#BoycottExxon Because Despite Common Core, Our #ChildrenRNot4Sale

Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobile made these statements in a panel discussion on the topic of Common Core: 

 
He added:

  
Our response:

  
And Peter continued:

Tillerson’s viewpoint is anti-education, anti-American, anti-human. It’s a reminder that the education debates are not about Left versus Right or GOP versus Dems. The education debates are about the interests of the human beings who are citizens of a nation and stakeholders in its public institutions versus the interests of a those who believe their power and money entitle them to stripmine an entire nation in order to gather more power and money for themselves. The education debates are about democracy versus oligarchy. The education debates are about valuing the voices of all citizens versus giving voice only to the special few Who Really Matter.

Read more from Peter here

Then the BATs swarmed over Exxon!

 

The Badass Teachers, an organization with over 56,000 members, are calling for a public boycott also:

 
BATs calls upon all parents, students, and educational professionals to publicly join us in a boycott of Exxon Mobil and take a stand against the corporate greed that is profiting against the backs of our children.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 28, 2015

More Information Contact:

Marla Kilfoyle, Executive Director, Badass Teachers Association

Melissa Tomlinson, Asst Executive Director, Badass Teachers Association

contact.batmanager@gmail.com

Badass Teachers Association – http://www.badassteacher.org/

Recently, Forbes Magazine released a special report “Business Gets Schooled” to expose how corporations have experienced pushback from the Tea Party about the Common Core State Standards. http://for.tn/1JvahZu In this report, Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon, is quoted as saying that American schools are turning out “defective products that have no future.”
The members of the Badass Teachers Association are appalled that our children and our students are thought of in a way that strips them of their very essence as human beings. In response, we are calling for a boycott of Exxon Mobil.

“As a public school teacher, let me be clear: my students are not products. Education is not about turning children into widgets for big business. It is about readying children for life, and that includes so much more than the tiny and inhuman vision of people like Rex Tillerson. Hands off my students, my daughter, and my country!” demands Steven Singer, parent, teacher, and public education activist.

“A CEO that thinks our Children are products cannot be allowed to influence education policy with their money! Our children are innovators, amazing individuals each one with their own gifts; only love, food security, housing security and loving, caring teachers can unlock their potential. My students are not defective; however CEO Rex Tillerson is defective in his thinking of what it is to be human.” stated parent, teacher, and education activist Jamy Brice Hyde.

Melissa Tomlinson, Assistant Executive Director of BATs responded; “CEO Rex Tillerson’s comments amplify what is really wrong with our country. The fact that a person in charge of a multi-billion dollar corporation with international influence only sees our children as products to be developed for eventual profit dehumanizes the majority of our county.”

Not happy with how they were characterized, Suzzanne McCarron, vice president of public and government affairs at Exxon Mobil only furthers exemplifies the fact that Exxon Mobil has no understanding of the education of children and what education reform needs to be when she makes the statement that “U.S. students rank 31st in the world in math, 24th in science, and 21st in reading.” http://for.tn/1VlkbUo This statement, backed by the knowledge that Exxon Mobil is one of the leading corporate proponents for the Common Core State Standards, demonstrates the corporate ignorance surrounding how we truly need to look at public education in our country and examine how we can provide the resources our children really need to further their educational success.

                                                                               ###

Read more here

We are adding updates as more awareness is illuminated by the original Fortune post.

  
Another teacher writes: 

This is what many of us have been saying for some time: these standards are backed, and were initiated, by business. They admit as much, finally, in this article. Not mentioned is how a few businesses stand to gain from the sales of curriculum designed to teach to the standards, nor how much the testing industry is making delivering the tests of the standards. But let’s leave that for another time. This article contains even more disturbing ideas about how our children should be used as profit making fodder. Those ideas come from Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil. 

Tillerson apparently agrees with Gates and, as the Education Chair of the Business Roundtable, has been supporting and promoting the Common Core. And Tillerson, like Gates, reveals a lot about how he views our children when he speaks. While Gates speaks of education as a process that is easily measured and needs to be standardized like any manufacturing process, Tillerson goes even further and speaks of our children as the product of that process: one to be consumed by Exxon Mobil and the rest of corporate America.

Read more here.

Meanwhile… Big Biz Gets It Wrong! 

Carol Burris, a long time educator and principal,  recently wrote this letter as published by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post:

 Dear Mr. Tillerson, Please leave our children alone. We do not need you to develop them as products. They are neither kerogen nor shale. Your Dickensian thinking has been “outed” and this holiday season, you are as welcome as the ghost of Christmas past. The common-folk for whom the Core you adore was designed, do not like it—only 24 percent of public school parents want it used in their school. And they certainly do not like to hear their children referred to as “defective products.” Mr. Tillerson, you have made the mommies and daddies mad. I understand their reaction must confound you. In a world in which your corporation has been declared a person, one might mistake human children for products to consume. When we humanize the inanimate, it is easy for the humanity of the animate to slip away. But let me make this clear — our children are not products for your purchase. You, and the captains of industry (or whatever you call yourselves this century), are not “the customers.” School is not a training camp to work on oilrigs, to pump gas or design lubricants. There is just enough democracy left to make students know they have choices, and more than enough parental commonsense left to know that community control of schools is slipping away. We are so sorry to disappoint. The story line is not as simple as the one told by Peter Elkind. The resistance against the Common Core is far more than a push from the right. Come visit New York. Parents don’t like it because their kids are frustrated and confused—it has been, from start to finish, a mess. Business and colleges cannot define their own desired academic outcome and then use it to map learning backwards. Kids do not grow backwards; they grow forwards.  Learning progress is uneven. It intersects with social, developmental and biological factors, none of which can be ignored. Those who don’t know sludge from shinola when it comes to teaching kids sold you junk science. I do thank you for your candid remarks, however. The curtain has once again been pulled back to expose Oz, and the resistance to the corporate reform agenda will grow. Like Arne Duncan’s awful “white suburban mom” comment, your reasoning on why we need the Common Core will surely be repeated again, and again, and again. Mommies and daddies don’t forget.

But wait! Go to the hashtag #BoycottExxon and you will find another hashtag – #ExxonKnew. Before the great #ClimateMarch in Paris this year news broke about Exxon’s prior knowledge about the dangers of climate change due to their products.  The Nation wrote about this here

  
Perhaps it is time for EduActivists and Climate Justice Activists to collaborate! #BoycottExxon #ExxonKnew 

  
  
  

It seems Exxon knew about climate change and decided to hide the truth. Education reformers don’t use their own policies in their elite schools either.  They must know the truth: edreform isn’t good for kids, just like fossil fuels aren’t good for humans or our planet. How long have the reformers known the truth about  Common Core?

Meanwhile:

  
  
  
#BoycottExxon because our children and our planet are not commodities. Stop Common Core.  Keep fossil fuels in the ground! Stop the oligarchy!

Gates Move Over! Divest from Monsanto! #noGMO #SeattleMAM #MAM2015

Gates Move Over

On Saturday, May 23rd, the March Against Monsanto – otherwise known as #MAM – is taking place everywhere.  Here in Seattle, the Educating the Gates Foundation activists will be joining Seattle MAM in another historic march to the Gates Foundation (GF). The Gates Foundation invests in Monsanto and we find this morally disturbing. We are mostly teachers and allies who are connecting the dots to educate and activate voices who share a common demand tomorrow: We join with Seattle MAM and the March Against Monsanto to demand Gates divest from Monsanto! We demand Gates Move Over!

Looking through the lens of the 1% or the world’s dominant propaganda-enhanced-view of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we’d only see a rosy picture where the organization operates from the moral ground of pure charity. However, we have been studying the GF for years now, and threw aside those rosy glasses.  We aren’t the only ones who are concerned as shown here by The Guardian.

And finally, a suspicion lingers, slowly fading but still there, that the foundation’s activities are some sort of penance for Gates’s world-dominating behaviour at Microsoft – or a continuation of that world domination by other means.

And from the staff at the GF, according to The Guardian:

Foundation staff describe this process, and indeed all their work, in business-school language: achieving “leverage”, building the foundation “brand”, serving “markets” and “customers”. Or they use the language of management consultancy and computing: “Bill is about numbers,” says Steiner. “He wants to see the data. He values data more than ideology.”

Leverage. Brand. Markets. Customers. Values data more than ideology. Not words associated with charity, are they? Hmm… Aren’t charities built on ideology? 

We disagree with the rosy propaganda and assert: The Gates have one major flaw, regardless of their intentions – hubris. We see a pattern whereby the GF swoops in, creates policies while lobbying to reduce regulation – all without including the consent or input of the people to whom their experiments will impact the most – then rakes in the profits from their experiments.

