~ Advocating for vibrant public education that supports youth to make the changes the adults can’t seem to make~

To the Girl that Stole My Tulips

IMG_2042My friend Gemma Benton, a powerful healer and amazing artist, has been using her love for art and cool old junk.  I love her artwork and it has re-ignited the multi-media artist in me. Gemma is a deep person, so her artwork reflects her communication through art.  She creates an experience that is old and earthy, that makes the person taking in her artwork reconnect and think.

She was describing to me new online social media that is being used these days to help us get up to speed and express ourselves… like the difference between Tweets, Instagram and textagram. All I have to say is “wow, people are so creative!”

Gemma’s mission had me reflecting too.  Yesterday I taught a full-day graduate class on facilitating conversations about the gross inequities in our society, the impact of classism, racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, monolinguality, etc.   I shared with my class about my deep concern about the long-term consequences of public schooling.  Specifically, the lack of long-term relationships that occur because of the organization of public schooling.

Young people in today’s public schools do not make quality relationships when they are not supposed to talk, when they are shuffled and re-organized into another class of 30+ students, a few times a day in elementary school and around 8 times in middle school if you count the shuffling that happens in bus lines, the cafeteria, at recess and in the gym. When are interpersonal problems addressed? When is amazing conflict resolution skills demonstrated, practiced and reflected upon? When do the sub-groups formed in diverse schools begin? Why does the experience in schools seem to make that problem worse rather than dealing with it when it begins dividing youth in the cafeteria?  The context of bullying and hazing so prevalent in American schools, plays out into social unrest, approaching each other with the concern of predatory potentials, rather than as a welcome relative.

In the context of such human insanity, especially in forms of media that depict socio-pathology, like Batman, StarWars, and the Golden Compass, being outdoors helps us reconnect to the spirit that is our own nature.  “Nature” means “at its essence” and it also means “our natural environment, Mother Nature.”  She is the Mother of “the essence” played out in all the diversity of species of jellyfish, flowers, bugs, trees, cacti, lizards, bears, and bacteria.  We reconnect to ourselves when paying attention to Mother Nature because, the essence is each and everyone, it IS our essence. When surrounded by even a low dose of human insanity, which includes the structure of this society, many of us seek a cure.

At this moment, this beautiful girl between 15 and 20 something years old–I am too old to tell now–has quickly stepped into my driveway and grabbed a few of the most gorgeous pink tulips to grow in my garden.  She isn’t smiling either. I sensed she doesn’t feel good stealing them. Why is it worth that feeling? This beautiful woman seeking those beautiful tulips… I think “How so many young people feel wounded/changed by a constant evaluation of their beauty.  Media teaches us to seek an exterior standard of perfection.

Real beauty, like those tulips, is an awakening force of the heart, because beauty is known in the heart, not the skin. I hope for the girl that stole my tulips, that she feels beautiful today like that. That beauty you see in those tulips is in you. May you know that you can only see the beauty because it is in you.  Then the fight can be over.  Keep the tulips.

•••• Thank you Gemma and your ancestors who inspire me to these kinds of places.

Teachers Are Not To Blame for Economic Troubles in U.S.A.

deskA response to Robert Gordon’s NYTimes editorial titled “The Great Stagnation of American Education” on September 7, 2013. Dr. Robert Gordon argues that since the U.S.A.’s economic growth has historically “gone hand-in-hand with rising educational attainment,” the current struggle for economic growth is the fault of the public school system. His interest to reverse the economic slide is a valid one.  In Gordon’s favor, there is substantial evidence that shows that students who attend wealthy schools, especially private schools, achieve collectively higher scores on standardized achievement tests than do students attending poor schools. He—and I agree—suggests that our educational systems are being under-valued. But Gordon’s argument blames public education for the economy in a causal way, one that ignores the long-term results of broad U.S. economic policies and overlooks the strides occurring in public schools.

