Oh, What Fresh Hell is This? Meet EDI



My friend and partner in crime, Peg Robertson, alerted me to a document published about the Common Core in her state of Colorado    published by Achieve in partnership with a group whose name I had yet to be acquainted with: U.S. Delivery Institute (EDI).

I prefer to think of them as the Ministry of Magic.

Either they’ve somehow slipped past my radar in spite of hours of diligent reporting and researching on Common Core corporate associations  (entirely possible—none of is perfect, and let’s face it- this tangled web will always be more insidiously complicated than any of us can fully comprehend. The Matrix? Eat your heart out).

Or….they’re a newer kid on the block (created in 2010) laying low and quiet. But EDI is a newer kid, with the same old players.

So if you’re like me, and just meeting these folks for the first time let’s see who they are.

No spoiler alert needed here. Primary funder is….wait for it…Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Also funding EDI are The Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Harold K. Castle Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

And Who Are the Key Operators?

This is where it gets interesting.

The Founder of the U.S. Delivery Institute (EDI) is Sir Michael Barber who is also conveniently the Chief Education Adviser to Pearson, aka the giant Octopus (to quote Alan Singer) in the room.

The Chief Executive Officer for EDI is Kathy Cox. Prior to that she served as Georgia’s State Superintendent of Schools from 2003 until 2010.

EDI’s Program Director Nick Rodriguez was (formerly) 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.

It wouldn’t be an investigative blog from me if it didn’t have McKinsey mentioned in it. Hey, I can’t help it if they’re just EVERYWHERE in education reform!!! 

Who else can you find among the ranks of their senior leaders?

1) More than a few Teach for America grads, 2) individuals who, prior to their EDI positions, worked for the same foundations that are funding EDI, 3) and Sara Kerr, the former Chief Performance Officer with the Delaware Department of Education, who oversaw the implementation of Delaware’s $119 million Race to the Top grant . Conveniently, “EDI has partnered with the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) to plan and drive delivery of the state’s reform agenda as outlined in its Race to the Top (RTTT) proposal.

This is all a little too incestuous for me, thanks.

What Does EDI Do?

Besides rake in millions?…. According to their website  their missions is to:

“ (F)ocus on helping our partner systems to use the delivery approach to implement the policies and reforms to which they have already committed.”

Touting itself as a “different” kind of “technical assistance organization” they promote what they call a “Delivery approach,” based on Sir Michael Barber’s book entitled Deliverology 101.  Accordingly:

“In 2001, Sir Michael Barber pioneered the delivery approach to meet the challenge of implementing reforms in a way that will guarantee their success.  EDI has adapted that approach for the American context and uses it to help state systems of K-12 and higher education achieve their ambitious goals.” See www.deliveryinstitute.org/delivery-approach

But wait!!! There’s more!!!

EDI has developed a curriculum that will allow any US education system to harness the power of the approach.”

If you order now you get one free barf bag and a packet of Kool Aid!!!

In their Access to Success Initiative, geared towards institutes of higher education, EDI operates under a partnership between the National Association of System Heads (NASH) and The Education Trust.

Who, or what, is Education Trust? (….besides a really bad oxymoron?)

Ed Trust expresses its lofty and generously vague and broad sweeping mission as promoting “high academic achievement for all students at all levels—pre-kindergarten through college.”

Ed Trust is funded by Lumina, Broad, Walton Foundation, and State Farm-all associated with ALEC. ALEC’s education goal generally speaking is to privatize public education, ensuring all Americans of their God given right to serve the corporate good.

Who or what is NASH?

NASH partners with Achieve, The Data Quality Campaign, Education Trust, and the National Governors Association (one of the central designers of the Common Core) among others.

“Formed in 1979 for the purpose of seeking improvement in the organization and governance of public higher education systems, NASH serves as a forum for the exchange of views and information among its members and with other higher education organizations, with special attention to the perspectives, problems, and opportunities of heads of systems as a unique category of higher education executives.”

It seems now more than in 1973 when it was founded, NASH has formed many innovating business opportunities in the manufacturing of education reform now creeping its way up the walls of the ivory tower.

Here are Two of EDI’s Goals

1) States are using student growth measures to understand teacher effectiveness for good reasons. First, student learning is the most important expectation we set for schools, and nothing in a school impacts student learning more than effective teaching.

Translation—EDI will enforce the use of Value Added Measure (VAM) despite strong evidence to it’s LACK of reliability or validity as a viable instrument to measure learning.

2) New data systems (that) permit far better links between student outcomes (tests, graduation, post-secondary experiences) and specific schools and teachers. This facilitates assessment of and systemic learning about changes to policy and practice that might lead to improvements in the quality of teaching and public schools.

Translation—Gates and other techno-junkies will suck school districts dry, draining them of much needed monies to pay for technology required to collect and warehouse this new data. Oh, they’ll get grants for these new innovations at first. Any good drug dealer knows you always give the first hit out for free. They’ll come back for more.

Such data will include all sorts of PRIVATE bits of information about our children with no guarantee to its security or clarity as to how its going to be used (without our consent). And lastly, this statement suggests that such data will be used to promote merit pay scheme and attach student tests scores to teacher evaluations and job retention.

This same cadre of corporate reformers (as the creation of EDI via Pearson, Achieve, Gates, Broad, et al…indicates) is some new science fiction-esque beast that keeps mutating itself, growing and spreading, and giving birth to itself like some mutant zombie pea pod…

…and it just won’t die.

Published by educationalchemy

Morna McDermott has been an educator for over twenty years in both k-12 and post secondary classrooms. She received her doctorate in education, with a dissertation focus on arts-based educational research, from The University of Virginia in 2001. Morna's teaching, scholarship, and activism center around the ways in which creativity, art, social justice, and democracy can transform education and empower communities. She is currently a Professor of Education at Towson University.

2 thoughts on “Oh, What Fresh Hell is This? Meet EDI

  1. I want to say I enjoyed this post but it is Common Core so no! But yet…yes…I love the “web of evil”, how it all interconnects and research sends you this way and that, finding more and more surprises (Pearson? Again?!?!) I had my own “web of evil” I need to attempt to get from a dying laptop, connecting educators, govt, and organizations. It is scary when you start seeing so many patterns.

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