I can’t believe I’m going to say this but … all this news about data mining in new edu-ventures by corporate sponsored curricula and testing makes me long for the days of passive television entertainment.

The American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC) crafts “model” legislation behind closed doors with coprorations and state policy makers, which will authorizie edu-tech corporations to come directly into our classrooms as the new LEA’s, thus permitting them access to our childrens’ private data. As corporate data mining sneaks into our schools, like that exposed recently by a piece by Jonathan Pelto indicates, I long for Dora The Explorer. While corporations like Chromebooks now DIRECTLY market their products via “curriculum” and use my child’s data to serve their own financial interests, and sway their patterns of behavior and consumption with little or no intermediaries I miss days gone by when “interactive engagement of behavior” meant my kids shouting “Abuela!” at the TV screen following Dora’s prompt, “Can you say grandmother in Spanish with me?” Or, those times when commercials insisted my child “must have the latest” X,Y,Z item, when at least I was able to act as the ultimate screen between my child and the corporations, with the parental power to say “No” –or at least say, “tell Grandma you want that for Christmas” by which time they’ve usually forgotten they wanted X, Y, or Z in the first place.

Now, as Pelto reveals, “Google explicitly admits for the first time that it scans the email of Google Apps for Education users for ad-serving purposes even when ad serving is turned off.” – 1/31/14

The “medium is the message” as McLuhan says. Before the age of online interactive games, curriculum, and the Internet…before NSA…. marketing to children consisted of television programming and product placement in school buildings via vending machines, sponsoring school events, and sales to school cafeterias. I’ve been historically been adamantly opposed to these coprorate ventures! And we keep moving in the wrong direction-away from the interests and welfare of children, selling them out to powerful billionaires.

The tactics of Chromebooks, inBloom, and the education technology industry are really no different than those of companies who, back in the 1980’s, launched a mega campaign to cater commercials to children. They were attempting to create early childhood brand loyalty and realized that children were a million dollar untapped industry. According to the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, “In what the industry calls a ‘cradle-to-grave’ strategy, marketers want to get to children early, often, and in as many places as they can – not just to sell them products and services, but to turn them into life-long consumers.”

And now, the tentacles are far more reaching, and insidious. The profit potential far greater. The control? Intoxicating. Using Common Core and high stakes testing (PARCC via Pearson and SBAC via inBloom), corporations can by-pass all other filters (aka parents and teachers). There are fewer people or firewalls left between children and the corporate interests who see them as little more than (at best) a consumer and (at worst), a product.

ALEC’s latest round of legislation, called The Student Achievement Backpack states:

This bill provides access by a student’s parent or guardian or an authorized LEA user to the learning profile of a student from kindergarten through grade 12 in an electronic format known as a Student Achievement Backpack.”

Ok… who the hell is the LEA????

(A)   “Authorized LEA user” means a teacher or other person who is: (1) employed by an LEA that provides instruction to a student; and (2) authorized to access data in a Student Achievement Backpack through the {insert state} Student Record Store. (B) “LEA” means a school district, charter school, or the {schooling options in the state specific to the deaf and blind}

This act will: “allow an education provider to (a) research and find student users who are interested in various educational outcomes; (b) promote the education provider’s programs and schools to student users;  and (c) connect with student users within the Student Futures website;  (3) allow a {insert state} business to: (a) research and find student users who are pursuing educational outcomes that are consistent with jobs the {insert state} business is trying to fill now or in the future; and  (b) market jobs and communicate with student users through the Student Futures website as allowed by law..”

Not unlike the “model legislation” of ALEC, back in the 1980’s the FTC Improvement Act mandated that the FTC would no longer have any authority whatsoever to regulate advertising and marketing to children, leaving marketers virtually free to target kids as they saw fit.  And by 1984, the Reagan administration had succeeded in dismantling the last vestiges of government oversight, completely deregulating children’s television.

Now, it’s not passive brainwashing via TV that worries parents. Its interactive privacy piracy directly invading the mental and physical spaces of our children’s lives. According to one section of ALEC’s legislation, “In addition to an enhanced kindergarten program described in Subsection (B), the early intervention program includes a component to address early intervention through the use of an interactive computer software program.”

Television is “so last season”–today, it’s deregulation of computer-driven content including that which our children are forced to engage with via education policies, and that can directly engage in uninterrupted direct contact with children. No parental guidance allowed.


Posted: February 13, 2014 in Uncategorized


I read an article by Alice Crites about the influence of big business (corn and sugar) on the food policies and productions. I was astounded at how, within the first minute of reading about how BIG BUSINESS manipulates legislation and public perception in food production, I was able to see how that system of corruption reflects current education reform policies, especially policies involving Common Core “State” Standards (CCSS). The original article can be found here.

I have previously examined the relationships between the giant con-ag industries and education policies, illustrating comparisons between factory farms and education as in a chapter in J. Bowers and PL Thomas (eds) De-testing and De-grading Schools. I have blogged previously about how multinational corporations like Nestle are destroying water supplies in economically struggling and impoverished countries, buying the “water rights,” and then selling people their own water back to them in a bottle and at a profit.

What I intend to do here is create line item comparisons between what Alice Crites examines in the sugar wars and my own research on HOW CCSS came to be, WHY is came to be, and WHO it is that benefits from it.

This is important– because as those of us opposed to CCSS move forward, we must be clear about the who, what and why of CCSS.

