Americans, for decades now, have aspired to be colorblind, just not completely. Oh we long to see pretty pink crocuses and yellow daffodils flowers bloom in the spring. We want to walk through tall green grasses and bathe in the bright sun. We want to wear colorful […]
Here are new additions to The Best Resources For Learning About Freedom Summer: Still Learning From The ‘Pearl Harbor’ Of The Civil Rights Movement is from NPR. In anniversary ceremony, historic church is center for Freedom Summer lessons is from The Hechinger Report. People came together 50 summers ago to transform education’s trajectory – let’s finish the job is also from The Hechinger Report.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Lamont Thomas politely excused himself from a meeting with central office administrators and returned to his inner office at the ultra-modern Science Park High School building on Norfolk Street. He picked up the microphone he used to make school-wide announcements and then said something that shocked the faculty and staff and a […]
Jersey Jazzman: Why Do We Need Tenure? Ask Elizabeth's TeachersMy post about Mike Mignone, the brave teacher and union leader in Belleville, NJ who is up on tenure charges, went viral this week. Mignone has been on unpaid leave pending his hearing; he alleges it's because he asked dared to question his school board about an outrageous surveillance system that includes a camera and microphone in ev
Poverty & Race- What Education Can’t Do | educarenow: Poverty & Race- What Education Can’t DoPosted on June 26, 2014 | Leave a commentIn staying with the theme of poverty and education that I addressed in myprevious post, I want to make readers aware of two different writings that have come out that explode the myth that education by itself is the tool of leverage that can alleviate povert
More Evidence of the Trouble with ‘Student-Centered’ Teaching | Paul Bruno: More Evidence of the Trouble with ‘Student-Centered’ TeachingBy PAUL BRUNO | Published: JUNE 26, 2014I’ve long had many related-but-separate complaints about ‘student-centered’ teaching practices. A new study in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis lends new evidence to several of them. (You can also check out good w
Photo Essay: Chinese School is Lesson for US Policymakers | Cloaking Inequity: Photo Essay: Chinese School is Lesson for US PolicymakersThe Chinese are serious about vocational (aka career and technical education). The United States is not. Vocational education in the United States has a long history of being used as holding bin for African American students by purposefully providing inferior educ
Malloy offers ‘Connecticut Core’ as Common Core fix | The CT Mirror: Malloy offers ‘Connecticut Core’ as Common Core fixBy: MARK PAZNIOKAS | June 26, 2014With cover from the state’s two largest teachers unions, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday kicked off “Connecticut Core,” the administration’s latest effort to quell the political and policy clamor over how Common Core curriculum standards should
James Baldwin said it best: "For these are all our children, and we will profit by or pay for whatever they become."A BIG EDUCATION APE NITE CAPWill Philly delegation 'play ball' on budget to win dollars for city schools? | Philadelphia Public School NotebookWill Philly delegation 'play ball' on budget to win dollars for city schools? | Philadelphia Public School Notebook: Will Philly de
At first, Julianna Dauble balked at the idea of protesting against the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
"We've all gotten Gates money one way or another," said Dauble, a fifth-grade teacher in Renton. "I don't know a single teacher who has not gotten Gates money for computers, different grants, small schools initiatives — all the things he's done in the Seattle area, especially."
In fact, the Gates Foundation sends more money to K-12 education causes around the U.S. than any other philanthropy, and some teachers have come to regard that influence as a threat.
'He Never Asked Teachers'
Approximately 150 teachers took those concerns to the foundation's front door Thursday evening for a rally and a march through Seattle's downtown streets.They protested Gates' funding of projects, including the development the Common Core standards, that some teachers say only serve to create more intense focus on standardized testing.
"[Bill Gates] really is the number one agent of change right now. His attitude about education is, ‘It’s the teachers that need to change, and it’s the standards and the testing that really will improve [schools],’ and he never asked teachers," said Dauble, one of the protest's principal organizers. "Really, the issue is class size, support for teachers and poverty."
All of those issues are on Gates' radar, says Vicki Phillips, who heads the foundation's education initiatives. Phillips says she feels their concerns about "assessment, accountability and poverty" are legitimate.
"In the U.S., the way to address many of these issues is a much, much better education system. That's a goal that we all share — the teachers that are at the protest today [and] the teachers that we talk to across the country," she said.
Gates' Education Clout And The Debate About Standards
Measured by the grant dollars it issues, Gates' influence in the K-12 arena has multiplied in recent years.
Even as other philanthropies boost their education investments, Gates' K-12 portfolio is growing faster, says Michigan State University political science professor Sarah Reckhow. Her figures show the foundation alone gave more than $268 million to K-12 education in 2010, a nearly three-fold increase from 2000.
