Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

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 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

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.”

The “Almost Outrageous” Opposition to Bill Gates’ Market-Based Ed Reform

Lyndsey Layton inteviewed Bill Gates about his involvement in the Common Core, ending her article with Bill and Melinda’s motivation behind their financial backing of it. Lyndsey reports:

“Gates dismissed any suggestion that he is motivated by self-interest.” ~ Lindsey Layton

Then Bill tells us in his own words what motivates his investments in Common Core and calls any opposition to his motivation “almost outrageous”:

“I believe in the Common Core because of its substance and what it will do to improve education,” he said. “And that’s the only reason I believe in the Common Core.”

This is about giving money away,” he said of his support for the standards. “This is philanthropy. This is trying to make sure students have the kind of opportunity I had . . . and it’s almost outrageous to say otherwise, in my view.” ~ Bill Gates

Okay. Let’s go with Bill and Melinda’s best intentions. Why the opposition then?

As educators and parents of public school children we used critical thinking to consider the impacts of the market-based corporate reforms the Gates promote. Do they really help improve education, social problems, and the real gaping inequity Bill mentions? We considered the following questions about some of the key ingredients of fundamentalist market-based reforms:

  1. High tech devices promoted by Bill Gates as “personalized learning” via Common Core Pearson/Gates’ Surface Tablets competing with Apple iPads
  2. Grit and rigor of Common Core backwards-designed standards – combined with high stakes computerized tests – requiring billions to be spent on tech upgrades to both software and hardware – and proven to fail 70% of all students
  3. Closing schools via the technocrats’ measurement “sticks” – used to punish schools who purportedly fail to educate our nations’ increasingly impoverished students only to turn them over to privatized charter schools known for corruption, re-segregation
  4. Firing many of our nations’ Black teachers in cities where mayoral control has taken over public education
  5. “Blended learning” or strictly “online learning” found to be disreputable and ineffective at best – and disconnected from relationships which drive real success with children
  6. Five week “summer camp” trained Teach for America trainees replacing NBCT’s, M.Eds., and experienced highly qualified teachers for our neediest students

To date, none of these Gates experiments have proven successful, and in fact are doing the opposite:

So — to be clear:

Our opposition isn’t grounded in the idea that Bill and Melinda will become rich off of Common Core.

Our opposition isn’t grounded in the fact that they are partnering with Pearson to load Microsoft software on Microsoft Surface Tablets to compete with Apple.

Our opposition is grounded in the the facts that what was once a public institution is now being transformed in great part by the hands of one couple’s “philanthropy” – turning them into a fundamentalist market-based institution.

Our opposition is grounded in the facts that systemic market-based institutionalization of public schools is increasing inequity, increasing segregation, and increasing the opportunity gap between the 1% and the working class.

Our opposition is grounded in the market-based reformers increase of Zero-Tolerance policies, which in turn feed the School-To-Prison Pipeline.

Our opposition is grounded in the market-based reforms driving the de-funding of public schools through vouchers.

Our opposition is grounded in the fact that new market-based teacher evaluations systems and VAM are based on junk science creating a false sense of blame on public school teachers for the effects of poverty.

Our opposition is grounded in the fact that as these market-based reforms increase, our democratic voice is decreased.

Where does Common Core fit into these reforms?

Lyndsey’s Washington Post investigative interview revealed some of the back story behind Common Core’s dependence on Bill and Melinda Gates’ billions to get the political lift this unprecedented nationalizing-market-based-behemoth needed to take flight. Like Howard Hughes’ “Spruce Goose“; Bill Gates has proven Common Core can fly, but Common Core was never officially certified by the public in a democratic process. Instead, states were asked to sign on the dotted line for untested, un-piloted, unproven, un-researched standards while the Common Core “Spruce Goose” was still being built. The democratic process was completely circumvented where in the past, educators would present changes at the local and state level to communities for approval and a VOTE. That was not the case with Common Core, as Anthony Cody pointed out about the “secret 60” who met behind closed doors.

And according to Dr. Mercedes Schneider — those of us opposing corporate reform need to know: All other market-based reforms hinge on Common Core as she writes in her post … The Importance of Common Core for Nationally Pervasive Ed Reform:

“A great error made by those combating corporate reform is in viewing the reforms as separate and distinct one from another. I have noticed as much in discussions about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). However, the “standards” were not intended to “stand” without the entire spectrum of reforms.

In fact, the power of a truly national privatization of public education depends upon CCSS.

CCSS is the cornerstone of unprecedented, national-level corporate reform that has been in the making for several years.”