We want Gates to divest from the corporate colonization of public schools, to divest from all interests in Monsanto, to divest from GEO Group private prisons, divest from exploding Bakken oil trains, divest from Big Bertha’s Big Dig in Seattle, and divest from Common Core –  just to name a few!

Evidence is mounting – this swoop and experiment in each area the foundation invests in – is truly an action that is much more akin to neo-colonization.  What do we mean by colonizing? Merriam-Webster defines colonizing in these terms:  To infiltrate with usually subversive militants for propaganda and strategy reasons <colonize industries>.  We assert, the GF is notorious for their top-down take-over of policies using propaganda subversively without getting input from the very people their policies impact.  In the case of Monsanto, they are colonizing our human food supply without our democratic voices.  Teachers care about the lives of children.  We care about democracy. Tomorrow, we set out to educate and activate the public about the many negative impacts created by the Gates’ hubris.  We exercise our rights to voice our wishes at the Gates Foundation in Seattle.  We want the Gates to move over and leave room for the people.  But will they?

Based on this example of how Gates and Monsanto, the Gates continue fail to consider the needs of the very people they impact. Listen to this hubris carefully in the video at the end.  With hubris comes a condescending pervasive attitude.  That’s the real problem.  We don’t want the Gates condescending experiments.

Bill & Melinda Gates are extremely condescending to the farmers in Africa, speaking in tongues of propaganda – all designed to sell Monsanto products & technology for their own profit while pretending it is “good for Africa”.  They are condescending to students and educators.  They are condescending to the people suffering in private prisons.  They are condescending to farmers in America… you get the pattern.

What do you think?  Does the GF have a right to experiment without consent of those of us they use as lab rats? 

Please join us for #SeattleMAM tomorrow.  We’ve included the information from the coordinators of the event here:

It’s time for another BIG rally & march!
MAY 23rd at Westlake Park for #MAM!

Join thousands of folks from the greater Seattle region, all over Cascadia, as we say NO to the terrible biotech/bigAgra models presented by Monsanto. There is a better way!

We’ll be sharing educational info about the dangers their products create. How these toxins affect our soil & waterways, can pose a threat to bees & other pollinators, & affect the health of our children. We’ll discuss the basic agricultural economics that just don’t make sense and share info about Urban Farming and things that do!

************************************************
Schedule of Events Includes:

*12 NOON Rally at Westlake — Speakers from Community Alliance for Global Justice (CAGJ), WAMend, Educating the Gates Foundation, Beacon Food Forest, and more. Plus live music. (See below)

* 2:30 PM — March from Westlake to The Gates Foundation for protest, smaller rally and speak-outs! (march time is approx.)

Music at rally featuring:
Gary Kanter – humorist and political irritant!
Seattle Raging Grannies – political choral fun for everyone!
ATOMIC BALLROOM! – local alt rockers who believe in Food Freedom!
*************************************************

Join us to Stand Up for #Biodiversity, #SafeFood, #Organic #FamilyFarmers & your “Right to Know” what’s in our food! We’ll be protesting the ongoing attempt to pass the DARK Act, and demand that The Gates Foundation divest from #Monsanto.

Invite Invite Invite!!! Please, bring a friend with you who NEEDS to know MORE about this topic.

***Bring the Kids, this is a Family-Friendly event!***

Check the posts below for announcements about Work Parties and other ways YOU can get involved. Or send a message to the page admins at Seattle March Against Monsanto to find out more!

Don’t just March Against Monsanto, Bee Against Monsanto. Everyday. Plant It Forward! Check out our friends at #BAM to see what they’re doing to support the annual #MAM event! Thanks to OCA- Organic Consumers Association for their support again this year.

You can support the March Against Monsanto with donations here.

CCSS Evangelists Find Common CURE for Special Needs

Cliffhanger

Thanks to Bill Gates, parents of children with special needs can finally have some peace. A new Common CURE, funded mostly by Gates, has removed all of the neurological and physical challenges qualifying children for Specially Designed Instruction. While most of Gates’ education experiments have failed in the past, the Common CURE promises to make all formerly diagnosed categories of special needs become nonexistent. The new CURE was first discovered by David Coleman and Gene Wilhoit. Excited about their discovery, and desperate for funding, Coleman and Wilhoit immediately pitched their plan, known as the Common CURE for all students, or better known as the “Common Core State Standards” (CCSS) to Bill Gates in the summer of 2008.

Faith Healer CCSS

 

At the time, Coleman and Wilhoit had no idea their breakthrough product would turn out to be a CURE for so many neurological and mental health diagnoses!  Children previously struggling to reach mere grade level expectations now suddenly excel in Advanced Placement Courses and continue to excel in both college and careers.  Until the Common CURE –  AP courses were often a dream, not a reality, for many students. Now that David Coleman not only has found a CURE, but is working for SAT and AP, the Common CURE is accessible, available, and affordable for ALL students.

laying-on-of-hands

All these years, neurologists have failed to see that all we needed to do was have rigorous standards, grit, high expectations, and “no excuses” for their special needs clients.  The Common CURE will make “disparate outcomes” a thing of the past.  Seattle Schools say special education is too expensive and a waste of time now that they have the Common Cure.

“The evidence is clear that disabilities do not cause disparate outcomes, but that the system itself perpetuates limitations in expectations and false belief systems about who children with disabilities can be and how much they can achieve in their lifetime.” – Governor’s Office of the Education Ombuds’ Report, WA State, (2014)

Society can now make a 180 degree turn for the first time in history.  Children and families formerly qualifying for Special Education no longer need to live with the stigma of needing special help.  Arne Duncan is reportedly preparing to direct Congress to repeal the American Disabilties Act and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. All we need is high expectations.  All we need is the Common CURE.

“We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to a robust curriculum, they excel,” Duncan said. (per NPR coverage)

Snake Oil

Arne is going to take Gates’ show on the road to promote the Common CURE. Skeptical about “miracale cures”, some parents want to run him out of town, however. When asked if he was worried about a class action lawsuit being filed agains them for false advertising, Duncan just shrugged his shoulders and said,

“…he is creating a $50 million technical-assistance center to help states comply with the new guidelines. States that fall short could lose federal funding earmarked for special education, which totals about $11.5 billion a year.” – NPR, (2014)

Secretary Duncan suggests Autism is a byproduct of teachers, disputing old beliefs that it was brought about by “refrigerator moms.” Duncan is relieved that language concerning Autism will be removed from the DSM-5, thus saving taxpayers billions of dollars.

**Satire alert…

#BlackFriday #BoycottMicrosoft: Prisons and Slavery: How Bill Gates, the Gates Foundation and Microsoft Profit From Racism and Human Suffering Part 2: The Prison – School Connection

We outlined the connections Bill and Melinda Gates, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Microsoft have to profits from prisons in Part 1 here. Now we will connect these practices to the impact on our schools and offer some ways for others to join in resistance.

Jail Door

 

How do these stories impact our schools?

“Among the cuts approved by legislators: nearly $50 million from the Department of Corrections, including the closure of a prison facility; $50 million from K-12 education, including funding intended to keep class sizes small; $51 million from higher education, including at several of the state’s flagship universities; nearly $30 million from a state-subsidized health insurance program for the poor; and the elimination of non-emergency dental care for poor adults.”

What a trade off, huh? More cuts to education and social programs that benefit the poor while they pay out millions to prison industries and private prison operators – and give tax breaks to Boeing and Microsoft. Washington citizens are getting the shaft – especially their students and the poorest among them.” – Bob Sloan, Insourcing – Identifying Businesses Involved in Prison Labor or Supporting Those Who Are, The Daily Kos, (2010), (our emphasis)

Our schools and most vulnerable are starved as we see more spent on serving our prison populations than we do on our K-12 students. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s tax evasion is creating budget shortfalls that also hurt our most vulnerable. We’ve connected the dots and you can follow the money.

“Perhaps if states spent more money on educating students, they would not have to spend so much money keeping prisoners incarcerated.” – Rebecca Klein, This is How Much More States Spend on Prisoners Than on Students, Huff Post Politics (2014)

In a recent report by Kate Randall, US Prison Population Soars While Education Spending Plummets, Randall notes:

“State funding for prisons has dwarfed education spending. Adjusted for inflation, state spending for prisons grew by 141 percent from 1986 to 2013, while K-12 education spending rose by 69 percent, and higher education spending by merely 5.6 percent.” – Kate Randall, (November 2014)

But don’t the people arrested deserve to be in prison? Why are we including prisoners in a group of what we call “our most vulnerable”? Aren’t they guilty of major crimes against society?

