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Gates Is Funding USDOE Conferences and 'Innovations'

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What corporate reformers manage to devise continues to amaze me.

I know. It shouldn't. But it does.

During my perusal of the latest Gates grants, I stumbled across a find that makes me tilt my head slightly to the right in contemplation of its creepy import:

The US Department of Education is taking Gates money.

Yep.

The first grant, for $300,000, was paid in April 2012:

U.S. Department of Education

Date: April 2012

Purpose: to support a national labor-management collaboration conference

Amount: $300,000

But there's more ...

Gates paid the USDOE a nearly identical grant in December 2013:

U.S. Department of Education

Date: December 2013

Purpose: to support a conference on labor-management collaboration to help implementation of the Common Core State Standards [Emphasis added.]

Amount: $300,000

So, here we have two "labor management collaborations" financed by Gates -- with the second focused on CCSS implementation -- Bill's favorite song of late.

Here is a May 2012 USDOE white paper on the first such "collaboration." The introduction is really sweet, with everyone playing nice "on the same side of the table":

This U.S. Department of Education white paper lays out a case for expanding the role of teachers and unions working with administrators and school boards as true partners in improving public education. In this model, all stakeholders ultimately choose to sit on the same side of the education reform table, working toward the same goal of improving outcomes for students, rather than meeting across the table as adversaries working from opposing positions. The Department's hypothesis is that a shared approach could result in more powerful, focused and enduring policies and strategies than we have today -- enabling our schools to become more effective and our students better educated. [Emphasis added.]

Of course, all players must bend to USDOE's "side of the table" -- "for the kids," of course.

For any thinking person, the honeymoon ends as the language of "the global job market of the 21st century" ensues. Absorb the piece below regarding the "thinning" of union contracts -- and notice that the "thin" charter school contracts are promoted as a model. Or, better still for privatizers, let's just ditch the contract and replace it with a "compact" focused "on the children":

Another example of the innovative formulations that result from collaboration are "thin contracts," which reduce hundreds of pages of clauses and conditions found in typical union contracts to slimmer documents that focus on shared priorities and leave room for local flexibility. Examples include the 16-page contract at the Amber Charter School and the United Federation of Teachers in New York City, and the 30-page contract adopted originally in Green Dot's Public Charter Schools in Los Angeles.

Some advocates for collaboration have even suggested that renegotiating or remaking contracts is of limited use, and urged that traditional contracts be replaced in the future by cooperative "compacts." These compacts, in theory, would provide all stakeholders with an agreed-upon vision for educational outcomes, teaching practices, and decision-making processes, with most teaching and learning decisions made at the school level. [Emphasis added.]

I would rather not have the length of my school day -- or school week -- or the number of students I teach per semester -- or the possibility of "at-will" firing -- at the mercy of "management" trying to fulfill some "vision" of a cheap bottom line.

Notice the pro-privatization language and the movers and shakers:

The May 2012 conference, titled Collaborating to Transform the Teaching Profession, was focused on highlighting innovative approaches -- at both the state and district level -- to improving student achievement by dramatically increasing the stature of the teaching profession and the number of highly effective teachers in our nation's schools. The 2011 co-sponsors were joined in 2012 by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and in addition to convening district teams, the conference included state teams consisting of chief state school officers, state union leaders, and state school boards association and administrators association leaders. The 2012 conference was funded by significant grants from the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the GE Foundation. [Emphasis added.]

As one might imagine, teacher evaluation based upon student test scores is included as part of the solution to the "broken" teacher evaluation system that needs fixing in order "to provide teachers with meaningful development opportunities."

All of this Gates-funded USDOE-labor management collaboration is for our welfare, career teachers.

Of course, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were in this 2012 Gates-funded, USDOE-labor meeting:

A handful of organizations and non-profits have recognized the need to prepare educators to teach to the new college- and career-ready standards recently adopted in many states. The GE Foundation has made an $18 million commitment to collaborate with states, districts, unions, and teachers on developing and sharing Common Core-aligned instructional resources, training, and tools... [Emphasis added.]

GE was an ALEC member until July 2012. In 2011, GE paid David Coleman's Student Achievement Partners $4 million to promote CCSS.