By placing former Gates employees in control of the US Department of Education under President Obama, the cornerstone of CCSS was guaranteed by an unholy alliance between private markets and government. Together, the Gates and their billionaire corporate reformers formed a bipartisan plan. Using the “shock doctrine” of economic desperation they first de-funded schools and communities — next they used bribes to coerce local, state, and national entities to agree to a grave systemic shift — a shift from public transparent democratic local control of public schools to a fundamentalist market-based federalized system of education.

Bill Gates, President Obama, and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan seem to have taken their market-based reform ideas from the expert playbook of the neoliberal “grand guru of unfettered capitalism”, Milton Friedman. Naomi Klein offers a terrible picture of when this story began to unfold after Katrina in her introduction of Shock Doctrine. Here is an excerpt:

One of those who saw opportunity in the floodwaters of New Orleans was the late Milton Friedman, grand guru of unfettered capitalism and credited with writing the rulebook for the contemporary, hyper-mobile global economy. Ninety-three years old and in failing health, “Uncle Miltie”, as he was known to his followers, found the strength to write an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal three months after the levees broke. “Most New Orleans schools are in ruins,” Friedman observed, “as are the homes of the children who have attended them. The children are now scattered all over the country. This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity.”

Five years after Katrina, in January, 2010 US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan made a shocking statement, providing evidence of the DOE’s fundamentalist market-based ideology. It was this statement that told many of us — all public schools are at risk of privatization promoted by our federal government in collusion with the corporate reformers. ABC News’ Mary Bruce Reports:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said today that Hurricane Katrina was “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans” because it gave the city a chance to rebuild and improve its failing public schools.

In an interview to air this weekend on “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” Duncan said “that education system was a disaster. And it took Hurricane Katrina to wake up the community to say that we have to do better. And the progress that it made in four years since the hurricane,is unbelievable.” ‘

Again, let’s examine Bill and Melinda Gates’ intentions. Per Layton’s interview:

“Gates is disdainful of the rhetoric from opponents. He sees himself as a technocrat trying to foster solutions to a profound social problem — gaping inequalities in U.S. public education — by investing in promising new ideas.”

Are these market fundamentalists’ experiments truly solving a “profound social problem — by investing in promising new ideas”? Are they truly reducing the “gaping inequalities in U.S. public education by investing in promising new ideas” to “make sure students have the kind of opportunity I (Bill Gates) had .”

Let’s take a look at New Orleans schools and communities after “the market” has experimented with them. Today, in fact New Orleans public schools are closing for good due to the hands of the market-based fundamentalism. Is this what you want in your community?

If it is up to Gates and the DOE; never mind what you think… Once again, democracy is left behind.

“This is a depressed community,” said Karran Harper Royal, an activist who has been trying to block the school closings. “People here don’t really feel like they can coalesce and fight this.”

 

journey for justice picture 2

So why are we outraged again? Our outrage is because the public is being silenced. Our outrage is because the public is being excluded.

Our outrage is because the fundamentalist market-based systemic change is creating the exact opposite effect that Bill and Melinda claim is the reason for their investments.

You can see that here where Journey for Justice Alliance came out with a devastating report entitled “Death by a Thousand Cut: Racism, School Closures, and Sabatoge” . Jitu Brown makes a statement in testimony at a US DOE hearing about the fundamentalist market-based corporate reforms that close public schools, replacing them with private charter schools:

“We’re here because someone has to have the clarity and the conviction to confront institutional racism head-on. . . . To deny us the right to improve our schools as community institutions is a violation of our human rights. To destabilize schools in our community is a violation of our human rights. To have communities with no neighborhood schools is a violation of our human rights. . . . We are America’s mirror. Do you have the courage to accept what you see?” – Jitu Brown, US Department of Education hearing, January 29, 2013

Force Feeding Public Schools

Are these top-down market-based experimental corporate reforms being force-fed to public schools really helping close the “gaping inequalities”?

Journey for Justice Alliance added in this report by Tolu Olorunda, Truthout :

“When schools are closed, they said unanimously, neighborhoods fall apart – gangs flourish; students drop out; homes rapidly devalue; and the quality of life worsens. They also railed against the various reform schemes sweeping through the nation, particularly in urban districts, where cyber schools, charter schools and state-created “failing schools” have cropped up within the last decade – against, in most cases, the protests and projected outrage of the affected communities.”

