Previously, I wrote about how the Gates Foundation has invested millions of dollars to push for the Common Core Standards and how they are now working with other entities to make a profit from the entire idea of Common Core Standards. Well, Gates is at it again, now partnering with Joel Klein and Wireless Generation. Klein is the former Chancellor of the New York City schools and poster boy for current reformers (Michelle Rhee being the poster-girl). Evidence suggests that NYC saw no gains in achievement during Klein’s tenure, but he and others still claim success.
Well, now he is off working for Wireless Generation owned by none other than Rupert Murdoch (FOX News, British phone hacking scandal, etc). And, lo and behold, Wireless Generation has received funding from Gates to create some web-based support for teachers (that will obviously make a profit for WG or Gates or both).
For the story, see: http://www.impatientoptimists.org/Posts/2011/08/Shared-Tools-for-Teachers
“As part of our contribution, the foundation took an important first step a few weeks ago and selected a vendor to build the open software that will allow states to access a shared, performance-driven marketplace of free and premium tools and content. That vendor, Wireless Generation, will create the software, but it will be owned by an independent nonprofit, so that any school, school district, curriculum developer, or tool builder can contribute to the collaborative.”
Note the inclusion of PREMIUM tools. We all know how that works.
This is truly the Billionaire Boy’s Club helping each other put to make a profit from the education enterprise. This is NOT how education should be run. Gates has enough money to fund all of these efforts for free to all teachers and school districts. If he was REALLY interested in improving education and not increasing profits, he would make ALL these tools for free and have
MY PREVIOUS POST IS BELOW:
I have become increasingly concerned with the trend in education of privatizing services and for-profit companies entering education with the sole purpose of making a profit. Profits by themselves are not bad, but often the goal of the company or organization is to maximize profits rather than to do what is best for the “customer”–in this case, students, parents, teachers, and administrators.
This is one reason I am uneasy about Charter schools. We have too many examples of charter schools in Texas reaping large incomes for those running the charters with absolutely no evidence whatsoever of any educational benefits to the students. Remember the charter school that falsified enrollment data and absconded with all the money without actually educating any children?
Here is the latest! Education Week is reporting that the Gates Foundation and Pearson (Yes, the company that makes and scores the TAKS), is now offering complete curricula and professional development for teachers that is aligned with the common core standards. So, the Gates Foundation uses its money and influence to push through Common Core Standards and testing, then within a year, partners with Pearson so that Pearson can make a profit off of the Common Core Standards.
Now, districts will not be FORCED to purchase the products. But, since many districts had to cut their central office curriculum specialists as part of the budget crises around the country, districts will essentially be forced to purchase this new curriculum since it will be cheaper than employing curriculum specialists who, you know, actually interact and collaborate with real live teachers..
Now, the Gates Foundation has enough money to provide the curricula and PD to every school in the nation for free. If they are such a strong believer in Common Core Standards, why don’t they provide it for free? Why should ANY school have to pay for curricula?
Is this all a coincidence? I’ll let the readers be the judge of that.
Curricula and PD should be provided for free since education is the ULTIMATE COMMON GOOD IN THIS COUNTRY. I think we, as a country, have forgotten that. We are increasingly segregating schools based on race, class, and ability. We have very different enacted curriculum, resources, and teacher quality across schools, with the wealthy having a more robust and rigorous curriculum, greater resources (including lower class sizes), and teachers that are more experienced, educated, and stable. Common Core Standards could theoretically be a good step in ensuring every student has access to a rigorous curriculum, yet many of us were wary of the very announcement described above. Others did not like federal interference. Not participating in Common Core Standards was likely a good decision on the part of TEA and Governor Perry even though I disagreed with their rationale for not participating. The entire Common Core effort now all looks like a scheme to make money.
Education should not become a for-profit enterprise that places profits above children or educators.
UPDATE: Diane Ravitch, a friend of mine since we both were presenting at the Brookings Institute in 2000, also has a terrific blog entry on this at