“Ninety-seven percent of 125,000 federal inmates have been convicted of non-violent crimes. It is believed that more than half of the 623,000 inmates in municipal or county jails are innocent of the crimes they are accused of. Of these, the majority are awaiting trial. Two-thirds of the one million state prisoners have committed non-violent offenses. Sixteen percent of the country’s 2 million prisoners suffer from mental illness.” – Vicky Pelaez, The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery?, Global Research, (2014)

But wait. Isn’t Bill Gates a humanitarian? Someone in the tech world sure thought so. Here is the beginning of his speech where he was honored with the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award.:

“I come here tonight wearing two hats—as the chairman of Microsoft and as the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And so while I see a room full of customers, competitors, and partners, I want to talk to you as leaders—to discuss how we can bring technology to bear in reducing inequality and the suffering it causes.” – Bill Gates, The Tech Museum Speech, (2006), (emphasis ours)

He got one thing right. He definitely wears two hats.

Hat One: Humanitarian.

Hat Two: Profiteer from Racism and Human Suffering.

It may not be possible for him to consider the inhumanity of unfettered capitalism. We need to expose this inhumanity, shifting public opinion to one that tarnishes the shiny media image he has created for himself.

“There is a group of laborers that are paid way below minimum wage, and rival third world sweatshops. Corporations that make large amount of money, and save millions pay the workers low wages. These employees have been stripped, legally, of their political, economic and social rights. These second class citizens don’t have the right to unionize, are violently pressured into silence, they have no voice to even trigger change. These laborers are the 2.3 million American prisoners we can not see or hear. They are the new slaves. It isn’t a secret that the United States has a very high prison rate in comparison to its population. With just 5 percent of the world’s population, the US currently holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners (Adam Liptak, NY Times). It also isn’t a hidden that the prison industry is big business, which brings in a lot of capital and employs many. The prison system has figured out a way to enforce this right under our noses.” – Queen, The New Slaves – The Prison Industry is Big Business, AFROPUNK, (2014)

Now we will connect the dots from the prisons to state budget cuts and directly to Bill Gates’/Microsoft’s tax dodging. As incarceration goes up, so do state budget cuts according to this article. Here are some terrible facts:

“The prison populations in most US states are at historic highs. Prisons in 36 US states incarcerate three times as many people as they did in 1978. State prison systems account for 87 percent of the total prisoner population, or roughly 1.3 million in 2013 compared to about 270,000 in 1978. But even as states spend more on prison operations, they are spending less on education for children and young adults, particularly in high-poverty neighborhoods.

A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) paints a devastating picture of a polarized society in which the prison and police-military apparatus is being continually expanded while vital social programs are starved for funds. CBPP estimates that if state corrections spending had been held to mid-1980s levels, adjusted for inflation today the 50 US states would have about $28 billion more each year between them to allocate to non-prison related expenditures.

At least 30 states are spending less in general funding per student this year for K-12 schools than before the recession hit in 2008; 14 states have reduced funding by more than 10 percent. Spending cuts for higher education have been even deeper, with the average state spending 23 percent less per student since the recession. There is also a direct correlation between increased prison spending and education cuts, with many states with the highest incarceration rates making the deepest education cuts.” , – Kate Randall, US Prison Population Soars While Education Spending Plummets, (2014) (emphasis ours)

According to David Sirota and Jeff Reifman, Microsoft has dodged $29.6 Billion in US taxes and $8.16 Billion in WA State taxes through intentional, possibly illegal maneuvers.

Reifman details the connection to Washington State’s Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling:

“In June, the Washington State Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to appear on September 3rd to explain why it hasn’t found the revenue to fully fund the education reforms required by its McCleary ruling, reportedly as much as $7.83 billion through 2019.

There are a variety of reasons the state has a huge education budget gap. After the 2008 recession, the Legislature cut $4 billion from K-12 and higher education spending, which helped absorb the costs of continuing tax breaks for corporations. While most states have an income tax to smooth revenue through downturns, voters rejected the creation of a progressive income tax in 2010. Then, last November, the Legislature awarded Boeing $8.7 billion in new tax breaks.

Locally, Boeing often takes a lot of flak for its tax breaks, but Microsoft has also played a central role in lobbying for tax breaks that cripple state education spending.

… Using the 50 percent figure, we can conservatively estimate Microsoft’s savings from lobbying and dodging the state royalty tax between 1997 and 2014 at $5.34 billion. If we factor in interest and the Department of Revenue’s typical 25 percent penalty on unpaid corporate taxes, that number jumps to $8.16 billion (see Scenario B).

This is more than enough to fully fund public education under the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.

These are also ethical issues. Chairman Bill Gates, former CEO Steve Ballmer and General Counsel Brad Smith are all public education advocates. In 2003, then-CEO Ballmer famously admonished taxpayers “… to come to grips with the notion that we need to invest in higher education.” Just not, it seems, corporate taxpayers.

The sophistication with which these men have manipulated the law and enforcement in Olympia has tremendously harmed our state and our schools, and undermined constructive dialogue over tax fairness. Ballmer and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos both fought the progressive income tax in 2010. In 2012, Smith suggested raising the sales tax was the best approach to fund education. I think the bourgeoisie term for this kind of hypocrisy is cognitive dissonance.” – Jeff Reifman, Where are Washington’s K-12 dollars? Just ask Microsoft shareholders, Crosscut (2014)

Microsoft’s tax evasions could fully fund McCleary, fully funding Washington State’s basic education budget. Budget cuts caused by the tax dodging of Microsoft would benefit our most vulnerable citizens, including the GEO prison detainees. Microsoft has used prison labor for profit while laying off Microsoft employees. The Gates Foundation has invested in the GEO Prison Group, profiting from human misery.

How does the amount of funding per inmate compared to the amount of funding per K-12 student in Washington State?

  • Funding per inmate in Washington State: $46,897 per year.
  • Funding per K-12 student in Washington State: $11,328 per year.

Gates Microsoft tax revenues could work towards evening out the imbalance between what is spent on K-12 students vs what is spent on inmates as well. While we do not suggest treating prisoners inhumanely in any way, we do suggest that investing in education leads to an increase in incarceration. Doesn’t it make sense to invest in our children up front to prevent incarceration?

No Cuts to Education

The cuts to Washington State budgets create shortfalls that would otherwise fund our most vulnerable.

The statistics tell a troubling story:

  • The opportunity gap starts early. Disparities in cognitive, social and behavioral skills and overall health are evident before a child turns one, and grow larger by age two.(15)

  • The opportunity gap is evident on nearly every indicator of child well-being. Children of color or from low income families lag behind their more economically secure peers on everything from education outcomes, neighborhood safety, and health issues, and are more likely to enter the child welfare system.(16)

  • Not finishing high school on time. Nearly eight of every 10 students (75 percent) graduate overall, but students of color and those from low- income families are less likely to graduate on-time (within four years of entering ninth grade) compared to their white and higher-income peers.(17) – Kim Justice, Michael Mitchell, Andy Nicholas, Lori Pfingst, A Paramount Duty: Funding Education for McCleary and Beyond, (2013)

How has America’s culture accepted this outrage? Chris Hedges explained in “The Death of the Liberal Class” how that death was caused by “visually emotive media”. Our society is inundated with prison shows, normalizing prison as an “acceptable” part of our culture. Orange is the New Black is one of the most popular programs on Netflix. IMDb lists the Top 10 Prison TV Series. MSNBC sports LOCKUP with titles like LOCKUP Raw: Violence Behind Bars. Increasingly, the public keeps their ratings high, while the media/news corporations, Hollywood, Microsoft, and Bill Gates profit from this misery.

What can you do? Here are just a few ways you can help.

Code Pink

In an effort to push the Gates from his investments in GS4 Israeli prisons, Code Pink was successful in a global protest. Follow in Code Pink’s footsteps with us.

“Bill Gates has sold off some of his shares in controversial British security giant G4S after the billionaire computer software magnate was criticised for his investment.

The G4S shares were bought in June 2013 through the philanthropic organisation he runs with his wife, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation…

…And Israel is accused of holding children in its prisons as well as torturing incarcerated Palestinians, both of which would also breach international law.” – Shane Croucher, Bill Gates Whittles Down G4S Investment Amid Israel Prisons Criticism, (2014)

Sign this petition demanding Bill Gates divest from GEO Group Prisons:

Per Lael Henterly:

“Presente is also circulating an online petition demanding that Gates Foundation get their money out of the GEO Group…” “We really want to make sure Gates divests,” says Mariana Ruiz, Managing Director at Presente.org. “We have many people working on this and we will keep working until they divest.”

– Lael Henterly, Gates Foundation resists pressure to pull private prison investment, Seattle Globalist, (2014)

We need to increase exposure to Gates’ propaganda and demand that he divest from profiting off budget cuts through tax dodging and prison labor profits connected directly to human misery. We have to knock Gates off his humanitarian pedestal by exposing the truth vs his propaganda.

