Good morning everybody. Thank you for waiting. This is our first boarding call for Common Core Airlines flight 666 destined for career and college readiness.

We are so happy you’ve decided to spend ridiculous amounts of state and tax payer dollars to fly with us. Now that you’ve purchased your ticket we need to tell you that any extra baggage such as poverty, homelessness, secondary language acquisition, or any special accommodations you may need will have to be included at an extra charge. We know you won’t mind. We must pass these extra expenditures off and directly on to you or else we won’t maximize our profitability. Your baggage costs us money!  And after all, your baggage is not our problem. But we promise an enjoyable flight as we journey to the destination of career and college readiness.

Hello everyone. We are terribly sorry for the delay. Thank you for waiting for unknown amounts of time as we left you hanging in limbo wondering when we were ever going take off. Now that Pearson has arrived and has prepared the plane, we are finally ready to begin boarding.

We will begin with our first class passengers only. Anyone holding a ticket stamped with a “P” on the right side of your ticket which stands for “privilege” may board first. Please notice that you will be seated in our special private school first class section of the airplane. Once our first class passengers have boarded we will be serving you cocktails and warmed snacks while our remaining passengers are boarding the plane. We hope you will enjoy the special perks such as extra leg room, blankets, and your favorite magazines for your reading pleasure. We know that education travel must provide you with all the comforts and provisions you may need for a successful flight.

We will now begin boarding those in Zone One of our Common Core cabin. Zone One only at this time. Those holding a ticket for Zone One will see a special zip code on your ticket that ensures that you will be first on board and first to access to the overhead storage and comfortable seating. Again Zone One only at this time. We apologize for the tiny seats and limited storage. Sure you’re cramped like sardines. We needed to make room to pack in as many passengers as we could to maximize our own profits at the expense of your own comfort. But we know you don’t mind because you’ll enjoy your flight. And after all, without our airplanes, you’d be trapped in here and unable to get anywhere else.

Thank you. At this time we will begin boarding Zone Two passengers. We are boarding Zone Two at this time. Zone Two tickets can be indicated by your racial/cultural, disability or low income status which is marked on the side of your ticket. We apologize that all the resources such as overhead storage have been taken up by our Zone One Passengers. You may leave your belongings plane side with a ticket. They will be stowed below and returned to you when we have arrived at our final destination. After all, you don’t need anything that matters or belongs to you during your Common Core flight anyway. At best, your personal affects would have be crammed above your head in overhead storage like those clucks in Zone One. And since we do not allow you to leave your seat and move around, you won’t be able to stand up and access them anyway. So shut the fuck up, stop whining and just drop your shit at the gate. You might get it back if we don’t lose it or destroy it first.

At this time we will begin boarding our stand by customers who have been waiting to get on board any flight, any flight at all, that might take them on an education journey. Your stand by status can be determined by looking at your ticket and seeing the red X at the bottom right indicating if you are homeless, your immigrant status, or any other social or economic barrier that prohibits you from buying a ticket. Um. Just a moment everyone. We apologize to our waiting and stand by customers. Any all seats have been taken. Again, we apologize but all flights are currently full. Let’s face it. What would you have done when you arrived at the land of career and college anyway? Our crew have determined that giving you a seat would have been a wasted ticket anyway. But we know you understand and will forgive us any inconvenience this may be causing you. Please call our 1-800 number and wait for hours to speak to a computer generated machine which may or may not be able to offer some assistance. In the meantime we hope you will enjoy waiting on stand-by here at the airport indefinitely until we have given you further notice. Or not.

This is the final boarding call for Common Core Airlines. Don’t bother finding another airline. We are now the only company flying in and out between childhood and the land of career and college readiness.

Welcome aboard Common Core Flight 666 to nowhere. Um, I mean, to career and college readiness. We hope that those of you who matter were able to find a seat. Now sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. Please pay attention to our flight attendants Mr. Wilhoit, Mr. Coleman, Sir Michael Barber, Jeb Bush and the Koch Brothers as they note the safety features of this aircraft. Actually there are none. Flotation devices and a small exit window are provided in First Class only. However for those of you in Zones One and Zones Two, please note that in the event of an emergency the floor strips will light up, indicating that there are absolutely no exits. Essentially you’re all up shits creek.

Hello everyone. This is a message from your First Captain Gates and Second Captain Duncan. We regret to inform our passengers that we will no longer be providing cabin service. It cost too much money. If you didn’t bring your own food, beverages, and reading material … tough shit. Now that the doors have closed and we have taken off it’s not like you can get off anyway. And we are safely locked away behind closed doors so don’t bother knocking and asking for anything. Our flight attendants will be available to keep you in your seat and report you to TSA if you resist compliance. Now stay buckled in and stop complaining. We are taking you somewhere very special. But we cannot quite show you where it is we are going because honestly we really have no idea. There’s really no flight plan. And the plane is being built right at this moment in flight!

Dear passengers, we hope you’ll make us a part of all your future plans. We are expanding our number of destinations to include community colleges and institutions of teacher education. If you have any Common Core SkyMiles you’ll be able to fly to these destinations for free. For the rest of you, too bad. After we’ve landed this plane we don’t give a crap what happens to you anyway.

From everyone at Common Core Airlines we would like to thank you for your forced patronage and for spending all your state and local tax and federal dollars on Common Core Airlines.

Suckers.

Janus-faced – marked by deliberate deceptiveness especially by pretending one set of feelings and acting under the influence of another; “she was a deceitful scheming little thing”- Israel Zangwill; “a double-dealing double agent”; “a double-faced infernal traitor and schemer”- W.M.Thackeray

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Janus-faced

Janus-faced - marked by deliberate deceptiveness especially by pretending one set of feelings and acting under the influence of another

The corporate Janus-faced reformers are playing to both sides of aisle using language that appeals to their political bases. But those politicians and policy makers are not beholden to us; they are beholden to one another. The federal government (via NCLB and RtTT) partner with private corporate interests. But what they use to sell the public on these policies parallels the dual face of Janus; telling anyone what it is they want to hear, even if it’s not true. The policies of “accountability” (i.e. Common Core curriculum and new national tests like PARCC) go hand-in-hand with policies of school “choice.” Unfortunately few folks really know this. Sec. Arne Duncan (so-called “Liberal” for accountably) claims that education is the “civil rights issue of our time” while also claiming that “Katrina was the best thing to happen to New Orleans.” He also partners with so-called Conservatives for a “free market” approach to schools, claiming that “choice” and vouchers will make schools improve via “competition.” Mind you, none of these claims have any real world supporting evidence to show they are working. There’s ample evidence to show that they are not.

