Governor Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School Districts Plan is just a Small Part of a Large Overall Conspiracy to Privatize America’s Public Schools. An Unholy Alliance of Big Business, Big Government, and Big Education is Destroying Local Schools and Local Control of Public Education.
By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD and Norreese L. Haynes, BSBM
What are the Opportunity School Districts all about? Money. Pure and simple. This raw effort to privatize the public schools of Georgia is a small part of a behemoth hostile takeover of the public schools of America by private multinational companies, mainly Microsoft and the Gates Foundation, Pearson Education and the Pearson Foundation, and the Broad Foundation. Bill Gates and Eli Broad are American billionaires, and Pearson Education is the largest producer of educational materials (textbooks, teacher and student preparation materials, standardized tests, software, etc.) in the world and has been around for nearly 250 years. The latter is a British company which dominates the educational supplies to American schools and universities, from kindergartens to universities.
Norreese Haynes, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of MACE, and Dr. John Trotter, Chairman of MACE
American Public Education is a nearly one trillion dollar industry, and Pearson a few years back realized quickly how profitable this market was. In 2008, Bill Gates decided to jump in on the push for Common Core, a nationwide and standardized curriculum of our public schools. He jumped into this cause full force and became the leader for pushing for the adoption of Common Core by state legislatures and state school boards throughout the country. He too saw how enormously profitable this could be for Microsoft. So, he first set out to “buy off” the National Governors’ Conference, pumping millions upon millions of dollars into the Conference’s trough. He even used Jeb Bush to lobby them hard when the governors initially resisted the notion of a national curriculum because they felt that it infringed upon the local control of education. Gates spread his billions around profusely among the public education community, “buying off” any potential voices of opposition, whether it was in the colleges of education in universities or from the teacher unions. He gave millions to NEA and AFT.
Bill Gates and Eli Broad had strong connections (because of their donations) with Arne Duncan when he was a political appointee to the superintendency in Chicago, and their connections followed him to Washington, D. C. when President Obama named him the U. S. Secretary of Education. So, when the U. S. Congress appropriated several billion dollars for public education, leaving the details up to Secretary Duncan about the spreading of the monies to the states in the Race to the Top program, naturally Duncan including in the measures the mandated adoption of Common Core, with the additional mandates for merit pay for teachers (with a strong element of the students evaluating the teachers) and unlimited charter schools in the states.
The Opportunity School Districts that the Nathan Deal Administration came up with for so-called “failing schools” is all part of the overall effort to privatize the schools which billionaires Gates and Broad want as well as does Pearson Education. Governor Deal didn’t just come up with this idea on his own. He is a bit player in this raw and shameless hostile takeover of our public schools. If Gates, Pearson, and Broad are the priests in this takeover conspiracy (and it is indeed a conspiracy), Deal is just one of their small acolytes, much smaller than other acolytes like Arne Duncan and Michelle Rhee.
There are gross and unconscionable profits in this takeover game. In 2013, the Los Angeles School System paid more than one billion (yes, billion!) dollars to purchase iPads from Pearson for its students. The State of Illinois recently paid Pearson $138 million to develop their standardized tests. In 2014, Pearson commenced to take over the certification and evaluation of the teachers in the State of New York, at a handsome sum of money. Now Bill Gates has his eyes focused on taking over teacher education. Again, there are billions of dollars to be made in the preparation of teachers and their subsequent certification and even more money in the standardized evaluation of these teachers. All of these monies made by these voracious and greedy philanthropic vultures is being made at the expense of turning our children into unimaginative machines and turning our teachers into mindless and robotic serfs.
Before the hostile takeover could began, there first had to be a way of narrowly defining successful or failing schools. This has been done via the standardized tests. These tests are very, very narrow in focus, only testing the students in the areas of verbal-linguistics and math-analytical. They test only these two areas of intelligence. But, we know from the research of Dr. Howard Gardner at the Harvard Graduate School of Education that there are eight or nine or more areas of intelligence, including musical, artistic, vocational-technical, athletic-kinesthetic, dance, drama, social-political, speech, science, humanities, history-civics, etc. Why not test the children in these areas of intelligence?
It is so much easier to just administer to students a quick and dirty, narrowly-focused verbal-linguistics and math-analytical exam, get the result in, and then label the school as a “failing” school no matter how well the community and students love the teachers and principal and no matter how much progress is being made. Boom! It’s a “failing” school because it is located in a very impoverished environment and the kids come to school with virtually no readiness skills, but the teachers are performing miracles. But, if their almighty test scores on these very narrowly-focused exams are not as high as those children in affluent neighborhoods, then Governor Deal wants to turn over these schools to businessmen who do not have a stake in the communities of these schools except to make a quick buck. They will be complete and utter failures, despite the extra resources that the State will allot to these schools because they are now Governor Deal’s grand project.
We were reading a blog the other day that came out in 2014. Look at this quote: “Counting on widespread failure of the Common Core State Standards, school districts and parents will be pushed to purchase even more training technology, teachers in low-ranked schools will be fired, and school[s] will be turned over to private management.” Does this sound familiar? This is exactly what is happening now. Collectively, we have allowed these billionaires to define what a “successful” public school is. Bill and Melinda Gates, the billionaire couple who has been unconscionably and shamelessly allowed to set the entire agenda for public education in the United States probably never even darkened a public school door until way into their adult years. Their precious children also attended the wealthy and tony private school, the Lakeside School in Seattle. Yet, Bill Gates has anointed himself as the Messiah of American Public Education (MAPE). At least the Pope is appointed by the College of Cardinals, but the MAPE anoints himself. The MAPE orchestrates this hostile takeover of local public schools by the unholy alliance of Big Business, Big Government, and Big Education.
For more details about these issues, consult with The MACE Manifesto: The Politically Incorrect, Irreverent, and Scatological Examination of What is Wrong with American Public Education, a more than 600 page tome that we published in the fall of 2014. © MACE, 2016.