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Jeff Bernstein

New York's Secret Educational Policy Makers | Alan Singer - 0 views

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    "The Albany Times Union calls it a "shadow government" within the New York State Education Department. It is supported by $19 million in donations from wealthy individuals and foundations. The "Regents Research Fund" fellows are a private think tank embedded in the public education department that is defining education for New York's 3.1 million public school students. They frame policy, consult regularly with State Education Commissioner John King, and interact with state employees and officials, but they are not covered by the state's Public Officer's Law or ethics rules."
Jeff Bernstein

Plutocrats at Work: How Big Philanthropy Undermines Democracy | Dissent Magazine - 0 views

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    "For a dozen years, big philanthropy has been funding a massive crusade to remake public education for low-income and minority children in the image of the private sector. If schools were run like businesses competing in the market-so the argument goes-the achievement gap that separates poor and minority students from middle-class and affluent students would disappear. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation have taken the lead, but other mega-foundations have joined in to underwrite the self-proclaimed "education reform movement." Some of them are the Laura and John Arnold, Anschutz, Annie E. Casey, Michael and Susan Dell, William and Flora Hewlett, and Joyce foundations."
Jeff Bernstein

Will the Data Warehouse Become Every Student and Teacher's "Permanent Record"? - 0 views

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    "inBloom, the non-profit started with a hundred million dollar investment from the Gates Foundation, is planning to create a digital record which, barring catastrophe, truly could be a permanent record of every K12 student, from their first interaction with the schools to the last. The amount of information they are planning to collect is staggering."
Jeff Bernstein

John Thompson: Gates Foundation's MET Project Has Leaped Before Looking - Living in Dia... - 0 views

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    "The Measures of Effective Teaching Project (MET) is the Gates Foundation's flagship effort to fill what they believe is a huge void in the teaching profession. According to them, up until this project, there was no way to know how effective any given teacher is. Their goal has been to develop scientifically accurate means to accomplish this.

    I would have no problem with the Gates Foundation's Measuring Effective Teaching process if it was conducted as pure research. The MET's Tom Kane, in "Capturing the Dimensions of Effective Teaching," illustrates the good that could have come from the experiment had "reformers" considered evidence before imposing their theories on teachers across the nation."
Jeff Bernstein

Karen Lewis: School closings open door to charters - Chicago Sun-Times - 0 views

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    "Chicagoans need to understand what is happening to our school system. The mayor and his hedge fund allies are going to replace our democratically-controlled public schools with privately-run charter schools. This will have disastrous results and people need to rise up and refuse. As a parent, do you really want your child wearing a three-piece polyester suit every day to school and pay a fine every time your child's tie isn't on straight?"
Jeff Bernstein

The Dialogue with the Gates Foundation: What happens when Profits drive Reform? - Livin... - 0 views

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    "This is the last exchange in this formal dialogue with the Gates Foundation. The tension uncovered by this dialogue reveals a disconnect between the work of the Gates Foundation and many of us who have spent our lives working in schools. Nonetheless, this represents an opportunity to move beyond the impasse. Similar to the polarization that has occurred in the national political scene, the battle lines over education reform have become so hardened that it seems as if we cannot even agree on a common understanding of reality. Therefore bridging our differences requires us to share and discuss those realities, even though our perspectives are very different. I hope that in the months to come this dialogue will deepen, and that the tensions we have revealed will not lead us throw up our hands and abandon the effort, but rather will strengthen our commitment to continue to wrestle with these issues in the interest of our students.

    Today we are taking on a big question: What is the role of the marketplace in pushing forward education improvement and innovation?"
Jeff Bernstein

P. L. Thomas: "No Excuses" and the Culture of Shame: Why Metrics Don't Matter - 0 views

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    "The education reform debate is fueled by a seemingly endless and even fruitless point-counterpoint among the corporate reformers-typically advocates for and from the Gates Foundation (GF), Teach for America (TFA), and charter chains such as Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP)-and educators/scholars of education. Since the political and public machines have embraced the corporate reformers, GF, TFA, and KIPP have acquired the bully pulpit of the debate and thus are afforded most often the ability to frame the point, leaving educators and scholars to be in a constant state of generating counter-points.
    This pattern disproportionately benefits corporate reformers, but it also exposes how those corporate reformers manage to maintain the focus of the debate on data. The statistical thread running through most of the point-counterpoint is not only misleading (the claims coming from the corporate reformers are invariably distorted, while the counter-points of educators and scholars remain ignored among politicians, advocates, the public, and the media), but also a distraction.

