NEA’s Lily Eskelsen Garcia Remains Faithful to Gates Funding
On April 26, 2015, education historian Diane Ravitch moderated an hour-long discussion between National Education Association (NEA) President Lily Eskelsen Garcia and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten at the second annual conference of the Network for Public Education (NPE).
Only minutes prior to the conclusion of the session, Ravitch “Barbara Waltered” Garcia and Weingarten with the following question:
The Walton, Gates and Broad Foundations are at the forefront of the privatization movement. Will you commit not to accept funding from them and not to collaborate with them? [56:56]
She then asked for their “yes or no” answers:
Lily?Garcia: Yes.Randi?Weingarten: Yes.
A beautiful moment. The audience stood and applauded first Ravitch’s question then the Garcia-Weingarten response.
The session soon ended, and Garcia wasted no time backing out of that one.
In fact, in a blog post dated three days prior to her conference appearance (??), Garcia defended her right to say “yes” and mean “no.”
In her oddly-dated post, Garcia attempts to set Gates apart from Walton and Broad. In reality, NEA has no problem with refusing money from Walton because the Waltons hate unions.
As for the Broad Foundation, Garcia criticizes it as “all charters all the time.”
But when it comes to taking cash from the Gates Foundation, Garcia states that Gates is “complicated.”
She might as well have noted that with “all charters all the time” Broad, it is also “complicated” since some NEA locals have accepted Broad funding in the past. But let’s just set that aside for now.
As supposed evidence that Gates can be trusted (and that accepting his money is fine), Garcia cites part of the Gates Foundation website that offers a brochured Gates sell:
We are focused on results. Those that can be measured. And those measured in ways beyond numbers. We see individuals, not issues. We are inspired by passion, and compassion for the wellbeing of people. Our methods are based on logic, driven by rigor, results, issues, and outcomes. Our innovation means trying new things, learning from our mistakes, and consistently refining our approach. Our strategies help us define our path to success, but our effectiveness is based in the aggregate power of our initiatives to impact holistic change.
That is enough for Garcia. She considers Gates trustworthiness as established.
She does not add that the Gates Foundation is clear about making grants “according to our funding priorities” and by directly contacting organizations to invite them to apply for grants under those Gates-determined priorities.
As evidence of Gates’ goodness, Garcia notes that Gates funds “the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (which the NEA helped found).”
Let’s talk about Gates money and National Board.
In March 2014, Gates shelled out $200,000 to help pay for National Board’s conference. Coincidentally, in March 2014, Bill Gates gave a keynote at that same NEA’s Lily Eskelsen Garcia Remains Faithful to Gates Funding | deutsch29: