Saturday, March 26, 2011

With Arms like an Octopus, Gates Foundation Reaches in all Directions

From: Bill Williams, Executive Director, Washington State PTSA

I am pleased to announce that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a grant to Washington State PTA in the amount of $191,424.  Among other things, funds from the grant will be used
• to enhance communications with and among our members;
• to strengthen efforts to engage all parents, especially those from communities who have historically been underrepresented; and
• to undertake a public information campaign about the importance of every student graduating ready for college or a career.  

WSPTA is very appreciative of the generosity of the Foundation in supporting our efforts to achieve our vision that every child’s potential becomes a reality.  More information about specific initiatives being funded through the grant will be forthcoming in future issues of the Leadership News.  

I can hear some of you now, "But Melissa this could be a good thing.  It's nice that Gates wants to help with more parent engagement."   Nice is not the operative word here.  
Just to let you know, I've been trying to get an interview with someone, anyone at the Gates Foundation for a couple of months.  (They have a whole division for public relations/communications so it's not like I'm bothering anyone.)  But no, they want me to find all my answers at their website.

Bill Gates,like so many ed reformers, is a prideful person.   He is so certain of the way, of his stands and he surrounds himself with yes men. No media, no peer, virtually no will stand up to him and say, "Have you considered any alternatives?  Did you learn anything from your foundation's failure at small high schools?"  And, of course, his foundation is not going to take any questions on those issues even from a lowly blogger.  

I probably never said this outloud before but job #1 for me in 2011 was to get rid of Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.   I believed that it was at a point that she was hurting our district in real and meaningful ways.  (That I didn't even have to work that hard and she did it mostly all by herself was pretty helpful.)  

One of her biggest failures?  Being prideful.  I doubt if Mr. Gates ever looks too far below his elevated status but it's a long fall down. 

10 comments:

Sarah said...

"to enhance communications with and among our members"

Translation: To spread propaganda.

PTSA can be added to the list of organizations bought by Gates et. al.

Melissa,

Good luck getting an interview with the Gates Foundation. I know you would stand up to Bill Gates.

chunga said...

Sarah - you nailed it. The PTA, both locally and nationally has been at best cowardly, and at worst, a collaborator in corporate ed reform. Look at who is on their national board - almost all corporate folks. It's no surprise that they're now in bed with Gates. Still, it's disappointing and I hope the group changes because it does and can do a lot of good. It's uniquely positioned to work closely with schools and should better represent parents and children.

dan dempsey said...

Yup ... the PTA leadership supports the Washington State adoption of the Common Core State Standards ... at least they sold their support and did not give it away for free.

It is an absolute scandal that the PTA and WEA each still support a plan which will be funded on the backs of local school districts nationwide. (An enormous wreck will be coming to WA State... local districts with even less funding for teachers and classrooms)

Investigate Common Core from its hidden beginning through Race to the Top bribe money. It is "Billionaire Boys" all the way. Randy Dorn's and the Gov.'s fast track illegal rush has been buried by the sleeping media.

See if Randy Dorn's recall sufficiency hearing on Wed. March 30th gets anything more than superficial coverage.

Now our legislators are our only hope ... and that is a weak hope given the Gov's support for everything Gates.

Note I previously stated that with Randy Dorn's analysis local districts would be on the hook for over $160 million over the next five years. In the following years 6 through 8 the Districts will need to upgrade their computer hardware so that all students can be computer tested. (Remember the MAP chaos?? extend that nationwide)

KaChing .. KaChing .. no vendor left behind.

Linda Darling-Hamilton and I often do not agree but I sure will agree that this nation is clueless about constructively fixing much in public schools.

The current educational decision-makers have been groomed to be "Gates - Group - Thinkers".

gavroche said...

The national PTA was bought by Gates a couple of years ago -- $2 Million in the last 2 years alone:

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Grants-2010/Pages/National-Congress-of-Parents-and-Teachers-OPP1020908.aspx

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Grants-2009/Pages/National-Congress-of-Parents-and-Teachers-OPPCR020.aspx

The state and local PTA Leadership has also drunk the Corporate Ed Reform Kool-Aid.

They do not accurately represent the parents.

this is messed up said...

I agree that our state PTSA is not representing its constituents, so I just looked at their web site and I don't see anything about elections. Is the board elected or appointed? If elected, we have no one to blame but ourselves, and we need to get busy spreading the word before next election. If appointed, we need to work toward an elected board.

What else am I missing?

Anonymous said...

From what I read I conclude that the posters on this blog think the Gates Foundation is wrong to give money to the PTA because it is poorly run, corrupt, etc. What is the best organizaion to give money to in order to benefit public schools of Washington? Also, does the Gates Foundation dictate how the PTA spends this money, or does the PTA choose how it is allocated?
Clementine

Dora Taylor said...

All you have to do is see the legislation that Ramona has been pushing in Olympia as a now lobbyist for the PTA and you would understand that the PTA officers have been bought and paid for from the top and coming on down the pike to our local leadership.

I still wonder who is paying Ramona’s salary to be a lobbyist full time in Olympia and if that is happening in other states or just those where state legislation regarding ed reform is at a critical point in passing.

Gates gave the national PTA $1M last year with a big hug and a kiss to the national president, really. I saw the video.

Being a legislative chair, I have been receiving Ramona's e-mails on what we should be calling our reps about and it is all about ed reform, starting with "teacher effectiveness" and ending with a "wonderful speech" by Arne Duncan on all things ed reform.

Here's some language that she loves to use when pushing for teacher evaluations based on student test scores. "development and implementation of revised teacher and principal evaluation systems."

This is what she said about the ed reform bill at the time: "This bill aligns with our top priority, implementing reforms in the basic education program as well as the reforms around accountability and evaluations".

It is always couched in nice language that is pleasing to the ears but what is meant is very harsh and does not fit within what we want for our students in Seattle.

This all started with Heidi's and Ramona's push for that Community Values Statement and hasn't stopped yet.

Dora Taylor said...

I was at the state legislative session last year and I watched them and others work it. These folks are not in it for our children but for themselves and their own political gain.

Gates is about manufacturing consent and he is doing that now with the PTA. What better way to reach all parents in all schools than to go through the PTA? He knows what he's doing.

The only thing that Ramona has said about the governor's proposal to put the entire educational department under her control was that the Ombudsman program would be dissolved. This is a HUGE deal and would make any politician with an eye on their next election to do whatever their funders would want them to do. See the former governor of California and how he stocked up his state school board with charter school operators.

And from the WSPTA website, a couple of their priorities:

# Consider traits other than just seniority when laying off teachers (Reduction in Force policies)

# New model for teacher compensation: Emphasize rewarding teacher effectiveness in improving student learning.

We all know what that means at this point.

And to answer your question Clementine, Gates money always comes with strings attached.

Dora Taylor said...

And yes! Parents should start getting more involved with their PTA's and moving up the ladder into positions of leadership.

This only happened because there was no one else filling in the void.

Dora Taylor said...

See: The Stepford Wives of Race to the Top: Our PTA.