 

REBEL

The Washington Badass Teachers Association is hosting a protest on public property near Microsoft in Redmond, WA on Black Friday, asking people WORLDWIDE to join us to #BoycottMicrosoft. This direct action is intended to increase public awareness of the Microsoft tax dodging and their ties to prison labor, education cuts, and inhumane racist labor practices.

Join our protest – #BlackFriday #BoycottMicrosoft WORLDWIDE. You can make a huge impact by sharing our event and participating.

Sign our petition demanding that Microsoft, Bill Gates, and Steve Ballmer pay the taxes they have dodged globally, nationally, and in Washington State. Click on the lin below to sign:

Bill Gates, Microsoft, Steve Ballmer: STOP DODGING TAXES: Pay your FAIR SHARE of taxes!

Donate to our #BlackFriday #BoycottMicrosoft GoFundMe to support the costs of artful resistance we have planned for our protest event. $5-20 adds up fast to crowd fund our resistance.

Sign up for our Facebook event here, even if you are not attending in person at the Redmond Microsoft location. If you are in the Northwest on Black Friday, join us here for an evening candlelight vigil protest from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.

LOCATION: Microsoft – Park NEAR Overlake Transit Center, just a block from the overpass:

15590 Northeast 36th Street
Redmond, WA 98052. Follow the signs to the picket.

Do you have ideas on how to move Bill and Melinda Gates toward their own idealistic humanitarian image and away from their investments in racism and human misery? Share them in the comment section below.

**NOTE: We will discuss how the Microsoft tax dodging impacts other vulnerable people in future posts. This post does not begin to discuss the School-To-Prison Pipeline, which is part of the profit from human suffering and racism.

#BlackFriday #BoycottMicrosoft: Prisons and Slavery: How Bill Gates, the Gates Foundation and Microsoft Profit From Racism and Human Suffering Part 1: The Prison Connection

“Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today—perhaps the fundamental fact, as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850.”

– Adam Gopkin

Punishment for Sale

‘ “I’M BEGINNING TO BELIEVE THAT `U.S.A.’ STANDS FOR THE UNDERPRIVILEGED Slaves of America” (Esposito and Wood, 1982: 149), wrote a 20th-century prisoner from Mississippi in a letter detailing the daily violence he witnessed behind prison walls.’

– Kim Gilmore, Slavery and Prisons – Understanding the ConnectionsHistory As A Weapon, (2000)

According to the Gates Foundation, it “works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives.” While Bill and Melinda spend much of their time running their capitalist “philanthropy”, Bill Gates still owns 330.1 million shares of Microsoft, and acts as a major leader, “substantially increasing” his time at Microsoft as of February 2014. In the following two posts we will outline how both the Gates Foundation and Microsoft profit from the human misery of our society’s most vulnerable through prison investments, labor, and contracts.  We will share the authentic stories of detainees who often have landed behind bars for almost “silly” reasons.  We will also lay out some ways that you can rebel against the Gates and Microsoft’s profiteering off racism and human misery.

Per the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation they have very noble goals, but what happens when these words of Bill and Melinda collide with their true actions?  Remember, Bill and Melinda are so highly thought of around the globe. Most of the public believes they are generous humanitarians giving away money to such important, benevolent, and only altruistic causes. We’d like to compare what the Gates Foundation states as their mission, and their actions to see where the truth lies.

In our last post we echoed Ian Birrell’s question: “Is Bill Gates is a “secular saint” or a hypocrite?” The deeper we dig, the more we discover the word “hypocrite” is much too kind.

Statue of GEO

Here are the ways Gates and Microsoft profit from racism and human misery in the prison industrial complex:

  • Investing in GEO Group private prisons
  • Hiring prisoners at slave labor wages for Microsoft profit
  • Evading taxes on licensing royalty taxes and more – through Microsoft’s lobbying and “intentional maneuvers”
  • Microsoft contracts with Unicor Federal Prison Industry and the US Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons

What does this connection to the prisons reveal about the ethics guiding the Gates Foundation?

Prison Industrial Complex 2

 

The truth can be found more accurately in the stories of the detainees in the NWDC in Tacoma, WA, a GEO Group private prison and other prisoners who have witnessed first hand the treatment of incarcerated individuals who are too ill to work.  The truth can be found in the articles and links below.

Bill and Melinda hide their investments behind a “fall guy”, known as The GatesKeeper.  As quoted above, the Gates couple pretend they have no control over their own investment portfolio.  Yet this article makes it clear that is not the case.  The Gates have complete trust and faith in Michael Larson and these investments help Bill sleep well at night, as this story from the Wall St. Journal explains:

Mr. Gates raised his glass to toast the guest of honor, Michael Larson, who sat nearby wearing a pink button-down shirt, his favorite color. The Microsoft Corp. MSFT +0.26%co-founder said Mr. Larson has his “complete trust and faith,” according to people who were there.

“Melinda and I are free to pursue our vision of a healthier and better-educated world because of what Michael has done” for the past 20 years, Mr. Gates told about 40 dinner guests. Because of Mr. Larson, the world’s richest man said, he sleeps well at night.”

Meanwhile, Bill Gates is the richest man in the world.  Both The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Microsoft are profiting from the prison industry.  What kind of people profit from racism and human suffering?

Gates invested $2.2 million investment in the GEO Group per Mother Joneswho calls the Gates Foundation out on their “hypocritical investments

The Gates Foundation refused to divest from the GEO Group as noted here when they spoke with the Seattle Globalist:

“We understand the passion of people standing up for injustice. That is what motivates us all at the foundation every day,” the Gates Foundation’s Media Relations Team wrote in response to our email asking about the investment.”  – Lael Henterly, Gates Foundation resists pressure to pull private prison investmentSeattle Globalist, (2014) (our emphasis)

Their response went on to say:

  • The $2.2 million invested with GEO Group pales in comparison to the $25 billion the foundation has spent helping people over the last 15 years

  • The foundation doesn’t actually control its own investments. A separate body known as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Asset Trustdoes (but they don’t have their own media team to respond to public inquiries).

  • The asset trust is “actively managed so the foundation has the most money possible to support the great work the foundation does with partners around the world.” – Lael Henterly, Gates Foundation resists pressure to pull private prison investmentSeattle Globalist, (2014)

    Jobs Not Jails

Hiring prisoners at slave labor wages for Microsoft profit:  One of the ways Microsoft and subsequently, Bill and Melinda Gates have profited from the prison population has been directly through prison labor used to do work for Microsoft.

“If more information is needed to clarify the financial impact of continuing incarceration upon us as a society take a brief look at Washington State’s latest efforts to address the state deficit. The below cuts are necessary to reduce the budget by $600 million. A substantial need for such reductions was created because of the state’s continued reliance upon incarcerating more and more citizens, reducing private sector jobs through the use of prison labor by large WA. corporations such as Boeing and Microsoft.” – Bob Sloan, Insourcing – Identifying Businesses Involved in Prison Labor or Supporting Those Who Are, The Daily Kos, (2010), (our emphasis)

Is this legal? If so, how did that legalization happen?

“According to a recent study conducted by the ACLU, at least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations. Corporations that many Americans hold in high regard are reaping major benefits from this almost free labor pool. According to the ACLU research, among the list of companies raking in the profits are IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more.

The ACLU states that, “All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom generation [sic] by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion.” – LA Progressive, Prison’s Shocking Economic Truths, (2014)

According to Pelaez, these “tycoons” – Gates, Microsoft, and the other investors in prisons today – also profited from human misery through what couldn’t be classified as anything else but forced imprisoned slavery.  Pelaez points out they are threatened with isolation cells if they refuse to work.

“For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.”  – Vicky Pelaez, The Prison Industry in the United States:  Big Business or a New Form of Slavery?Global Research, (2014)

We found over 10 pages of Google links connecting Microsoft to prison labor, but honestly, many of these reports were from nearly 20 years ago.  Is Microsoft still using prison labor as slave labor to make profits AND evading taxes right under the noses of Washington citizens while these same detainees are under such deplorable conditions they are willing to suffer a hunger strike for a small piece of justice? Evidently…

Corporate lobbyists have conveniently made it very unlikely we can find ALL the information we need as evidence, as reported here, and yet as of 2012 there still seems to be a use of prison labor by Microsoft through Televerde:

“The Justice Department and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons don’t break down which companies they do business with. But Unicor said inmates provide private call center service, including data review and sales lead generation, for “some of the top companies in America” under a federal mandate to help companies repatriate jobs they have outsourced overseas.

In a fact sheet, Unicor asserts that prisoners in the program are less likely to re-offend and are better trained for full-time work upon release. All revenue goes back into the program, which “operates at no cost to the taxpayer,” it says.”