Through brilliant marketing and advertising campaigns policy makers garner support for their policies by appealing to the deep seated beliefs and values of the constituents most likely to represent those policies.

Reform from the so-called “Conservative” side: Privatization is Not “Choice”

Corporate ownership or federal control are masters of a different kind, but they are masters never the less, wielding the decisions for our children to serve their own corporate interests (control and profit). “Competition” in education will reveal itself to be little more than cheating scandals, high attrition rates, and doctoring the evidence.

Defunding and destroying entire public school systems in a community and parceling them out to billionaire-run charters is not a choice. It’s forced privatization. We are not creating a space where locally -run and community- based charters, or private schools, can exist alongside well-funded public schools where parents have a real and reasonable set of options. Starving a public school into failure forces parents to flee and seek solace in equally poor performing charter schools. That is, if they’re “lucky” enough to get in, and they’re “lucky” enough to not get kicked out. The word “choice” serves the charters, not the parents or the children. The charters choose you. The privately-run corporate-owned charter schools do not perform any better than the schools they closed. They do not live up to their promise to help children in the communities with the greatest needs. They help themselves.

Parents and community members who identify themselves as Conservative/libertarian are “getting on board” with the hyped narrative around “choice.”  The reality is that the corporations who own the federal government from whom you are trying to run will be waiting to collect your tax payer dollars and children’s private information. Predatory investors want parents to believe that “choice” is the balm to sooth our educational woes. Read more on predatory reform.. Is that really the choice you envisioned? Bait….and switch.

Common Core was not created by a “progressive” agenda (at least not single-handedly so!). It had alot of help from the Business Rountable and other free market driven enterprises, who saw the profitability of it. It’s roots go back decades across the political spectrum. However, creating the illusion that it was created by “liberals” for a “leftist” agenda enables ideologically-driven right wing organziations to get conservative parents to distance themselves from it, while they continue to promote the larger agenda of privatization, of which Common Core is actually a huge part. It was developed out from a move to to turn public education into a free market enterprise which began in the 1980’s. See connections between UNESCO and private education technology industry here. More and more schools will be labelled as failing as a result of the new CCSS standards and tests. More and more public schools will closed as a result. More and more corporate CEO’s will take over. The end goal of this bundle of reform, in the words of Kirsten Lasron is, “pure oligarchical, monopolistic/oligopolistic control over education…and thus, in the end, over our society.”

Reform from the so-called “Liberal” side: Accountability is Not “Equity”

There is a need to provide high quality instruction and resources to students in low-income and/or urban communities with the greatest levels of need. We have never, as a nation, made good on our promise following Brown v Board, to provide quality schools and education to all children. Yet, like the bait and switch from choice to privatization, there is a bait and switch going on with the language around “equity” and “accountability.” That policy makers and our nation at large must remain accountable to our underserved children goes without saying. That children living under the conditions of poverty can, and do, often succeed because they are bright and hard-working is also true. The irony is that current policies (crafted by federal government in partnership with private corporations) which claim that high stakes standardized tests are the way to provide for what children need, and honor what they’ve learned, does the exact opposite of what it proposed. How is it possible that standardized tests, whose roots lie in the Eugenics movement could possibly be the vehicle to “equalize” education and communities beset by generational racism and classism? For more on why this is impossible, read How Standardized Testing Harms Urban Communities or Why People of Color Must Reject Market-Based Reforms . The effect of these powerful “reform” marketing tactics is that some civil rights organizations and leaders are “getting on board” with our national dependency on “new and improved” testing to deliver a socially-just education system. The Common Core and its “new and improved” tests have made children accounatble to the policies rather than policies accountable to children. Never mind that it is testing that has largely created the inequities we currently experience and portend to worsen.

Forget Labels: It’s Greed

We’ve got Bill Gates selling a so-called “liberal” Common Core national curriculum and the Koch Brothers pushing a so-called “conservative” agenda to eliminate public schools altogether. Each has their “pet” organizations and think-tanks selling these claims to the public. But Bill Gates also funds the privatization movement, and Jeb Bush supports the Common Core. Additionally, numerous corporations associated with ALEC (a so called “free-market” organization) funded the creation of the Common Core. They also put forth model legislation that promotes privatizing public education via charter schools. Why? Because of the financial gain sought by the companies that will provide education in lieu of public schools and teachers. New tests aligned to Common Core will assuredly increase the number of “failing schools” and hand them over to the “choice” charters and corporate CEO’s. Do you see where this is going? It’s not a liberal thing or a conservative thing. It’s a money thing. And the price is our children and our public schools.

Parents, teachers, activists and organizations from all sides the political spectrum need to wake up and realize that if we use facts to guide our beliefs, rather than our political platforms or beliefs (or assumptions) to drive what we choose to “see” we find that the world (or who we think is “the opposition”) are not as they appear. The destructive capabilities of current policies are directly proportional to the spin and hype with which they push them upon us. Education “reform” will not get any better until we become really honest with ourselves, stop being led by “what we want to hear” and start paying attention to what the facts really tell us. Policies of accountability and choice serve no one but each other and those that will profit from them.

 

Here lies public education

It’s not breaking news that Senator Lamar Alexander is in favor of the push to replace public schools with privately managed charter schools. It’s important to note that he is the ranking Republican member of the Senate committee that oversees the Department of Education. He served as the Secretary of the Department of Education under President George H.W. Bush.  He is also a former governor of Tennessee and former president of the University of Tennessee

According to one report, “Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the ranking Republican on the Senate education panel, said low-income students would be better served if instead of funding public schools, the government sent that money to their families to spend at public or private schools.”

See Senator Alexander’s views on School Choice in his own words here: http://www.lamaralexander.com/fetured-stories?ID=0a91b9e7-3078-4883-beab-95b8b38ffb4c

It’s also evident that he works closely with members of the charter school community

Alice Rolli who was Lamar Alexander’s campaign manager is a member of the regional board of Teach for America.

