
  • John Kraman, associate director for research, Achieve Inc

  • Bethany Little, chief education counsel, Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (formerly vice president for policy and federal advocacy, Alliance for Excellent Education

  • Jenny Nagaoka, associate director for postsecondary studies, Consortium on Chicago School Research [John Q. Easton, the executive director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago, President Barack Obama's pick for a six-year term as Director of the Institute of Education Sciences. Formerly member of National Assessment Governing Board, now Ex-Officio.]

  • Andrea Venezia, senior research associate, WestEd


  • All the above barely scratches the surface of the inbreeding and corporate agenda, but it's a start.

    On Page 7 we get a 3/4 page ad from America's Choice, titled "Intervention Bistro: Served with Professional Development." Too cute. Look at how they describe themselves. Apparently modesty and understatement are not considered virtues at America's Choice. They don't list their staff, but remember: The parent organization is National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). Marc Tucker's outfit. Find their partners here.

    Of course it's no surprise to see big ads from Pearson Education [Sic] Inc. AMP Math & Reading Systems, Carnegie Learning [sic] Cognitive Tutor Software, Plato Learning [sic] (featuring speakers from the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, Education Week Webinars sponsored by Lindamood-Bell, Excelsior Software, SAS, Blackboard K-12 (If you have the stomach for it, you can read their report of how the economy depends on schoolchildren here [pdf file], Northwest Evaluation Association, Wallace Foundation's Knowledge Center, MMCS Consulting, LLC, and, full-page on the back cover, Solution Tree.

    There's a fullpage ad for Burst Reading.

    Of nine full-page ads in this publication, four are for Education Week products. Ed Week also has an 1/8-pager {my math may be off here, but the ad is small, suggesting the sales staff couldn't quite fill that one last space). This is not counting the full-page Commentary. Written by Michele Cahill, the vice president for national programs and the program director for urban education at the Carnegie Corporation, it surely qualifies as an ad. Cahill was formerly Senior Counselor to the Chancellor for Education Policy in Joel Klein's New York City chancellorship.

    Whew! This is only the backers and the ads. I'll save the content for another day. I'm feeling weak.

    — Susan Ohanian
    Diplomas Count 2009, Education Week

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