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Here is a brief autobiographical statement from Marc Dean Millot, who was an unpaid advisor to Presidential hopeful John McCain.


I'm a lawyer now involved in k-12 education with a long prior history in national security. I should probably also point out that I would not be considered left-of-center in my approach to education or national security. Edbizbuzz readers know I̢۪m pro-market in public education. As for my national security leanings, they may not know that I was an "arms control" skeptic, served on President Reagan's "Star Wars" panel and remain an advocate of ballistic missile defense.



by Borderland Blog

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Earlier today, Marc Dean Millot at TWIE, published a report, Three Data Points. Unconected Dots or a Warning? which seems to have been deleted. Millot reported:

I have now heard the same thing from three independent credible sources -- the fix is in on the U.S. Department of Education̢۪s competitive grants, in particular Race to the Top (RTTT) and Investing in Innovation (I3). Secretary Duncan needs to head this off now, by admitting that he and his team have potential conflicts of interests with regard to their roles in grant making, recognizing that those conflicts are widely perceived by potential grantees, and explaining how grant decisions will be insulated from interference by the department̢۪s political appointees.

I saw the post in my news reader earlier in the day, and I figured Millot's warning was yet one more reason to treat money cloaked as school reform with suspicion and cynicism. This evening I saw Jim Horn's commentary on Millot's post, [Correction: These are Kenneth Libby's comments at Jim Horn's Schools Matter--and they are a MUST read]-- and I attempted to follow the link back to the original article, only to discover it was gone. Hmmmâ€Â¦ Too controversial, maybe? Millot drew a straight line from the monkey business that sank Reading First straight to Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top. Jim Horn pointed to additional regulatory provisions in the ARRA legislation that promote partnerships with private sector interests, adding fuel to the fire. Messy. Very messy, and not hard to believe that a conflict of interest may be in the works, considering who the players are. But who knows? It's a blog, and Millot was just reporting what he was hearing. Scholastic's move to bury the post by taking it down just adds to the intrigue. Millot was right; the Dept. of Education needs to deal with the charge out in the open.

Fortunately, thanks to the resilience of the internet, we have Google's cached version, and Millot̢۪s post [pdf] lives on.

Millot: Three Data Points. Unconected Dots or a Warning?

6a00e54f8c25c988340120a6d7122c970b-150wiI have now heard the same thing from three independent credible sources - the fix is in on the U.S. Department of Education's competitive grants, in particular Race to the Top (RTTT) and Investing in Innovation (I3). Secretary Duncan needs to head this off now, by admitting that he and his team have potential conflicts of interests with regard to their roles in grant making, recognizing that those conflicts are widely perceived by potential grantees, and explaining how grant decisions will be insulated from interference by the department's political appointees.

Over the last several months a national education reporter, a senior manager at a national education research organization, and the head of a national nonprofit working in the field all volunteered that the Department's senior officials know exactly who they want to get RTTT and I3 money - in brief, the new philanthropies' grantees and the jurisdictions where they work.

These three hold positions of some responsibility. None have been prone to exaggeration in the past. They are not colleagues. They run in entirely different circles, live in entirely different parts of the country, and work in very different parts of the K-12 education space. They all relayed conversations with colleagues about the problem.

We do know that the Secretary benefited from a strong relationship with the new philanthropy in Chicago. We know that the Secretary is high on charter management organizations and the new teacher development programs that benefited from the new philanthropy. We know that RTTT czar Joanne Weiss was senior staff member at New Schools. We know that Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement Jim Shelton was a senior program education officer at the Gates Foundation and NewSchools. We know that both managed investments in the organizations' Duncan favors.

Anyone who remembers the Reading First fiasco is familiar with the pattern. A Secretary inclined towards a particular education reform solution, subordinate political appointees with a personal investment in the same solution, connected to organizations practicing that solution - organizations with incredibly thin files of reliable evidence consistently demonstrating an educationally significant contribution to improvements in student performance in the schools where they work today. The last time education reformers saw this pattern, the organizations with the best evidence of efficacy were pushed aside in favor of those who met a tortured definition designed to produce the desired outcome. Given history, concerns that a repeat is in process are neither unreasonable, nor unwarranted.

Whatever is or is not going on at the Department, the principled response is for the Secretary to address the fear head on, explain how the feared outcomes cannot take place, and then make sure he and his people keep several arms lengths removed from the process.

TWIE Readers: If you have evidence for or against the concerns I've relayed, or if you've heard the same stories, heard the opposite, or haven't heard a thing, please post it here.


Education Sector applauds Scholastic's move to take down the post. But, the important thing about blogging is that we're not all "serious" publishers.

— Doug
Borderland
2010-02-06
http://borderland.northernattitude.org/


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