Gordon inaccurately argues that educational attainment determines lifelong earning wages and that “companies pay better-educated people higher wages because they are more productive.” First, publically traded industries often rely upon a how-low-can-you-go workforce, which was a NAFTA impetus to move “American” jobs overseas. The current post-industrial workforce is so saturated with bachelors’ degreed workers, companies like Enterprise Rent-A-Car brag about its over-qualified workforce. In addition, Gordon overlooks increasing numbers of Ph.D.s working as part-time professors and who receive food stamps, as reported by last May’s Chronicle of Higher Education.

Second, meritocracy has long been a myth. Juliet Lapidos in her Sept. 11th, 2013 NYTimes editorial notes that “in 2012, the incomes of the top 1 percent rose nearly 20 percent.” In a meritocracy, how could the top 1 percent’s private education be that much better? If so, that education is deserving to all.

Third, high school achievement on standardized testing has increased two-grade levels over the past 30 years, while the economic roller coaster was initiating its dissent. Over the last 30 years students in public schools have made significant collective strides in educational achievement in mathematics and reading while the economy was tanking. Stanford University Professor, Dr. Sean Reardon analyzed the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores between 1971 – 2008.  This test is given to national cohorts age 9, 13, and 17. Since the 1970s, mathematics and reading NAEP scores have risen. An average nine-year-old today has the mathematics NAEP score of an average 11-year-old in the 1970s–two-years ahead of where the average nine-year-old was 35 years ago. This is cause to celebrate mathematics teachers and their students’ achievement nationally.

Gordon is accurate in the need for quality early childhood education. Dr. Reardon shows that the achievement gap does not change during the school years. High, middle and low-income youth (from 1943-2008 birth cohorts) enter school with differing achievement from their first steps into the kindergarten classroom and that difference stays relatively constant throughout their K-12 experience. He finds that the achievement gap is due to the highest income (top 10th percentile) youth’s scores rising in the past 30 years, which overshadow the rising slant of achievement by low and middle-income youth. This is a good argument to offer the education the top 10% receives, to all youth.

Gordon argues that our economic woes are squarely the result of educational woes by also withholding information about the economic causes of increased income inequality.  During the last 30 years of educational gains, according to Professor Joseph Stiglitz, author of The Price of Inequality, the U.S.A. has more income inequality before tax and transfer income in comparison to other industrialized nations and we do less about it because our government has rolled back policies that “corrected this market inequality.” We must consider how economic gains made on rent-seeking, predatory lending, anti-competitive practices, market manipulation, and the transportation of jobs overseas are causal factors in the economy that are relatively independent of broad achievement gains in public education. Paul Krugman reminds us that inequality is also a product of Bush tax cuts for high-income people. The arc of the rising income of the 1% is significantly disproportionate with their somewhat rising educational attainment.

At the foundation of Gordon’s argument is that the inequitable distribution of income is the direct result of a failing educational system. One: the educational system is achieving not failing. Two: the economic woes rest primarily on changes in economic policies. Three: Blaming schools is a cop out and it is an unrealistic goal for the fragile and under-funded public educational system.  So the question is still unanswered, who really is responsible for this economic crisis and who is going to make the necessary policy changes required to bring the much needed change in our economy?

Consider watching: Joseph Stiglitz: The Price of Inequality|The New School Dr. Sean Reardon: Income Inequality, Schooling, and Educational Outcomes From Graduate School to Welfare, The Chronicle of Higher Education Diane Ravitch’s Reign of Error  

Megan Rice’s allocution

Thank you Sr. Megan Rice for devoting your life to ending nuclear weapons and exposing the corruption at Y-12. I love you!

Transform Now Plowshares

Here is the prepared statement Megan Rice read to the court on Tuesday, February 18, 2014:



            As I sat observing the facial expressions of participants present in the hearing on January 28th, I sensed a clear sense of a shared mental reaction during the arguments on this restitution evidentiary Table submitted by the Prosecution (identification…) (display my Exhibit I)

I think we felt something of a Master’s compassionate consternation with the hypocrisy at his accusers.  (Luke 6:5-11  Mark 4:20-30)

I was stunned that 8 months had elapsed with apparently no prior conversations, out of court, between the opposing sides and the court in this case, and would have imagined it had been resolved by negotiation during those delays, and relegated to where it deserved to be disposed. – unworthy of evidence in any court of law.