Line Item One: “Sugar companies’ investments in this nonprofit group, detailed in newly released internal documents, are part of a growing strategy used by corporate interests seeking to influence Washington policymaking.” (Crites)

Bill and Melinda Gates, Carnegie, Walton, Broad, GE, Exxon, and AT &T (all members of ALEC) all fund the non-profit groups promoting Common Core. In order to sway policy, corporations hide behind non-profits, foundations, and think tanks. Essentially these corporations buy their way into shaping policy and public opinion disguised as public interest groups, which of course promote the values and idea that the corporations want them to promote! Achieve-the organization contracted by the US Dept. of Education via Race to the Top was paid to create and manage common core. Achieve is funded by giant corporations, many who are members of The American Legislative Exchange Commission. Other non-profits such as Hope Street, Bellwether and Education Delivery Institute all have corporate members and corporate interests swaying their mission and actions.

Line Item Two: The revolving door. The romance between big corporations and big federal government occurs because CEO’s prevsiously from giant corporations take positions as “policy makers” within the governement and conversely individuals previously serving in the federal government  take new jobs or sit on cushy board of directors positions in these privately run corporations or “non profit” associations. For example, Bellwether, Hope Street, and Education Delivery Institute (EDI) all share partnerships (direct and indirect) with government by playing musical chairs between their government roles and their jobs in the private sector. Hope Street has among its Board of Directors former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise and Governor Jack Markall.

Dr. Jeri Echeverria retired Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in the Chancellor’s Office of the California State University sits on the board of directors for EDI (created by Pearson CEO Sir Michael Barber).

Leading the team at Bellwether is Chad Aldeman. Previously, Aldeman was a Policy Advisor in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education, where he worked on teacher policy and secondary schools

Line Item Three: “No longer content to rely on traditional lobbyists, companies are investing in other messengers such as nonprofit groups or academicians who can provide expert testimony, shape news media coverage and change public opinion in ways that ultimately affect decisions in the nation’s capital.” (Crites).

Lobbyists and paid- for- research. To sway public opinion through the guise of research, corporations (via think tanks) pay scholars and researchers to conduct studies which (not shockingly) will produce findings that support the interests of the corporate agenda. Their job is to create the illusion that their product (in this case Common Core) is grounded in research to support it.  For example,  in one particular issue of Education Researcher (the “premiere” journal published by AERA) I found that of nine total authors published in that issue, FIVE of them listed their associations not with universities but with “non- profit” or education corporations. And those five were all invested somehow in promoting Common Core. In this way they believe they can “legitimate” their agenda to other scholars and academic institutions.

Likewise, lobbyists paid for by corporate interests have a toe hold in creating or influencing state and federal legislation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has sold out to Monsanto. The U.S. Department of Energy has sold out to the fracking lobbyists. And the U.S Department of Education has sold out to Pearson. Pearson publishing, the giant octopus  in the room which cannot be ignored, invested millions in lobbying for new copyright, assessment, teacher preparation, and curricular policies. In 2009, Pearson lobbied for something aptly titled “Common Core Education Standards.”

That same year, when PARCC and SBAC placed their bids in to the U.S. Dept of Education which, via RtTT, was seeking organizations to whom they could “outsource” their efforts (aka Common Core), Achieve had contracted with Pearson as their partner to pursue this effort.  

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.

Line Item Four: Grass Roots Bullshit: “Nonprofit organizations, now playing an increasing role in lobbying and electoral politics, are not required to publicly reveal their donors.”

In the sugar/corn wars the group is called “Citizens for Health.” In politics it’s called “Citizens United.” And in education it’s called “Parent Trigger.” What all these have in common is the illusion of being grass roots when in fact they’re front groups for billionaires like the Koch Brothers, Eli Broad, and the Walton Foundation.

Line Item Five: Insider fighting. “The documents reveal how both sides poured money into nonprofit groups that have had feel-good names but promoted industry agendas in public campaigns and government proceedings.”  (Crite).  According to Crites, the sugar industry is at war with corn syrup. They spend billions trying to top one other in the market. But really…if you were worried about diet, health, diabetes or obesity, is the difference between sugar and corn syrup a serious game changer for you??? Either one in high doses spells trouble. Likewise, as states who are still interested in corporate model reform pretend to be the friend and ally of parents and teachers against Common Core claim that they reject federal intrusion into their state education policies. But they have created “their own” common core standards. Really? It’s high fructose corn syrup versus sugar. Is your state still pushing high stakes testing, teacher “accountability” via test scores, union bashing, merit pay, vouchers and charters? It’s no different than the sugar companies fighting with the big corn producers. PARCC, ACT, Pearson, McGraw-Hill, inBloom, and ALEC…they’re still just fighting for a piece of your child.

One important digression here, let’s not forget that even opposition to CCSS can be motivated by corporate interests and we must remain informed. Many corporate funded think tanks and non-profits such as Heritage Foundation are opposed to CCSS but support other conservative measures to privatize public education, and Koch brothers, with an aim to eliminate public education altogether, have secretly funded many “grass roots” Common Core resistance groups.

The identical nature of the predatory corporate ed reformers and those in sugar/corn war playbook IS NOT COINCIDENTAL!

Common Core: It’s not communism. It’s predatory reform-style billionaire business as usual taken from the playbook of other areas of industry.  It’s corporate greed and control.  Repeat as necessary. Common Core is corporate led, and federally fed.  By 2015, US Dept of Education will begin defunding the intitaive and it will wind up wholly in the hands of private organizations. Whether I like this truth or not is irrelevant.

It’s a deliberate strategy used not only in the sugar wars and in education but by predatory reformers from across all areas of service and production housing/real estate, and banking. But they’ve laid waste to our land, and to our homes, and to our financial security. Education was just next on the list of line items. Profit. Data. Control.

Fruit Loops cereal can claim its part of “a nutritious breakfast” because it’s made with “real fruit juice.” This is marketing. It’s sales. It’s advertising. It’s a product. As smart consumers we read the ingredients and know better. That’s fine. Free market. Free choice. Buyer beware. No one is forcing me to feed my child Fruit Loops. Yada yada.