Marguerite served as Special Assistant to U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. She also serves as Board Treasure for GREEN DOT, and is the Former President & CEO, America’s Promise Alliance.

In addition, according to a TFA newsletter from 2005:

“Congressional Champions Float Bill for Federal Authorization of Annual Appropriation to Teach For America The Senate and the House introduced bipartisan legislation to authorize federal funds of up to $25 million annually by 2010, which would enable Teach For America to grow to 8,000 corps members. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Harry Reid (D-NV), Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) led the effort in the Senate. Representatives Michael Castle (R-DE), Harold Ford (DTN), Ralph Regula (R-OH), Tom Osborne (R-NE) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) led the effort in the House.”

From 2008-2010 Lamar earmarked $95,000 for KIPP Schools.

What to Watch For

Lamar Alexander is the lead author of a bill called “Every Child Ready for College and Career Act” (S 1101) which intends to completely rewrite NCLB. While the bill’s beacon of hope rests with its demand to return decision-making about curriculum and assessment back into state and local hands, make sure to read the fine print. The devil as usual is in residence. This section of S 1101 called “Title IV” eerily resembles ALEC model legislation:

Title IV (in S 1101) – Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools:

Repeals part A (Innovative Programs), subpart 3 (Voluntary Public School Choice Programs) of part B (Public Charter Schools), and part D (Fund for the Improvement of Education) of title V (Promoting Informed Parental Choice and Innovative Programs) of the ESEA. Revises the program currently under subpart 1 (Charter School Programs) of part B and subsumes the program currently under subpart 2 (Credit Enhancement Initiatives to Assist Charter School Facility Acquisition, Construction, and Renovation) under that revised program.

Replaces the current charter school grant program with a program awarding renewable competitive grants to states, authorized public chartering agencies, and LEAs and, through them, renewable subgrants to charter school developers to open new charter schools and expand and replicate high-quality charter schools.

Requires such grantees to use 10% of the grant funds to provide technical assistance to subgrantees and authorized public chartering agencies and to work with those agencies to improve the charter school authorization process.

Makes authorized public chartering agencies, LEAs, and charter management organizations eligible to receive renewable competitive grants to open new charter schools and expand and replicate high-quality charter schools.

Revises the per-pupil facilities aid program (under which the Secretary makes competitive matching grants to states to provide per-pupil financing to charter schools) to allow states to: (1) partner with organizations to provide up to 50% of the state share of funding for the program; and (2) receive more than one program grant, so long as the amount of the grant funds provided to charter schools increases with each successive grant.

Directs the Secretary to conduct certain national activities that include awarding competitive grants directly to charter school developers to open, replicate, and expand charter schools in states that have not received, or are nearing the end of, a grant for that purpose.

Allows charter schools to serve prekindergarten or postsecondary school students.

NOTE: The top lobbyists for S. 1101 are: Alliance for Excellent Education, National Alliance for Charter Schools, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, NEA, AFT and Amazon.

A related bill (associated with S. 1101) is H.R. 10:Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act”

Also associated with this bill is H.R. 5: “Student Success Act” sponsored by Congressman john Klein (R-MN).  This bill, “Requires public charter school leaders and representatives of public charter school authorizers to be included on each state’s committee of practitioners that advises the state on carrying out its responsibilities under title I.” It also “treats charter schools as LEAs under title II.” In fact, Title III: Parental Engagement and Local Flexibility - (Sec. 301) replaces title III (Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students) of the ESEA with a new title III (Parental Engagement and Local Flexibility) and remarkably resembles Alexander’s S 1101 Title IV.

Given Alexander’s penchant for privatizing education it’s clear that these bills intend on using state and local decision-making policies to do what federal policies of Race to the Top intended to do all along, just at the behest of state and local governance instead of federal: close public schools and replace them with charters.

Another interesting thing to keep watch over as Senator Alexander begins to push his education agenda is how the for profit education enterprises,(especially Apollo Education Group) at both the k-12 level but at the higher education level benefit from his legislation. For one thing, Apollo Education Group is directly involved with ALEC and we can see that Sen Alexander takes his bill writing tips from ALEC model bills (as seen above).

Who is Apollo Education Group?

Apollo Education was founded in 1973. It is an international privately run corporation that owns ten for- profit subsidiaries most notably, University of Phoenix.  It also has direct ties to ALEC. As one report states, “As we are now aware, education privatization, for-profit colleges, vouchers and higher education issues are now at the top of ALEC’s to-do list. One of the SCP board members is the VP of Apollo Group – also involved directly with ALEC on pushing education legislation.”

According to a 2014 report Apollo serves as a revolving door for positions of people who also serve politicians including Lamar Alexander:

“Apollo Group, which runs the biggest for-profit college, the University of Phoenix, spent $490,000 in the first quarter of 2014 lobbying in Washington, with $320,000 of that spent on in-house lobbying and the rest divided among lobbying firms stocked with former government staffers who have passed through the revolving door (including) …the Penn Hill Group, featuring Victor Klatt, a former aide at the U.S. Department of Education under then-Secretary Lamar Alexander, now a Senator (R-TN), … Apollo recently also hired a team of revolving door lobbyists from Crossroads Strategies LLC,including former aides to Lott and Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Thad Cochran (R-MS).  Apollo is under investigation by the attorneys general of Florida, Delaware, and Massachusetts, and recently received a broad subpoena from the Department of Education’s Inspector General regarding its business practices.”

19 out of 26 Apollo Education Group lobbyists in 2013-2014 have previously held government jobs.

How They May Curry Favor with Senator Alexander (and others)

In 2009-2010 Apollo “Political Organization for Legislative Leadership” donated $4,000 to Senator Alexander. According to OpenSecrets:

Top Candidate Recipients from Apollo Education Group, 2013-2014

John Kline (R-MN)  $30,600
Matt Salmon (R-AZ)  $13,000
Mark Udall (D-CO)  $12,300
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)  $10,000

Likewise, according to Influence Explorer, two of the top recipients of donations in 2014 from Apollo Education Group were Lamar Alexander and John Klein (R-MN) who together have crafted numerous bills that revise NCLB (mentioned above).

