October 18, 2012

The deep roots of corporatization in education

I’d like to share with you an important article from the magazine Rethinking Schools, regarding the organization, Stand for Children. When this organization first came to Colorado, I did some research of my own. As a twenty-year children’s advocate, I’ve come to understand that foundations and organizations often aren’t who they say they are. It’s important to look beyond the web graphics and the catch phrases to reveal agendas. As part of my personal internal investigation of Stand for Children, I interviewed for a job position. A couple of weeks later a phone interview was conducted. The interviewer, a national staff member, was a recent college graduate and according to her biography, the extent of her education experience was a couple of summers working with children with disabilities. Her questions, however, revealed the strategic plan behind the organization. They wanted to know with which organizations I was affiliated; how many personal contacts I had in my community; and who were the leaders in my network. The final part of the interview was a role play. I was given the scenario of a community meeting where no one had shown up and I had the task of comforting and further encouraging the host. At the end of the interview, I asked some questions of my own. My application was for a leadership position. According to the interviewer, I would have a three-month entry pay trial with Stand, and based on my “performance,” I could then be considered for a higher position. “What are the performance criteria?” I asked. She answered, “It is based on your ability to organize in your community and grow Stand for Children members.”
Stand for Children doesn’t stand for children; they leverage children. While appearing as a community-based organization, they use deceptive and misleading tactics to gather contacts, promote particular candidates and forward a profit driven legislative agenda. In the name of children they use money to gain the power and control. Look closely below at their policy agenda and then follow the video links to learn more for yourself.

Five education leaders in the Colorado Legislature have been targeted by Stand for Children.
Please join this fundraising celebration to support real children’s advocates
Sunday, October 21st 5-7 pm
Home of Jeannie and Steve Kaplan
818 Marion St. Denver
RSVP to Dave@compassstrategy.com

Read the 2011 Policy Agenda here

“We must support parents in choosing the school that best meets their children’s needs by using a common…set of standards and assessments to determine student learning and school performance.”

Click here to watch Jonah Edelman, Co-founder of Stand for Children, in his own words:

Click here to watch the truth about Stand for Children

For or Against Children?
The Problematic History of Stand for Children
Fall 2011
By Ken Libby and Paul Sanchez

Stand has seen an enormous influx of corporate cash. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation began by offering a relatively modest two-year grant of $80,000 in 2005. In 2007, Stand for Children received a $682,565 grant. In 2009, the point at which Stand’s drastically different political agenda became obvious, Gates awarded a $971,280 grant to support “common policy priorities” and in 2010, a $3,476,300 grant.
Though the Gates Foundation remains the biggest donor to Stand for Children, other players in the world of corporate education reform have also begun to see Stand as an effective vehicle to push their agenda.
New Profit Inc. has funded Stand since 2008—to the tune of $1,458,500. According to its website, New Profit is a “national venture philanthropy fund that seeks to harness America’s spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship to help solve the country’s biggest social problems.”
The Walton Family Foundation made a 2010 grant of $1,378,527. Several other major funders are tied to Bain Capital, a private equity and venture capital firm founded by Mitt Romney.
In a similar time frame, Stand’s National Board of Directors has seen dramatic changes. Lauene Powell Jobs joined the board of Stand for Children in 2006. She also serves on the board of Teach for America. Both Powell Jobs and Julie Mikuta, who joined the Stand board in 2007, are integrally involved with the NewSchools Venture Fund. NewSchools is a venture philanthropy firm, started by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and financed by many of the same donors who give to Stand for Children—Bill Gates, the Walton Family—as well as Eli Broad and Gap founder Donald Fisher. NewSchools Venture Fund pours money into charter schools and “human capital” projects with the aim of using market models and corporate management to drastically reshape the education system.
In 2010, Emma Bloomberg, daughter of billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, became the newest member of Stand’s national board. Emma Bloomberg is a program officer at the Robin Hood Foundation, another venture philanthropy organization, whose board of directors is dominated by corporate titans like General Electric CEO Jeffery Immelt and JP Morgan CEO Jes Staley.
Read the full article here

Featured Education Leader: David Sirota


The only game in town:
An unlikely comeback for dying newspapers
By David (David J.) Sirota

On August 6, 2010, the New York Times published a front-page dispatch with the headline exotic deals put denver schools deeper in debt. The article, by Pulitzer Prize winner Gretchen Morgenson, examined how education officials in Colorado’s largest city used a routine pension-refinancing negotiation to cut a sweetheart deal with major financial institutions. As the Times reported, the accord made millions for, among others, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Canada. In the process, it locked the school system into ballooning, usurious interest rates, thereby endangering the district’s long-term financial stability. Ultimately, the scheme became a key exhibit at an SEC hearing on the perils of municipal finance.

By David (David J.) Sirota