The protesting teachers say the Gates Foundation's influence is drowning out teacher and parent voices. They point to the Common Core standards, which Washington state schools have now adopted. As a Washington Post analysis showed, Gates grants helped get Common Core development off the ground in the first place, and were key to the standards' swift adoption in all but seven U.S. states.
"We now have a blending of foundations, corporations and government making decisions for education policies that used to be made by local school boards, by parents, by teachers. All of that has been circumvented by [Bill Gates]," said Renton teacher Susan DuFresne.
'Creating More Options' For Ed, Or Narrowing Investments?
The foundation's namesake himself has said the implication that the foundation is driving a political agenda is unfair. In his recent interview with the Post, Bill Gates said the foundation is trying to seed research on the Common Core and other education policies out of a genuine desire to figure out what works.
"We create more options, but our voice is not there when the final decision of what to scale up is made. That's a governor, a superintendent, a school board who decides all those things," Gates told Washington Post reporter Lyndsey Layton.
While Michigan State's Reckhow says she finds no reason to doubt the foundation's motives, her research has found that many of the largest education philanthropies — from Gates, to the Broad and Walton Family foundations — are giving to the same recipients.
"There is a lot of pressure and a growing trend toward assessing things with hard data and being able to account for results and return on investment. When you impose that on any system, including education, you get certain types of organizations that are better at showing results than other organizations," Reckhow said. "I think that has resulted in a narrowing of what qualifies as a worthwhile investment to these foundations."
How Many Teachers Agree With The Protesters?
It's not clear how many teachers share the protesters' concerns about the Gates Foundaiton or the initiatives it supports.
But AFT president Randi Weingarten recently said her union's Innovation Fund would no longer accept Gates money, a decision prompted by "the level of distrust" of the foundation among her rank-and-file, according to Politico.
Chris Eide, who co-founded the advocacy group Teachers United Washington, says the educators with whom he works "are upset there's so much energy going specifically into pointing fingers at the Gates Foundation."
"The view among a lot of teachers is that this is a tremendous resource that we have in our backyard," said Eide, whose group has received Gates Foundation money in the past. "And we need to work together with them to make sure that those monies are being channeled into the places that have the highest likelihood of positively impacting kids and our teaching profession."
Dauble says some teachers don't speak up because they don't feel sufficiently informed or because they fear possible consequences.
"People are feeling like this isn't going to make a difference, or they're afraid there's going to be some kind of retribution for speaking out," said Dauble. "[Gates] is seen by so many as a very benevolent person."
The protesters are also planning events on the University of Washington campus Friday.
There's a new poll, just out yesterday, that details the thoughts of California's citizens when it comes to education and tenure (the text is here). The biggest conclusion?California's citizens are suffering from an extraordinary level of cognitive dissonance when it comes to their schools:41. California Public school teachers who receive a positive recommendation from supervisors are currently aw
My post about Mike Mignone, the brave teacher and union leader in Belleville, NJ who is up on tenure charges, went viral this week. Mignone has been on unpaid leave pending his hearing; he alleges it's because he asked dared to question his school board about an outrageous surveillance system that includes a camera and microphone in every teachers lounge. That system cost $2 million, money teacher
Jersey Jazzman: Who Gets the Shaft When Schools Are Underfunded? Ask Paterson's TeachersPaterson is one of the most impoverished cities in New Jersey. In my last post for NJ Spotlight, I gave some detail about how so many of city's children suffer under crushing poverty:According to U.S. Census Bureau data for 2012, nearly 40 percent of Paterson’s children live in poverty. Unemployment is about 15
“Definitely, the talk of Lewis running is ramping up to a new rate of speed,” a political operative involved in past mayoral elections said.
Chicago Public Schools' announcement Thursday of more than 1,000 layoffs, including 550 teachers, catches CTU off guard.
“This decision further demonstrates the disdain for public education and the lack of leadership and vision for the city from our mayor and his hand picked Board," the union said in a statement. "Do we want 'Star Wars' museums or public, neighborhood schools? Do we want presidential libraries or librarians for every child?”
The union said there has been 5,000 layoffs since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office. Lewis has said she would support Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, but Preckwinkle repeatedly has said she’s running for her current office.
Lewis has not been shy about supporting anyone who would challenge Emanuel. The two have famously tangled even before the teachers strike September 2012.
The CTU is working with other unions to register as many as 100,000 voters and raise at least $2 million for a candidate to oppose Emanuel.
Lewis underwent weight reduction surgery in Mexico in March. She has told reporters “it has been a highly positive experience for me.” Lewis was out of town Thursday and had not returned calls for comment as of press time.