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Lines of Influence in Education Reform flow chart.
After working on this off and on for a few months with input from several other parents, Sue and I sat down this weekend and started to hammer out a bubble diagram of the flow of money and influence in this ed-reform movement that is taking a strangle hold on this country and our children. The above link is to a hand drawn diagram that we completed. We have tried Visio to put it in some form of an electronic format but it doesn’t work well for this. If someone has an idea on software that would work, please let us know.
Anyway, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
When several of us began to discover the Broad Foundation’s influence in Seattle, one parent said to follow the money. At first I thought, yeah sure, it’s always about the money but as we delved further into this, we found out just how much money was being paid to various organizations to influence communities, towns and cities. It was quite remarkable. All of this information, by the way, can be found on the web. Because these organizations are non-profit, they must publicly divulge their financial information.
In some places on the chart we note certain amounts of money. The reason for that is that some of the sums that we discovered were finite and some were not. For instance, the Gates Foundation is basically the Alliance for Education‘s bank. Whatever the Alliance needs, it seems that the Gates’ Foundation just cuts another check by providing a grant for a specific purpose. I suppose that it helps that the Gates’ Foundation’s headquarters are located in Seattle and not far from the Alliance for Education offices, just a stone’s throw away.
The other reason that total sums of money are not shown for most of these transactions is because as with Teach for America, several foundations and individuals give a certain amount of money each year for three to five years. There are three-year plans and five-year plans making it more problematic to give you a specific number. Let’s just say that it’s a lot of money and all you have to do is Google their financial statements and you will have all of the numbers that you are curious about.
Another example is the AFT, the American Federation of Teachers, where Bill Gates gave AFT $3.4M for “teacher quality initiatives” (merit pay) and $217, 200 for AFT conference expenses. See: Did Bill Gates Buy His Podium at the AFT Convention? Sometimes a breakdown of the numbers provides a more clear picture of the power and influence of money.
Then there is money “with stipulations” that the Gates Foundation provided to NPR. The purpose of that money is “to support coverage of education issues on NPR programs, including the Morning Edition and All Things Considered”. The amount provided was $750,000. I don’t feel comfortable with that on many levels.
There was also $301,768 given to Minnesota Public Radio. The purpose stated was to “strengthen the quality and quantity of reporting on issues related to the nation’s low college completion rates” which plays into the Gates’ agenda. The sad part is that NPR felt the need to take the money and potentially provide a skewed viewpoint on issues in education or report on some aspects of ed reform and not others.
Then there is the Gates$3.5M to the Broad Foundation’s Center for the Management of School Systems in June of this year. (Doesn’t Broad have enough money?) In the Gates’ statement they say “ to build capacity in Hillsborough, Memphis, Pittsburgh, and the College Ready Promise, we are partnering with The Broad Residency to place each IPS organization to directly support teacher effectiveness initiatives (high stakes testing and merit pay) , while leveraging our accelerator grant to Tulsa and secure a multi-year investment from local Tulsa foundations.”
There is $40,000 to the League of Education Voters Foundation in Seattle “to support a series of education-related speakers in Seattle”. And that they have done. The all-star list includes Kevin Johnson, once involved in a scandal regarding AmeriCorps finances and certain relationships with some of the students of St. Hope Academy, a charter that he founded. He also happens to be Michelle Rhee‘s (Broad Board of Directors and former Teach for America, Inc. recruit) fiance who has been defending him on what could be unethical if not legal charges. As far as I’m concerned, they deserve each other. The other speakers in the line up are Barth with KIPP charter schools and Barr with Green Dot charter schools. LEV is also involved with trying to persuade the public here in Seattle that merit pay and other elements of SERVE are good and that teachers and unions are bad as teachers are in negotiations with a Broad Director and our superintendent, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. [This paragraph has been updated from the original version which listed Teach for America instead of AmeriCorps. --sp.]