However–Common Core claims to be a “21st century learning effort” to make all children “career and college ready.”  It’s marketing. It’s sales. It’s advertising. It’s a product … Being forced down the throat of my child. MANDATED. And we should know better.


The phrase Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has gone viral. Criticisms of it are broad and deep. Much has been said about its highly questionable federal intrusion, data piracy, costliness, questionable quality, and attachment to new rounds of standardized testing… I could go on, but I won’t. But let’s not also forget the new “middle men”-the non profits sprouting up like weeds- creating a new market in which they profit from the management and delivery of CCSS and the other education reform policies forced on schools everywhere. Let’s not forget that CCSS is indelibly attached to broader reform efforts to insert corporate interests into public education with the aim of privatizing education. Here are three non-profits to watch for. Read the bio’s of the Board members, the Team leaders, and Funders. It’s long. I know. The information has been summarized, culled from a variety of sources and pulled together here. Here you can see the cast of corporate characters and their partnerships to political and education institutional affiliations. Make note. And beware if you see them coming to a school near you.


From website: “BELLWETHER EDUCATION PARTNERS is a nonprofit dedicated to helping education organizations – in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors – become more effective in their work and achieve dramatic results, especially for high-need students. To do this, we provide a unique combination of exceptional thinking, talent, and hands-on strategic support.”

Bellwether works with Stand for Children, and one of the board of the Partner -members is on the board of Democrats for Education Reform.

Andy Smarick, partner in Bellwether Education Partners was keynote speaker at lunch for the November 19 Summit on Faith-based schools, sponsored by The American Bible Society in NYC.

Example of work: Partnered with Pittsburg Public Schools in 2012 to deliver professional services totaling $2,532, 177.

Board of Directors

Tina Fernandez: she was the managing director of Alumni Engagement and Infrastructure for Teach for America

Kendrich Ashton: investment banker at Goldman, Sachs & Co.,

Paul Reville: is a Professor of Practice at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education after having completed nearly five years of service as the Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As Governor Patrick’s top education advisor, Reville established the Executive Office of Education and had oversight of higher education, K-12 and early education in the nation’s leading student achievement state.

Kim Smith: is CEO and founder of the Pahara Institute, a national nonprofit that aims to identify, strengthen, and sustain diverse high-potential leaders who are transforming public education. Its programs, including the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship (previously the Aspen-NewSchools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Fellowship), Earlier in her career she served as a founding team member at Teach For America, she co-founded and led NewSchools Venture Fund, a philanthropy focused on transforming public education through social entrepreneurship, Ms. Smith has helped to incubate numerous education and social change organizations and has served on a range of boards, which currently include those of Pahara, Bellwether, NewSchools, Rocketship Education, and ROADS Charter Schools

Mary K Wells: She was a manager and consultant with Bain & Company, where she worked primarily with Fortune 500 companies on growth strategy, new business development, and post-merger integration issues. She was with Bain & Company for over seven years.

Salaries—includes bonuses:







Team (not a complete list)

Chad Aldeman: Associate Partner–.He works on the Policy and Thought Leadership team at Bellwether. Previously, Aldeman was a Policy Advisor in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education, where he worked on teacher policy and secondary schools.

Lina Bankert: Principal –Prior to joining Bellwether, Ms. Bankert was a Principal at Bain & Company, where she worked with executive teams across a broad range of industries and capabilities in both the private and public sectors, while building extensive pro bono/ non-profit advisory experience with focus on K-12 education.

Ellie Craig: Research Assistant-Ellie served as a SPEA VISTA Fellow with The Mind Trust, a nonprofit organization that invests in great schools and innovative ideas in order to create excellent educational opportunities for all Indianapolis students. At The Mind Trust, she worked as a member of the Education Initiatives team, focusing on selection and accountability for the Charter School Incubator and the Education Entrepreneur Fellowship programs.

Alison Fuller: Associate Partner-Prior to joining Bellwether, Ms. Fuller was a case team leader at Bain & Company, where she worked with clients across a broad range of industries.

Gifford Goldberg: Principal with Bellwether Education Partners,-Rebecca was a consultant with McKinsey and Company, where she managed engagements with leading global institutions on growth strategy, sales and marketing, and operational efficiency.

Charles Glover: Senior Fellow -Charles was the founding Executive Director of TFA-Dallas/Ft. Worth in 2009, and in that capacity oversaw its growth into one of the Teach for America’s largest regions.

George Mu: is an Education Pioneers Analysis– Prior to joining Bellwether, George was a Consultant at Booz & Company, a global management consulting firm.

Jeff Schulz: is also a proud Teach For America alum, former advocacy lead for a group of high-performing, nationally acclaimed Texas charter schools, and education analyst for the central Texas-based E3 Alliance.

Gunjan Sun was a senior associate consultant with Bain & Company, a global management consulting firm.

Stephanie Wilson has also worked as a consultant for Bain & Company


Becky Crowe is a Partner at Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit organization working to improve educational outcomes for low-income students. She has spent more than 15 years leading education reform efforts as a social entrepreneur and education policy and philanthropy advisor. Her clients include state Race to the Top winners, America Achieves, and the Carnegie Corporation and Opportunity Equation’s 100Kin10 STEM initiative.

Monisha Lozier Prior to launching Bellwether, Ms. Lozier was the founder of her own small business, Cobbe Place Consulting. In this capacity, she and her team conducted executive-level searches for dozens of reform-oriented organizations in the K-12 education community.

Andrew J. Rotherham Co-founder of Bellwether. He serves on advisory boards and committees for a variety of organizations including Education Pioneers, The Broad Foundation, and the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. (CALDER). Rotherham is on the board of directors for the Indianapolis Mind Trust, is Vice Chair of the Curry School of Education Foundation at the University of Virginia, and serves on the Visiting Committee for the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Board member for Democrats for Education Reform.