This outrage led to letter, whereby Journey for Justice Alliance filed a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Education (“OCR”) and the Educational Opportunities Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (“DOJ”). Addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan; they issued a demand requesting the investigation of “racially discriminatory school closings” in New Orleans as reported by Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post:

“New Orleans is often held up as a model of school reform that can be adopted by other cities. But the facts on the ground tell a different story about the success of the Recovery School District’s reform program, which called for closing traditional schools and opening charter schools. But the charters have not performed anywhere near as well as reformers often say. And the comparisons that people make between New Orleans schools before and after Hurricane Katrina are like comparing apples and oranges, given that the student population in New Orleans changed considerably after Katrina.”

The plight of the New Orleans schools is but one example of the devastating impacts on the institutions of democracy called our nation’s public schools. Public schools in Chicago, New York, and DC where mayoral control was fostered by Bill Gates have been laid to waste. Public schools in Detroit, Newark, Camden, and Philly are in shambles where market based reforms have been fostered by Bill Gates and the corporate reformers.

Are these reforms really “promising new ideas”? Anthony Cody discusses what Diane Ravitch calls the same-old, same-old here: Anthony disagrees with Randi Weingarten and Linda Darling-Hammond’s ideas about Common Core done “California style”. Anthony fears:

“I believe these tests will follow the same pattern as other Common Core-aligned tests, and yield results that show our English Learners and students living in poverty are in terrible shape. Why do I think that? First, because these tests have a great deal of language in them. Even the math problems require students to explain in words how they are solving problems. So we are likely to see schools with large numbers of ELs get terrible scores. So far every state that has given tests aligned with the Common Core has seen huge drops in proficiency levels.

The schools identified as low performing are likely to be the same ones identified that way under NCLB. They will get “intervention,” meaning teams of expensive experts who will come to tell the teachers at these schools what they must do to raise their test scores. We will remain stuck in a data-driven paradigm, where test scores are treated as an accurate indicator not only of what ails us, but also to guide the steps we must take to improve our health.”

Paul L. Thomas sees these reforms as a recycling of the “same-old, same-old “as well as he writes in his essay about Maxine Greene:

“The bureaucracy of education reform built on recycling the accountability paradigm also fails because we remain committed as well, not to community and democracy, but competition and market forces (charter schools and dismantling teachers unions and tenure, for examples). Education reform is, in fact, not reform at all; education reform insures that public institutions, such as schools, maintain the status quo of society. As a result, students are being indoctrinated, not educated…”

So let’s take Bill and Melinda Gates at their word.

Our outrage in opposition is not about the profit Bill and Melinda Gates will acquire from their investments. If they intend to invest in education that is created in the likeness of that of their own childrens’ education – if they truly want to reduce the gaping inequalities – if they truly want solve a social problem – then why aren’t they listening to organizations like Journey for Justice Alliance? Why do they need to silence and exclude the voices of the public — by holding secret meetings with money changing hands — if these reforms are so great?

Why did it take millions of Gates’ monies to convince local astroturf groups, State School Officers, Governors, politicians on both sides of the aisle, ALEC, and union leaders — Common Core was so great they should go ahead and fly this plane while they were still building it?

Why did Bill Gates have to coach teachers to say the right words to convince legislators?

Why do Bill and Melinda not insist on serving the same “super set” of Common Core sandwiches, segregation, school closures, and high stakes tests to their own children as staples?

Layton credits Bill Gates with starting a revolution by investing so much in Common Core. What remains to be seen is this:

Will the real revolutionary movement for democracy prevail over the neoliberal forces of shock-doctrine’s market-based corporate reforms?

Will Bill and Melinda Gates’ Common Core go the way of the Spruce Goose – costing a fortune, but never to be flown again?

If you would like to see the “Spruce Goose” of fundamentalist market-based reform experiments grounded for good, please sign our letter demanding the Gates Foundation DIVEST from corporate education reform. Join us in Seattle at the #EducatingGatesRally Protest on June 26th where we will deliver our demands.

Frederick Douglass is right… Power concedes nothing without a demand!

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 :

“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.”

 

 

 

 

If You Can Define “Oligarchy”, Thank a Teacher! #EducatingGates Rally – Seattle – June 26th!

America’s teachers are getting blamed for the effects of poverty by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Your children are being labeled as failures.  Parents are being blamed.   Public education as an institution is being blamed. Yet the real blame lies with the oligarchy.  Bill and Melinda Gates want to operate public schools like they did Microsoft, stack ranking children, teachers, and schools with their corporate education reform experiments even though stack ranking failed at Microsoft.   Yet the oligarchy is setting public education policy and has been for many years now.  The oligarchy accepts no accountability for their mistaken experiments with children and teachers in public education.  Leading the oligarchy are the richest couple in the world – Bill and Melinda Gates.  Leading corporate education reform policies through their wealth and power granted to them is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.   The weight of the oligarchy rests on the back of innocent school children, public professional servants aka teachers, and the public good – our public schools.  We are here to take back that power.