This very document [hold up Exhibit 1] is…

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Open Letter to Portland Public Schools Board of Education

Dear Portland Public Schools Board of Education,

I am a former math teacher and high school principal. Now I teach teachers and school counselors. I want to be able to demonstrate to my students how the Portland Public School Board resisted the Common-Core-organization that seeks to break public education and teachers’ unions.  Please support teachers in every way possible. Protect them. A broken school district makes youth vulnerable to predatory online education, like K12 online and privatized, chartered schools.  K12 was started by junk-bond felon Michael Milken, where teachers now teach classes of up to 300.  K12’s stock is up, but its dropout rate is staggering.
The Common Core reform is a set up to take the power of education out of local control and put it in the hands of corporations via broad changes state power (OIEB in Oregon) that undermine our profession of teaching.  Horace Mann envisioned schools where young people developed relationships with each other across differences, across class, race, ability, in a way to create a society of skilled people that enjoy each other and work well together.
The Common Core reform is undermining your power to do that. Cuts to education have made this next to impossible and made schools vulnerable to a corporate takeover. You are in a set up. You are making decisions that impact so many children. Every child deserves an education just as good or better than the one you received. Let the public know that the organization of funding cuts orchestrated by corporate executives via Governor Kitzhaber and OEIB is damaging public education.  Be a leader for schooling where you learn to work together to solve the problems our city faces.
Please accept the Portland Association of Teachers’ proposals. Please let me know that you will not impose these sanctions on teachers, nor undermine the union’s steps to protect skilled teachers. All of which is what is happening to teachers in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.
Thank you
Michelle Maher, Ph.D.

Who Can We Boycott?: Who Benefits from or Invests in Pearson and Teach for America?

Common Core’s Corporate Relations with Pearson and Teach for America (TFA)

by Michelle Maher, Ph.D.

Teachers and their networks constitute enormous collective financial power.  This essay encourages public school teachers, administrators, and counselors’ networks to boycott and resist organizations that invest in and/or benefit from the (uninvited) corporate takeover of public education. Diane Ravitch’s new book Reign of Error outlines how hedge fund managers and investment advisors have organized a private corporate takeover of public education, through the leveraging of NCLB funding and “privatization options” in by the Federal Department of Education, public schools are being pushed out of “business.”  But teachers know the rules of “just business” often do not result in justice for public school youth, particularly those who attend low-income schools.

To deal with teachers’ resistance to new regimes, given the very real impact by massive strikes in Philadelphia, Seattle, Tucson, and  New York City, Teach for America organizes the replacement of certified teachers with under-trained and under-qualified instructional staff.  While NCLB is touted as helping children compete in the global market, it seems that (multi)national/global companies are interested in a monopoly of public school curricula and testing dissemination.