Andy Smarick is a former White House Fellow, member of the 2010-11 class of Aspen Institute-NewSchools Fellows, and founding board member of 50CAN.

Mary K. Wells was a manager and consultant with Bain & Company, where she worked primarily with Fortune 500 companies on growth strategy, new business development, and post-merger integration issues.

Key Endorsements

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

In 2013, Gates donated $1,981,978  to support CoreSpring, an initiative to build a bank of shared Common Core aligned formative item and assessment resources that assure improved discoverability, availability and interoperability.

Massachusetts Department of Education National Institute for Excellence in Teaching

New Leaders for New Schools

NewSchools Venture Fund

New York Center for Charter Schools

Stand for Children

Doris & Donald Fisher Fund


HOPE STREET (created 2003)

Website description: Hope Street Group’s Education Program seeks to transform the teaching profession to improve outcomes for students. How? By changing the way we support educators and by creating the right incentives to produce outstanding student outcomes. Our Education Program features collaborative, crowd-sourced solutions that bring together new voices, world-class talent and modern tools. We tap the most experienced people in education, with leading involvement from teachers themselves. From identifying innovations to engaging practitioners, documenting results and fostering the spread of good ideas, the Hope Street Group approach is sparking the widespread change we so urgently need.

History of Assets

$31,600 2004
$51,293 2005
$835,420 2008
$958,879 2009

Monique Nadeau President and CEO (2007-2014) salary: $207,000 ($82,000 of that is from bonuses)”


The primary funding comes from 3 private foundations

Other than the 3 foundations largest donors have been one board member and one individual though constitute only 1% total contribuation. 25% comes from public support

The top listed foundations are-

Peter Peterson

Rodell Foundation

College Board





Board Members

Ted Meisel- Chairman of the Board/Senior Advisor/Elevation Partners Before he became an internet executive, he spent a number of years with the consulting firms of McKinsey & Company

Tony Miller- Chief Operating Officer and Founding Partner/The Vistria Group LLC joined the Hope Street Group Board of Directors in 2014. The Vistria Group, LLC, is a private investment firm focused on building market leading companies in the education, healthcare, and financial services industries. Before launching The Vistria Group, Mr. Miller was the Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer at the U.S. Department of Education, After completing his-MBA, Mr. Miller joined McKinsey & Company where he was a Partner serving healthcare and technology companies throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Monique Nadeau joined the Hope Street Group and the Board in early 2007. As President and CEO from 2007-2014, she led the organization to cultivate economic opportunity and prosperity for all Americans. Managing Director globally at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, pioneering more than $4 billion of public-private finance initiatives for the UK Government and advising the full spectrum of public and private institutions on high profiled strategic risk management transactions.

Bob Kocher is a Principal at McKinsey and Company where he leads the McKinsey Center for Health Reform and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution Engleberg Center for Health Reform.


Michale Cohen-President Achieve Inc. Cohen has held several key roles in education during the past 20+ years, including Director of Education Policy at the National Governors Association (1985-1990) and Director of Planning and Policy Development at the National Association of State Boards of Education (1983-1985).

Allan Golston, President of the United States Program, leads the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Brad Jupp is Senior Program Advisor on teacher effectiveness and quality serving under U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Jupp works on school and district performance improvement and accountability, teacher effectiveness, and school choice, among other issues. He was formerly a Senior Policy Adviser to Denver school’s Superintendent turned U.S. Senator, Michael Bennet.

Joel Klein CEO Education Division; Former Chancellor-Newscorp; New York City Dept. of Education

In January 2011, Joel I. Klein became CEO of the Education Division and Executive Vice President, Office of the Chairman, at News Corporation, where he also serves on the Board of Directors.

Amy Laitinen is Deputy Director for Higher Education at the New America Foundation, a non-partisan Washington, DC-based think tank. Her current work focuses on federal policies that can increase the use of competencies and data in higher education and the workforce. Laitinen previously served as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education, where she was responsible for developing policy and budget proposals for post-secondary and workforce education, including the $12-billion American Graduation Initiative and what became the state-focused Race to the Top for College Affordability proposal.

Goverbor Jack Markell. He is former Co-Chair of the Common Core Standards Initiative and a former Board Member of the National Assessment Governing Board.

Jon Schnur is executive chairman and co-founder of America Achieves. Schnur is also the co-founder and former CEO of New Leaders and serves on its Board of Directors. He recently served as senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, co-chairman of the Obama for America Education Policy Committee and as a member of the Obama Presidential Transition Team.

Bob Wise is president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. He currently co-chairs the Digital Learning Council with Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida. Governor Wise also chairs the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards


Net assets (2012): $309,536

Donated to Education Trust: $2,980,822

Website description: EDI’s vision is “to be the nation’s most effective organization in helping deliver world-class education outcomes for all students. Our mission is to partner with K-12 and higher education leaders with ambitious reform agendas and invest in their capacity to deliver results.  By employing an approach known as delivery, a proven methodology for effective implementation in the public sector, we help leaders maintain the necessary focus to plan and drive reform.

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others and officially launched this past spring, EDI was developed by Barber and is being headed by former Georgia state superintendent Kathy Cox. EDI was the brainchild of Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust, and Mike Cohen, president of Achieve, Inc., two Washington, DC, school reform veterans who have lamented how little attention has been paid to the implementation of large-scale school reforms.

Achieve and the U.S. Education Delivery Institute have developed a practical Common Core Implementation Workbook for all states in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

Katy Haycock on Board of Directors is President of Ed Trust: Her salary is $272,000 and was listed on the tax return for EDI, not Ed Trust , as “reportable compensation from RELATED ORGANIZATIONS.”

