Who are the players?

Foundations -- "There is something fundamentally antidemocratic about relinquishing control of the public education policy agenda to private foundations run by society’s wealthiest people." --Diane Ravitch in The Death and Life of the Great American School System
  • Bill Gates, Microsoft, and the Gates Foundation.The richest man in America and the wealthiest foundation in America have made significant and successful efforts to foster a technology emphasis in schools -- effectively selling their products to schools -- as well as supporting creating charter schools, extensively testing students, and having teachers paid based on student test scores. The Gates Foundation gave $2 million to publicize Waiting For Superman. The Gates Foundation started the group "Parent Revolution" that created the idea for the film Won't Back Down? The organization that initiated the idea, "Parent Revolution," started in 2009 with funding from the Gates and Walton Foundations. The Gates Foundation gave money to Achieve, Inc to coordinate the writing of tests to be aligned with the Common Core Standards. The Gates Foundation is supporting for-profit companies making online curriculum -- see Pearson below.
  • Walmart and the Walton Foundation.Six members of the Walton family (owners of Walmart) have a combined wealth greater than 100 million Americans (30% of the population). The Walton Foundation is second only to the Gates Foundation in education-related grants -- it supports charter and private schools, lobbies legislators, promotes school choice and Teach for America.
  • Eli Broad and the Broad Foundation: Another billionaire giving away 100s of millions of dollars and determined to undermine public education by fostering charter schools, forging legislation that eliminates requirements that school district superintendents have experience as teachers, and creating institutes and training programs for school superintendents and school board members. His approach to school leadership focuses on treating schools as businesses, using "disruptive force" -- firings of staff, and experimentation to create chaos or “churn” to weaken the ability of communities to resist change. School leaders are trained to close existing schools rather than attempting to improve them, increase class size, open charter schools, impose high-stakes test-based accountability systems on teachers and students, and implementing of pay for performance schemes.

Educational Corporations -- Exist to make a profit from schools.
  • Pearson Corporation: the world's largest multinational education corporation. Owns the following publishers : Addison-Wesley, Prentice Hall, Scott Foresman, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Allyn and Bacon, Longman, Ginn, Heinemann, and many others. Pearson is also the largest corporate creator of standardized tests and online learning resources and flies state legislators around the world as part of its lobbying efforts to get states to adopt testing. The testing market has experienced double digit growth -- Pearson received $1 billion from selling testsin Florida and Texas alone.The Gates Foundation has partnered with the Pearson Corporation to produce year long grade-level-by-grade-level online courses to meet Common Core Standards using video, interactive software, electronic games, and social media. Two course will be "free" the others for profit. Think how much cheaper it will be to have students taking these massive on-line courses instead of having their own teachers! Imagine what kind of reading and writing will be included -- and won't be included.
  • E2020 is a leading e-learning corporation serving middle and high schools across the U.S. Founded in 1998, e2020 has grown to serve more than 4 million K-12 students in 2010.
  • Kaplan is a provider of test prep materials, higher education programs (Kaplan University) and secondary materials (Kaplan High School). It is a subsidiary of the Washington Post and has been sued for fradulent practices.
  • Educational Management Organizations (EMOs) such as Edison Schools and Advantage Academies profiting from school vouchers and charter schools have dismal academic records.
  • For-profit universities such as University of Phoenix, Walden University, Kaplan College and University, ITT Technical Instutite, National American University, etc. these institutions often have second rate programs and put their students into enormous debt funded with government subsidized loans.
  • K12 Inc: The nation's largest virtual school chain enrolling 94,000 students in 2011 had revenues of $522 million and a CEO with a $5 million salary - - they don't have to pay for buildings and pay less to teachers than traditional schools. K12 Inc school have very weak academic results. Charter school networks often contribute millions to Republican legislators.
  • Renaissance Learning:Creator of Accelerated Reader -- bought out by the European Investment company Permira for over $400 million in 2011. In November 2012 John J. ("Jack") Lynch became the new CEO. Mr. Lynch is the former President and CEO of the Pearson School Technology Group, and has "a proven track record of launching and growing technology-driven information businesses." He was "a member of the Executive Board of Wolters Kluwer, a global leader in professional information services with more than €3.4 billion in annual revenue."