In the private sector, states usually partner with business-to-business firms to run the services — the companies provide the equipment and facilities, and the state provides the labor. One such firm is Televerde, a Phoenix company that partners with the Arizona prison system to provide marketing services for major companies that have included Hitachi and Microsoft.

In a marketing paper, Microsoft says companies like Televerde “can reduce the burden on corporate marketing and local marketing teams can have more meaningful interactions with their customers.” (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC News.)” – MSNBC and NBC News Staff, Inside the secret industry of inmate-staffed call centers – U.S. News, (2012) (emphasis ours)

Volunteering to Work for Gates

We found out more about Televerde by Forbes:

“The privately held Televerde is run by James Hooker, 60, a corporate outcast who failed to fit in with any organization he couldn’t run himself. The Perryville operation, when he came across it in 1995 (then run out of a converted motel in Phoenix), became his calling and his own form of business rehab.

Televerde generated $12.1 million in revenue last year and is growing profitably. Hooker’s customers are some of the biggest names in tech: Cisco ,NetApp , Hitachi , SAP . A signed poster from Bill Gates hangs on several walls in Perryville: “To Televerde, Keep up the great work.” These firms discreetly rely on Televerde’s women to sell complex, multimillion-dollar software and hardware systems. Says Cisco sales manager Christina Foley: “Their technical aptitude is off the charts.” – Victoria Barret, Silcon Valley’s Prison Call Center, Forbes (2010)

Meanwhile, Bill Gates has influenced the adoption of Common Core to push his own agenda for profit while he claims it is to make our students globally competitive. He accuses the unnamed as perpetuating myths about poverty in global and domestic issues.  He says these myths are not just wrong, but harmful.  What about Gates’ investments?  What about Gates’ humanitarian media image? Myths? Wrong?  Harmful?

“Last month, Melinda and I published our foundation’s annual letter, about myths that block progress for the poorest. We focus on myths about global issues, like the myth that foreign aid is a big waste, but when it comes to domestic issues we’re in the grip of mythology, too. And these myths aren’t just wrong; they’re harmful, because they can lead people to fight against the best solutions to our biggest problems…

…Every American student should leave high school with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and in the job market.” ~ Bill Gates, Bill Gates:  Commend Common Core, USA Today (2014)

Who is really promoting myths?  Microsoft is in process of laying off 18,000 employees. So let’s get this straight.  Here’s the irony:  Bill Gates promotes Common Core because he insists it will make students “college and career ready”  and because we have to “compete in the global market”, while he and Microsoft arereducing private sector jobs through the use of prison labor”.

Is this lucrative?  Is it cheaper to hire prison labor?  Does slave labor yield yet more profit for the richest man in the world?

GEO Group Separates Families

How does it connect to poverty and racism?  Use of prison labor for profit by capitalists goes back in time per Bruce Benson, who explains in his book, The Enterprise of Law:

“Houses of correction” were first established under Elizabeth to punish and reform able-bodied poor who refused to work. A “widespread concern for the habits and behavior of the poor” is often cited as the reason for the poor laws regarding vagrancy and the establishment of facilities to “reform” the idle poor by confining them and forcing them to work at hard labor. But Chambliss reported that “there is little question but that these statutes were designed for one express purpose: to force laborers (whether personally free or unfree) to accept employment at a low wage in order to insure the landowner an adequate supply of labor at a price he could afford to pay.” Such laws clearly reflected the transfer function of government.” –  Nathan Goodman, The Labor Politics of Prisons, (2014)

Does this sound familiar? Goodman goes on to say the use of prison labor marginalizes vulnerable workers (poor youth of color) outside the prison as well:

James Kilgore argues that the main labor problem entailed in imprisonment today is not slavery inside, but marginalization outside the prison. Kilgore points to a litany of ways marginalization from the labor market intersects with incarceration. First, he notes how it fuels incarceration, writing “The chief labor concerns about mass incarceration are linked to broader inequalities in the economy as a whole, particularly the lack of employment for poor youth of color and the proliferation of low wage jobs with no benefits.”  – Nathan Goodman, The Labor Politics of Prisons, (2014)

The links to the high prison populations with poverty and racism are clear. 

“Neighborhoods with the highest incarceration rates also have high levels of poverty, unemployment and racial segregation. People returning to their communities after prison sentences lack employable skills. Nearly 40 percent of prisoners have not finished high school, compounding the difficulty in finding employment. A Pew study found that total earnings by age 48 are more than 50 percent lower among men who have been incarcerated compared to those who have not.

Another study found that if state-level incarceration rates had not increased between 1980 and 2004, the official poverty rate would have fallen by roughly 20 percent over that same period. More than 2.7 million children have a parent behind bars, a significant factor driving child poverty. – Kate Randall, (2014)

Prison populations are rising to an all-time high. In March 2014 The Economist reported on the Prison Policy Inmate Report, stating:

“Yesterday the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI), a criminal-justice research and advocacy group, released a report and chart that draws on various data sources to present a fuller picture of precisely who is behind bars, and for what reason. It’s not happy reading. PPI reckons the United States has roughly 2.4m people locked up, with most of those (1.36m) in state prisons. That is more than the International Centre for Prison Studies estimates, but it’s in the same ballpark.” – J.F. – The Economist, (2014)

Yet, a report shows that crime itself has gone down, so how can prison populations go up? Investors like Gates have created a system that feeds itself, as noted here:

“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”

The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and its investors are on Wall Street. “This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors.” – Vicky Pelaez, The Prison Industry in the United States:  Big Business or a New Form of Slavery?Global Research, (2014)

We’ve heard from the Gates Foundation and Microsoft through their words and actions.  What about the stories from the people who are suffering under the Gates Foundation and Microsoft?

Hunger Strike Demands

GEO private prison in Tacoma had been connected to Gates earlier, and has come back in the news with a third round of hunger strikes.  The detainees at the Northwest Detention Center are risking their lives by rebelling:

“The strikers are protesting the conditions of their confinement, which they say include inadequate meals; exorbitant fees for the commissary; and severely under-paid labor ($1 per day) to cook and clean for the facility. “GEO provides inadequate nourishment which creates a demand for commissary food at inflated prices, which induces detainees to work for essentially no pay and then profits from families’ contributions to those commissary accounts,” reads a statement from supporters emailed to Common Dreams.” ~ Sarah Lazare, “In the Name of Justice, Hunger Strike Sweeps Immigrant Detention Center, Common Dreams

 

Solitary Confinement

What else do the Northwest Detention Center people impacted by detention in the for-profit prison have to say?

…Since February, new leaders have arisen in the detention center, including Hassall Moses, who arrived in the US as a child from Micronesia and proceeded to serve in the US military as an adult. In a voice recording, Moses shares his plan for how detainees could try to reverse the conditions of the detention center by taking things into their own hands:

Basically, this facility is run by detainees. If we, everybody stopped working, we could negotiate the pay raise because right now everyone’s working for a dollar. We could talk about the quality of food, the living conditions and put into practice having detainees who come in with petty offenses be eligible to be released on their own personal recognizance or conditional parole or humanitarian parole to be with their families and be working so they can afford their own attorneys.

In retaliation, ICE has placed Moses in solitary confinement. Elsewhere in the detention center on Monday March 24, Moses’s fellow inmate allegedly attempted suicide by hanging himself. He was sent to the hospital for a medical emergency and survived.

“If you say that I am not a prisoner/but you have what I lack/Of your words/I have nothing to say,” writes Jesus Cipriano Ríos Alegría, a hunger striker in Tacoma currently held under medical isolation, in a poem about being incarcerated in the Northwest Detention Center. For many, a suicide attempt, over 750 hunger strikers, solitary confinement and medical isolation for the leaders, all within a span of three weeks, is sufficient evidence of the decrepit physical and psychological conditions these prisoners endure and the need for radical change.” – JOMO –  “Fighting Obama’s Deportation Policies Without Papers—and Without Fear”, The Nation, (2014)

These stories offer truth in stark contrast to the Gates’ propaganda.

“(Bill and Melinda Gates) support vulnerable children and families in Washington State.  We also work to address issues of social inequity and poverty in Washington State.”

– The Gates Foundation

What do you think?  Does the richest man in the world need to profit from human suffering and racism? 

Read Part 2 to find out more about how this impacts our schools and our most vulnerable and what you can do to help.

Don’t wait for #BlackFriday. #BoycottMicrosoft WORLDWIDE now!

 

The Machine

“The taxes dodged by Microsoft over the last 17 years could have paid for Washington’s public education shortfall.”