While EDI donated almost 3 mill to Ed Trust in 2010, EdTrust are not listed as donors but they are listed as organizational partners.

Just a note about EdTrust. It’s funded largely by corporate interests belonging to American Legislative Exhange Council. Funders list:

Laura & John Arnold Foundation
Bezos Family Foundation
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The Joyce Foundation
The Kresge Foundation
Lumina Foundation for Education
State Farm Companies Foundation
The Wallace Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation

CEO Kathy Cox: Before joining EDI, she served as Georgia’s State Superintendent of Schools from 2003 until 2010, a statewide elected office.

Salary: $106,091


Partial List of the “Team”

Sir Michael Barber: Founder of EDI grounded on his philosophy of “Deliverology.” Barber recently joined Pearson as Chief Education Advisor. Prior to Pearson, he was a Partner at McKinsey & Company and Head of McKinsey’s global education practice. 


Nick Rodruigez : Prior to joining EDI, he was an engagement manager with McKinsey & Company’s education practice, where he advised education leaders on policy and implementation at the district, state, and national level in the U.S. and abroad.  

Ellyn Artis: Prior to her time at EDI, Ellyn worked at The Education Trust

Partial List of Board of Directors

David Britt: serves as board chair of The Education Trust

Dr. Jeri Echeverria: is retired Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in the Chancellor’s Office of the California State University

Katie Haycock: see bio above

Sir Michael Barber: see bio above

Dr. Driscoll: has served as President of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and currently serves on the board of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the K12 Advisory Board and the Alliance for Excellent Education.  He was recently appointed Chair of NAGB by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Ross Wiener: is a Vice President and the Executive Director of the Education and Society Program at the Aspen Institute. From 2002 to 2009, Ross worked at the Education Trust.

Kathy Cox: see bio above

Organizational Partners include



Education Trust



Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation


Harold Castle Foundation

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Clients include state departments of education and higher education institutions


image from:

In honor of musicians who know the power of song as a contribution to social change, who have risked everything to challenge an unjust world, and whose music resonates with the voices of those marginalized in a world of power, greed, selfishness, and tyranny. Let’s not merely honor them as role models. Let them be inspiration so that we may follow in their footsteps. Teachers, students, parents, and community activists are rising up and speaking out at great risk to their professional and personal lives. They are being fired, condemned, kicked out, expelled, and even jailed. The reformers, politicians, and billionaires hope their examples will create fear and retreat. We need to show them that quite the opposite is true. Our numbers are growing. And we will rise up … singing.

In honor of Pete Seeger who passed away this week at the age of 94 and all artists of courage and conviction.

Springsteen “Ghost of Tom Joad”:

Mom, wherever there’s a cop beatin’ a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there’s a fight against the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me mom I’ll be there
Wherever there’s somebody fightin’ for a place to stand
Or a decent job or a helpin’ hand
Wherever somebody’s strugglin’ to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you’ll see me.”

Nine Tibetan singers were jailed after they wrote and performed songs celebrating Tibet, opposing China’s occupation and calling for freedom. Music is a vital part of Tibetans’ resistance to Chinese rule. Singers like these not only keep alive a culture that China is trying to erase from the world, but their songs articulate the aspirations, fears and courage of a people who remain proud and defiant after 60 years of occupation.

Robert Neville (I Am Legend): “The people who are trying to make the world worse are not taking a day off. How can I? Light up the darkness.” [quoting Bob Marley]

Pete Seeger:Throughout history, the leaders of countries have been very particular of what songs should be sung. We know the power of songs.”

Pete Seeger: “Songs won’t save the planet, but neither will books or speeches. Songs are sneaky things; they can slip across borders.”

Pete Seeger: “Down through the centuries, this trick has been tried by various establishments throughout the world. They force people to get involved in the kind of examination that has only one aim and that is to stamp out dissent.”

Bob Dylan: “This land is your land and this land is my land, sure, but the world is run by those that never listen to music anyway.”

Bruce Springsteen:

“Seeger’s music has been used all over the world for social justice. From the Civil Rights movement to the anti-war movements Pete and his songs have been there on the front lines. Like a ripple that keeps going out from a pond Pete’s music will keep going out all over the world spreading the message of non-violence and peace and justice and equality for all. Wherever people are fighting to be free or fighting for equality Pete’s songs and Pete’s vision will be there with them.”

Pussy Riot: “We were looking for authentic genuineness and simplicity and we found them in our punk performances. Passion, openness and naivety are superior to hypocrisy, cunning and a contrived decency that conceals crimes.”

Public Enemy, “Shut ‘Em Down:

From the education of a TV station
But look around
Hear go the sound of the wreckin’ ball
Boom and pound when I shut ‘em down

“Shutting down public schools and handing them over to private organizations is not a ‘turnaround,’ it is a heist.” — Sabrina Stevens-


I am a member of a bloggers group called Basecamp, which has about 100 amazing bloggers comprised of teachers, activists, academics, parents and others from around the country.  Frequently new questions or topics of conversation are posed by members of the group. About a week ago Robert Perry (in a discussion strand) called for examination of, ”the elusive ed reformer catch phrase,” and asked us to consider what we should replace the word “reformers” with. The ongoing “conversation” via email responses was lively and informative. Reformers, as they are self-named is simply not enough we all agreed, besides being an outright lie. It’s like calling Donald Trump the “the salt of the earth.”

