Linda Shaw's final article in the Seattle Times was printed this morning. She writes about the various "education advocacy groups" that are heavily funded by Gates including League of Education Voters, the Partnership for Learning and Stand for Children. From her article:
Here at home, as well as nationally, the Seattle-based foundation is a powerful player in public education. It underwrites groups pushing for change, bankrolls projects and helps out-of-state organizations establish themselves here.
With that backing, Washington state now has a broader, stronger group of voices clamoring to bring much of the national education reform agenda here.
Some consider that progress, saying the foundation is helping bring Washington out of the backwater when it comes to education policy.
But others disagree, saying the foundation's deep pockets buy more influence than it deserves.
Both Sue Peters and I are quoted. There's also a quote from the foundation:
The foundation says that while it's not shy about sharing what it thinks needs to be done, it doesn't claim to have all the answers.
The goal, said David Bley, director of the foundation's Pacific Northwest programs, is "to create more educational opportunities for kids. Period."
They may not have all the answers but yes, I think they believe they have the right answers.
There is also this:
Bley calls it a bottom-up approach — one in which the foundation has a seat at the table, but doesn't direct what happens.
Very funny and okay, true. I'm sure they don't direct everything but I'm pretty sure they make their wishes known.
The article calls out what the Gates Foundation has done for SPS:
And a few years ago, it gave Seattle Public Schools $6.9 million, much of it to help the district make better use of data.
Yes, and we all know how well that has worked out.
"What Gates and others are trying to do is strengthen community and give kids the future they need," said Lisa Macfarlane of the League of Education Voters.
I categorically disagree. I do not believe the Gates Foundation has strengthen community in the Puget Sound region around the topic of education. I don't think they want to hear what communities and families would REALLY like to have help with in getting better academic outcomes for their children.
TFA was mentioned:
Gates also gave $2.5 million to help Teach for America open shop in Washington state. While the foundation doesn't consider that advocacy, critics see it as another ill-advised attempt to bring the national education reform agenda to Washington state.
Oh, that's not advocacy. What is it? Charity for the educational non-profit that has the most money of any education group in the country?
An interesting last quote from Bree Dusseault's husband:
Chris Eide, a former Seattle teacher, said some board members of his newly formed group, Teachers United, worried they would be labeled corporate sellouts.
They ultimately decided to apply, he said, because they didn't think the foundation would try to control what they do. And besides, he said, they knew they wouldn't be alone.
"Everybody," he said, "is getting money from the Gates Foundation."
There are two things to say to those statements.
One, yes, everyone IS getting money from Gates because there is so little money out there for non-profits. Gates may not control all that they do but boy, you sure don't bite the hand that feeds you so mum's the word on any criticism about the Foundation. (Also, Mr. Eide was a very gung-ho teacher at Mercer so I'm surprised to see the word "former."
Also, Gates created his own teachers group - Teach Plus. This from a front-page NY Times article on the Foundation:
Mr. Hess, a frequent blogger on education whose institute received $500,000 from the Gates foundation in 2009 “to influence the national education debates,” acknowledged that he and others sometimes felt constrained. “As researchers, we have a reasonable self-preservation instinct,” he said. “There can be an exquisite carefulness about how we’re going to say anything that could reflect badly on a foundation.”
The foundation paid a New York philanthropic advisory firm $3.5 million “to mount and support public education and advocacy campaigns.” It also paid a string of universities to support pieces of the Gates agenda.
In 2009, the foundation spent $3.5 million creating an advocacy group to buttress its $290 million investment in programs to increase teacher effectiveness in four areas of the country: Tampa, Pittsburgh, Memphis and Los Angeles.
A document describing plans for the group, posted on a Washington Post blog in March, said it would mobilize local advocates, “establish strong ties to local journalists” and should “go toe to toe” with union officials in explaining contracts and state laws to the public.
But to avoid being labeled a “tool of the foundation,” the document said the group should “maintain a low public profile.”
Oh Bill, what a tangled web we weave.
Boy I wish I could sit down and talk with this guy.
Update: Here's a link to The Answer Sheet, an education blog at the Washington Post about who gets the most education dollars.
There had been a study that showed from 2000-2008, philanthropists had given away $684 million to ed reform organizations.
The analysis, the first comprehensive examination of philanthropy activity in this area, showed that the biggest chunk of the money — 38 percent — went to teacher recruitment, while 22 percent was spent on professional development, 14 percent on teacher preparation and less than 10 percent for everything else.
Teach for America, the nonprofit organization that recruits newly graduated college students to commit to teach for two years in high-needs schools, was tops on the list of recipients, with $213,444,431, or 31 percent of the total. This doesn’t include at least $150 million it received from foundations and the U.S. government in the past year, which is outside the scope of the report.