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NGA 'Corporate Fellows': The Cozy Relationship Between Corporations and Education

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For four of the five years that I taught in Northwestern Georgia, I taught at an alternative school. Every time I received a new student, it meant that the student had been expelled from a district public school. I had a student who built a bomb and discharged it on a principal's lawn. I had a student who attempted to build a bomb, and it discharged on him. I had a student who was an accessory to crime involving firearms. I had a student who was a victim of a shooting. I had a few students who were suspects and/or charged with murder.

It was a tough crowd, needless to say.

My job was very secure. No one wanted to replace me when I left to pursue my doctorate.

On one occasion, my students asked me if I would arrange it so that they could take archery.

Not a chance.

Some "opportunities" just should not happen. My highly impulsive, volatile, alternative school students with bows and arrows was one.

The National Governor's Association (NGA) and a "corporate fellows program" is another.

And yet, NGA does indeed offer a "corporate fellows program."

In this atmosphere of the corporate takeover of public education, such an allegiance ought not to be.

NGA is part owner of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

NGA is pushing an entire spectrum of reforms that benefits corporate America. CCSS is only one component. For education corporations, CCSS alone is a potential cash cow: Curriculum, teacher and administrator professional development, student preparation (including tutoring and test prep), assessment writing, administration, and scoring.

Pots on top of pots of gold.

Add to that the corporate promise of online schools, charter schools, vouchers, turnaround companies, teacher evaluations, teacher remediation, alternative certification, data collection, data storage, and data sales.

Envision the saliva as it dribbles down the education corporate executive chins.

In its corporate fellows brochure, NGA includes as its byline, "partnering for solutions."

I'll bet.

NGA notes that the NGA Corporate Fellows Program "promotes the exchange of knowledge and expertise between the private sector and governors on public policy issues affecting issues and states."

Cozy.

NGA continues:

As a Corporate Fellow, your contribution supports the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and positions you and your colleagues as intellectual resources for providing ideas that work. [Emphasis added.]

For at least $20,000, a corporation can purchase influence over NGA decisions. As noted in the June 2012 Republic Report:

The NGA's website says that members give an annual contribution to the organization of $20,000 (a number confirmed to me by NGA staffer Jodi Omear), but this may obscure the true amount of money that these corporations are giving NGA. Its conferences are also sponsored by corporations, with the National Journal reporting that as many as 147 different corporate sponsors "ponied up" contributions to be featured at the NGA's Winter Meeting in 2012. [Emphasis added.]

Here is NGA's complete corporate listing. However, allow me to list a sampling of corporate names that hold particular meaning in the current corporate-friendly, education reform atmosphere:

ACT, Amplify, Apple, College Board, Educational Testing Service, ExxonMobil, General Electric, McKinsey and Company, Microsoft, Pearson, Scholastic, and Walmart.

If these corporate names sound familiar, here's why:

ACT and College Board were on the CCSS insider work group. Also a CCSS insider, David Coleman is now president of College Board.

Amplify is run by former NYC Chancellor, Joel Klein, and is connected to the CCSS assessment consortium, Smarter Balanced.

Apple is involved in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) iPad fiasco. LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy owns Apple stock.

Educational Testing Service (ETS) is connected to both CCSS testing consortia (PARCC and Smarter Balanced).

ExxonMobil has taken a vocal stand for CCSS of late.

General Electric (GE) donated $4 million to David Coleman's Student Achievement Partners in 2010.

McKinsey and Company is the former employer of David Coleman.

Microsoft is Bill Gates' company. It just abandoned the destructive employee evaluation methods that Gates is trying to impose upon public school teachers.

Pearson is a major corporate reform presence. For one, Pearson is involved in the LAUSD iPad fiasco. Pearson is also connected to both CCSS testing consortia.

Scholastic and Gates released partial results of a survey that notes (surprise, surprise) teachers are fine with CCSS.

And finally, Walmart is owned by the Waltons, who are anti-union and pro-charter and spend millions on education privatization.

All of those connections are just off of the top of my head.

I'm sure there are more. These companies are working hard to ensure that they benefit from education reform.

Profits matter.

Not students.

Not teachers.

Not schools.

Not communities.

Profits.

I dare NGA to explain its way out of this one.

Originally posted 12-28-13 at deutsch29.wordpress.com