It was pointed out by some that “de-formers” (a term embraced by Norm Scott in 2007) perhaps has little too much edge of “snark” to be very helpful in broader public settings, though still immensely satisfying as a descriptor. Others like Tim Slekar use the phrase “faith-based reformers” because there’s no evidence to support their policies and because of their blinding faith in free market ideology for education. All true, but it still sounds too “nice” for me. Something’s still missing. Until now I personally had always used the term “corporatists”… until Jeff Bryant eloquently illustrated reasons why that term may not be accurate enough. He surmises that, “When a word has too many meanings, it ends up spreading confusion rather than clarity.” He illustrated the multiple meanings of the word. So now, having learned something new, I feel hesitant to continue with that phraseology and find myself pondering:

”Reformers….what are they?”

I think the new term I will use to describe, discuss, challenge, or resist “refomers” (aka corporatists, faith-based reformers, deformers, Rheeformers…or any number of expletives I could add) is this:

PREDATORY REFORMERS (also see: predatorial policy or predatory policy makers).

Yes. This new name feels right somehow. It aptly describes both the who and the what in a proverbial nutshell. The name comes from the use of the term to describe immoral, unethical and illegal lending practices in housing which bubbled over and exploded around 2008. Predatory lending. AskHow (a guide for economic theory novices like myself) describes it in simplest terms as follows:

“Predatory lending is the unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices of some lenders during the loan origination process …(T)he office of inspector general of the FDIC broadly defines predatory lending as ‘imposing unfair and abusive loan terms on borrowers.’ The practice of a lender deceptively convincing borrowers to agree to unfair and abusive loan terms, or systematically violating those terms in ways that make it difficult for the borrower to defend against.

Let’s (re)define this now in more analogues terms. The “lenders” are the U.S. Department of Education, certain politicians, and billionaires (or the think-tanks they fund) who “lend” monies to push (using unfair, deceptive or fraudulent measures) for certain polices or practices in exchange for self-serving or profitable benefits.  Who are the borrowers? Children, teachers, tax payers, schools and communities who are convinced they need to agree to unfair or abusive terms.

The most painful parallel is how predators as lenders and as education policy makers start with those who they perceived as the easiest “prey”: lower- income largely black and brown communities. Hard working and struggling individuals who are deceptively led into believing that here is the answer to their prayers, the salve for their struggle. They too can “have the American Dream—no really, it’s easy…just sign here.” Predatory lenders often target senior citizens and people of color to place them in unnecessarily expensive loans.

So how are “reformers” and reform policies predatory? Too many ways to count. But I’ll focus on the top few.

Race to the Top is a primary example. The federal government promises to loan monies to cash-starved states in exchange for a few “terms of an agreement.” These terms of agreement include new accountability systems (data collection), new tests (PARCC or SBAC), adoption of Common Core, new methods for teacher evaluation, alternative teacher education programs (TFA), and school turn around policies (charters and vouchers). In exchange for the RtTT monies states in essence are forced to comply with unsustainable, and down-right abusive policies.  “Sure we’ll help you get that new house…just sign here.”

The latest round of ALEC legislation is also an excellent example of predatory policy. As part of their new “student achievement backpack”  they propose changes that would enable private entities (online and edutech companies) to serve in public schools as LEA’s thus enabling them to not only get paid to replace experienced professional public school teachers, but they’ll get oodles of data in return (remember-this predator feeds on money and data). Through the “robust and comprehensive data collection” ALEC aims to allow predatory behaviors into your child’s classroom, where students will be seen not as learners but as “consumers” of the goods and products being sold via these companies.

Parent Trigger. The greatest heist foisted upon parents in many years. The ultimate in deceptive advertising. Spawned in the bowels of ALEC and promoted by many think tanks such as The Heritage Foundation. Parent Trigger sold many communities into believing that this policy would place education decision making back in their hands, locally, where it belongs. Hey, they even made an all star movie Won’t Back Down. Parents are used as patsies to do the dirty work for corporations who, once the public schools are closed, swoop down and claim their rightful space as colonizers of their brave new world. While many parents across the country have begun to fight back, still many other states continue to see this policy as “empowerment ” for communities.

Co-location, charters, and turn-arounds. Remember,  “Predatory mortgage lending practices strip borrowers of home equity and threaten families with foreclosure, destabilizing the very communities that are beginning to enjoy the fruits of our nation’s economic success.”  Similarly, lending agreements with RtTT funds require that more schools be co-located with charters, and expanse of charter schools, and higher rates of “forclosure” on schools which were never equitably funded to begin with. The hedge fund managers who finance the giant charter chains and charter CEO’s profit handsomely by bilking millions from tax payers for which they are rarely held accountable. As a result of these measures, communities are becoming destabilized, and are faced with the loss of community schools and increased race and class segregation as the result of the charters.

Common Core and PARCC/SBAC. The standards and the tests must always be seen as intertwined. Because they are. Common core uses deceptive advertising like “world class standards” and “state led” to lure buyers into a bad deal. And with the agreement to use PARCC or SBAC, the terms of the loan will prove impossible to repay. The costs associated with the new standards and the testing require technological infrastructure, monstrous loads of data collection, endless need for training and retraining, new and shinier curricular materials…NO state can afford the costs.

Once the federal funding runs out in 2014-2105, who will pay for all this new stuff? How will we pay for the metaphorical new garage, the built-in pool, or the roof (which when we bought the place didn’t know it had huge leaks…)? Corporations like McKinsey and Co (king of the predator food chain)  will step in and “take over” PARCC and SBAC in many states, funneling millions to their bank accounts to help “fix the pool, the garage, and the roof”—for a small fee of course.

Additionally, when children “fail” to meet the expectations (cut off scores, VAM) of the new tests, it’s like not being able to “make the payment.” Time to kick them out and parcel them out to private interests. Public into private, school to prison, public educator into TFA…the list goes on.

Both the feds and the free-market corporations are predators it seems.