    Since the metrics debate (test scores, graduation rates, attrition, populations of students served, causation/correlation) appears both enduring and stagnant, I want to make a clear statement with some elaboration that I reject the "ends-justify-the-means" assumptions and practices-the broader "no excuses" ideology-underneath the numbers, and thus, we must stop focusing on the outcomes of programs endorsed by the GF or TFA and KIPP.

    Instead, we must unmask the racist and classist policies and practices hiding beneath the metrics debate surrounding GF, TFA, and KIPP (as prominent examples of practices all across the country and types of schools)."
Jeff Bernstein

Gene V Glass: Education in Two Worlds: High Button Shoes and Education Reform - 0 views

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    Buffett's decision presents us with a conundrum. If he is not competent to determine the worthwhile recipients of his beneficence, then how is it that he knows that the Gates Foundation is dispensing beneficences in a worthwhile way?
    Education is an arena particularly prone to attracting Shoe Button Complexes. Everyone has been to school; everybody thinks they know what is wrong with schools.
Jeff Bernstein

Education Week: The Changing Face of Education Advocacy: Trickel Down - 0 views

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    A number of prominent foundations have supported the charitable wings of national education advocacy groups. The engagement of philanthropies in policy advocacy is a relatively recent phenomenon that roughly parallels such education groups' expansion over the past decade. This list details three foundations' investments; it is not a comprehensive list of all private foundation contributions, nor does it include local, public, or community charities' contributions.
Jeff Bernstein

Ravitch: Pearson's expanding role in education - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post - 0 views

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    Ever since the debacle of Pineapplegate, it is widely recognized by everyone other than the publishing giant Pearson that its tentacles have grown too long and too aggressive. It is difficult to remember what part of American education has not been invaded by Pearson's corporate grasp. It receives billions of dollars to test millions of students. Its scores will be used to calculate the value of teachers. It has a deal with the Gates Foundation to store all the student-level data collected at the behest of Race to the Top. It recently purchased Connections Academy, thus giving it a foothold in the online charter industry. And it recently added the GED to its portfolio.

    With the U.S. Department of Education now pressing schools to test children in second grade, first grade, kindergarten - and possibly earlier - and with the same agency demanding that schools of education be evaluated by the test scores of the students of their graduates (whew!), the picture grows clear. Pearson will control every aspect of our education system.
Jeff Bernstein

Alan Singer: Beware the Education-Industrial Complex | History News Network - 0 views

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    In the speech, Eisenhower warned the American people of the growing power of a "military-industrial complex," an alliance of the military with defense contractors that he saw as a threat to democracy.

    Democracy in the United States is now under a similar assault from an education-foundation-political-industrial complex. This complex takes many forms, but its primary goal is to shape state and federal educational policy in a way that maximizes private corporate profits.
Jeff Bernstein

Bill Gates: Making Teacher Evaluations Public 'Not Conducive To Openness' : The Two-Way... - 0 views

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    Gates made a splash back in February when he came out against making Teacher Data Reports - or evaluations - public in New York City. Los Angeles Public Schools released similar data.

    This is a big deal, because his foundation has advocated for tougher accountability standards for teachers, something teachers unions haven't fully embraced.

    In an interview with Weekend Edition Saturday's host Scott Simon, Gates explained himself.

    "The goal is to help teachers be better," Gates said. "And when we run personnel systems where we want to be frank with employees about where they need to improve, having [evaluations] publicly available is not conducive to openness and a free exchange of views."
Jeff Bernstein

Gates Foundation drops ALEC (but why was Bill Gates funding it?) - 0 views

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    On April 9 we learn that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will also cancel their ALEC funding, after their current funding runs out (my emphasis and some reparagraphing throughout):
    Following Kraft, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Intuit, another influential sponsor of ALEC has withdrawn its support from the right-wing corporate front group. ... Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Color of Change, among others, had targeted the Gates Foundation for giving more than $375,000 to ALEC over the past two years.
    Well that's nice (sorta - their grant still has 17 months to go).