Then there is the pocket-money for the Alliance for Education under the heading “general operating support” for $3,000 and the junket to Denver for $6,000 “to support a delegation of Seattle Public School district officials to meet with Brad Jupp and the administration in Denver for “best practices” on teacher labor agreements”. Denver, by the way, is being converted to all things ed-reform. Gates is financing much of that effort.
The list goes on but by now you’re probably starting to get the big picture. Broad and Gates have decided what is best for our children based on no experience in education and none of their own children or grand children in public schools. There has been no dialogue between parents and teachers. It’s all top down as has been the case here in Seattle where our superintendent tells the board what she is doing and they rubber stamp it. What the school board doesn’t understand is that if they keep that up they will no longer be directors of any school board because the next thing down the pike will be mayoral control and mayor appointed school board directors. By the way, our school board has had “retreats” bought and paid for by the Alliance with books and speakers provided by Broad. Hmmm.
Sue and I will be adding to this as we uncover more information.
A Closer Look at Seattle
If you look closer at how the money and therefore influence flows in Seattle you start to find closed circles or “loops”. For example, Gates, the Alliance for Education, TR3 and NCTQ are a closed loop. Gates provides funding to the Alliance and TR3. TR3 funds the testing for NCTQ and NCTQ shows up around the country with their reports on teachers as an opener to ed reform in that town, city or community.
There is the closed loop with Seattle Public Schools, NWEA (the producer of the MAP test) and our school superintendent, Dr. Godloe-Johnson.
Patterns start to emerge that tell the story.
And about Strategies 360, on their website they state “S360 is one of the country’s leading strategic positioning firms. With offices across the Pacific Northwest and in Washington, DC, we are experts at negotiating the political landscape, crafting content, building coalitions and targeting communications.”
They have done that here in Seattle once they were hired by the Alliance for Education to create a campaign for ed reform in Seattle. One of their action items was to developed a faux roots organization that they named “Our Schools Coalition”. OSC is now bringing in ed reform speakers, creating “events” at school board meetings and contacting community leaders to get their buy in on ed reform without these leaders knowing what is really happening.
Folks, there is no reason for our community to be duped. The facts are in front of us. Let’s decide for ourselves what we want for our children.
8/24/2010 @ 2:10 PM
This just in:
This information is from a parent who has been doing an extensive amount of research regarding Strategies 360 and its’ relationship with SPS. Karen Waters is with Strategies 360 and is handling the SPS “account”. Our parent states the following:
“Karen Waters is the contact for the Schools Now petition. She was also the contact for the Excellent Schools Now Coalition, which evidently was formed to lobby hard for the education reform bills this past session; (Washington State PTA is/was a member of the ESN coalition); she is VP at a rapidly growing marketing/p.r./public policy organization, and is responsible for the education policy and issues work of the business.”
Norm Rice with the Seattle Foundation has an editorial in the Seattle Times today with yet another scripted article on how it’s all about the teachers.
What’s interesting about this is that on Sunday, when Sue and I were hashing out some of the details of the flow chart, Sue came across a grant that had been given to the Seattle Foundation of which Norm Rice is the CEO. Neither one of us had heard of the Seattle Foundation and at the time decided not to include it in our chart because it didn’t seem relevant. Well, I can’t believe that the next day, another grantee comes out of the wood work saying that it’s all about the teachers.
So this is how it’s been working all over the country, there is the NCTQ that comes in first waving their report around which is similar from state to state, then the faux roots organizations identifying themselves as coalitions and alliances spring up, then you get the unwitting buy-in of real organizations and others considered leaders in the community and then the editorials that are obviously scripted.
Well, we all know how it works and we can watch this unfold.
Now, will we in Seattle be duped as others have been?
I have faith in us Seattleites that we will be able to make our own, informed, decisions.
Post Script: To read more about the evolution in our state of the push towards corporate reform, see The Battle for Seattle: Part One.