A report from USA Today (2014) states that “With no improvements, the programs and students” such as those in for-profit higher education corporations “would lose eligibility for federal student aid, which can make up as much as 90% of the revenue at for-profit schools. And with the Republicans taking control of the Senate, this legislative effort will have the support of the incoming chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.”

In a broader sense, the PAC called For Profit Education donated more monies to Lamar Alexander ($55,000) and John Kline ($178, 849) in 2014 than any other politicians; You can be sure the bills will favor Apollo’s interests. After all, it’s how we buy education policies these days. Apollo Education Group is the biggest lobbying group in the entire PAC.

Lamar Alexander is also a sponsor of the “GREAT Teachers and Principals Act” which hold colleges of education to the same reform accountability choke hold as their K-12 counterparts. ‘Growing Excellent Achievement Training Academies for Teachers and Principals Act’ was introduced June 22nd  by Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. Apparently the Department of Education will decide for all of us in the academie how to define and measure student achievement.”

As Ravitch reminds us: “Bottom line: the Alexander plan will destroy public education in the U.S. Do not be fooled: this is not a conservative plan. This is a radical plan. It will send public dollars to backwoods churches and ambitious entrepreneurs. No high-performing nation in the world has vouchers.”

 

 

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I usually avoid writing posts that involve conjecture. I am a big fan of facts since corporate reformers rely on conjecture, hype, and marketing, I try and leave those strategies to them. But sometimes something happens that while an outcome cannot be proven, a question is worth considering.

Bloomberg News just announced that their new editor-in-chief will be John Micklethwait who has  served as the editor-in-chief on The Economist since 2006 and worked there since 1987.

Content produced by Bloomberg News is disseminated through a myriad of outlets including the Bloomberg terminal, Bloomberg TelevisionBloomberg RadioBloomberg BusinessweekBloomberg Markets, Bloomberg.com and Bloomberg’s mobile platforms.

Why should those of us fighting for quality, equitable, and meaningful public education for all children care about this?

We are already all too familiar with the stranglehold that the “reform” narrative has on the mainstream media. This is in large part due to the corporate funding by billionaires such as Bill Gates providing philanthropic weight behind what will or won’t get published or covered in print and radio.

It’s also well known that Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City and owner of Bloomberg News wears the crown of reform despotism. So it’s already likely that his news corporation will spew endless reams of reform tripe disguised as “news.”

For example, Kahn Academy has long been a “darling” of Michael Bloomberg and is widely supported via his news outlets.

But now enter Mr. Micklethwait, who I suggest might add more insult to injury.

For starters, The Economist is a news outlet owned in part by Pearson Publishing, whose name needs no introduction when it comes to understanding the influence this major company has had on shaping education policy to serve its own ends. The Economist Group is 50% owned by Pearson PLC via The Financial Times Limited.

Pearson Publishing has a website called The Learning Curve, created by The Economist. The website claims, “The data and analysis on this website will help governments, teachers and learners identify the common elements of effective education.” BIG DATA to manage schools as stocks and investments is more like it.

Additionally, Mr. Micklethwait has some decided opinions on education policy that include a strong support of charter schools, which he writes about in his book Future Perfect: The Challenge and Promise of Globalization.

For a full picture of his views see this video or his numerous books that regale the benefits of corporate (private) involvement in public services.

He was also a delegate, along with two colleagues, at the 2010 Bilderberg Conference held in Spain. This group consists of an assembly of notable politicians, industrialists and financiers who meet annually to discuss issues on a non-disclosure basis.

Bilderberg has a strong influence over education policy via the guidance of its elite members, many of whom including Mr. Micklethwait, are key players in education reform including Lou Gerstner (co- founder of Achieve), Bill Gates, and Michael Bloomberg.

So we have an elite member of leadership hailing from a subsidiary of Pearson joining forces with Michael Bloomberg.

I wonder how this will affect the corporate reform tentacle called mainstream media and its influence on public opinion. Could this create new partnerships between Bloomberg News and Pearson Publishing? And how might we ramp up our response and elevate our own voices above their din of bullshit.

 

 

The Educational Delusional Scheme

Posted: November 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

Here lies public education

A guest post by Dr. Denise Gordon                                  November 22, 2014

I write this short essay to disclose what is happening within my own science classroom, I write to expose the demeaning work environment that I and my fellow colleagues must endure, and I write to give purpose to my years of acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge in teaching science for the secondary student. I am not a failure; however, by the Texas STAAR standard assessment test, I am since this past year I had a 32% failure rate from my 8th grade students in April, 2014. The year before, my students had an 82% passing rate.

What happened in one school year? It does not matter that 2/3 of the student population speaks Spanish in their home. It does not matter their reading capability could be on a 4th grade level. It does not matter homework never gets turned in and parent phone calls bring little results. What does matter was that my students were required to develop a yearlong research project by stating a problem, thinking of a solution, designing the experimental set up, collecting the required data, and formulating a conclusion. Some of the projects were good enough to enter into the regional science fair. From a selection of thirty-five projects, twenty-four were sent to the regional science fair. Some of these projects won ribbons and a chance to go to the state science fair competition. Five of my students were invited to participate in the elite Broadcom Master Science Competition. No other 8th grader in my school district achieved this accomplishment. Other yearlong projects involved entering the Future City Competition sponsored by the IEEE. My eighth graders had seven teams to compete and three came back with special awards. Another science competition for secondary students is eCybermission sponsored by the NSTA and the U.S. Army. My only team of girls who competed in this program won first place for the entire southern region of the eCybermission Competition.  Did any of my students get a thank you or congratulations from our school principal or the district about their science achievements? Sadly, the answer is a no. All I got was a call into the principal’s office at the end of the school year for the purpose of being pulled from teaching the 8th grade for the next school year due to my high failure rate on the state test.  My students and I did receive two thank you letters from two community partnerships. The Potters Water Action Group, represented by Richard Wukich and Steve Carpenter were thankful for our educational brochure that my students helped design for their water filtration project. Krista Dunham, Project Director of Special Olympics in Fort Worth, sent a thank you to my students for donating the soap box derby race money that my students organized and who built three scrap box cars for this worthy affair.

