Monday, August 05, 2013

State-by-State Evidence of Jeb Bush's Ed Reform Machinations

I know that many believe that the drumbeat, the concern, the outrage over corporate ed reform is a few voices in a canary mine.  Or exaggerating.  Or those voices are conspiracy therorists.

And yet the evidence is stacking up as I have documented.  Against TFA, against charters, and now, in one of the biggest exposes - corporate ed reform.   The good news is that this house of cards is sagging and will fall. 

From the eagle eye of Washington Post writer of The Answer Sheet, Valerie Strauss, comes a story about thousands of public disclosure e-mails, across six states, that show quite a lot of linkage between corporate ed reform and making money off of it.

The non-profit that did the public disclosure request and released the information is In the Public Interest.  

The correspondence is available at:
• Rhode Island: http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/node/2746
• Oklahoma: http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/node/2745
• New Mexico: http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/node/2744
• Maine: http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/node/2743
• Louisiana: http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/node/2742
• Florida: http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/node/2741

Basically:

Emails between the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), founded and chaired by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and state education officials show that the foundation is writing state education laws and regulations in ways that could benefit its corporate funders. The emails, obtained through public records requests, reveal that the organization, sometimes working through its Chiefs For Change affiliate, wrote and edited laws, regulations and executive orders, often in ways that improved profit opportunities for the organization's financial backers.

There are strong connections between FEE and the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), according to the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy.

Most concerning are the findings that reveal:


• In New Mexico, FEE acted as a broker to organize meetings between their corporate donors and individual Chiefs.

• Maine moved the FEE policy agenda through legislation and executive order that would remove barriers to online education and in some cases would require online classes - including eliminating class size caps and student-teacher ratios, allowing public dollars to flow to online schools and classes, eliminate ability of local school districts to limit access to virtual schools.

• FEE Deputy Director Deirdre Finn wrote, "We can definitely help develop an executive order," referring to what became a February 2012 executive order by Gov. LePage directing his education commissioner to develop a plan to open the door to more cyber-schooling in Maine.

• In Florida, FEE helped write legislation that would increase the use of a proprietary test (FCAT) under contract to Pearson, an FEE donor. 
FEE staff sought legislation that would count the state test, known as FCAT, as more than 50% of the state's school accountability measure.


• Foundation for Excellence in Education CEO Patricia Levesque urged state officials to introduce SendHub, a communications tool, into their state's schools. News reports indicate that Levesque's boss, Jeb Bush, is an investor in SendHub.

From the Strauss story (and important because this A-F grading of schools was pushed last legislative session and may show its face again):

The e-mails are between the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) and a group Bush set up called Chiefs for Change, whose members are current and former state education commissioners who support Bush’s agenda of school reform, which includes school choice, online education, retention of third-graders who can’t read and school accountability systems based on standardized tests. That includes evaluating teachers based on student test scores and grading schools A-F based on test scores. John White of Louisiana is a current member, as is Tony Bennett, the new commissioner of Florida who got the job after Indiana voters rejected his Bush-style reforms last November and tossed him out of office.

Ms. Strauss doesn't note (but I will) that Mr. Bennett just lost his job in Florida last week over the allegations that he changed test score grading systems to benefit several charter schools in Indiana where he was previously employed.

Donald Cohen, chair of the nonprofit In the Public Interest, a resource center on privatization and responsible for contracting in the public sector, said the e-mails show how education companies that have been known to contribute to the foundation are using the organization “to move an education agenda that may or not be  in our interests but are in theirs.”

If you don't believe that corporate ed reform is out to remake public education in THEIR own vision, for THEIR own benefit, you are either naive or not paying attention.  

5 comments:

mirmac1 said...

I hope In the Public Interest requests emails from WA. We already know OSPI and the PESB are in bed with these folks. I hope they're starting to sweat....

Mary Griffin said...

So who gave the Foundation for Excellence in Education $1.65 million over from 2010-2012? Dead cat swingers from this town know it's the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Anonymous said...

Along those lines:

http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2021540805_teachamericaxml.html

NotAFan

Anonymous said...

Link to the Los Angeles Times full version is here:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-adv-teach-for-america-20130804,0,7522948,full.story

-- Ivan Weiss

dan dempsey said...

Wow that LA Times piece on TFA was quite a read.

TFA gets 30% of its funding from Governments. .... so our tax dollars are helping to transform education into a form where 5 week wonders displace fully trained teachers. That is quite a change from TFAs beginnings.

Note that Chase Bank is a proud donor to TFA.... and likely are many other corporations. Its not just WalMart.