Since the anonymous New York Times Opinon piece claiming there’s a critic in the White House, at least one comedian has referenced the 2006 remake horror movie When a Stranger Calls. The babysitter contacts the police to get threatening phone calls traced. The bad guy turns out to be in the house!
On a similar, but slightly different note, those who seek to destroy democratic public education are also working within the system. They’re inside the schoolhouse, and there’s an attempt to dupe us into thinking they’re seeing the light when it comes to the right way of thinking about public schools.
It revolves around the word, “local.” We like that word. It makes us feel like we belong. But that’s not the case here. That’s why it is dangerous for public education.
In “School Reformers Switch Gears,” we read that the Gates Foundation is backing off.
Now, the foundation seems to be stepping back from sweeping national initiatives in its bid to remake education. In the coming years, its K-12 philanthropy will concentrate on supporting what it calls “locally driven solutions” that originate among networks of 20 to 40 schools, according to Allan Golston, who leads the foundation’s U.S. operations, because they have “the power to improve outcomes for black, Latino, and low-income students and drive social and economic mobility.”
The reality is, the Gates Foundation and other corporate school reformers are aggressively moving forward with their privatization plans. Helping the poor has always been their mantra. We’ve seen how this has worked out before.
They are making their inside changes through a group called The City Fund.
Blogger Tultican warned us back in August with “DPE 2.0 The City Fund.” He analyzes this group and the individuals who we remember for pro-privatization endeavors—like Chris Barbic, Kevin Huffman, Neerav Kinsland, and more.
The City Fund is an “anchor group” which includes The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (hedge fund manager and his wife) and the Hastings Fund (Reed Hastings of Netflix fame). There’s money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others too.
They’re pushing charter schools and school districts that run with charter “autonomy” rules. It might look good on paper. Who doesn’t want business contributing funding to the local schools?
But when corporations pay into schools they want something in return—their ownership of public schooling and how schools will run. Schools become a conduit to preparing workers for their future ventures.
Under the Trump administration, privatization through vouchers has been full speed ahead with Betsy DeVos. We see technology as the ultimate end game, even though there’s no proof technology will help students do well. And there’s an emphasis on charter schools, even though charters have never proven to be better than real public schools. The professional teacher’s role increasingly decreases.
The City Fund lists Denver as a prime spot. I wrote this about Denver last February.
Consider the Luminary Learning Network involved with Denver Public Schools. This is a 501 (c) (3) that partners with The Gates Family Foundation [not the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation]. They claim it’s an Innovation School Zone run by the community schools partners and with Empower Schools—a strange pro-privatization group out of Massachusetts that claims to inform and shape policies and share learnings to help advance the Third Way.
The four Denver Luminary schools are apparently still traditional public schools, but you would never know it. They are run like separate charter or private schools, free of rules and collective bargaining. Instead of bolstering programs within the school, children and their families rely on outside organizations and businesses for instruction, like the arts.
Denver has been tied to all kinds of insidious reforms in recent years, including the Relay Graduate School of Education which is a Teach for America-like group designed to destroy the teaching profession.
All of this breaks up the structure of school districts and will likely pave the way for personalized learning—students who learn anywhere, anytime on the computer.
Along with this, local emphasis on charter schools means charters, unfairly called “public charter schools,” are now often dropping “charter” from their title. Blurring the lines between charter schools and public schools is a nifty way to privatize the whole system.
Lastly, there has been an emphasis on nonprofit charter schools compared to for-profit charter schools, implying the first is better than the second. But as blogger Steven Singer shows “There is Virtually No Difference Between Nonprofit and For-Profit Charter Schools.”
The point with all of this, is that the billionaire quest to remake public education in their vision, is not slowing down. On the contrary, it is moving forward insidiously fast. Watch for it in your school district.