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

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Most Dangerous Aging Geek in America

From Crooks and Liars:
This is exactly why I've always been suspicious of Bill Gates' "philanthropy." Yes, I understand that he's done wonderful things in Africa, but the United States is where we live and there is a very real and lasting battle going on over the future of public education.

While union-busting is certainly one goal of the privatization monsters, profit is the primary goal. Education for profit is lucrative and alluring, especially to people with large sums of money parked and waiting for investment in big-profit items. So when Bill Gates claims to stand for education reform in this country, I place him squarely in the category of those who stand to profit from privatized education.

Now we have this grant from the Gates Foundation to ALEC, of all things. It isn't a small grant, by any stretch. $376,635 to be paid over a period of 22 months. That's about $17,000 per month dropping into the coffers of one of the most evil organizations in the country. The grant description reads as follows:
Purpose: to educate and engage its membership on more efficient state budget approaches to drive greater student outcomes, as well as educate them on beneficial ways to recruit, retain, evaluate and compensate effective teaching based upon merit and achievement
Wow, Michelle Rhee must be doing a happy dance right about now. I've tried to turn this around and imagine ways that this money could be used to counter the usual right-wing memes about the wonders of privatization, but I just can't seem to find any way to do that. I can only conclude that Mr. Gates and his fellow trustees fully embrace the notion of killing public education one state at a time.

Lee Fang wrote a tremendous article for The Nation a couple of weeks ago about online education and how profitable it is, at the expense of public education. In it, he describes a talk lobbyist Patricia Levesque gave to philanthropists. Among those listening were representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Among her suggestions:
Read the rest here.

1 comment:

  1. But some people in the field of world health are alarmed about the Gates Foundation, and the rationale behind their concern totally mirrors ours.

    Excerpts from the report:
    - “The Gates Foundation is governed by the Gates family. There is no board of trustees; nor any formal parliamentary or legislative scrutiny. There is no answerability to the governments of low-income countries, nor to the WHO. Little more than the court of public opinion exists to hold it accountable.”
    - “According to one [expert], ‘They dominate the global health agenda and there is a lack of accountability because they do not have to implement all the checks and balances of other organizations or the bilaterals.’”
    - “In addition to the fundamental lack of democratic or public accountability, there was little in the way of accountability to global public health institutions or to other actors in the health field. The fact that the Gates Foundation is [both] a funder and board member of the various new Global Health Initiatives (e.g. the Global Fund; GAVI, Stop TB Partnership; and Roll Back Malaria) means that other global health actors are accountable to the Gates Foundation, but not the other way round.”
    - “In reality, there is surprisingly little written about the pattern and effectiveness of grant-making by the Gates Foundation. Limited information is available on the Foundation’s website.”
    - “Several interviewees also felt that the way grant proposals are solicited, reviewed and funded is opaque. Many grants appear to be made on the basis of personal contacts and informal networking.”
    - “The absence of robust systems of accountability becomes particularly pertinent in light of the Foundation’s extensive influence. As mentioned above, it has power over most of the major global health partnerships, as well as over the WHO, of which it is the third-equal biggest single funder. Many global health research institutions and international health opinion formers are recipients of Gates money. Through this system of patronage, the Foundation has become the dominant actor in setting the frames of reference for international health policy.”
    - “Not only is the Foundation a dominant actor within the global health landscape; it is said to be ‘domineering’ and ‘controlling’. According to one interviewee, ‘they monopolise agendas. And it is a vicious circle. The more they spend, the more people look to them for money and the more they dominate.’”
    - “The Foundation’s corporate background and its demand for demonstrable returns on its investment appear to have resulted in a bias towards biomedical and technological solutions. In the words of one interviewee: ‘The Gates Foundation is only interested in magic bullets – they came straight out and said this to me.’”
    - “The ties between the Foundation and the pharmaceuticals industry, as well as its emphasis on medical technology, have led some health activists to question if the Foundation is converting global health problems into business opportunities. Others worry about the Foundation’s position with regard to intellectual property (IP) rights and the effect this has on the price of essential medicines.”
    - “The Foundation has done much, and it will be doing even more as its level of spending sets to increase. But there are problems with what is happening. The Foundation is too dominant. It is unaccountable. It is not transparent. It is dangerously powerful and influential.”