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

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A $100 Million “Secret, Bipartisan Political Plan” to Privatize the Public Sector


from Wrench in the Gears
June 24, 2018

I travelled to Washington, DC on Thursday June 21, 2018 with fellow activist Ismael Jimenez, an acclaimed teacher of African American history at Kensington CAPA High School in Philadelphia, PA. A week earlier the search engine gods had serendipitously delivered up an Eventbrite link for the launch of the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act Fund (SIPPRA), “Pay for Success: Making the New $100 Million Fund Work to Improve Lives.” How could I not go?
SIPPRA was incorporated into the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, signed by Trump on February 9, 2018. The legislation allocates $100 million in federal funds to held by the Secretary of the Treasury for outcomes-based payments tied to Pay for Success contracts. It also establishes a Federal Interagency Council on Social Impact Partnerships and a Commission on Social Impact Partnerships.
I compiled a list of elected officials who sponsored or co-sponsored the federal legislation in the House and Senate here. Pennsylvanians should know that DFER (Democrats for Education Reform) Congressman Dwight Evans was a co-sponsor, as was former Congressman Patrick Meehan. I don’t think it is any coincidence that former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge’s merchant banking firm, Ridge-Lane, issued a press release touting their expansion less than a week later. The firm has positioned itself as offering advisory services in education, real estate, IT, and sustainability at the “apex of the public and private sectors.” Clearly they feel the Pay for Success, P3 era has arrived.
Tweets with the hash tags #PayForSuccess and #SIPPRA give a sense for how promoters viewed the event. I was grateful that Ismael, a powerful voice for racial justice in education, was able to come and be another set of eyes, because there was so much to absorb.
My goal for this post is to document how I experienced the event, so I can refer to it in the future. It’s long; so for those who prefer a summary, here are a some highlights:


Friday, June 22, 2018

Childhood Captured: Pay for Success and Surveillance Pre-K Play Tables


from Wrench in the Gears
June 21, 2018

James Heckman and Robert Dugger, with support from philanthropies like the Pew Charitable Trusts and venture capitalists like JB Pritzker, have carefully honed a sales pitch for investment in early childhood education. After years of practice, it is now a well-oiled machine. The Heckman Equation promises high rates of return to investors willing to swallow the repugnant premise that through “evidence-based” programs, the character traits of at-risk toddlers will be “fixed.”
 
A new industry of social-emotional interventions is emerging that will supposedly assess, tweak and maximize a child’s human capital potential; set aside for a moment the fact that we’ve absolutely no idea what society’s human capital needs will actually be in the coming era of AI and automation. According to Heckman’s logic, once assessments indicate a child (likely a Title-One child) is not predicted to be a burden on society, their claims to future public services can be forfeited and diverted to “socially conscious” investors as profit. Should circumstances result in children needing public services as an adult? Too bad, that money will have long ago been channeled over to the coffers of Goldman Sachs.


Thursday, June 21, 2018

How fringe-right are business banker Marshall Tuck’s education views?

How reactionary is Marshall Tuck on education issues? One measure is to compare his views to those of the notoriously right-wing JBS and GOP stalwarts. Here we look at some critical issues facing students, families, and our public schools.

Sources: ontheissues.org, marshalltuck.com, jbs.org

Remember that Marshall Tuck, like his white supremacist counterparts Tom Horne and John Huppenthal, shuttered Ethnic Studies, killed Dual Language Immersion Programs, and eliminated Heritage Language Programs.

Resources on Marshall Tuck

[list to be continued]

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

From Math to Marksmanship: Military Ties to Gamified Assessments


from Wrench in the Gears
June 19, 2018

This past February, economist James Heckman convened a working group of social scientists to discuss new types of assessments that are being designed to capture data about children’s social-emotional traits and predict future behaviors. The researchers spent two days in an oak-paneled room at the University of Chicago where they collaborated on the new assessments and measurements. Impact investors, like Heckman’s patron JB Pritzker, need the metrics these tests will deliver to fuel their predatory, speculative pay for success schemes. Videos of the recorded presentations can be viewed here.
I will be excerpting segments of these talks on my blog, since I know most of you won’t have the time to sit through hours of viewing. This first segment highlights the intersection of educational technology and military training. For more information read one of my early pieces “How exactly did the Department of Defense end up in my child’s classroom?”
It is important to note that ReadyNation, sponsor of the Global Business Summit on Early Childhood, is a program of the Council for A Strong America. ReadyNation is their workforce development program. Another of the group’s five program areas is “Mission Readiness.” The website states this initiative is run by seven hundred “Retired admirals and generals strengthening national security by ensuring kids stay in school, stay fit, and stay out of trouble.”
There is a difference between education and training. There is a difference between knowing just enough to carry out orders without questioning the chain of command and knowing enough to participate civic life as a critical thinker. If educational-technology is an extension of military training/human engineering, which it is, we should give careful consideration as to what our society needs at this time, and if we should be allowing the military-industrial complex to data-mine and track our children’s innermost thoughts.
Watch the clip here. Full talk here.
Timestamp 6 minutes 40 seconds

