If anyone has any doubts about the designs the Broad Foundation and corporate America have on our public education system this commentary should go a long way to convincing you (emphasis is mine):
THIS month's $24 million question: When should you reject a gift?
Answer: When that "gift" is a poison pill.
When the state picked Randolph Ward, from the pro-charter school Broad Foundation, to take over Oakland schools in 2003, some smelled a corporate coup.
If the onslaught of school closings and charter openings under Ward has left any doubt, he's finally made his goal clear: to privatize Oakland schools.
In a nakedly aggressive public gesture, representatives of some of the world's richest men and corporations — including Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Clorox, Kaiser, Dell and Dreyer's/Nestle — joined Ward on Nov. 14 to unveil their "investment" in district "redesign."
Executives congratulated themselves for throwing crumbs to a project allegedly for education. But, as the Tribune reported, the $24 million "will not bring in any new pencils, books, teachers or school buses."
Instead, it buys technology and training solely to transform the district into a private business network. The investors say the district's new central office will become a "business service," and new small schools will "act as customers" who "invest in services."
Donors revealed that corporate executives will now call the shots in the district. The head of the East Bay Community Foundation said his private organization will disburse funds and "communicate the bottom line" to educators....
The Oakland Education Association proposes a different educational vision: 15 students per class; the best facilities, materials and technology for teaching and learning; enough support staff for students' academic and extracurricular needs; and much more.
OEA's vision focuses on what students need each day and is based on extensive research, experience and commitment.
The district's corporate investors disregard this vision, because authentic reform costs many times more than what they currently pay in taxes or token "gifts."
Each year Clorox gives its CEO 32 times more than what it will give to 41,000 students. Kaiser called its million-dollar donation "a big deal," but its 18 to 24 percent planned rate increase over two years will cost the district several times that amount....
It's time to say no to phony reform, no to handing our children over to big business; but yes to real change and excellent schools for all.
A movement of educators, students and parents can achieve this goal by demanding that Oakland's major corporations: (1) pay off the district's debt to restore democratic control to Oakland citizens and (2) commit to substantial, mandatory and ongoing contributions for genuine reforms that will dramatically improve learning conditions for all students.
Craig Gordon has taught in Oakland public schools for 15 years. He is taking a leave this year to write about educational issues.
Did you catch bottom line stuff. I am aghast. How could anyone in their right minds think that these corporate yahoos are what will fix the American public education system? I tell you these guys are out to really screw things up, and you just watch, they will.