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

Saturday, May 05, 2012

ExxonMobil Ads for Corporate Education Reform

ExxonMobil is one of the chief sources of ad revenue that feeds the obscenely-inflated cash prizes of the PGA.  The Masters--brought to you by ExxonMobil, Jim Nance croons, from all the Augusta National Golf Club, the entirely pristine, manicured, and all-male bastion just miles from a ghosty and deserted streets downtown Augusta that even the panhandlers have deserted.

During the past week, I've seen 2 ads during PGA events from ExxonMobil's new campaign to keep corporate education reform alive: one pimping for the Rotten Core Standards and the other lying about how badly American students are in math and science .  Can you imagine how bad the PR situation must be for the other members of the Billionaire Boys Club, when they have to recruit Exxon as their front man?  Now if I wanted to sell an idea that required the buy-in of American parents or the citizenry in general, would I choose one of the top 5 most hated companies on Planet Earth to run my ads?  Think about it.

Think, too, of what ExxonMobil could do for science education if they were not interested in putting their oil profits first, while diverting attention from the role they have played and continue to play in global warming?  Or what if they put their interests in helping schools, rather than serving as a chief funder and strategizer with the "corporate bill mill," ALEC:
ExxonMobil Corporation, Private Enterprise Board member,[1] "Chairman" level sponsor of 2011 ALEC Annual Conference[12] ($50,000 in 2010)[13] and member of Louisiana Host Committee[8][9]
Parents might wonder, in fact, how many of those 41 billion dollars they made in profit last year that ExxonMobil gave to put a new roof on a school in Nashville, or buy new science lab equipment in Camden, or pay for some minority kids to go to college to become teachers in California?  The answer: none of the above.

Their website says that the philanthropic arm, the ExxonMobil Foundation, gave $110 million to education last year.  That represents .00267% of their annual profit.  And every dollar of that went to reduce their 17% income tax rate, which is barely higher than Mitt Romney and way lower than a married couple making $70K, who are paying in the 25 percent bracket.

ExxonMobil also joined with the Gates, Dell, and Carnegie Foundations to put up $125 million to create the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), an org that helps put the corporate spin on science and math teacher preparation.  In 2011, NMSI merged with Laying the Foundation (LTF).  When you visit the LTF website, you science and math teacher aspirants are invited to get your foundations laid in a four-day training session that costs you $525.  ExxonMobil is looking for donations.

So when you see the commercials that that the world's richest oil company is putting up to berate the public schools for being 25th in Math and Science on international tests, please remember that when the test scores of the 24 percent of American children living in poverty are taken out of Exxon's calculations, our public school kids are doing just fine in comparison to the rest of the world in math and science.

Meanwhile, how much of ExxonMobil's $41,000,000,000 in profit did they contribute to ending poverty in America last year, or the years before that, or how much did they put in venturing capital to invest in poor communities?  Parents want to know, and so do the poor kids and their teachers who are being blamed for the poverty that the richest corporations in the world will not even acknowledge as the problem.

A few other facts about ExxonMobil, thanks to ThinkProgress:

ExxonMobil had the largest profits of the Big Five oil companies in 2011, raking in $41.1 billion for the year. This 35 percent jump from last year is driven in large part by record-high oil prices. Today, the oil giant announced its fourth quarter profits of $9.4 billion, a 2 percent increase since 2010. Here are a few other facts about ExxonMobil:
• Exxon’s $41.1 billion in 2011 profit translates into nearly $5 million in profit every hour, or more than $1,300 every second. The annual profit comes near the record revenues of $46.23 billion in 2008.
• Stock buybacks for Q4 were $5.4 billion, and $ 21.60 billion for the year, equivalent to 53 percent of total 2011 profit. This enriches executives, the board of directors, and largest shareholders.
• Exxon pays a lower tax rate than the average American. Between 2008-2010, Exxon Mobil registered an average 17.6 percent federal effective corporate tax rate, while the average American paid a higher rate of 20.4 percent.  [In 2010, Mitt Romney paid an effective tax rate of 13.9%.]
• The company paid no taxes to the U.S. federal government in 2009, despite 45.2 billion record profits. It paid $15 billion in taxes, but none in federal income tax.
• The oil giant uses offshore subsidiaries in the Caribbean to avoid paying taxes in the United States.
• Exxon is sitting on $11 billion cash on hand as of September 30.
• Exxon spent nearly $13 million on lobbying expenditures in 2011. The company gave nearly another $900,000 in federal campaign contributions. 92 percent of contributions went to Republicans.
• Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson made $29 million in 2010 (according to the latest records): He made $2.2 million in salary, a $3.4 million bonus, and stock awards valued at $15.5 million.
• Exxon is drawing out a legal battle for damages on a spill from 22 years ago. Exxon hasn’t paid$92 million in cleanup for the devastating Valdez Alaskan oil spill. In its Sept. 30 court filing, Exxon argued the damages it agreed to pay only covers “restoration” and not additional “clean-up.”
• Far from a job creator, ExxonMobil — together with Chevron, Shell, and BP — reduced their U.S. workforce by 11,200 employees between 2005 and 2010.

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