I am now being monitored on a weekly basis within my 6th grade classes and their posted grades. I am required to have a 15% failure rate. All assignments must be pulled from the district’s online teaching schedule; therefore, no soap box races or water brochures this year. I am not allowed to take any of my students off campus for data collecting. Student project development does not flow well in the district school calendar, so I am being questioned by the principal about my scientific teaching philosophy. Action science with real world data is not on the district’s curriculum website. It does not matter that I have a Ph.D. in curriculum development. I must teach to the test since every three weeks all students will be taking a mandated district test. This means all teachers must review for the test, students take the test, and then we go over the test. That is three days out of fifteen teaching days dedicated to a test every three weeks.

Testing and retesting with documented lesson plans from the scheduled curriculum is what the district wants, but is it what the students need really to enjoy science? Our test scores are posted online and evaluated by the administration. Our performance on these tests weighs heavily into our yearly professional evaluation. I have been placed on a “growth plan” due to the fact that I teach what my students should know rather than what the district has posted. I am somewhat a rebel or just set in my ways; however, this growth plan gives the new principal her leverage to remove me from this school. If I do not meet her standards on the growth plan at the end of the year, then I must be relocated to another school. I teach my students math skills, writing skills, and research skills. I document this growth instead of monitoring their district test scores. I have been ordered to submit weekly announcements to the parent newsletter, but my submissions are deleted by the principal. I have been ordered to attend professional development at the level three tier within our district, but there is no level three offered because level three does not exist. I have been documented that 100% of my students do not understand my lessons when I teach because I use “big” words. The 100% came from asking two or three students in the classroom by the principal when she did her bimonthly walk throughs. I have been pulled out of teaching class to be reprimanded on my poor teaching practices rather than wait for my planning time. I must lower my standards and give less work if I am to maintain a 15% failure rate. Is this what the parents want? Will this prepare the students for high school?

I can no longer incorporate the arts within my assignments since my activities do not come from the district’s website. The current push for STEM should be the banner to wave inside my classroom since I have been a secondary science teacher for the past thirty years; however, I could not and we should not trade the arts and music for pure technical science and math course work. Creative problem solving with visual displays or performing arts can be demonstrated instead of just technology and engineering skills. Language arts would implement the importance of writing and research instead of just writing a basic lab report. When a student is allowed to decide on what he/she would like to study for their research project so many necessary skills are required. The student must speak and “sell” their project by presenting to outside judges at the regional science fair, designing skills are needed for the backboard, mathematical and technological skills are used for the data collection. The actual meaning of “science” comes from the Latin verb, scire, “to know” via knowledge gained by a study or a particular branch of study (Ayto, 1990).  To know encompasses all topics of interest and that is why I teach science bringing in all areas of skills and interests for the student to develop. This is not found on the district curriculum website. I want the student to be creative, to write, to sing, to explore, to draw, to decipher, and to act in order to gain “knowledge” through the sciences.

I firmly believe students should have a choice in their own curriculum of study, final assessment should come from a variety of skills displaying the student’s individual growth, and what is taught inside the classroom should be applied to help the local community and school partnerships.  My principal has cut my fifteen year commitment with community partnerships for the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, Botanical Research Institute of Texas, and the Fort Worth Science & History Museum by not approving any of my bus requests. Action science does not exist. Science education lies only in the classroom and on the district’s website. This is the educational delusion I must work in; a science classroom that is data driven to the point of paralysis and where students no longer experience real world problem solving projects. Retirement is my ticket out of this madness, but what will be the student’s ticket out?

 

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Spoiler alert: Its money. And ownership …of our children, our schools, and our democracy.

There’s a lot of critical critiques of Common Core pertaining to the content itself. Examples of ridiculous math samples and interpretations of social studies hidden curriculum abound on Facebook and blogs. I have no intention to dispute the opinions of people who find the content questionable, even if I don’t always agree. I am not offended by words like “equity” and “diversity” in the new standards, nor are my children personally struggling with the new math methods. But I oppose CCSS vehemently nevertheless. Liking or disliking particular standards, language, or strategies is not a solid ground on which we can create a unified front to fight Common Core. I know many highly qualified good teachers and parents who like some of the standards. I know other highly qualified good teachers and parents who hate them. These are not stupid or uninformed people either. The collective experience with the standards themselves vary from child to child, teacher to teacher, grade level to grade level, and district to district. We will never arrive at consensus on their overall “quality.” For some schools, some of the standards might be better. For many school, they are far worse. You will confront many parents and teachers who will say to you, “But this is great for my class- or my child!” How can we respond to this without invalidating anyone’s personal experience? We cannot simply say, “No you don’t. You’re just being naïve.” We must appeal to fact, not opinion. We could debate this for decades and get nowhere trying to convince others to see what we see. And therefore it will be difficult to build solidarity of opposition using this tactic.

What matters to me, and what I believe to be the obvious and indesputable way to dispute the Common Core standards is by illustrating who it is that stands to really GAIN from their implementation. And what they will really cost the rest of us.

Let’s revisit who wrote the standards: Of the 30 or so people who wrote the standards they largely all hail from major non-profits or testing companies: ACT, College Board, Students Achievement Partners and Achieve. For more detail see Mercedes Scheinder blog.

This makes sense when you look back at who created and continues to promote their implementation. The same testing companies and non-profits: College Board, ACT, Achieve, Pearson, Student Achievement Partners and more. Billionaire corporations notably Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the Walton Foundation, and other corporate members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have been devising a corporate takeover of public education for decades. Se the entire Who’s Who on this chart.

As test scores sink (which they are predicted to do with new PARCC), schools with low performing test takers (read English Language Learners, children with special needs, and students living in poverty)  in urban communities are ripe for profit-mongering charter take-overs. But even for those nice suburban schools with happy test takers and high test scores, the take- over, while less “in your face”, is still evident. There’s ample evidence that Pearson alone spent millions of dollars lobbying to create the legislation revolving around new teacher evaluations and tests (PARCC and SBAC). That Pearson partners with PARCC should be no shock to us. For example:

“Pearson lobbied a minimum of thirty times between 2008 and 2012 for Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) or reauthorization of ESEA, including “preparation for reauthorization, advocated for quality student assessments, literacy programs, data systems, utilization of education technology, (and) electronic student records”; by far one of the largest portion of their lobbying efforts.”

