"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Strong American Schools" or Strong-Arming American Education While Shipping the Economy To Cheap Labor Markets?

In a ramped-up effort to further divert attention from the corporate-inspired third-worlding of America and the Walmartization of American workers, Bill Gates and Eli Broad have committed $60 million for a media blitz and pocket-stuffing campaign aimed at blaming the public schools for economic insecurity. Following in a long history of crisis- mongering that hopes to keep attention away from the real source of economic uncertainty and increasing debt, Gates and Broad serve as front men for a rapacious and under-handed corporate America that continues to execute and plan an unending exportation of any American job that isn't nailed down to cheap foreign labor markets. Look, look, see the failing schools!!!

With three times as much to spend as the Swiftboat Diversion Team of '04, this $60,000,000 Madison Avenue campaign represents an unprecedented attempt to buy the future of American education. Besides the scary ads that are being planned to show the meltdown of public schools, there is the declared and undeclard agenda: 1) longer school year leading to year-round schools (future workers should not be getting summers off), 2) a national curriculum imposed by the Business Roundtable and Achieve, Inc., and 3) pedagogical piece work based on teacher bonus pay for choking higher test scores from children who are showing clear signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. From the New York Times:

Eli Broad and Bill Gates, two of the most important philanthropists in American public education, have pumped more than $2 billion into improving schools. But now, dissatisfied with the pace of change, they are joining forces for a $60 million foray into politics in an effort to vault education high onto the agenda of the 2008 presidential race.

Experts on campaign spending said the project would rank as one of the most expensive single-issue initiatives ever in a presidential race, dwarfing, for example, the $22.4 million that the Swift Vets and P.O.W.s for Truth group spent against Senator John Kerry in 2004, and the $7.8 million spent on advocacy that year by AARP, the lobby for older Americans.

Under the slogan “Ed in ’08,” the project, called Strong American Schools, will include television and radio advertising in battleground states, an Internet-driven appeal for volunteers and a national network of operatives in both parties.

“I have reached the conclusion as has the Gates foundation, which has done good things also, that all we’re doing is incremental,” said Mr. Broad, the billionaire who founded SunAmerica Inc. and KB Home and who has long been a prodigious donor to Democrats. “If we really want to get the job done, we have got to wake up the American people that we have got a real problem and we need real reform.”

Mr. Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, responding to questions by e-mail, wrote, “The lack of political and public will is a significant barrier to making dramatic improvements in school and student performance.”

The project will not endorse candidates — indeed, it is illegal to do so as a charitable group — but will instead focus on three main areas: a call for stronger, more consistent curriculum standards nationwide; lengthening the school day and year; and improving teacher quality through merit pay and other measures. . . .

Strong American Schools or Strong-Arming American Schools While Shipping the American Economy Offshore? The American people are not as stupid as these evil twins think.


  1. sigh...if we had 60 million for a marketing campaign i think we could do a great deal of good...

  2. It's indeed scary how corporations are fueling the current "educational crisis." What's unclear to me is what the corporations are thinking about the future they're bringing about. As a mass of middle-class jobs move offshore - manufacturing, software development, call centers, radiology, accounting, editorial, and more - who'll be left to buy all the crud that these corporations want to sell? Who will have any money left to buy Microsoft's Windows 2025, for instance?
    I just don't see how the U.S. economy can keep growing if most of the good jobs get moved offshore. Granted, corporations don't much care about the U.S. - they've gone global and will make their money elsewhere, in India and China. But they'll leave behind a frustrated, angry America, and we'll likely have violence in the streets.
    Schools, as Ivan Illich pointed out more than 30 years ago, have become systems for social control. We are living in the global classroom, now, with experts telling us what and how to think at every turn.
    Scary times, these.

  3. What i think is lost is that we are sending kids / adults to school from 3 until 23 or later to get skills that don't match the market need. We are a service economy with huge GDP growth at 4% per year, with almost no inflation. Our real issue is what are we getting for the 20 years of education. Our kids are not ready to work in a global services world. We can complain about Globalization but its a fact. We went from a global farming economy in the 16-19th century, then from the 19 -21 century we have gone global in manufacuring /industral economy. Now we are doing the same in the late 20 cent through the 21st for Global Services. These are one time opportunity to grow our economy.