With charitable work on health, education, and a motto like “All lives have equal value.” — one would think the Gates Foundation investments would not warrant demands and protests against them regarding humanitarian or environmental causes. As evidenced by recent protests, however the demands against the Gates Foundation’s investments are beginning to mount. Could the Gates Foundation investments and their rhetoric be at odds? Is the veneer beginning to peel off the face of the Gates Foundation?
The Gates Foundation is run by the world’s richest couple who wield their power through wealth and status, force-feeding their agendas on those of us without our consent. So what do we do about that? Frederick Douglass’ wise words may be the key. Is Frederick Douglass right? Is it true that power will concede nothing without a demand?
Code Pink, a grassroots women’s activist group, recently demanded the Gates Foundation divest from the G4S Israeli Prison. Activists around the globe engaged in social media and creative, bold protests on the ground. Bowing to public pressure which threatened their status and wealth, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have finally divested completely from the G4S Prison.
Bloomberg News reported:
‘ The Gates Foundation Asset Trust, the entity that manages the investments for the $40.2 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has liquidated its entire stake in G4S Plc (GFS), the world’s biggest security-services provider.
“Like other large foundations, the foundation trust evaluates its holdings regularly, both for performance and fit,” John Pinette, a spokesman for the Gates family, said in a statement. “As a result of this, the foundation trust no longer holds an investment in G4S.” ‘
Clearly this is a success for Code Pink activists.
Heavy protests were held around the world on May 24th in the International March Against Monsanto. (Watch video) Protesters marched to the Gates Foundation in Seattle, demanding they divest from Monsanto. Based on encouraging reports like the one below, we can hope that the Gates will also completely divest from Monsanto in the near future as we increase pressure on them through creative resistance.
Popular Resistance reports environmentalists resistance efforts are a great success due to “bold, creative, militant actions” that connect local, national and international actions:
“No longer dominated by the traditional “Big Green” groups that were taking big donations from corporate polluters, the new environmental movement is broader, more assertive and more creative. With extreme energy extraction and climate change bearing down on the world, environmental justice advocates are taking bold actions to stop extreme energy extraction and create new solutions to save the planet. These ‘fresh greens’ often work locally, but also connect through national and international actions.
The recent national climate assessment explains why the movement is deepening, broadening and getting more militant.”
But what is so hypocritical about the rhetoric and the actual Gates’ investments? Mother Jones wrote about what they called “the most egregious hypocritical investments” of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, noting their rhetoric is one thing, while their actions and investments were quite another.
Bill and Melinda also claim their foundation’s investments are for improving civil rights, but are they really? Rhetoric or reality?
In a speech to the Urban League in 2011, Gates discussed civil rights as it relates to education, promoting his corporate reform experiments on our public school children, but not on his own… as reported by Bianca Vázquez Toness:
“Education may be the hardest civil rights fight of all,” Gates said. “Discrimination is harder to prove and people often don’t know what levers to pull to fix the problem.”
Gates has been looking for the right levers for years and has made some mistakes. He poured approximately $2 billion into breaking large high schools into small schools, believing that students would get more attention. Two years ago, he acknowledged this wasn’t the panacea he had hoped for.”
How about the Gates Foundation’s latest experiments? Are they the panacea for civil rights? Are the Gates couple pulling the right levers?
Anthony Cody, retired NBCT, M.Ed. and education activist, wrote a post titled “Devastating Report Condemns Corporate Reform as Civil Rights Fraud” — timed with the 60 year anniversary of Brown v Board of Education. Clearly, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations experiments have once again proven not to be the “panacea” and in fact have caused irreparable harm to our nation’s civil rights advances.
Like their private prison investments which ended up aiding the torture of prisoners, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s investments in corporate education reform are causing irreparable harm to our children, families, teachers, public schools, communities, civil rights, and democracy. As a result, Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates has a demand. They demand the Gates Foundation DIVEST from corporate education reform on these grounds:
“We at Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates and the following signers hereby assume that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation experts are motivated by a sincere desire to improve education. But we fail to understand how your organization has become the national and global arbiter of the means and ends of education in the United States and around the world. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s narrow focus on standardized testing risks turning learning into drudgery and killing the joy of learning. As the Gates Foundation’s national and global push for the Common Core, high-stakes testing, and teacher evaluations based on test scores has led many governments into a national and international competition for higher test scores, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has assumed the power to shape education policy in the United States and around the world, with no debate about the necessity or limitations of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s goals. We are deeply concerned that measuring a great diversity of educational traditions and cultures using a single, narrow, biased yardstick could, in the end, do irreparable harm to our communities, our schools, our profession, and our students.
You and the OECD have much in common, Bill and Melinda. Your imposition of corporate reform policies, which are measured using a single, narrow, biased yardstick, are successful in one area only: making a profit for you, test companies, publishers, and the privatizing corporate reformers. Your policies continue to use our children as guinea pigs in your corporate reform experiments and risk doing “irreparable harm to our schools and our students”.
We the undersigned reject the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s tight control of education policy. Venture philanthropy’s influence on public education has been all-pervasive and we demand an immediate restoration of democracy in our schools. Divest from corporate education reform.”
Exercise your right to demand the Gates concede power. You too can apply public pressure. Sign the demand to the Gates Foundation to DIVEST in the comment section on this link and Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates will add your name to their letter.
Join the Washington Badass Teachers Association, Washington Save Our Schools, Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates on June 14th for a Twitter Storm to educate and activate the public about the harm caused by certain Gates Foundation investments.
Join us on June 26th from 5-7 pm protesting the Gates Foundation’s investments in corporate education reform. We demand they DIVEST from corporate education reform! Sign up to participate in our Educating the Gates Foundation Rally here! Public pressure is effective!
Frederick Douglass is right: “Power conceded nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”