With this in mind, I have gathered a few of the (multi)national organizations that contribute to, invest in or benefit from Pearson and Teach for America. These are companies that stand to benefit from the privatization of public education. After the name of the firm, I indicate how it is related to either Pearson or Teach for America. Please consider letting them know that you are withdrawing YOUR business. Amana Mutual Funds Trust-Income Fund: Top mutual fund  holder in Pearson AT&T—donor for Teach for America BB&T Securities and Corp: Top institutional stock holder in Pearson Bank of America—Corporate Partner/Sponsor/Supporter/Investor with TFA Bertelsman (and by extension Time Warner, Sony, BMG)—Pearson Board Member’s Corporate Relationship Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—Pearson Board Member’s Corporate Relationship Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona—donor for Teach for America British Petroleum—Pearson Board Member’s Corporate Relationship Cisco—Corporate Partner/Sponsor/Supporter/Investor with TFA Citigroup, Citibank, CitiCorp —Pearson Board Member’s Corporate Relationship Coca-Cola Foundation—Corporate Partner/Sponsor/Supporter/Investor with TFA Credit Suisse Americas Foundation—Corporate Partner/Sponsor/Supporter/Investor with TFA DFA International Value Series: Top mutual fund  holder in Pearson Dimensional Fund Advisors, LP: Top institutional stock holder in Pearson General Mills Foundation—donor for Teach for America Goldman Sachs Gives—donor for Teach for America ExxonMobil Foundation—donor for Teach for America FedEx Corporation—donor for Teach for America Fidelity Investments/Internation—Corporate Partner/Sponsor/Supporter/Investor with TFA Freddie Mac Foundation—donor for Teach for America The Hartford—donor for Teach for America Hellman Family Foundation—donor for Teach for America Hewlett-Packard—donor for Teach for America Hostess Brands—Corporate Partner/Sponsor/Supporter/Investor with TFA Invesco Ltd.: Top institutional stock holder in Pearson JPMorgan Chase—donor for Teach for America, Top institutional stock holder in Pearson Lincoln VIP tr-SSgA Developed International 150 Fund: Top mutual fund  holder in Pearson Lowe’s—Corporate Partner/Sponsor/Supporter/Investor with TFA Michigan State Treasurer: Top institutional stock holder in Pearson Monsanto—donor for Teach for America Morgan Stanley—donor for Teach for America Nokia Corporation —Pearson Board Member’s Corporate Relationship Penguin Random House —Pearson Board Member’s Corporate Relationship PGA Tour—donor for Teach for America Power-GEN—Pearson Board Member’s Corporate Relationship Powershares Engh Traded Fd: Top mutual fund  holder in Pearson Ridgeworth Mid & Large Cap Value Equity Fd.: Top mutual fund  holder in Pearson Seventh Generation—Corporate Partner/Sponsor/Supporter/Investor with TFA Sterling Capital Management Company: Top institutional and mutual fund stock holder in Pearson Suntrust Banks, Inc.: Top institutional stock holder in Pearson SurveyMonkey—Corporate Partner/Sponsor/Supporter/Investor with TFA Symantec Foundation—donor for Teach for America Thornburg Investment Management Inc.: Top institutional stock holder in Pearson U.B.S. Financial Services: Top institutional stock holder in Pearson U.S. Bank—donor for Teach for America Vanguard International Stock Index-MSCI EUrope ETF: Top mutual fund  holder in Pearson Wells Fargo—Corporate Partner/Sponsor/Supporter/Investor with TFA Williams-Sonoma, Inc. —Corporate Partner/Sponsor/Supporter/Investor with TFA Visa, Inc. —Corporate Partner/Sponsor/Supporter/Investor with TFA Yale University—donor for Teach for America

Public Education as a “Market:” Pearson’s Corporate Network

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Bill Gates: The new curriculum for the common core will line up with the testing standards, “and it will unleash a market for people providing services for better teaching.”

This exposé names the corporate relationships represented on Pearson’s board of directors,  which includes representation from some of the most influential financial advising/risk management firms, banks, power industries, publishers, mass media, technology manufacturers, and pharmaceutical industries. Common Core and Race-to-the-Top are federal reforms that require national annual testing.

On the one hand, those in support of reorganizing public education into a market-driven corporate model argue that the inherent competition offered by the structure of the “free” market and high-stakes testing of students will raise children’s achievement. The problem with that whole line of thought, on the other hand, is that public education is not just for those who excel at standardized tests in reading and mathematics. What will keep companies who monopolized the educational materials’ market from abandoning the many other things schools do, including the other subject areas, the socialization component that occurs when kids bond to their elementary school teachers, services for kids who struggle, learning support, teachers and career development services?

The most concerning issue is that publicly traded companies serve stake-holders, not the children and their parents as so-called “customers” of public education. Corporate education executives by-definition, serve stakeholders first. Stakeholders, in their financially-driven position, are less concerned about children’s achievement and more concerned with profit. With this in mind, I began to consider whose interest corporate schooling serves and exactly which corporate interests were at the table.  Given the current focus on testing and that Pearson is a primary provider of that testing, I decided to begin with them.