According to a paper from Fordham Institute, called How Will the Common Core Impact the Testing Industry, the motivation to create creation of the PARCC and SBAC consortia is that they eliminate the need for every state to “create its own tests and thus cut down on the production costs” that are aligned to the Common Core.

Further, online and education technology companies have had significant influence in shaping education policy over the last decade. Why? Because Common Core materials, instruction, tutorials for teachers, and assessments can be delivered online, thus creating a boon of profits to these companies to sell us, manage, and assess the goods. The profits to these companies ca be seen here on this chart.

A report from Knowledge Enterprise Publishers reads as follows:

“Big businesses have discovered how important management is to be well run, efficient and competitive … they utilized the potential of technology to restructure their procedures and overhaul their processes of production, distribution, training, feedback, maintenance and administration. But the education systems have been slow in exploiting the power of technology. Many educational institutions and systems have introduced simple management and statistical information systems. But this should be only the beginning. Two inter-related measures are needed: First, education systems need to undergo a structural re-engineering of their processes and techniques and to modernize their procedures and applications — at different levels of decision-making and administration. Second, communication and information technologies must be an integral part of the restructuring design and application.

Of course, the multiple interests in gathering students’ private data goes hand in hand with the interests of private companies who via online education can chart, track and “mine” volumes of private information from our children. This video from Knewton (a private education technology company that partners with Pearson) says it all.

According to a recent article posted by Sean Cavanagh, “Data released by the Software & Information Industry Association, a Washington trade organization, show that the market for prekindergarten through grade 12 testing has grown by about 57 percent over two years ago, and now stands at an estimated $2.5 billion.”

So while profits to testing and textbook companies sky rocket, the expenses to states and districts to implement new testing and curricular policies will bankrupt schools and communities. When the “coupon” to buy Pearson products foisted upon states called  Race to the Top funding runs out, who will continue to pay for these more costly and ineffective standards and assessments? We will pay with our tax dollars, our children’s future, and our democracy.

These facts are not a matter of interpretation. Simplest way to stop this?

Deny them the data.

Refuse the tests.

And share these facts with your schools and communities. The costs to our pocket books, to the future of our pubic schools, to the quality of instruction for our children, and to the loss of privacy and protection of our children from the grips of corporate vampires is something upon which we can all agree. It’s ample reason to end the madness. No debate required.

PART III of a THREE PART SERIES

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AUTHORS NOTE: Following the completion of this research (22 pages worth) I came across a document from UNESCO in 2002 that sums it up. Given this recent find, the ensuing research is not necessary to “prove” what I suspected: that UNESCO is steering the global ship of privatization. But enjoy the timeline of events and findings nevertheless—each slice of evidence simply further illustrates what is written in this 2002 document called Education Privatization: Causes, Consequences and Planning Implications. Well, the title says it all. This document promotes a slew of market-based reforms that might have well come from ALEC including: voucher programs, promotes charter schools, accountability, and data mining. The article states, “In general, the World Bank (and other supranational agencies) has encouraged reforms which lead toward privatization of public education” (p.32). At the conclusion of this trope, the authors recommend the reader visit a site called National Center for the Study of Privatization of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Introduction

How did we get from first mention of national standards 1984 published at UNESCO to the privatization of public education (of which standards and testing are a huge part) in 2014? The idea of national standards have been an academic and pedagogical exercise for decades if not centuries. What this paper illustrates are not the debatable premises put forth in academic treatise but how national standards as a practice and policy have emerged in the last half century and the ways in which CCSS merges with other related education reform policies all of which lead to one goal: a privatized, market driven and globalized transformation of education.

How did the likes of Lou Gerstner who created Achieve, created in 1996 (who was awarded the contract for CCSS) in 2008 connect with UNESCO? How did an international agency that claims dedication to promoting world peace, and ending of poverty also advocate for a total disruption of education by technology driven corporations?

Without conjecture as to motive or intent, I parallel the last 30 years of reform which are intertwined with UNESCO and find some documented parallels and relationships. The conjecture is left to my reader. My findings here reflect what appear to be the three premises of the last few decades upon which global accountability driven reform are driven, posited by Heinz-Dieter MeyerDaniel TröhlerDavid F. Labaree & Ethan L. Hutt (Teachers College Record Volume 116 Number 9, 2014):•

  • homogenizing the heterogeneous reality of education through increasingly abstract and context-indifferent standards and outcome metrics;
  • shifting centers of policy making influence from “local” education professionals embedded in institutions and narratives of national history and culture to a global elite of experts, committed with increasing single-mindedness to the narrative of market efficiency; and
  • moving from decentralized governance and soft guidelines to centralized governance and hard mandates.

2000 to 2014: The Neoliberal Flow of Market Ideas are Full Blown

Technology is becoming BIG BUSINESS and the education “industry” is now in its sites given the corporate demand for accountability, innovative disruption, and standardized testing articulated in the reports cited previously in this paper. With the birth of global “data banks” free market investments into education technology enterprises are a booming industry. A standard set of tests and curriculum plugged into standard platforms for measurement enable investors to make data driven investment decisions.

The anticipation of monies provided to technology companies for “educational” purposes has been made manifest. In the fiscal year 2011, the US Department of Education provided the following contracts: www2.ed.gov/fund/data/report/contracts/servicecontractinventoryappendix/fy11servicecontractinventory.x

Research triangle Institute 14 contracts (many post secondary contracts)

Educational Testing Service (ETS) 9 contracts

Westat 38 contracts to “study data”

Perot Systems 39 contracts for operations and maintenance of the virtual data center.

International Business Machine (IBM) 28 contracts for support of daily operations of central operated processing system,

The costs to schools and profits to technology corporations as a result of Common Core driven reforms can be illustrated here:

2000:   According to a report from Techknowlogia, “The United States (U.S.) is a special case in the educational technology research and development arena because of the scope, scale and continued commitment of the federal government to the use of educational technologies. Education in the United States is a large enterprise, accounting for more than a third of the global education and training market (Software Information Industry Association 2001). Public and private entities in the United States invested nearly $800 billion dollars on education and training in FY2000, and technology-related investments were also sizeable. The Federal government alone invested over $3 billion on technology for education in FY2000, including the e-rate program, and the private sector invested approximately $2.5 billion. $33 million designated to the research and development of educational technologies in FY2000.