Jeremy Roberts (PBS Kids): I’ll hand it over to Greg. I wanted to give you a chance to talk about UCLA CRESST.
Gregory Chung (UCLA, CRESST) So, just quickly, you know what we bring to the project is expertise in the use of technology for measurement purposes. Whether it’s simulation or games. How do we turn that information about what we think is going on in their heads to their interaction with the game? So going through that whole analysis process from construct definition to behavior formation. And then just a general, we do research in a military context and in an education context, training, pre-k to adults. I joke that my motto is from math to marksmanship. (audience laughter)
Unidentified Audience Member: Can you say what the relationship is between the military and education?
Chung: Ah, it’s like…it is like… at a certain level they’re the same. Military training is about effectiveness. You train just enough to get someone to do some job. But integrated technology, adaptive systems give feedback. So all the instructional issues that you commonly apply to education, you apply to the military. But also you go from the military, who kind of created the whole instructional design system, back to education. And it’s really interesting when we have an intersection in say marksmanship, how do we measure skills (pantomimes shooting a rifle) with sensors, but then we bring in the educational assessment framework, like what’s going on in here (points to his head/brain), how that transfers to wobble and shake (points to torso).
Roberts: If the armed forces were to find out that say the students were not scoring sufficiently on the ASVAB to make them confident that they’d be able to operate the next generation of tank, for example, the army might be really interested in early childhood education.
Chung: (chuckling in audience) So, really they’re the same.
Heckman: It has, right? Already. And quite a few aren’t able to pass the ASVAB.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Is Robert Dugger setting up Robin Hood to steal from the poor?

from Wrench in the Gears
June 16, 2018


More on the people behind ReadyNation’s Global Business Summit on Early Childhood, November 1-2, 2018 New York City
Who is Robert Dugger?
Robert Dugger is the co-founder of ReadyNation and serves on the board of the Council for a Strong America. He began his career as an economist with the Board of Governor’s that oversees the Federal Reserve System, later serving as a senior advisor on banking and financial policy in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. From 1988 until 1992 Dugger worked as policy director for the American Bankers Association where he was involved with the development of the Resolution Trust Corporation in the aftermath of the savings and loan crisis. He went on to become managing director of Paul Tudor Jones’s hedge fund, Tudor Investment Corporation, a position he held from 1992 until 2009. Dugger now runs Hanover Provident Capital in Alexandria, VA, while also serving on the boards of the Virginia Early Childhood Education Foundation and as the Chair of ReadyNation.
Tudor Investment Corporation and the Robin Hood Foundation
It is important to note Dugger’s ties to Paul Tudor Jones II, his employer for fifteen years. Jones created The Robin Hood Foundation in 1998. A 2007 feature in New York Magazine, “The Emperors of Benevolence: A Dossier on the Board of Directors of the Robin Hood Foundation where everybody either knows a rock star or is rich enough to buy one,” described the “anti-poverty” foundation as “one of the most influential philanthropic organizations of all time.” Robin Hood, associated with initiatives like the Harlem children’s zone, has only grown more influential.
 
During the organization’s annual gala earlier this month, over $15 million was raised in minutes as Jones, according to Bloomberg’s coverage of the event, enjoyed fennel-braised beef with Bill Gates.
New York’s first social impact bond drew a $300,000 investment from the foundation. Clearly Robin Hood could have access to almost limitless capital if Pay for Success opportunities around Pre-K open up in New York. The New York State Early Childhood Advisory Council prepared a 2012 report, “Using Pay for Success Strategies to Increase School Readiness.” The clock is ticking…

The Robin Hood Foundation has developed a sophisticated system of metrics to track the programs they fund, which means they have considerable infrastructure in place to take advantage of social impact investment opportunities. They have an exhaustive list of very specific equations aligned to education, work readiness, and health outcomes. You can review the equations here and/or watch the video summary. Thanks to blog commenter Laura Chapman for that lead.





Friday, June 15, 2018

Test Scores and Child Hunger: The Cold Calculus of Pay for Success Predators

from Wrench in the Gears
June 15, 2018

When I give food to the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist. Dom Helder Camara, Brazilian Catholic archbishop and important figure in liberation theology (1909-1999)

Wrench in the Gears is primarily a blog about education, and the dehumanizing influence technology wields over classroom instruction. In doing this work, I’ve come to understand that, at its root, the shift to digital “education” is about aggregating vast datasets on children than can be mined for profit in the impact-investing sector. This tactic is not limited to education. In fact, it threatens to engulf ALL public services.