It’s a blend of capitalism and federal overstep at their worst. After a few drinks, they mated. And they’ve bred a strange beast. Don’t try to feed it. It’ll bite your hand off. It’s a predator.

And you can see the effects of predatory policy coming to fruition. The terms of agreement in each instance are deceiving, unfair and impossible to meet. Or.. we’ve realize we’ve been duped and refuse to meet them. Either way, our public education system, our schools, our children, and our democracy are on the foreclosure auction block- for sale to the highest bidder. And we’re left out in the cold.

So the next time someone asks you what “reform” can be called, call it what it is-PREDATORY.

I’ve been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed and at least a year old is a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled: and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.”—Jonathan Swift.


(click image to enlarge for detail)

Looking closely at the chart (click to enlarge) you can see three central players in the education reform movement have all come from the same lineage: Sir Michael Barber (Pearson), David Coleman (College Board and CCSS), and Lou Gerstner (Achieve). Indeed, the stars have aligned for McKinsey and Co’s role as the cornerstone of education reform.

Describing McKinsey and Co., author Duff Macdonald writes, “…this influential and enigmatic company, helped invent what we think of as American—now global—capitalism.”

They have been the leaders in crafting the dominant narrative of an education crisis for decades, and now deeply entrenched in education reform policies, they are reaping the financial and political benefits of marketing solutions to the problems they manufactured in the first place.

As the chart indicates, McKinsey is in process of contracting with several states including New Mexico, Louisiana, and Florida to manage the PARCC when federal funding to manage it has dried up. (Note-since FL has stepped down as PARCC fiscal agent, I am unsure how this will affect their partnership with McKinsey). They are the Jedi knights of “big data” and have been trained by the best. And now they hold powerful positions where they can ensure that the distribution of data can be ensured. Their mantra is “big data.” The National Common Core Standards (NCCS) orchestrated by Coleman and new national testing (SBAC or PARCC) both managed in one way or another largely by Pearson (orchestrated by Barber) are the central vehicles needed for gathering this big data. In one McKinsey report it states: “One proven approach is to combine customization and scale by offering a standard core curriculum complemented by employer-specific top-ups.”

With key players in place in all areas of education reform, McKinsey has situated itself to be the delivery boy, and financial recipient of billions of education dollars.

Why is Louisiana partnering with McKinsey to manage PARCC? Ask Bobby Jindal, Governor of LA was formerly a partner at McKinsey for five years. Governments and large public organizations including Louisiana school system have systematically adopted Sir Michael Barber’s ‘deliverology’ approach and realized quick impact and significantly improve outcomes to their reform programs.

Rhode Island might be next:

Why Rhode Island? Ask husband of Gina Raimondo, (democratic candidate for R.I. governor in 2014, architect of R.I.’s reduced pensions for teachers, former hedge-funder and darling of neo-liberals) Andy Moffit who specializes in school projects for McKinsey.  He co-authored the ed reform Bible Deliverology with Sir Michael Barber now at Pearson. He joined McKinsey in 2000.


(special thanks to Wendy Holmes for providing the pic and for other RI related information)

But it’s not just PARCC. SBAC has employed McKinsey to conduct research into developing a detailed sustainability plan as well.

Lumina (a member of ALEC) gave a $200,000 grant to CCSSO to support an inquiry by McKinsey & Co concerning the sustainability and operations of the two Common Core State Standards/Assessment (CCSS/A) consortia post 2014.

Even in years prior to the CCSS debacle, McKinsey held tremendous political sway in locations of “ground zero” ed reform like New York City.  McKinsey is the favored consulting firm of former Mayor of NYC, Michael Bloomberg and Paul Pastorek. McKinsey partnered with Joel Klein:

“Their consultants played critical roles in planning the restructuring of the New York City schools under Chancellor Klein.  In 2007, McKinsey published a report on the commonalities of what the firm considered excellent school system.  NYC reform was lauded in that report.  Now, following an intensive study of NAEP scores and state testing, McKinsey concludes that “the city school system had not demonstrated the scale of improvement necessary.” (EDVOX-Carol Boyd). 

Bear in mind it’s not just in the areas of Common Core and national testing that they have their tentacles.

Jerry Hauser, COO, Teach for America was formerly with McKinsey and Co as well.  Who else can we add to the Who’s Who of McKinsey/Ed Reform? Rajat Gupta (financial backer of the Harlem Children’s Zone), Marshall Lux (on the Board of the Harlem Children’s Zone), Andrés Satizábal (Harlem Charter School), Michael Stone (Chief External Relations Officer at New Schools for New Orleans),  Terrence McDonough (English Teacher and Department Chair at Edward W. Brooke Charter School  and 5th Grade Teacher at Teach for America), Luis de la Fuente (with the Broad Foundation, who develops and manages a portfolio of grants to school districts, charter management organizations, and innovative non-profits), Shantanu Sinha (COO of Kahn Academies)

McKinsey’s key areas of educational interest are data collection (Big Data mantra) and information technology.

Using the growing power and reach of IT to boost productivity in government, health care, and education—sectors that have not benefited fully from previous waves of IT—to improve service delivery and increase transparency.” In education they suggest: “adopting new pedagogies that make learning more accessible, anytime and anyplace, and modular and engaging, often driven by the growth of new platforms for delivery and applied to areas like employee training.

Never mind that lack of sustainable research to support the success of these efforts for students, or the documented failure of MOOCS, which McKinsey touts as one of their solutions. No teachers will even be needed. In this brave new world, children will interact with “algorithms to evaluate responses”, and therefore, “the system can adapt to each student’s learning experience and offer additional instruction as needed.”