Jeff Reifman, Crosscut

Last July, the Washington Badass Teachers Association organized a protest demanding Bill and Melinda Gates divest from corporate education reform.  WA BATs are organizing in protest of Bill Gates again, this time on Black Friday –  November 28th. The WA BATs are organizing a WORLDWIDE #BoycottMicrosoft protest in response to Microsoft’s blatant tax evasion maneuvers. Sign up to join the Washington Badass Teachers Association #BlackFriday #BoycottMicrosoft Protest on their Facebook Event link here.

 

99 Percent

Join us in boycotting the following Microsoft products worldwide:

  1. MS Windows
  2. MS Office
  3. MS Surface Tablets
  4. Minecraft
  5. Xbox
  6. Nokia phones

The protest unfolds in a climate where the Washington State Supreme Court has recently ruled the WA State Legislature is in contempt for breaking their constitutional oath to fully fund basic education as their “paramount duty“.

But WHY #BoycottMicrosoft?   Legislators continue to favor corporate tax loopholes, while Bill Gates and Microsoft continue to intentionally shelter profits offshore in tax havens.

The fact many Microsoft profits are from public education is not lost on the WA BATs. The fact that Microsoft’s unethical business practices lead directly to underfunded schools is not lost on WA BATs. Washington State public schools are now criminally underfunded, as Crosscut’s Jeff Reifman explains in Where are Washington’s K-12 Tax Dollars?  Just ask Microsoft shareholders. :

“In June, the Washington State Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to appear on September 3rd to explain why it hasn’t found the revenue to fully fund the education reforms required by its McCleary ruling, reportedly as much as $7.83 billion through 2019.” – Jeff Reifman

 

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In this candlelight vigil walking protest we carry a light for every child who didn’t get the attention their teacher wanted to give them because of criminal under-funding of schools.

We mourn the learning opportunities lost in our classrooms because of tax loopholes and Microsoft’s intentional evasions.

We mourn the loss of revenue for our most vulnerable citizens whom Bill Gates claims to protect.

We are protesting tax loopholes given to – and taken by the wealthy.

Microsoft is shirking their responsibility for meeting society’s needs and putting the tax burden on the backs of workers, thus perpetuating inequality (while profiting at record levels).

We MOURN economic fairness.

But we aren’t just mourning passively. We are organizing against  regressive unethical corporate greed!  We have a clear struggle ahead of us and we have solidarity.

Some may question our protest of one they consider a hero or “secular saint“.  We ask you to read on…

 

Secular Saint

“The world’s richest man is seen as a secular saint. But he should question the example Microsoft is setting by avoiding tax.”

– Ian Birrell, The Guardian

Birrell goes on to describe the accolades given to Gates by both the left and the right …

“The left loves him as a rich man giving away much of his fortune for good causes. The right respects a business brain imposing financial rigour on a spendthrift aid sector. Charity chiefs and celebrities adore him, while politicians jostle to join him in the spotlight.

Clearly, he relishes his latest role, becoming increasingly influential and outspoken. He loves to lecture nations on how they should give away more of their taxpayers’ money.” – Ian Birrell

Could it be the left and the right both receive the graces “$aint Bill” bestows upon them? But Birrell asks a very important question:  Is Bill Gates a hypocrite?  Readers, continue and decide for yourselves…

Bill Gates claims he wants to help public education.  Yet Microsoft intentionally avoids paying their fair share.  Meanwhile they claim this has no significant impact on our state or the state’s economy.

“Microsoft’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel Brad Smith acknowledged this practice and discussed its impact on Washington tax revenues in an interview I did with him in 2004.

“Obviously the company did make a decision, I’m not remembering exactly how many years ago, to put Microsoft Licensing Incorporated in Nevada in part to recognize the lower tax rate that was in place there,” he said. “And there have been times when people in state government have mentioned to us the issue of whether we might move that back to the state of Washington. The reality is that, in the scheme of things, the impact is not very significant either for the company or for the state. Either the state government or the state economy.” – Jeff  ReifmanCrosscut

Who is Microsoft fooling?  Is this a boldface lie?  How does such a thing happen in Washington State?  Perhaps tax sheltered funds are used towards lobbying our congressmen/congresswomen and governors.  For one, Neoliberal Governor Christine Gregoire appointed former Microsoft executive – Suzan DelBene –  now Washington State Congresswoman as the Director of the Department of Revenue, that’s how.

How could Bill Gates make education better?  The Gates Foundation claims to want to help the most vulnerable of all students – our students in poverty, for example:

” Our United States Division works to improve U.S. high school and postsecondary education and support vulnerable children and families in Washington State.” The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Our underfunded schools leave our most vulnerable citizens without the resources Bill Gates and the corporate refomers claim they wish to give and in fact do harm to them.  Equitable funding is the real failure in our public schools.  Instead of paying his taxes, Gates has invested billions on corporate education reform – almost all of which is through grants that have strings attached to accountability measures that induce a “Game of Thrones” stack ranking system much like he implemented into Microsoft.  Microsoft employees were crushed by this system and it was recently dropped by the company as a result of harm to the company, yet he insists on using it on children, teachers, and schools. Gates is determined to use public education as his laboratory to experiment on other people’s children with his money for yet more profit.  Meanwhile each experiment takes a terrible toll on students and teachers – especially our most vulnerable children.

Gates has bankrolled Common Core, high stakes testing, charter schools, and teacher evaluations tied to test scores.  He has bankrolled union busting even when evidence demonstrates children achieve at much higher rates in our nation’s unionized states.

Gates and Microsoft have taken advantage of US schools for profit, yet they hide their profits offshore increasingly to avoid paying their fair share which in turn could help fully fund basic education across the US.

“Microsoft’s use of the offshore subsidiary tactics has exploded in the last five years, with the amount of Microsoft earnings shifted offshore jumping 516 percent since 2008, according to SEC filings.” – David Sirota (2014)

So is this tax evasion legal?  Maybe, according to David Sirota… but Sirota also acknowledges these are intentional maneuvers which threaten government budget deficits.

“The disclosure in Microsoft’s SEC filing lands amid an intensifying debate over the fairness of U.S.-based multinational corporations using offshore subsidiaries and so-called “inversions” to avoid paying American taxes. Such maneuvers — although often legal — threaten to signficantly reduce U.S. corporate tax receipts during an era marked by government budget deficits.” – David Sirota (2014)

But maybe not according to Jeff Reifman:

“Because the facilities and employees that built and sold Microsoft’s software overwhelmingly exist in Redmond, the state could have challenged Microsoft Nevada’s accounting as an illegal step doctrine, but I was told repeatedly by former Department of Revenue Director of Communications, Mike Gowrylow, that the state didn’t want to take the risk of losing.”

To demonstrate just one of the ways Bill and Melinda Gates and Microsoft profit from education while evading paying taxes on their profits, consider Common Core alone.

Microsoft and Pearson get big CCSS profits

“Foremost among corporations already profiting from the CCSS are Bill Gates’ Microsoft and British-based Pearson Inc. Both spent years channeling corporate funds through not-for-profit “charities” — the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Pearson Foundation, respectively — to champion the development and promotion of Common Core and to create a marketplace for their education technology.

Gates Foundation spokespeople tout the CCSS as a “step to greater excellence in education,” but this latest round of federally imposed educational testing is really designed to secure new markets for technical and computerized educational materials. The Gates Foundation spent over $170 million to manipulate the U.S. Department of Education to impose the CCSS, knowing it would realize a return on this investment as school districts and parents rush to buy the technology products they’ve been convinced are vital to improving education.

In 2011 the Gates Foundation joined forces with the Pearson Foundation to create new online reading and math courses for the CCSS. Pearson executives saw the potential to secure lucrative contracts in testing, textbooks and software worth tens of millions of dollars.” – Betsy Piette, Worker’s World (2014)

Ironically, the profits from Microsoft licensing paid by public school districts via taxpayer money are the same profits Microsoft evades paying taxes on in Washington State.  Just imagine the profits from licensing all of the school districts who have Windows and Microsoft Office installed on their computers by reading the costs to one district alone below.  Microsoft was accused of bullying Oregon and Washington public schools in 2002 in this article – Schools cry bully over Microsoft licensing fees.

‘The company also changed its stand-alone licenses and now forces schools to pay full retail cost for many upgrades.

All of those changes mean schools can expect to pay Microsoft more now than in the past, regardless of the type of licensing agreement they sign.

“We’re not in a wonderful financial situation as it is,” said Robinson. “We took $36 million out of the budget for next year. The cost of licensing would run about $500,000, which for us is the cost of 10 teaching positions.” – Kim Zetter, PC World, (2002) (emphasis ours)

 

Corporate Welfare or Robbing the Poor to Give to the Rich?

Corporate Welfare or Robbing the Poor to Give to the Rich?