A quick investigation of Pearson’s corporate relationships shows that Pearson: Always Learning board’s associations are nose deep with the mightiest of the U.S.A.’s and the U.K.’s financial advisors and investors, multi-national media and technology firms, and energy-related companies. First, I consider the associations that the current board members of Pearson: Always Learning (hereafter “Pearson”) bring to Pearson’s table because elite business networks must carefully select and draw from associations that can jointly organize the investments they make in the corporate markets created from taking over public institutionalized k-12 education.  Who was involved in organizing this takeover? Whom private companies choose to contract is often private information. Thus, the by-association approach is an initial step. I believe that the biographies of board members from the companies that have benefited from the corporatization of public schools, will begin to demonstrate a network. This network will be among the pool of potential contractors and negotiators at their tables.

Government: John Fallon, Chief executive of Pearson, occupied senior communications and public policy roles in the British and UK local governments. David Arculus, non-executive director of Pearson, served from 2002 to 2006 as chairman of the British government’s Better Regulation Task Force, which worked on “reducing burdens on business.”

Publishing: Two board members, John Fallon and Will Ethrige have significant ties to the publishers Prentice Hall/Random House, Little Brown and Co., Addison Wesley, and CourseSmart. Will is a board member and former chairman of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and board chairman of CourseSmart, a consortium of electronic textbook publishers. On John Fallon’s first day as the new Chief Executive of Pearson on January 1, 2013, Pearson announced a merger with Penguin Random House, where John Fallon was the former director. No surprise since, the centralization of corporate power is key to monopolizing the new educational markets.

Financial Advising: I expected financial investors to be guiding the process of the educational takeover because they probably provide the financial risk management advising to determine and organize the legal chess moves required to legally takeover a public institution.  (No surprise that many board members have connections to pharmaceutical industry as a model, but those connections are below.) I found Pearson’s board top heavy in this regard, including connections to Fidelity, CitiCorp, Citibank, Citigroup, McKinsey & Company, Liechtenstein Global Trust, Hundred Group of Finance Directors, and the U.K.’s Financial Reporting Council, to name just a handful. A look at the boards that the Pearson board serves on shows likely suspects in media, marketing and electronics like Time Warner, BMG, Sony, Racal Electronics and Bertelsmann.  John Fallon has significant ties to the Bertelsmann Corp. Bertelsman is a German multinational mass media, broadcasting and publishing corporation reporting 16 billion in consolidated revenue, who has regularly participated in joint ventures with Time Warner, Sony, BMG, according to their 2012 Annual Report. Such associations, like those with mass media giants, shows whose fat fingers are in the pie prior to public input to this publically funded enterprise.

Here’s how Pearsons board’s experience divides up:

Glen Richard Moreno is not only the Deputy Chairman of Pearson but the Deputy Chairman of the U.K.’s Financial Reporting Council whose 2011-2012 annual report states they provide high quality corporate governance with areas of expertise in the actuarial/auditing/ accounting maneuvers often known as the “risk-management” required to make it through the legal system. Moreno is a non-executive director of Fidelity International Limited, whose website describes their bottom line as “Our investment process take environment, social and governance issues into account when, in our view, these have a material impact on either investment risk or return.” Moreno is also a former executive or board member associated with Fidelity International, Citigroup, Citibank, CitiCorp, Lloyds TSB Bank, Lloyds Banking Group PLC, Bank of Scotland, HBOS PLC, Fidelity Corp, Prince of Liechtenstein, Man Group PLC, Toolex International NV, LGT Gruppe Stiftung, and Liechtenstein Global Trusts.  It is worth noting that Liechtenstein is the largest privately owned private banking and asset management group in Europe.