This statement says it all (I am highlighting what I find to be loaded terms):

“Unleashing the power of the connected enterprise in government, health care, and education will force significant change and present many challenges. Governments, which are responsible for delivering health care and education in addition to other services, will need to take a comprehensive view of where and how to invest. They will need to effectively manage system implementations, assemble lean IT operations, develop innovative IT-enabled services, and cultivate deep technology expertise.”

McKinsey corporate alliances also include Wireless Generation and Bill Gates, among scores of others too many to mention.

McKinsey contracts with the most powerful governmental agencies in the world. Is it any coincidence thatThe Department of Defense contracts with McKinsey & Co, and that the Department of Defense has expressed direct involvement with the collecting and tracking of all student data as is indicated by their participation in GradNation, and calling for a “national security audit.”

And of course McKinsey partners and consultants will be ready to deliver the goods and smiling all the way to the bank, while schools, children, and communities languish in their shadow.

Set out runnin’ but I take my time, a friend of the devil is a friend of mine

-Grateful Dead-

Is this any way to start off a new year?

Are you scratching you head wondering…wondering why it is that Maryland has decided to become the PARCC fiscal agent? First of all, what does this mean?

In its new position, Maryland will manage the finances of the state-led consortium starting on January 1, 2014. Florida previously held that role within PARCC, which is made up of 18 states plus the District of Columbia. Florida and Maryland have been working closely together to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities.


It is worthy of a head scratch because you know something’s gotta be wrong with this “deal” when even Florida, ground zero for corporate-styled reform policies rejected the offer. Maybe our new state superintendent Dr. Lillian Lowery can answer the question. Her affiliations with corporate-driven individuals and groups might lead us to the answers some of us seek.

First and foremost, Dr. Lowery is a graduate of the Eli Broad Superintendents Academy (class of 2004). What does this mean?

The Broad Superintendents Academy runs a training program held during six weekends over ten months, after which graduates are placed in large districts as superintendents.

The Broad Foundation also supports a broad range of pro-charter school advocacy groups, as well as alternative training programs for non-educators who want to work as teachers and principals (Teach for America, New Leaders for New Schools).

A hallmark of the Broad-style leadership is closing existing schools rather than attempting to improve them, increasing class size, opening charter schools, imposing high-stakes test-based accountability systems on teachers and students, and implementing of pay for performance schemes. The brusque and often punitive management style of Broad-trained leaders has frequently alienated parents and teachers and sparked protests.

Eli Broad and the Broad Foundation are preceeding by maybe only Bill Gates in the charge to dismantle public education via venture philanthropy, erode teacher union rights, democratic states rights, and children’s privacy rights.

What else about Dr. Lowery should we know?

During her reign as state superintendent of Delaware she worked closely with McKinsey and Co (a global consulting firm) whose obsession with big data is unparalleled. They have also birthed some of the biggest names in education reform: Lou Gerstner (co-founder of Achieve), David Coleman, and Sir Michael Barber. It is the latter player, who is now the Chief Education Strategist at Pearson, with whom Lowery worked while he was the CEO of the US Education Delivery Institute to offer evaluative “insight” and recommendations on the state of educational affairs in DE. Governor Markell selected Michael Barber’s education group at McKinsey & Company to facilitate the RtTT application development. He assisted the Performance Management Team tracking performance data and other management needs related to their Race to the Top application.

So now, Barber worked directly with Dr. Lowery and is now a CEO at Pearson, and Pearson contracts with PARCC. And what about the other folks from McKinsey from whom Lowery sought education advice? Lou Gerstner is the gentleman who said during a National Governors Convention that, “education is big business, why are we not in it?” and advocated to abolish the 50-state departments of education so “it would be easier to get their education reforms through.”

O’Malley, who signed on to the MD partnership calls it a “favor to President Obama.” I’d call it a favor to PARCC. It’s not favor to Maryland students. It certainly is not a favor to local minority businesses. Because the PARCC Inc. organization is already doing the work, the contract was awarded to it as “a sole source,” with no competitive biddingJolivet told the Board of Public Works the contract has, “not one dime for the minority business community.” Further, he urged the board to reject the contract because “it is tinged with racial discrimination and exclusionary practices.”

But the most central reason why Maryland has agreed to this train wreck of a PARCC partnership might involve Lowery’s service on the Governing Board for PARCC itself.

According to PARCC’s Senior Vice President Laura Slover the bulk of the federal money “passes through” the state to the contractors. They include ETS and Pearson, which already produce Maryland’s current assessment tests. Ohhhhh……money laundering. OK.

And while Dr. Lowery attempts to explain that the testing is a completely separate issue from the implementation of Common Core by K-12 schools, one cannot help but notice that Laura Slover, PARCC’s Senior VPs prior employment included working at Achieve since 1998, and most recently serving as the Vice President for Content & Policy Research, where she led Achieve’s efforts on the development of Common Core State Standards. Sure, Dr Lowery….no connection between PARCC and Common Core. Except that the sole purpose of the latter is to serve the former.

While this proposition clearly bodes well for Lowery herself, it obviously also bodes well for Achieve, PARCC, and Pearson. I continue to wonder how it will bode for children, teachers, and schools in Maryland. The questions posed by Holcombe bear our examination:

Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma and Georgia have pulled out of PARCC and now the PARCC “Fiscal Agent” Florida has too. Florida is a HUGE loss for the scheme. What will PARCC governing board member Kevin Huffman and PARCC’s “project manager” Achieve Inc. (Bill Haslam, board member) do now? What can we expect from Achieve Inc.’s affiliate relationship with Pearson, who was touting to investors that they would be cashing in on making the tests for PARCC? Who will PARCC now use for a third string “fiscal agent”?

So why does Maryland charge forward into this fool’s errand? Go ask Dr. Lowery. I bet she knows….