What does Bill Gates have to say about corporations paying their fair share? Funny how he forgets about the lobbying and choices he makes, putting all the blame on legislators.  So much for ethics.

“Gates, when pressed on his firm’s tax policies, gave the usual glib response that they play by the rules. “If people want taxes at certain levels, great, set them at those levels,” he said. “But it’s not incumbent on those companies to take shareholder money and pay huge sums that aren’t required.” – Ian Birrell

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WA State Legislators are in contempt of the Supreme Court for violating their oath to uphold Washington’s State Constitutional “paramount duty”. – McCleary

What does Bill Gates say about Black Friday?

“You may have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There’s another day you might want to know about: Giving Tuesday. The idea is pretty straightforward. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, shoppers take a break from their gift-buying and donate what they can to charity.”Bill Gates

Your charity does not cover up the harm done by not paying your fair share of taxes to help the worlds’ most vulnerable, Mr. and Mrs. Gates.

Why is #BoycottMicrosoft important for Washington State?

“In 2010, Microsoft earned $62.5 billion. If Microsoft Nevada recorded more than $30 billion a year from software licensing, that meant licensing had grown to make 50 percent of its total yearly revenues — much more than its final public disclosure of 31.6 percent in 2003. That number would make sense considering the company’s rapid migration from retail software packages to bulk licensing deals with PC manufacturers and Fortune 500 customers.

Using the 50 percent figure, we can conservatively estimate Microsoft’s savings from lobbying and dodging the state royalty tax between 1997 and 2014 at $5.34 billion. If we factor in interest and the Department of Revenue’s typical 25 percent penalty on unpaid corporate taxes, that number jumps to $8.16 billion (see Scenario B).”

This is more than enough to fully fund public education under the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.” – Jeff Reifman (emphasis ours)

We are many.  The 1% are few.  Organize.  #BoycottMicrosoft Worldwide!

We are many. The 1% are few. Organize. #BoycottMicrosoft Worldwide!

Why #BoycottMicrosoft WORLDWIDE?  Read Ian Birrell’s report on the GLOBAL implications of Microsoft’s tax evasions here.  Clearly, the lost revenue created by unethical decisions made by the world’s richest man need to be actively challenged.

Does Bill Gates really want to help public education?  Then be ethical.  Microsoft and Bill Gates – pay your fair share!

Don’t wait for #BlackFriday.  Don’t stop on #BlackFriday. 

Don’t stop until Bill Gates and Microsoft pay their fair share!

Readers,  how can you help organize a #BoycottMicrosoft Protest worldwide?

Here is our flyer.  Send us YOURS! 

Black Friday Boycott Microsoft Rally

Why teacher evaluation is failing kids. A snarky monologue by my inner ‘reformer’.

A classroom observation by an administrator usually comes at an opportune time. Undoubtedly the teacher is deftly representing the breadth and depth of their skill in that 45 minute period of time (because aren’t they always?). And should they NOT expend the best of themselves, dear teacher, then the result easily becomes a blame game. Was it the curricular materials? The fire drill? The snow storm? The fight on the playground? The hearing check? The assembly? The kids were being what again? Oh. Kids. Well, YOU’RE a teacher. Do your job.

When an educator is given a roster, s/he gets 30 individuals to teach-why do teachers complain they can’t effectively and compassionately parent them all? Is it really that hard to add in constantly changing academic expectations with diverse learning needs that range as dramatically as the substances of the cosmos? For the good teachers the stars sometimes align to shine a light on the systemic problem. Individualism. So charters are the answer! Of COURSE. Who needs the underfunded overly-bureaucratic state/district/building system? It isn’t even held accountable with test scores in a meaningful way!

Resources. The shiny glory of gold and richness in revenue founded America-it is at the heart of our national birth. Tax hating white men started this experiment of representative rule, and we wallow now in the hyper-capitalist drama that ensues. A smart phone holds the infinite classroom. So why are human teachers so ineffective? They have those genius devices, with access to Khan Academy- how hard is it, really, to teach math to 29 eleven year olds. Teachers just need to try harder. For the kids.

Crappy teachers don’t discipline kids how their parents think their babies deserve – how dare a teacher defy the obvious societal decree of s/he shall ‘ALWAYS do what is best for (my) kids’- and who cares that the teacher must assume/predict/use a crystal ball to know what parents expect anyway. Any consequence for my kid’s behavior means that is a bad teacher, of COURSE. But those other kids? They deserve punishment. How else do they learn the lessons of a civil society? And still teachers complain they don’t have enough support for at-risk youth. If they just punished the bad kids and protected the good ones…. How else do we train those kids to get by when they’re incarcerated?

While we’re on topic of how mouthy teachers can get — How dare those greedy teachers ask (demand, sit in for, strike for, fight for) more caring adults in the classroom, hallways, nurses office, playground or lab.

I mean, how dare they suggest that they shouldn’t have to compete like everyone else for the best deal, the most expedient and efficient means to keep kids safe, fed, healthy, learning, loved. You can’t just throw money at the problem, after all. That’s crazy talk. There is always a cheaper way. They just want to waste tax dollars.

They even have the gall to think they should work on their own evaluation protocols! The idea a system can police itself is ludicrous. Only banks get to do that. And big oil. And prisons. And big pharm and the war machine and Monsanto. But that’s it. Our kids’ education is sacred. Those women, I mean, teachers, need to be put in their place. They need experts using standardized test data to tell them which kid is really not learning. How dare they suggest that those struggling kids need more ‘caring’ adult attention? THEY JUST WANT MORE MONEY.

Teachers don’t get that without competition there is no innovation. Ever. They don’t get that kids are entering a global workforce and if they aren’t driven to push beyond their capability in every subject (uh, reading and math) and score higher on tests then the terrorists will win. Because, capitalism.

A Teacher, Anonymous

Artful Resistance: Clyde Gaw to Bill Gates: Just Let Me Teach

Bill Gates Clyde Gaw

Artist and Art Teacher Clyde Gaw and his painting titled “High Stakes Standardized Testing”.

 

Clyde Gaw, Art Teacher and artist created this amazing piece of artful resistance in an effort to inform the public about what is happening to our democracy through corporate education reform. Clyde entered his painting in the Art Education Association of Indiana’s “Teachers as Artists” competition where he won the People’s Choice Award.   Kristy Deer of the Indiana Economist Digest reported the following in a piece called “Art Educator Wears His Passion on His Canvas”:

“The education policy that we should have in place is one that promotes innovation and creative capacities in each and every individual child,” Gaw said. “Innovation is where the U.S. makes its mark. We should not be emulating the education systems of countries whose educational institutions produce thinkers with little capacity for innovation or creativity.”

We  asked Clyde why he included Bill Gates in his painting.  Here is Clyde’s response:

“Gates, having enjoyed a privileged, child centered education where his natural talents and giftedness were refined through democratic, autonomous learning experience, was afforded time, guidance, material and encouragement to develop his ideas relating to computer programming and coding.

He has since become the richest man in the World with the creative thinking skills he developed at Lakeside School but now advocates a different kind of learning experience for other peoples children. The form of education Gates is advocating for is dependent upon compliance, control and authoritarianism where the child is outside the decision making process central to the learning experience he or she must participate in.

Influencing education policy at the state and national level with vast sums of money, Gates has much to gain from educational ancillary spending on technology and numerical data collection, thus has carefully leveraged his influence so that teachers are evaluated based on students psycho-metric test scores.

Teachers have no control over student variables outside the classroom so they are basically micromanaged to teach to the test and deprived of opportunities to utilize democratic forms of educational learning experiences due to the subversion of curriculum from standardized high stakes testing.” ~ Clyde Gaw, July 2, 2014

 

Justin Oakley had Indiana’s own, Clyde Gaw, Artist, Advocate, and a “guy who gives a you know what”  featured on the Just Let Me Teach – Indiana Talks Radio LIVE show.  You can listen to Clyde and Justin on the podcast here.

Clyde blogs at Save Art Education.

What do you think?  Does Bill Gates have the expertise needed to reform public education policies?  Does he have the right to do so simply on the grounds of being the richest man in the world?

 

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: “A Rally to Educate Gates” – Seattle

Bill Gates Control

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

“A Rally to Educate Gates” Seattle – Washington Badass Teachers Association (WA-BATS) a grassroots group of career educators defending our public education system from private interest groups is holding a public rally on Thursday, June 26, 2014 at Westlake Park, 401 Pine St, Seattle. The rally begins at 5:00 p.m. The public is encouraged and welcome to attend. The average citizen is unaware of who is controlling the direction of our future. This event is a first step to draw attention to the issues at play and to galvanize a coalition of supporters for a NEXT direct action to reposition teacher experts, not business leaders, as the voice of education transformation.