Business-Government Partnerships -- Displacing educators and citizens with corporate and conservatize activists.
  • Achieve, Inc. Achieve is the coalition of business leaders (Business Roundtable) and governors (National Governors Association) behind most corporate “education reforms” of the past two decades, including the Common Core Standards: http://achieve.org/files/About%20AchieveADP-Apr2012.pdf . If you want to know who is behind the Common Core, American Diploma Project, standards-based assessment, and related K-12 reforms, you should familiarize yourself with Achieve’s Board of Directors and contributors to see who has assumed authority to make educational decisions that were previously left to educators, citizens, and state legislatures. These contributors include foundations based on technology wealth Gates and Hewlett, and many technology companies such as Cisco, GE, and Intel, along with financial companies.
  • ALEC: American Legislative Exchange Council. Over the last few years, the Center for Media and Democracy has exposed how major corporations and conservative think tanks have drafted conservative legislation for state senators to introduce in their home states. (See this spoof on Schoo lHouse Rock to understand the ALEC model: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXUPDAMc_6o). In addition to introducing controversial anti-immigration laws, "stand your ground" gun laws, voter ID restrictions, anti-environmental policies, and moves to privatize prisons in several states, ALEC has now turned towards undermining public education and higher education through privatization, undermining public protections for students with disabilities, attacking teacher professionalism and teacher unions, integrating right-wing ideologies into K-12 schools and universities, subsidizing private and for-profit education with public money, and de-skilling teachers and teacher educators through standardization and testing. (See video below.) The Center for Media Education's PR Watch provides an analysis (11-28-12) of ALEC support by for-profit corporations. See Bill Moyers' important documentary, The United States of ALEC.

Multistate Consortia -- Federally funded, not-for-profit organizations that create new assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards.
  • Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium is one of two federally funded, multistate cooperative organizations that consists of state policy makers, researchers, and educators. Its purpose is to design assessment that aligns with the Common Core State Standards. While Smarter Balance is not a corporation, the assessments it creates will shape the products marketed by educational corporations, particularly in textbooks and computer software. In addition, its assessments will be computer adaptive and feature machine-scored writing.
  • PAARC, or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness fo College and Careers is the second multistate consortium. Unlike Smarter Balance, its assessments will not be computer adaptive.

Government Officials -- in the revolving door between government, corporations, and educational advocacy organizations
  • Jeb Bush's Excellence in Education. Jeb is the former governor of Florida and son and brother of presidents Bush. His foundation is funded by the Gates Foundation, Pearson, K12 Inc, and has created National Summit on Educational Reform bringing together the technology industry, state legislators, and education department officials to engage in business-oriented reforms of public education. Bush distorts educational researchand is much hated by teachers in Florida. He has worked across the country to get state legislatures to require virtual learning, support virtual charter schools.
  • Michelle Rhee: Former chancellor of Washington, DC schools now a "school reform advocate." Famous for basing teacher salaries on student test scores, she has created the organization "Students First" (supported by the Broad Foundation).
  • David Coleman worked for an international business consultant company and was one of the "architects" of the Common Core State Standards. Now president ($750K salary) of the College Board (SAT and AP tests).
  • Arnie Duncan: Obama's Secretary of Education supports expanding charter schools and judging teachers on how well their students do on standardized tests. He works closely with the Gates Foundation.
  • Joel Klein: Former lawyer for information media company Bertelsman appointed by Michael Bloomberg to be chancellor of New York City Schools from 2002 to 2010 (when he went to work for Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to market their materials to schools). Famous for implementing standardized testing and spending money on technology.

What are the issues?

  • Should money be spent on teachers, decreasing class size, supporting students with face-to-face tutoring, developing teacher knowledge OR should teacher hiring, salaries, and benefits be cut, class size increased, teachers replaced with computers and online education?
  • Should the United States model education on the most successful countries in the world, such as Finland, OR should standardized testing and large multinational corporations control teaching and learning?
  • Are market-based, neoliberal ideologies and approaches to education truly producing more educated and better informed students?
  • Testing
  • Textbooks and Curriculum
  • Data driven mindset
  • Technology integration
  • Flipping the classroom, online instruction
  • Credit Recovery

Links between the law and education

  • What happened with NCLB?
  • What happened with RttT?

Students for Sale