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September 21, 2015

Down Educationís Primrose Path

Cindy A. Rose

In my last column I left you pondering if Gov. Larry Hogan was pushing us toward non-local education, i.e., education influenced, created and guided by outsiders. More specifically, corporate outsiders.


Because Martin O’Malley failed to make appointments to the State Board of Education, Governor Hogan gets to appoint six new board members this year.  Six members of an 11 member board gives the governor’s vision a strong chance of quickly moving forward. If his vision is corporate control, it’s going to get ugly in the schoolyard.


Let’s take a peek into the State Board of Education he is putting together and see why I might think he is no fan of “local control.”


The first two appointments Governor Hogan made:


Chester Finn – President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The Fordham Institute received grant funding from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the tune of at least $7,811,462 (according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Grant Tracker).


He also serves on the Board of National Council on Teacher Quality that received about $10,995,002 from The Gates Foundation.


The Fordham Institute has been pro-Common Core from its beginnings. They were paid handsomely by the funding arm of Common Core; that’s right – The Gates Foundation.


National Alliance is committed to growing charters. Not charters like we are familiar with in Maryland, but private-run charters paid for with public dollars, education controlled by outsiders paid for by us.


The funds for both were specifically earmarked for “college ready” projects, a/k/a Common Core.


Andy Smarick – Partner at Bellwether Education Partners. Bellwether also received grant funding from The Gates Foundation to the tune of at least $6,471,890. He also co-found the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Guess who they received around $16,987,242 from? Yep, The Gates Foundation.


Mr. Smarick was also a founding member of 50CAN. This is an education advocacy group that receives funding from, wait for it, The Gates Foundation in the amount of $2,474,492 to create branches in neighboring states. It advocate for corporate education reform of the Gates variety; i.e., high on student testing, lacking in research; over promising and underperforming, stripping local input while exacerbating school funding concerns and technology challenges.


50CAN has a local chapter called MarylandCAN. It looks for candidates who support their educational goals and then helps get them elected. It lobby legislatures as well. Jason Botel, local Knowledge in Power Program (KIPP) founder and director of MarylandCAN, is a cheerleader for some of Governor Hogan’s education actions to date. Mr. Botel had an interest in Hogan getting public funding for private charters bill. Luckily, that one failed. I’m pro charter, but not the kind that seeks to give public funding to private entities.


Why does any of this matter? Both appointees come from organizations that push Gates’ education reform. Using Gate’s education model means every school in every county in every state will need to purchase Gates created support products.


It can be argued, and the financial evidence, past missteps, and close ties can show, that Messrs. Finn and Smarick were put in place to further the agenda of Common Core and the nationalization of local education, the end result of which will strip parents, teachers and communities of any kind of meaningful say in what happens in education in their hometown.


You can trace almost any large education entity that was/is pro Common Core back to The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Two Gates Foundation staffers ended up at the U.S. Department of Education. Try as you might, you can’t deny Bill Gates’ heavy hand in the current corporate education reform.


Why is Bill Gates running around giving away millions to implement Common Core and everything that goes with it? Well, Bill Gates has said this about Common Core: “When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well – and that will unleash powerful market forces in the service of better teaching. For the first time, there will be a large base of customers eager to buy products that can help every kid learn and every teacher get better.” He’s going to make billions, that’s why.


Why Governor Hogan wants to march arm-in-arm with those who seek to destroy public education for profit is a head scratcher. But it sure seems to me he is telegraphing that’s the direction he’s headed.

Twitter: @CSRose1963


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