"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Gates Foundation Funds ALEC

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been battling public schools for a while now (See HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE). Last month, the Foundation took another step towards privatizing public education by issuing a grant to ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The Gates Foundation Grant is for more than $375,000 and will go to
...educate and engage its membership on more efficient state budget approaches to drive greater student outcomes, as well as educate them on beneficial ways to recruit, retain, evaluate and compensate effective teaching based upon merit and achievement.
That sounds suspiciously like developing state laws which require the "evaluation of schools and teachers using student test scores" as well as methods for cutting state education budgets.

What is ALEC?

The short answer is that ALEC is
a corporate-funded conservative advocacy group that specializes in lobbying state legislatures for enactment of favorable legislation.
The truth, though is much more complicated.

ALEC is a "corporate run organization which provides state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line." The web site, ALEC Exposed explains it this way...
Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law.
What corporations support ALEC?

The list of corporate supporters of ALEC reads like a Who's Who of the corporations against public education. Its supporters include the Koch family, Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Koch-managed Claude R. Lambe Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and the Walton Family Foundation.

(Click HERE for a complete list of non-profits affiliated with ALEC)

Why is Bill Gates giving money to ALEC?

While others have focused on union busting, one of the goals of ALEC legislation, Bill Gates has focused more on the privatization of public education. Profit is the primary goal of privatizers and Bill Gates, while claiming to support public education, is more likely interested in seeing public education become a profit making enterprise.

Bill Gates is in this for the money, not philanthropy. In a must-read article titled Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools in Dissent Magazine, Joanne Barkan wrote,
I’ve heard, “They do good work on health care in Africa. Leave them alone.” But the Gates Foundation has created much the same problem in health funding as in education reform. Take, for example, the Gates project to eradicate malaria.

On February 16, 2008, the New York Times reported on a memo that it had obtained, written by Dr. Arata Kochi, head of the World Health Organization’s malaria programs, to WHO’s director general. Because the Gates Foundation was funding almost everyone studying malaria, Dr. Arata complained, the cornerstone of scientific research—independent review—was falling apart.
Gates' most infamous case of screwing up public education was the funding of the Small Schools Initiative. Again, Barkan wrote...
In November 2008, Bill and Melinda gathered about one hundred prominent figures in education at their home outside Seattle to announce that the small schools project hadn’t produced strong results. They didn’t mention that, instead, it had produced many gut-wrenching sagas of school disruption, conflict, students and teachers jumping ship en masse, and plummeting attendance, test scores, and graduation rates. No matter, the power couple had a new plan: performance-based teacher pay, data collection, national standards and tests, and school “turnaround” (the term of art for firing the staff of a low-performing school and hiring a new one, replacing the school with a charter, or shutting down the school and sending the kids elsewhere).
Now, the Gates Foundation is sending its money to the place where state legislation is written. Supported by people like Charles and David Koch, Richard de Vos, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Indiana Superinttendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett and others, ALEC has even more money with which to achieve its goal of privatizing public education.

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You might also want to read this...

Gates Foundation Grants ALEC A Hefty Sum For 'Education Reform'


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