Robin Freeston, Pearson’s Chief Financial officer, occupied senior financial positions with pharmaceutical giants. He joined Pearson in 2004 as deputy chief financial officer and became chief financial officer in June 2006. Robin qualified as a chartered accountant with Touche Ross (now Deloitte), and is currently a non-executive director and founder shareholder of eChem Limited. Deloitte is audit, financial advisory and risk management firm. eChem Limited is a chemical manufacturer for process industries, construction, plastics and surface coatings. Robin sits on the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW), Financial Reporting Committee and is chairman of the Hundred Group of Finance Directors, which is a group of British financial directors operating as an unofficial mouthpiece of the finance function of the FTSE-100. The FTSE helps investors worldwide make informed investment decisions and benchmark the performance of their investments.

David Arculus, Non-executive Director, Chairman of the remuneration committee and member of the audit and nomination committees of Pearson. David has experience in banking, telecommunications and publishing in a long career in business. Currently he is chairman of Numis Corporation plc, which describes itself as a “leading independent investment banking and broking group.” David is also the chairman of the Advisory Board of the British Library. David’s previous roles include the chairmanship of O2 plc, Severn Trent plc and IPC Group, as well as chief operating officer of United Business Media plc and group managing director of EMAP plc. David served from 2002 to 2006 as chairman of the British government’s Better Regulation Task Force, which worked on reducing burdens on business.

Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor Pearson. Prior to Pearson, he was a Partner at McKinsey & Company and Head of McKinsey’s global education practice.

Mass Media and Technology

Clearly technology and mass media are key to connecting the current age’s informational systems and transmitting them to youth. New Penguin/Random House Board, of which John Fallon, Chief Executive Officer is a board members, boasts Markus Dohle, Dr. Thomas Rabe, Dr. Judith Hartmann, Dame Gail Rebuck and Dr. Thomas Hesse, all of whom occupy high ranks in Bertelsmann. Markus Dohle who was most recently Chairman and CEO of Random House, has been an Executive Board member of Bertelsmann since 2008. Bertelsman is a German multinational mass media, broadcasting and publishing corporation reporting 16 billion in consolidated revenue, who has regularly participated in joint ventures with Time Warner, Sony, BMG, according to their 2012 Annual Report. Such associations, like those with mass media giants, shows whose fat fingers are in the pie prior to public input to this publically funded enterprise.

Power Industry & Pharmaceutical Giants

I can only hypothesize the payoff for energy giant’s, like BP, Vallorec, eChem and Powergen, mining corporations, and manufacturers for brand name products, and phone giants, like Nokia and V, and pharmaceutical’s like the GE owned Amersham, PLC, ICI PLC, Zeneca and Henkel UK.

John Fallon, Chief executive of Pearson, was a former communication specialist for power plant construction/engineering corporation, named Powergen in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Powergen, it should be noted, “has contributed to the success of over 100 power plant and fuel conversion projects” and “provides technical services of experienced engineers and technicians to assure transition from construction to commercial operation,” including fuel conversion projects that include coal, wood, gas, wind, agricultural waste, oil and refuse-fired electrical generating and cogenerating plants. Vivienne Cox is a Pearson Non-executive Director, Senior independent director and member of the audit, remuneration and nomination committees. Cox was newly appointed Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Vallourec in Boulogne, France, which makes tubular structures for energy companies. Prior to that, she was BP’s executive vice president and chief executive of BP’s Gas, Power & Renewables business and ran BP’s commodity derivatives trading team.  Robin Freeston, Pearsons’ Chief Financial officer, was a group financial controller of Amersham plc, a pharmaceutical giant now part of General Electric, and occupied senior financial positions with ICI plc, Zeneca and Henkel UK. Zeneca was a multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in London, UK, which was formed by the demerger of the pharmaceuticals and agrochemical businesses of Imperial Chemical Industries, according to the Independent., until Zeneca merged with Astra to become the largest-ever European merger, according to the BBC news. Imperial Chemical Industries was acquired by Akzo Nobel NV in January of 2008. Henkel UK “operates worldwide with leading brands and technologies in Laundry & Home Care, Beauty Care, and Adhesive Technologies.”