2001: A report from Knowledge Enterprise Publishers reads as follows:

“Big businesses have discovered how important management is to be well run, efficient and competitive … they utilized the potential of technology to restructure their procedures and overhaul their processes of production, distribution, training, feedback, maintenance and administration. But the education systems have been slow in exploiting the power of technology. Many educational institutions and systems have introduced simple management and statistical information systems. But this should be only the beginning. Two inter-related measures are needed: First, education systems need to undergo a structural re-engineering of their processes and techniques and to modernize their procedures and applications — at different levels of decision-making and administration. Second, communication and information technologies must be an integral part of the restructuring design and application.

Recent reforms within the education enterprise have resulted in observable successes in making educational opportunities more accessible and equitable and the teaching/learning process more effective. Yet these successes are making a hardly manageable system even more complicated:

  • Accent on learning requires setting of reliable and measurable standards, and attending to individual differences.
  • The public sector, which until recently has had a monopoly on the delivery of educational services, is starting to feel the competition from private enterprises which have been entering the market in escalating numbers. In many cases, particularly at the tertiary level, these private entities are using the potential of information and communication technology to lower cost and improve efficiency. Competition will demand from the public sector better-managed and more efficient systems and institutions.

The report from Knowledge Enterprise was published in editorial partnership with UNESCO. In addition, the advisory board for Knowledge Enterprise consists of many members of UNESCO as well as the World Bank.

According to one Mother Jones article, “Bill Gates has built his fortune by taking a standardized platform—Windows—and crafting a platter of services to fit it. He compares Common Core to the electric socket—under the old system, it was as if appliance makers had to make a different plug for each state.”  The parallels between uniformity and standardization in technology/communication and education have merged. Bill Gates contributions to the development of national standards and other efforts to privatize public education as a global market can be explored in greater detail here…and here. In other words CCSS becomes the vehicle through which technology can completely revolutionize global education practices.

As one report suggests, “Standards and interoperability are core tenets of the web. It’s because of shared communications protocols such as HTTP that anyone can create a web page or application that is usable by virtually anyone else. Similarly, proponents of the Common Core argue that having a shared understanding of priorities will allow all schools to improve by sharing best practices.”

This agenda is evident in all the reports cited here and further illustrated in the following UNESCO 2002 report.

2002: UNESCO Technologies for Learning is hosted by UNESCO and the Academy for Educational Development.

Lou Gerstner is a keynote speaker. The 2002 UNESCO report states, “Education is increasingly becoming a market, and a global one at that …And access to the production side of this market is even less equitable than access to its usage side.” The report adds that with increase usages of bandwidth, “Education projects may profit from this market-driven growth.”

2002: President Bush to rejoins UNESCO.

2004: The executive director for the American Legislative Council (ALEC) Duane Parde, is appointed by Secretary of State Colin Powell to UNESCO. Mr. Parde will as a state and local representative.

Mr. Parde served ALEC from 1996 to 2006. In 2007, he also worked for corporate consultancy Phoenix Strategies in Washington DC and National Taxpayers Union (a member of ALEC). Phoenix Strategies was established as a consultancy team which includes seasoned and professional senior level members of the Bush administration. “It specializes in business development, lobbying and consulting. They have represented industry areas in education, manufacturing, technology, pharmaceuticals, energy and associations.

He was president and is now Senior Advisor to National Taxpayers Union which receives funding from the tobacco industry and the Koch brothers. Major funder of the Legislation Education Action Drive (LEAD) include Alliance for School Choice, and it works with Parents in Charge Foundation. In 2001 he stated, “”It takes more than money to educate. Now more than ever our leaders must be open to new and innovative ways to improve the quality of education for all our children,” said Duane Parde, the council’s executive director.”

In his UNESCO role Parde announced: “As we look toward our children’s future, it becomes extremely important to place a high value on communication, information and knowledge,” says Parde. “This is precisely how we will break down the digital divide and create opportunities for all people, regardless of race, creed or economic sustainability.”

Other organizations that are ALEC-affiliated that have connections with UNESCO sponsored or supported policies include: Microsoft, IBM, Lou Gerstner, Pearson, Intel, The National Professional Board of Teaching Standards, The Walton Foundation.

Cisco: UNESCO and Cisco work together at a regional level to promote technology-enabled education transformation.”

Ironically in spite of UNESCO’s commitment to freedom of information and media,Cisco is one of several technology companies complicit in the Chinese government’s censorship of the internet, having produced a ‘firewall box’ allowing the government to block certain websites in the late 1990s. Cisco is also among the numerous corporate and right-wing foundation donors to the non-profit education organization Teach for America.

2004: Teaching At Risk. Established and chaired by Lou Gerstner and supported by The Teaching Commission. The goal of this campaign isto raise student performance by transforming the way in which America’s public school teachers are recruited and retained.” This document recommends new teacher evaluations, alt cert programs like Teach for America, merit pay, charters, vouchers, and union busting. It states: “This welcome partnership would set a common national standard for what new teachers should be expected to know—but states will still need to do their part by adopting the new, higher standard.”  The Teaching Commission is supported by Dell Foundation, IBM, The BOEING Foundation, and Lou Gerstner, among others.

2007: Sir Michael Barber (CEO of Pearson, and former partner at McKinsey and Co. See: http://educationalchemy.com/2013/03/23/vampires-mckinsey-co-and-the-future-of-public-education-its-all-connected/  ) produces an education report, How the World’s Best-Performing School Systems Come Out on Top, which was produced for McKinsey and provided those nations that were serious about education reform “with a blueprint of what they needed to do to catch up.”  

2008: Lou Gerstner recommends the following reforms as published in the Wall Street Journal.

Abolish all local school districts, establish a set of national standards for a core curriculum, standardized and published national testing, and national standards for teaching certification.

2008: Lou Gerstner argues for “Radical Education Reform” stating, “This unbelievably unwieldy structure is incapable of executing a program of fundamental change …While we have islands of excellence as a result of great reform programs, we continually fail to scale up systemic change.”

