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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Mar 06th 2010, 11:08 AM
Diane Ravitch, former Assistant Secretary of Education in the Bush administration, has a new book out. The title of the book is The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.

She has a chapter dealing with the way billionaire groups have taken over the education system.

Former GOP insider: Billionaire Boys' Club dismantling public education

Nationally known education commentator and former privatizer ally Diane Ravitch, a New York-based fellow at the Hoover Institution who was Assistant Secretary of Education in the Bush I administration, has been shifting steadily into the role of resistance leader. Lately Ravitch, an NYU professor, has been calling out New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg over his heavy-handed steamrolling of the city's school system.

Ravitch now sounds as fiery as the urban parent activists who are popping up around the country to protest the Billionaire Eduphilanthropreneurs’ Club effort to take over our schools. The notion that a former Republican White House insider would all but out-rabble-rouse activists like my colleagues Gina Arlotto in D.C., Sharon Higgins in Oakland or Leonie Haimson in New York has me knocked speechless:

"It appears that the Big Money has placed its bets on dismantling public education."

Ravitch speaks of NY schools and Bloomberg and Klein in particular, but it could refer to any district in our country now.

The Department of Education has closed nearly 100 regular public schools and replaced them with charter schools or new schools. … All such decisions are made without consultation. And the chancellor goes around the country boasting of his success in closing established schools and replacing them with new schools and charter schools.

Most bizarre is when the mayor and chancellor show up at charter school rallies and tell the parents that
public schools are no good and that they are lucky to be in a charter. I often wonder at such times if these two have forgotten that they are responsible for the 98 percent of the city’s public school children who are in regular schools. It’s like the president of Macy’s telling his customers to shop at Wal-Mart.

Of course, this course of action has the enthusiastic endorsement of the Billionaire Boys Club, that is, the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and the Walton Foundation. They know what needs to be done, and they don't see the point of listening to such unenlightened types as parents and teachers.

At some point the music and the upheaval will stop. But when it does, will there still be a public school system? Or will the schools all be run by hedge fund managers, dilettantes, and EMOs?

Here is some of the transcript from her recent interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now.

AMY GOODMAN: Diane Ravitch, we said at the top of this segment that the Department of Education announced sixteen finalists for its first round of the “Race to the Top” competition. They’re going to deliver something like $4.35 billion in school reform grants. And the Washington Post is reporting almost all of these finalists got money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In your book, chapter ten is called “The Billionaire Boys Club.” Explain.

DIANE RAVITCH: “The Billionaires Boys Club” is a discussion of how we’re in a new era of the foundations and their relation to education. We have never in the history of the United States had foundations with the wealth of the Gates Foundation and some of the other billionaire foundations—the Walton Family Foundation, The Broad Foundation. And these three foundations—Gates, Broad and Walton—are committed now to charter schools and to evaluating teachers by test scores. And that’s now the policy of the US Department of Education. We have never seen anything like this, where foundations had the ambition to direct national educational policy, and in fact are succeeding.

Not only do they have the ambition, they have the access to the very highest levels of this administration....including the president.

And she mentions how Arne Duncan's Race to the Top project is run by someone from a group whose goal is to promote charter schools.

The Obama administration appointed somebody from the NewSchools Venture Fund to run this so-called “Race to the Top.” The NewSchools Venture Fund exists to promote charter schools. So, what we’re seeing with the proliferation—with this demand from the federal government, if you want to be part of this $4 billion fund, you better be prepared to create lots more charter schools. Well, it’s all predetermined by who the personnel is. And, you know, so we see this immense influence of the foundations.

And I think that with the proliferation of charter schools, the bottom-line issue is the survival of public education, because we’re going to see many, many more privatized schools and no transparency as to who’s running them, where the money is going, and everything being determined by test scores.

So the whole picture, I think—I just wish that people wouldn’t refer to this as reform, because when we talk about “Race to the Top,” we’re talking about a principle that is antithetical to the fundamental idea of American education. The fundamental idea, which has been enshrined at least since the Brown decision of 1954, was equal educational opportunity. “Race to the Top” is not equal educational opportunity. It is a race in which one or two or three states race to the top to have more privatized schools, more test-based accountability, more basic skills, no emphasis on a broad curriculum for all kids, and no equal educational opportunity. I think that’s wrong. I think it’s also not the role of the federal government to do what’s being done and to call it reform.

Here is more about who is running the Race to the Top.

Corporate Welfare Venture Fund Specialist to Lead Duncan's "Race Over the Cliff" Fund

With $5 billion burning a hole in his pocket and with the ed industry leeches like Whittle lined up at the feeding trough and with the Oligarchs tapping their sharp pencils on the edge of their desks, Arne announced yesterday that a bundler from the corporate tax evasion outfit, the New Schools Venture Fund (NSVF), would be in charge of handing out the dough.

NSVF is a "non-profit" clearinghouse of sorts for corporate cash looking to generate tax credits in ways that shape social policy to benefit the corporate ideology of unrestrained greed.

Most of the faces of school reform are billionaires.

Faces of school reform. Too many billionaires.

As the Indypendent says:

Led by a band of billionaires, the school-reform movement has gained increasing momentum during the past decade, spreading its reach into urban communities across the country. But instead of truly transforming public schools, private funders want to restructure them. They insist running schools like a business is the solution. At stake is not only control over hundreds of billions of dollars in local, state and federal funding, but also the future of the next generation of schoolchildren.

And few are showing concern.

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