Through outsourcing and the imposition of hard metrics, “what works” lobbyists intend to push the poor, and those teetering on the brink of poverty, into an abyss of impact-driven digital slavery. They’ll pull the non-profits in, along with their clients, since “what works” government hinges on their complicity. Moving forward, non-profits will increasingly run outsourced programs and will be required to deliver the data demanded by outcomes-based contracts. Services will be reengineered to fit the constraints of data dashboards-human life reduced to numbers to meet the demands of global capital.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, signed into law this February, created a new $100 million Pay for Success Fund at the US Department of the Treasury. Merchant banking firms like Ridge-Lane have marshaled teams of advisors to get in on the action. Financiers and tech billionaires are grooming candidates across the country, hoping their chosen ones will usher in a wave of Pay for Success initiatives that will rival the stock market.

At its core, the new theory of “economic thinking” promoted by INET is riddled with rot. While George Soros, James Heckman, and Robert Dugger attempt to cast social impact investment programs as socially conscious and “progressive,” the public deserves to know the truth. That truth is that these predators will NOT feed hungry children UNLESS they can profit from it.

Feeding people through mutual aid has always been a radical act. The Black PantherParty knew it, which is why those in power considered their free breakfast program so dangerous. In January a dozen activists associated with Break the Ban were issued criminal citations for feeding the homeless in a public park in El Cajon, CA. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, mutual aid became the backbone of recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. Food is central to the human experience. Food insecurity drives poverty.

After reading the exchange below it appears impact investors have not YET found a way to track cost-offsets for feeding people, but they are trying. It is likely the tool they need will come in the form of digital identity systems linked to public assistance benefits. The Illinois Blockchain Taskforce is already envisioning ways they can use blockchain technology to track and manage a person’s food choices. See the screenshot below taken from the Illinois Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Taskforce Final Report to the General Assembly, January 31, 2018



Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Chicago School of Economics And George Soros: New Theories for an Impoverished World


from Wrench in the Gears
June 13, 2018


The Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group (HCEO), referenced in my prior post, is run by James Heckman, Stephen Durlauf, and Robert Dugger. It operates out of the Center for the Economics of Human Development (CEHD) at the University of Chicago, and its fiscal sponsor is the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), an entity that emerged in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008. INET funds research, grooms young economists, and convenes gatherings promoting the work of its 1,100+ experts. George Soros pledged $50 million from Open Society to create INET as a vehicle to explore “new thinking and new rules for the world economy.” Heckman, Dugger, and Durlauf are all involved in the operations of INET.

Click here to view the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group interactive link map and to read the rest of the post.

 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Heckman and Pritzker Pitch Apps as Poverty “Solutions” Yielding a 13% Return on Investment

from Wrench in the Gears
June 10, 2018

This is the fourth in a series providing context for the Global Business Summit on Early Childhood that ReadyNation will be hosting in New York City November 1-2, 2018. The featured image is from an article pitching Waterford Upstart online preschool, piloted in Utah, a state experimenting with funding early childhood education using social impact bonds. The caption on the photo states that this four year old doesn’t have running water in her home, but she does have access to literacy education on a chromebook.
The focus of this post is Dr. James Heckman, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago since the early 1970s. Much of his research focuses on investments in early childhood as it pertains to labor markets. In 2000, Dr. Heckman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for contributions to the field of micro-econometrics. James Heckman; Arthur Rolnick, former senior researcher at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve; and Robert Dugger, venture capitalist and ReadyNation advisor, have worked together for decades. Below is a relationship map for Heckman. See the interactive version here.



CURMUDGUCATION: Social Impact Bonds for Dummies

CURMUDGUCATION: Social Impact Bonds for Dummies: We've been hearing about Social Impact Bonds , or "Pay for Success" programs for a few years now, but only recently have they ...

Why Does Diane Ravitch Support Charter Schools? Will She Debate?

I have been asking this question for a long time, even before Diane's and AFT's Network for Public Education (NPE) issued a position statement on charters that somewhat clarifies their support for charter schools:
. . . we recognize that many families have come to depend on charter schools and that many charter school teachers are dedicated professionals who serve their students well. It is also true that some charter schools are successful. We do not, therefore, call for the immediate closure of all charter schools, but rather we advocate for their eventual absorption into the public school system.
Apparently, NPE's statement serves as a communique that is not be questioned.  Asking how Diane judges "success" of a charter school (test scores?), or which ones are the successful charter schools, or which charter teachers are the "dedicated professionals," only serve to raise the ire of Diane and her small flock of liberals who believe that bringing the truth to the charter industry through Facebook and Twitter postings will alter the corporate-run public education genocide that was underway long before Diane's conversion from neoliberal Republican to neoliberal Democrat.  