    But wait ... the Gates Foundation was funding ALEC? Why? Aren't they half-way between that wonderful Steve Jobs (blessings be upon him) and that even more wonderful Warren Buffett (likewise)?

    In a word, No. There's a right-wing war to destroy public education, and the Gates Foundation is in the thick of it. Again, ALEC writes the laws that bought-off state legislators get passed.
Jeff Bernstein

Gates Foundation Will Withdraw Support for ALEC Nonprofit : Roll Call Lobbying & Influence - 0 views

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    The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation today became the latest backer to withdraw financial support for the American Legislative Exchange Council.
    A foundation spokesman told Roll Call that it does not plan to make future grants to the conservative nonprofit, which has come under fire from progressive activists for its support of voter identification laws and other contentious measures.
Jeff Bernstein

Deep-Pocket Reformers: The Shadow Secretaries of Education | USC News21 - 0 views

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    In advancing some interests, foundations have inevitably not advanced others. Hence, their actions must have political consequences, even when political purposes are not avowed or even intended. To avoid politics in dealing with foundation history is to miss a crucial part of the story. -Ellen Lagemann, Private Power for the Public Good

    When Microsoft magnate Bill Gates decided a decade ago that the "solution" to what he saw as America's failing school systems was an expansion of smaller schools, he started writing checks, a whole lot of checks, totaling more than $2 billion.  
    Gates is not the only billionaire who has decided to make education reform one of his pet projects. Los Angeles-based developer Eli Broad, the mega-rich Walton family (founders of Walmart) and other philanthropists currently give some $4 billion a year in contributions to education.
    But these handouts are hardly purely philanthropic. They come tied with policy strings and a well-defined agenda.
    While not the only donors, Gates, Broad and the Waltons have emerged as the highest-profile deep-pocket benefactors of what has become a nationwide education reform movement.
Jeff Bernstein

No Funds Left Behind - 0 views

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    As states slash education budgets, private foundations have picked up the slack-and pushed some controversial reforms.
Jeff Bernstein

Teachers Face Good Cops or Bad Cops in Push for Evaluations - Living in Dialogue - Educ... - 0 views

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    Here we have the good cop's case for "multiple measures," very neatly made against a counterpoint, the bad cop's use of test scores only.

    But there is a big problem that remains. The evaluation model we are being offered is driven by several false assumptions.
Jeff Bernstein

Shanker Blog » A Look At The Education Programs Of The Gates Foundation - 0 views

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    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest philanthropic organization involved in public education. Their flexible capital allows the foundation to change course, experiment and take on tasks that would be problematic for other organizations.

    Although the foundation's education programs have been the subject of both praise and controversy, one area in which they deserve a great deal of credit is transparency. Unlike most other foundations, which provide a bare minimum, time-lagged account of their activities, Gates not only provides a description of each grant on its annually-filed IRS 990-PF forms, but it also maintains a continually updated list of grants posted on the foundation's website. This nearly real-time outlet provides the public with information about grants months before the foundation is required to do so.

    The purpose of this post is to provide descriptive information about programmatic support and changes between 2008 and 2010. These are the three years for which information is currently available.
Jeff Bernstein

"Gathering Feedback for Teachers: Combining High-Quality Observations with Student Surv... - 1 views

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    This study examined five instruments used to assess the effectiveness of teacher practices based on classroom observations. The study first examined whether observers could reliably assess teachers with each instrument, and then examined how well each instrument, along with other information, predicted student achievement.
Jeff Bernstein

Pennsylvania considers revamping assessments of educators - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - 0 views

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    School administrators gave 99.4 percent of all Pennsylvania teachers "satisfactory" ratings during the 2009-10 school year, the latest data available from the state Department of Education show.

    But, said Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality: "That kind of teacher evaluation system tells you almost nothing."

    The state's teacher evaluations "give no consideration to teacher effectiveness and include no objective measures of student performance," Jacobs said.

    The nonprofit, nonpartisan council, partly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, recently gave Pennsylvania an overall grade of D+ for progress on policies to support and measure teacher effectiveness and an F for efforts to rid schools of ineffective teachers.

    That could change. State education officials are trying to convince legislators to change the Pennsylvania school code to allow for more comprehensive teacher evaluations, a move teachers unions tentatively support.
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