The first 45 minutes of the rally will feature speakers including Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and UW Associate Professor Wayne Au. The rally’s attendees will then march to the corner of 5th Avenue North and Mercer where additional speakers, Anthony Cody and Morna McDermott, will speak on how the Gates Foundation is influencing public policy in undemocratic ways, ignoring and suppressing teacher and parent voices as they push forward their corporate style agenda. A flash mob is expected to perform during the event as well as a chorus that will lead songs with positive education themes. The 5th Ave N street closure will end at 7:00 p.m.

WA-BATS refuse to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality and refuse to accept tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for authentic teaching and learning.

WA BATS demand that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation divest from their education agenda which includes: Over Testing, Race To The Top, Teach For America, Ignoring Poverty, Class Size Increases, Charter Schools, Big Data-Piracy or Sharing, Union Busting, Narrowing Curriculum, Ignoring Parent Voice, Value Added Measures, Appointed School Boards, Privatizing Public Schools, Replacing Teachers With Screens, For-profit Business Model Policy, Tying Funding to Test Scores, Outsourcing to Private Vendors, Treating Kids Like Widgets, High Stakes Testing & Common Core State Standards.

Rally Attendees Say YES TO: Parent & Educator Voice! Creativity! Small Class Sizes! Civics! Science! Music! Art! Drama! Physical Education! Parent Involvement! Libraries! Counselors! Experienced Teachers! Learning Through Play! Project Based Learning! Learning Support Staff! Adequate Compensation! Democratic Governance of Schools! Relevant Educator Training! Less Testing and More Learning! Transparent Decision Making! Equitable Funding For Every Child! Recognizing Each Student’s Potential! Culturally & Developmentally Responsive Curriculum! “

In 2014 political power resides in monetary wealth and public policy is being determined by the mega-rich not the expert practicioner-in many professions. No one is asking teachers what schools need. Teachers are told that they don’t have high enough expectations for kids. This is ludicrous. Our governing system is becoming undemocratic but worse it IS harming children who need a wholistic classroom experience beyond test scores. The Gates Foundation must accept that teachers are more than software; that learning is individualized; and that education is a public endeavor. Excellent public schools are the cornerstone of a free society: big money is buying the education agenda. People must stand up to this oligarchical shift and reclaim public schools with the whole child at the center. Business reformers need to spread their expertise in places where they know what they are talking about. Teachers are experts when it comes to student learning. Ask us what kids need to thrive and learn. We are happy to tell you.”

– Julianna Dauble, Renton teacher and Rally Organizer

For more information about WA-BATS, visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1378337475716232/ Contact: Julianna Dauble, (206) 856-1357, email juliannakd@gmail.com

 

Bill and Melinda Gates: A Threat to Our Nation’s Unions – The #Vergara Trial

 

An injury to one is an injury to all

It is time that our nation’s unions join together in solidarity to support teachers’ unions.  Why? Without due process, workers have no rights.  If teachers’ rights are stripped away, then all workers rights will be stripped away.  It is only a matter of time. How are Bill and Melinda Gates involved in threatening our nation’s unions?  By bankrolling the Vergara Trial — and providing a leading witness who happens to be the former director of their MET (Measuring Effective Teaching) Project, Tom Kane to provide “expert” testimony based on “junk science” in the case — their fingerprints are all over the this attempt at union busting.

But the Vergara trial is but one case where the Gates have backed the destruction of due process for teachers. According to Bill Raden and Gary Cohn of the California Expose in David Welch:  The Man Behind Vergara v. California; the Gates are backing case after case to destroy due process rights for teachers.

“Vergara was filed on behalf of nine students and seeks to erase nearly a hundred years of teacher protections from the state education code that were adopted to prevent discriminatory and capricious terminations. The suit claims that five statutes addressing teacher dismissal, seniority and tenure disproportionately harm minority students in high-poverty schools by making it too difficult to fire incompetent teachers.

Attacks on teachers’ workplace protections have become familiar spectacles in California and, as recently as 2010, plaintiffs in Reed v. California used a civil rights argument to override seniority-based layoffs in three Los Angeles middle schools. The forces behind Reed and similar causes is a coalition of free-market education partisans and like-minded privatization philanthropists, including the Gates Foundation, Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad and Walmart’s Walton Family Foundation.

It is clear the Bill and Melinda Gates are backing union busting of teachers’ unions – the largest unions in the United States.   Without due process, the corporations will have us all working in sweat shops folks.  If you want to take a quick look at the rights workers have in sweat shops, look here.  Don’t be fooled.  Sweat shops don’t just reside in China.  Sweat shops often take advantage of women and children….  hmmm’… aren’t our nation’s public schools made up mostly of women and children?

 

Bill Gates Vergara Trial Crime Scene

 

The court ruling in the Vergara trial – which is a clear attempt to bust teachers’ unions by removing a due process protection called “tenure” – was based on the “expert” testimony of the Gates Foundation’s employee.  Without due process, teachers can be fired “at will”.  NOLO Law for all defines “firing at will” here:

” If the employer decides to let you go, that’s the end of your job–and you have very limited legal rights to fight your termination.

If you are employed at will, your employer does not need good cause to fire you.”

What is due process as it is applied to teacher tenure in the K-12 setting? NEA answers Time in What’s Tenure and What’s Not to define and describe the role of teacher tenure in K-12 versus teacher tenure at the college/university level here:

“The problem is, tenure does not guarantee teachers a job, does not offer any lifetime employment security, and, regardless of the implication of Time’s question, does not just happen after a “certain amount of time…

If you thought tenured teachers couldn’t lose their jobs, you’re not alone — it’s a common misunderstanding, but that doesn’t make it accurate. Tenure does not guarantee teachers a job, but instead mandates that due process be followed before tenured teachers are dismissed…

Tenure is about due process — not about guaranteeing jobs for life. And it’s not about protecting “bad” teachers — it’s about protecting good teachers.”

If  good teachers can be fired “at will” — the power of unions to protect the jobs of good teachers through  “due process” and with it —  the rights of all other good workers  — will disappear.

By funding a rolling train of Vergara trial results through state after state, the Gates Foundation can attempt to bust the largest unions in the country — the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers Unions.  Then  it will only be a matter of time before the rest our nations’ unions will fall like dominoes.

Unions will fall like dominoes

 

If good teachers can be fired “at will”;  their unions will not be able to protect them when they advocate for students against corporate reformers like Bill and Melinda Gates.

Here’s more evidence about how  Bill and Melinda are funding union busting beyond the Vergara Trial.   Anthony Cody writes about Gates investments in destroying due process for teachers here in his post titled From Common Core, to Vergara, to VAM, Gates Foundation Fingerprints Everywhere:

“Challenges to due process for teachers: The Vergara trial yesterday dealt a blow to due process for teachers in California. One of the witnesses advancing the winning argument was Tom Kane, former director of the Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching Project. In 2010, Gates stated on Oprah that if we were able to rid our nation’s schools of ineffective teachers, our schools would go right to the top of international rankings. The Gates Foundation spent $2 million on promoting “Waiting For Superman,” which carried the same message. The Gates Foundation has also sponsored “teacher voice” groups such as Teach Plus and Educators 4 Excellence. Teach Plus mobilized teachers to testify against seniority protections in Indiana, and Educators 4 Excellence requires members to sign a pledge stating their opposition to seniority, and support of the use of test scores to evaluate teachers.”

If Gates can get by with this, all unions are at risk.  Simple logic describes why all unions should get involved:  “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

Raging Horse blog writes in their piece titled Vergara Part Two:  How the 1% Have Learned to Use the Noblest Causes for the Most Venal Ends:

“But it is a grave mistake to perceive the Vergara decision as simply another attack, however brutal, on teachers and education. Education is merely the conduit. Vergara is an attack on the rights of every worker in the USA, union or not.
The 1% may know little of history, but they know enough about the union movement to know that, in time, the force that revolutionized even non- union industries, forcing them to treat their workers with dignity, pay them fairer wages and provide them with some modicum of security, was the threat of unions. They also know the absence of unions has exactly the opposite effect. Consider the working conditions of most Americans in the land of the free and the home of the brave since the shrinkage of American unions. No due process. No job security. No pension. No nothing but a wage that for most people has not grown since 1973.”

The rights of all workers are at stake in this trial.  It is time for all unions to get behind the teachers’ unions in solidarity.

It is time for all unions to join the #StopGatesCoalition. Follow us on Twitter @EducatingGatesF.  Like our Facebook page. Sign our demand the Bill and Melinda Gates  Foundation divest from corporate education reform here.   Sign up to participate in our Educating the Gates Foundation Rally here!  But most importantly:  Tell other unions that it is time to stop Bill and Melinda Gates from busting our unions!  “An injury to one is an injury to all.”