Archive for the ‘Pearson Foundation’ tag
Will Private Corporate Influence Drive the Public Out of Public Schools
We are witnessing a take over of public education by private money and powerful corporations. It is happening daily and those of us in the classrooms now are experiencing the affects.
I am referring to the partnership between the Gates Foundation and the Pearson Foundation. The agenda is to create an education system that is dogmatically focused on test scores as a corporation is focused on making money.
No Child Left Behind started the push that test scores matter most of all, and it was solidified into law and funding policies. Now, those of us who were teaching when NCLB went into effect are seeing it shuffle away as the failure we knew it was doomed to become.
So what will come next? First there is the acknowledgement that the current tests are of limited value. However we cannot abandon testing, we need the scores and the data to show we are producing more widgets than before, to display that profits are growing. So a plan is developed to create a new generation of tests that, of course, will be superior to existing tests. The new tests will incorporate technology and be based on new and better standards. In steps the Gates and Pearson Foundations with millions of dollars to develop on line reading and math courses aligned with the standards they had a say in forming. The Gates Foundation has been a huge supporter of Common Core Standards.
(A NY Times article from April 27, 2011 reported that the Gates Foundation, “the world’s largest philanthropy,” and a foundation associated with Pearson announced a partnership to create online reading and math courses aligned with the new academic standards that some 40 states have adopted. Gates, Pearson, and a “suite of investments” totaling more than $20 million, into new technology-based instructional approaches that “have the potential to fundamentally change the way students and teachers interact in the classroom.”)
Bill Gates once said, “It may surprise you—it was certainly surprising to us—but the field of education doesn’t know very much at all about effective teaching.”
He does not mention the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards that was developed by educators over the past two decades. The National Board created standards that included creating strong classroom communities that nurture and support all students. They include how well we meet the diverse needs of students from different cultures. Now however, because of the influence of the Gates Foundation, and others from the Business roundtables, the National Board faces great pressure to include test score data as an important indicator of teacher quality.
The Gates Foundation is investing in research that defines “effectiveness” as the ability to increase test scores. The way the research questions are devised and how the data is interpreted; allow one to control much of the debate. These studies ask questions that focus on the “impact … on student outcomes,” as measured by test scores.
The next step then is to bring the targeting down to individual teachers and their students; this can insure compliance by teachers. This then leads to professionalism being redefined for teachers so it no longer allows for autonomy and responsibility for one’s own work. Now, being a professional educator means you get paid on your results and are subject to having your pay docked or worse, termination, if your students fail to reach the bar set by predictive models created according to a business model not a human model.
Teachers of real children, not computer models based on rigged research, have been pushing back. Teachers know that test scores should just be ONE measure that an accurate reading of student progress relies on “multiple measures.”
So if you have millions of dollars to throw around, and if you stand to reap billions of dollars from the sale of on-line curriculum, on-line tests, study guides for those tests, as well as virtual schools and courses; you put money into a struggling non-profit advocacy group to get them to do your lobbying for you; groups like Teach Plus, Students First, and Stand for Children. Then you pour millions into a media campaign, a major television event such as NBC’s Education Nation. Last year’s Education Nation was tied into the release of Waiting for Superman which had $2 million dollars in publicity provided by the Gates foundation.
This is how the media and research come together to provide the very “facts” that are discussed in the public. An example in our own state is a section in the January 9th 2012 edition of “Pritchard’s Perspective.” In a section entitled “Stretching the Educational Dollar.” Rep. Pritchard first talks about the Governor’s budget projections in relation to education and the changes that lie ahead. He is holding an Education Council January 18th 7pm in the DeKalb County Outreach Building on Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb.
He goes on to say: “We will look at information presented at a recent meeting sponsored by The Gates Foundation which directs our focus to school structure, performance outcomes, and community engagement. They made clear that traditional cuts and tinkering with the school budget will be insufficient.”
So who is directing the conversation? Who is deciding was is and is not sufficient for public education? Not the public. Not even the elected officials.
Mr. Pritchard continues: “At the core of the Gates Foundation quest to improve education is the belief that teachers matter more to student achievement than any other factor inside schools. Research has led them to the conclusion that we must better understand what makes a teacher effective and find ways to rethink how we recruit, retain and evaluate teachers in our schools in order to improve student outcomes.”
Research paid for by the Gates foundation? Research interpreted by “experts” hired and paid by the Gates Foundation, to go out and spread the new “gospel” to state legislators around the country.
Pearson Steps into Hot Water
Speaking of spreading the word, and the lingo of the “new educational system,” a January 1st article in the NY Times reported that Pearson Foundation, which is the nonprofit arm of one of the nation’s largest educational publishers, financed free international trips for education commissioners whose states do business with Pearson company.
The Illinois superintendent of education, Christopher Koch, took trips to China, Brazil, and Finland with the Pearson foundation. According to the NY Times article, “The only Pearson compensation he listed on state ethics forms was the cost of the flight to China, $4,271 for business class. Asked why hotels, meals and other flights were not documented, a spokesman for Dr. Koch, Matt Vanover said. ‘What we’re looking at is a litmus test; they just want to make sure he’s not traveling first class.’” Illinois is paying Pearson $138 million to administer the state’s standardized testing program.
In New York the States’ Attorney has been investigating similar trips involving other education officials. In Illinois we have heard verily a word from neither our Governor nor our States Attorney.
So consider is all of this test, test, testing based on truly sound pedagogical research? It has actually been found to be pedagogically unsound. Also consider isn’t it clear that policy making at the highest levels, which trickle down continually upon our classrooms and our students, has more to do with business economics and political ideology than teaching and learning. Dr. Koch accepting such travel bonuses reinforces a hunch that our educational policies have more to do with the best interests of business than with what is in the best interests of the children.
Also consider attending the “Education Council” that Rep. Pritchard is hosting. I especially urge young teacher who are just starting out, this is your future that is being discussed. And it is being discussed without your input, but which your students and you will be living with for decades to come. Any one who cares about preserving the public in public schools, and any one who cares about the well being of the whole child, should attend. The stakes have never been higher.