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Madfloridian's Journal
Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Apr 08th 2009, 07:52 PM
the software that has been the subject of investigations. We posted about it here a lot a couple of years ago. But this is good time to remember that when corporate and political interests hold sway and affect public schools, there is no good outcome.

Neil Bush's software program was unabashedly pushed into public schools in several states. I know it was sort of forced on some counties in Florida by political means. I don't know if the software called Ignite is good or not, that is not the point of this post. Here is the website of Neil's company.

First off the financing is questionable, and it may have given foreign voices a chance to have a voice in our public schools.

Finances
To fund Ignite!, Neil Bush and others raised $23 million from U.S. investors, including his parents, Barbara Bush and George H.W. Bush, as well as businessmen from Taiwan, Japan, Kuwait, the British Virgin Islands and the United Arab Emirates, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. As of 2006, at least $2 million had come from Taiwanese interests that had given Neil Bush a job consulting for a semiconductor manufacturer, and at least $3 million came from Saudi interests. A foundation linked to Reverend Sun Myung Moon donated $1 million for a research project by the company in Washington, D.C.-area schools.

In 2002, Ignite! entered into a partnership with a Mexican company, Grupo Carso Telecom to outsource many software and product development functions. Regarding the deal, Ignite! President (then CFO) Ken Leonard stated, "That's turned out to be great." Ignite! laid off 42% of its in-house workforce (21 individuals) in preparation for the partnership. Leonard said that outsourcing production will give it the resources to develop additional course software more quickly, and that the company wants to develop an entire middle school curriculum featuring the basics of language arts, math and science.

Russian billionaire expatriate Boris Berezovsky has been an investor in Bush's Ignite! program since at least 2003.(citation needed)

In December 2003, a Washington Post Style article said that Ignite! was paying Neil Bush a salary of $180,000 per year.

Wiki on Ignite


Imagine a Sun Myung Moon foundation researching schools in the DC area. That seems so odd.

There was some uproar in 2006 about the fact that funds for Katrina victims had been earmarked to pay for Neil Bush's program. With the aid of Barbara Bush.

From the Houston Chronicle in 2006

Katrina funds earmarked to pay for Neil Bush's software program

Former first lady Barbara Bush donated an undisclosed amount of money to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund with specific instructions that the money be spent with an educational software company owned by her son Neil. Since then, the Ignite Learning program has been given to eight area schools that took in substantial numbers of Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

"Mrs. Bush wanted to do something specifically for education and specifically for the thousands of students flooding into the Houston schools," said Jean Becker, former President Bush's chief of staff. "She knew that HISD was using this software program, and she's very excited about this program, so she wanted to make it possible for them to expand the use of this program."


Also donations were made to the Houston area schools.

Barbara and Neil Bush presented the donated programs to Houston-area schools this winter. Districts that received the free curriculum include Houston, Alvin, Katy, Pearland and Spring and the New Orleans West charter school.

There are 40 Ignite programs being used in the Houston area, and 15 in the Houston school district, said Ken Leonard, president of Ignite. Information about the effectiveness of the program, through district-generated reports, was not readily available Wednesday, according to an HISD spokeswoman.

Two years ago, the school district raised eyebrows when it expanded the program by relying heavily on private donations. In February 2004, the Houston school board unanimously agreed to accept $115,000 in charitable donations from businesses and individuals who insisted the money be spent on Ignite. The money covered half the bill for the software, which cost $10,000 per school.


Looks like the Bush family profited from the NCLB program.

From the Institute for Language and Education policy.

Bush Family Profits from 'No Child' Act

Originally from the LA Times.

company headed by President Bush's brother and partly owned by his parents is benefiting from Republican connections and federal dollars targeted for economically disadvantaged students under the No Child Left Behind Act. With investments from his parents, George H.W. and Barbara Bush, and other backers, Neil Bush's company, Ignite! Learning, has placed its products in 40 U.S. school districts and now plans to market internationally.

At least 13 U.S. school districts have used federal funds available through the president's signature education reform, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, to buy Ignite's portable learning centers at $3,800 apiece.

..."Most of Ignite's business has been obtained through sole-source contracts without competitive bidding. Neil Bush has been directly involved in marketing the product. In addition to federal or state funds, foundations and corporations have helped buy Ignite products. The Washington Times Foundation, backed by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, head of the South Korea-based Unification Church, has peppered classrooms throughout Virginia with Ignite's COWs under a $1-million grant. Oil companies and Middle East interests with long political ties to the Bush family have made similar bequests. Aramco Services Co., an arm of the Saudi-owned oil company, has donated COWs to schools, as have Apache Corp., BP and Shell Oil Co.

Neil Bush said he is a businessman who does not attempt to exert political influence, and he called The Times' inquiries about his venture made just before the election "entirely political."


There is an excellent article at Truthout from 2007 about an investigation of this Neil Bush involvement by the Inspector General of the Department of Education.

Inquiry Set Into Purchases From Bush Brother's Firm

Washington - The inspector general of the Department of Education has said he will examine whether federal money was inappropriately used by three states to buy educational products from a company owned by Neil Bush, the president's brother.

John P. Higgins Jr., the inspector general, said he would review the matter after a group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, detailed at least $1 million in spending from the No Child Left Behind program by school districts in Texas, Florida and Nevada to buy products made by Mr. Bush's company, Ignite Learning of Austin, Tex. Mr. Higgins stated his plans in a letter to the group sent last week.

Members of the group and other critics in Texas contend that school districts are buying Ignite's signature product, the Curriculum on Wheels, because of political considerations. The product, they said, does not meet standards for financing under the No Child Left Behind Act, which allocates federal money to help students raise their achievement levels, particularly in elementary school reading.


When anyone, no matter who they may be, begin to profit from public schools...then there are going to be problems.

As the continued involvement of private companies continues under the philosophies of Education Secretary, Arne Duncan...we need to be on guard.

The forces for privatization are strong. Greed is the motivator. The corporations want more control and profit from education and health care.

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