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
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
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
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
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
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.