2008:Partnering with Cisco, Intel, and Microsoft, UNESCO launched ICT Competency Standards for Teachers.” The project states, “Competency Standards for Teachers have been designed to help educational policy-makers and curriculum developers identify the skills teachers need to harness technology in the service of education.” 

2010: Mary Hatwood Futrell is elected President of Americans for UNESCO.

Dr. Futrell is also joined the Boards of Directors of K-12 Inc.in 2007. K12 Inc is the largest online for profit education technology corporation, and member of ALEC. Sourcewatch writes, “The company was co-founded in 1999 by its current CEO, Ron Packard, a former Goldman Sachsmergers and acquisitions expert and consultant with McKinsey & Co.,and by former U.S. Education Secretary under President Ronald Reagan and right-wing talk show host William Bennett, who served as the chairman of K12 Inc.’s board of directors until 2005,”

(So between 2002 and 2010 two individuals powerfully influential within ALEC take leadership positions within UNESCO)

2011: The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation began work on a “nuts-and-bolts, multi-state, grand-vision education technology project called the Shared Learning Infrastructure. (which would later become InBloom)

2012: “UNESCO: A Global Response to the Learning Crisis”—The Creation of the Learning Metric Taskforce.

UNESCO and Brookings’s Center for Universal Education (CUE) join efforts to convene a Learning Metrics Task Force that will investigate the feasibility of learning goals and targets to inform the post-2015 global development policy discourse”. UNESCO will serve as the lead coordination agency …for global monitoring efforts. There were three co-chairs representing the UN, the private sector and civil society including Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor at Pearson. The report claims that, “Exploring whether there is a discrete set of common learning goals that can be universally reached is an important step in shifting the education discourse toward access plus learning.”

2012: Alan Singer points out the following: “Pearson is trying to salvage the situation in the United States with new ventures in the ‘developing world’ … Pearson has also been working through an organization called the Global Partnership for Education that includes representatives on UNESCO … and has been able to get its head of international affairs appointed to the Board of Directors as the only representative of a private for-profit corporation.”

2013: UNESCO endorses the key tenets of market-based reform: Teach for America, teacher accountability via data collection, and merit pay.

“A teacher management and development strategy (which) proposes a harmonized, standardized approach to make more efficient use of resources and improve accountability on the part of both teachers and partners. Relating teachers’ pay to the performance of their students has intuitive appeal. As a result, some governments advocate performance-related pay as part of a broader agenda of ‘accountability’ reforms to improve the quality of education (Bruns et al., 2011b; OECD, 2009).”

2012: Brookings Institute hosts a Research Symposium on Learning. Discussants include Mona Mourshed, Director of Education Practice at McKinsey & Company. She joined McKinsey in 1999. She was also the lead author of Education for Employment: Realizing Arab Youth Potential, published April 2011, a report commissioned by the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Islamic Development Bank.

Jan 2014: The Education World Forum Global Summit for Education Minsters is held in London. It is the largest annual gathering of international education ministers. Platinum Partners for this event are Promethean, Microsoft, and Pearson. Education Ministers were joined by Deputy Prime Ministers and by leaders from global and international organizations including the World Bank, the OECD and UNESCO, as well as by senior representatives of international corporations with focus and commitment to education and its support. These corporations included HP, Intel, JPSaCouto, Microsoft, Pearson and Promethean.

February 2014: A report from UNESCO called Revolutionizing Data for Education-Challenges and Opportunities, summarizes ideas put forth during an event called the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons: “Prominent world development leaders including Bill Gates and the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons  have called for a ‘Data Revolution for Development’.  Bill Gates has noted, ‘From the fight against polio to fixing education, what’s missing is often good measurement and a commitment to follow the data. We can do better. We have the tools at hand.”

Creation of EdStats: Part of The World Bank. EdStats website  is a “one-stop shop for education data” and “makes more data available and helps users more easily digest it.”  EdStats works with UNESCO’s “Institute for Statistics (our main source of general education statistics), and the SABER team at the World Bank.  The site states, “We hope the portal represents a substantial advancement in access and use of big data in education- education indicators (enriched with learning data) under one platform.”

May 2014: A UNESCO Report declares the “need for tools to measure non-cognitive and ‘21st Century Skills’ in order to assess young peoples’ readiness to enter the workforce.

Formation of the Learning Curve Data Bank (LCDB): Developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit and published by Pearson, the report, entitled The Learning Curve outlines the main findings from analysis of a large body of internationally comparable education data.

The Economist Intelligence Unit: Clients include World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. According to their website: “The Economist Intelligence Unit helps business leaders prepare for opportunity, empowering them to act with confidence when making strategic decisions. The Economist Intelligence Unit prepares business leaders for opportunity. We accomplish this by delivering accurate and impartial forecasts and analysis which empower our clients to act with confidence when making strategic decisions.”

The EIU is owned by The Economist a journal owned by Pearson – “…The Economist favours the support, via central banks, of banks and other important corporations. This principle can (in a much more limited form) be traced back to Walter Bagehot, the third editor of The Economist, who argued that the Bank of England should support major banks that got into difficulties. Karl Marx deemed The Economist the “European organ” of “the aristocracy of finance”.

They state, “These topics, and others like them, are critically important to our key clients: governments, NGOs, development banks and foundations, but also companies committed to a programme of corporate social responsibility.”

Final Analysis:

My personal take: UNESCO’s global initiatives were untenable to the free market conservative paradigm which dominated the Reagan era. However, UNESCO and the Bush Administration had a “meeting of the minds” in the 1990’s when neoliberal global market forces were more in line with an agenda and UNESCO leadership. From that point forward, the UNESCO plans as originally stated in 1946 toward greater “mass communications” and “education initiatives” was able to serve the free market “messaging” and policy reforms stemming from U.S. and U.K driven corporate interests. For a comprehensive list of technology-based education corporations cashing in on the flow of local, national, and global funds see The Economic Impact of Ed Tech: Glimpses of a New World (2013) published by ASTRA.

This paper is not an indictment of UNESCO as an organization. Like the proverbial blind man feeling the elephant’s foot I concede there is much more to know and see here. However, it’s also clear that through the decades UNESCO policy and influence have yielded partnerships with well-known education privatizers and profiteers-something that bears deeper examination and consideration.