As for the USDOE-labor meeting paid for in part by Gates' December 2013 grant: Stay tuned for the details. However, one issue is clear: Unions are expected to continue to remain "on the same side of the table" as CCSS-pushing US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Based upon the recent responses of both American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten and National Education Association (NEA) President Dennis Van Roekel, it appears that two chairs at Duncan's CCSS "same side of the table" remain unshakably occupied.

Moving on.

As if Bill Gates' supporting USDOE in pushing CCSS is not enough to process...

...believe it or not, there is an even bigger story here:

Bill Gates is paying a third party over one million dollars to offer USDOE a sort of "professional development":

Partnership for Public Service Inc

Date: September 2013

Purpose: to help create a more innovative, collaborative and results-oriented U.S Department of Education by providing training and technical assistance to help US ED improve its employee engagement and organizational effectiveness [Emphasis added.]

Amount: $1,371,407

The Partnership for Public Service (PPS) has a mission as follows:

The Partnership for Public Service is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to revitalize our federal government by inspiring a new generation to serve and by transforming the way government works. [Emphasis added.]

In 2011, PPS paid its nine highest compensated officers/employees $1.73 million dollars.

The PPS board of directors includes representatives from Booz Allen Hamiltion, Deloitte, Goldman-Sachs, and McKinsey and Company.

This is seriously incestuous reform, folks.

First, a word on Booz Allen Hamilton:

Booz Allen Hamilton NYSE: BAH, or more commonly Booz Allen, is an American public consulting firm headquartered in McLean, Virginia, unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, with 80 other offices throughout the United States. Ralph Shrader is its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer - the seventh since Edwin Booz founded the firm in Chicago circa 1914, making it one of the nation's oldest consultancies.

As a government contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton is ubiquitous. The firm has 70 individuals sitting on 54 federal advisory committees.

One would think that Booz Allen Hamilton would have rock-solid security. Not so. In 2011, some of the firm's files were hacked and made publicly available on the internet.

Booz Allen Hamilton is also the former employer of National Security Agency [NSA] whistleblower Edward Snowden.

As for Deloitte and Goldman-Sachs: Both partner with and promote Teach for America (TFA), a teacher temp agency that places college graduates with only five weeks of training in public school classrooms -- with the intention of moving its alumni into leadership positions both in school systems and on Capitol Hill.

(PPS also offers "fellowships" so that "undergraduate students, graduate students and recent graduates" might "participate directly in transforming the way government works." Corporate reform larvae in the federal carcass, folks.)

Finally, McKinsey and Company is the former employer of CCSS "lead writer" David Coleman.

McKinsey also has ties to both CCSS testing consortia, PARCC and Smarter Balanced. It seems that McKinsey is eyeing PARCC/Smarter Balanced takeover once the federal money runs dry.

But there's even more.

PPS has what it calls an "advisory board of governors," which includes two all-too-familiar privatizer names:

TFA Founder Wendy Kopp and former New York City Chancellor-gone-CEO of News Corp's Education Division, Joel Klein.

That's right. Both the temp-teacher-organization creator and the NYC charter indulger are on the advisory board of an organization that will be advising USDOE on how to be more "results oriented."

Kopp can offer talented former TFAers to take some of those lucrative, career-propelling USDOE jobs off of Arne's hands.

As for Klein: He maintains that public education is failing; however, Klein has some tablets to sell in order to solve that problem. Perhaps USDOE might dangle some federal funding in front of states in order to entice them to become prisoners to technological upkeep -- sort of like Los Angeles.

Klein's company also has a $12.5 million contract with Smarter Balanced to develop CCSS educator tools.

In closing, allow me to summarize what we have here:

Gates is paying a "nonprofit" already overly involved in federal affairs to "help" the USDOE "improve" its operations -- and no doubt those "improvements" will coincidentally serve the lucrative, privatizing purposes of the nonprofit-affiliated "improvers," not the least of which is planting carefully-groomed, privatizer neophytes into strategic governmental positions in order to propagate the corporate reform agenda for years to come.

In short, those with obscene money are paying those wanting to make money to advise those with public money on how to best spend the public's money.

At least they are all "on the same side of the table."

Originally posted January 31, 2014, at deutsch29.wordpress.com