Inquiring minds might want to know, too, what it would take to bring about the "eventual absorption into the public school system" of charters that are so successful now that they should not be tampered with in 2018?     

I've had no luck in getting a response to any of these questions.

Would Diane offer an opportunity to discuss, debate, or dialogue on any or all of these questions related to her continuing embrace of the 6,000 "non-profit" segregated charter schools that drain away hundreds of millions of public dollars each year, dollars that could be used to improve the public schools that Diane, otherwise, supports?

In person or in writing?  Will she debate or will she continue to try to silence those who question the contradictory, misleading, and/or inconsistent policy positions that seek, simultaneously, to placate the charter industry and the supporters of public schools?
 

Monday, June 04, 2018

Galton and Global Education Futures Forum: Scientific Racism Looking Backwards and Forwards

from Wrench in the Gears
June 4, 2018


Psychology, Economics and Human Capital
I spent much of my weekend researching Dr. James Heckman, Nobel prize-winning professor of economics from the University of Chicago who specializes in research around investments in human capital. I plan to write a more extensive piece on him shortly. In the meantime you can check out his Little Sis map-in-progress here. Heckman is a colleague of Arthur Rolnick (see my previous post) and Robert Dugger, host of the upcoming ReadyNation Global Business Summit on Early Childhood.
I believe the research Heckman has been conducting with “grit” expert, Angela Duckworth is extremely dangerous. The two are principal investigators for the Research Network on the Determinants of Life Course Capabilities and Outcomes based in the University of Chicago’s Center for the Economics of Human Development. I will share several excerpts from the publication they co-authored in 2008 for the National Bureau of Economic Research with Lex Borghans and Bas Ter Weel, The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits.
Duckworth’s research for the publication was supported by the Templeton Foundation. The image below shows the program areas to which Templeton gives: Science & The Big Questions; Character Virtue Development; Individual Freedom and Free Markets; Voluntary Family Planning; Genetics; and Exceptional Cognitive Talent and Genius.


Here's how higher education was destroyed in 5 basic steps

Here's how higher education was destroyed in 5 basic steps: Higher education is not what it used to be, and that's no accident.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Republican Accomplishments Under Trump

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Best Economy in 18 years, based on economic expansion begun 9 years ago under Obama.
Lower Taxes that primarily benefit the top 1 percent of earners, paid for by adding $2.3 trillion to the deficit.
Repealed Obamacare Individual Mandate, thus assuring higher premiums for sick and elderly and 13 million fewer Americans to be insured in 2027.
Support for Military (best in 15 years), which means support for corporations who will reap the benefits of an unneeded expansion of the military-industrial complex.
Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch, who promises to be one of the most divisive justices in SCOTUS history.
Conservative Appeals Judges (21 Circuit) with some of the most extreme elements of American racism.
Repealed Dodd-Frank Mortgage Rules, which promises to throw open the door to new criminal offenses by the wolves of Wall Street.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Making Childhood Pay: Arthur Rolnick, Steven Rothschild, and ReadyNation


by Wrench in the Gears
June 1, 2018


This post provides additional background on the ReadyNation Global Business Summit on Early Childhood Education that will take place at the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York City November 1-2, 2018. No U.S. educators or policy advocates may attend unless they come with at least four pre-approved business sponsors. Review the draft agenda here.
This is the second in a series. Read part one here.
Where did ReadyNation come from?
The idea emerged from a conversation three men had on a conference call during the summer of 2003:
   Arthur Rolnick, senior researcher at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve
   Robert Dugger, financial policy analyst and venture capitalist
   James Heckman, University of Chicago economics professor
Its first incarnation, the “Investing in Kids Working Group,” focused on researching returns on early childhood investments, developing finance mechanisms, and crafting policy recommendations. Over the past fifteen years Dugger, in consultation with Heckman and Rolnick and with support from the Pew Charitable Trusts, gradually built a structure to undergird a global investment market fueled by debt associated with provision of early childhood education services.
The push for early childhood education access is NOT being driven by a desire to meet the basic human needs of children. Rather financial interests that view children as cogs in a national workforce development program are pushing it; and they see preschoolers as lumps of human capital to be plugged into economic forecasts. This is all happening at a time when human services are being privatized in the name of scalable, outcomes-driven social entrepreneurship. The trailer for a new documentary, The Invisible Heart, on social impact bonds indicates how much capital is flowing into this new market.