Higher Education 

Vivienne Cox, sits on the board of INSEAD: The Business School for the World, which describes itself as “one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools.” Linda Lorimer, Non-executive Director has a deep background in education strategy, administration and public affairs. She is vice president of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

New Educational Service Industry

The plan to replace public education with new schools requires an organized strategy of educational services. Joshua Lewis, a non-executive director at Pearson is the founder of Salmon River Capital LLC, a New York-based venture capital firm focused on technology-enabled businesses in education. Joshua Lewis is on the board of the NewSchools Venture Fund and attended the 2011 NewSchools Venture Fund Summit. He has long been active in the non-profit education sector, with associations including New Leaders and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I began to footnote each organization’s url address on the NewSchools Venture Fund Summit’s attendee list.  Notice that almost all the websites look similarly, with African-American children and often, white teachers.

All of these corporate entities have the “market freedom” to form relationships that would otherwise demonstrate conflicts of interest in public education, non-bid contracts, and deny academic freedom.

[1] %5B1%5D Hess, F.D. & Finn, C.E. Jr. (2007, eds). No Remedy Left Behind: Lessons from a Half-Decade of NCLB. Washington, D.C.: AEI Press. [1] %5B1%5D Within a week Pearson also announced that 560 people would loose their jobs, when he decided to close Pearson in Practice, which provides adult education, as an estimated a one-time L120 million loss.[1][1] FRC website: , FRC Board of directors:[1] corporate governance tab of their website[1] Glen Richard Moreno’s Businessweek profile and biography:[1]

WARNING: Corporate Charter Schooling Serves Stockholders First

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One way to consider who benefits from the corporatization of public schools is to analyze how corporate education is structured.  The structure of education organizes, but not necessarily determines, certain educational outcomes. Frequently we hear that corporate schooling will raise kids’ educational achievement.  But what happens when public schools are seen as a market by corporations? The restructuring of educational services as a market, alters the “customer” of education and in whose “interest” the service is provided. The customer of a privatized educational market is stockholders, not children, nor their parents.

In terms of the relationship between traditional funding structure of public schools and achievement, higher average educational achievement generally rises as the average per pupil expenditure rises. In other words, educational researchers have found that schools that receive more per pupil funding often enjoy higher academic achievement among their students than schools who receive less funding. There are some glowing exceptions to this trend.

However, transforming public education in order to, in Bill Gates’ words “unleash a market” to stakeholders in educational service providing companies, alters the beneficiary of education from children/parents to stakeholders. Because of this, teachers will be eliminated. This is why:  Corporate profits increase as costs are reduced and while sufficient demand remains constant or rises.  The demand for educational materials will level off or show only mild increases in student population, once the monopoly on educational materials has taken hold. Once the monopoly of educational materials evens out–stockholders will no longer be reaping increasing profits.  This means that there must be continued cuts in the cost of teaching and instruction to keep stockholders happy. This is why the push for online instruction in so pervasive. The sales pitch used to gain public buy-in to the private chartered schooling concentrates on ideas of rising achievement and ignores how important teachers–real caring human beings with whom kids communicate–are in kids’ lives.

The structure of corporately-organized education requires that stakeholders increase their investment. No matter how fantastic or dismal the quality of public education, corporate school stakeholders gain when teacher salaries are increasingly lowered, school funding rises and there are monopolies of providers of educational services, (e.g. publishers, test providers, hardware, software, media, etc). Educational material providers’ stakeholders gain when their companies monopolize curricula, online instruction and testing. Those that financially benefit, whether or not children’s achievement raises, are investors in computer hardware and software companies, publishers, test providers and school “service” corporations. Note that such “services” do not include school social workers, counselors, vocational services, nurses, lunch providers, and the like.

Recipients of public education, children and their parents, cannot return the damaged goods of their child’s experience of a narrowing curriculum and high stake testing and receive a new one.  In other words, kids, taxpayers and parents have a less voice and power upon stakeholders in the minds of corporate executives because the product of education, children’s learning, does not actually have to directly impact the financial bottom line.


Education that evaluates the logic of the present system

“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” Paolo Freire

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