When Generosity Hurts: Bill Gates, Public School Teachers and the Politics of Humiliation

In order to take back that power, we are here to educate and activate the public about the hoax of corporate education reform and to build a strong, powerful #StopGatesCoalition.

The Washington Badass Teachers Association, Washington Save Our Schools, and Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates are hosting an #EducatingGates Rally on June 26th in Seattle, Wa.  Our goals include:

  • Educate and activate the public about our vision of public education.
  • Educate and activate the public about the damaging influence of corporate education reform as promoted and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Expose the hoax of corporate education reform, privatization, Common Core, high stakes tests, and “school choice”.  Identify the real problem and the real solutions.
  • Build a coalition of groups and organizations who want to work with us to become free from the policies imposed by the investments of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Our rally will begin at 5:00 pm at Westlake Center in Seattle and will end after our march to the Gates Foundation. The first part of the rally will begin with the voices of educators sharing the impacts of corporate education reform with all those who attend the rally.  Anthony Cody will be our keynote speaker.  Morna McDermott will be a dynamic speaker as well as other surprise speakers.  See more about the connections we have made and our speakers below:

WaBATs made a great connection with Bill Moyer of the Backbone Campaign.  Some of us will be joining their crew for their Localize This Camp on Vashon for training on artful resistance in August, but will also engage with them prior to the rally for great ideas that are going to make our rally stand out in a crowd.  Activists, join other local Backbone Campaign  “Localize This” Artful Resistance training in your area! Follow them @BackboneProg on Twitter.

We invited Anthony Cody to be one of our keynote speakers at our Rally.   Anthony’s bio:

Anthony spent 24 years working in Oakland schools, 18 of them as a science teacher at a high-needs middle school.  A National Board-certified teacher, he now leads workshops with teachers on Project Based Learning.  He is the co-founder of the Network for Public Education.  With education at a crossroads, he invites you to join him in a dialogue on education reform and teaching for change and deep learning.

Anthony created a dialogue with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 2 years ago.  He recently wrote this blog “What Will It Take to Educate the Gates Foundation? as an update of how corporate education reform experiments have worsened the public school experience for children, teachers, communities, and democracy.  Follow @AnthonyCody on Twitter.

We also invited Morna McDermott to join us as a speaker at the rally.  Morna is a co-founder of United Opt Out:  The Movement to End Corporate Education Reform.  Follow Morna on Twitter @MornaMcDermott.   Morna’s bio:

Morna McDermott has been working in, with, and around public schools for over twenty years. Currently she is an Associate Professor at Towson University, in Maryland where she teaches various theory and methods courses in the College of Education. Her scholarship and research interests focus on democracy, social justice, and arts-informed inquiry in K-post secondary educational settings, and working with beginning and experienced educators. She explores how the arts serve as a form of literacy that challenges traditional classroom learning and dominant narratives. Recent art work and installations have emphasized the value of art as a “public pedagogy” in creating grass roots social-political-educational change. Dr. McDermott currently serves as the Arts Based Educational Research section editor for the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy. In addition to publishing in educational journals and books, she writes ongoing columns for www.examiner.com

Coalition Building Begins:

Our rally has been endorsed by the  national Badass Teachers Association, the Network for Public Education, C.O.R.E. Teachers’ Union caucus in Chicago, and more endorsements which will will post as they are coming in daily.   If you wish to endorse us, please contact us in the comment section on this page.

We joined with  the “Gates Foundation Truth Squad”outside the Gates Foundation Visitor Center to engage with young people attending their “Teen Action Fair”.  This was our first action in coalition building.  Here is their flyer and some facts about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Here is a link to their blog.

We joined the world’s  March Against Monsanto on May 24, 2014, marching in Seattle to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation protesting their investment of $500 million in Monsanto shares.   This was our second act of coalition building.  We joined the rally and march, passed out our flyers, and spoke at the Gates Foundation.

We also made connections with the Seattle Global Justice / Community Alliance for Global Justice while at the March Against Monsanto.  Follow the link to become a member.

Join us!  We plan to share the microphone with individuals and groups at the rally.

Gates Rally Flyer Front

Here is the flyer we will be passing out before and during the rally.  See front of flyer above.

While Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates is limited to the voices of professional teachers, this blog is designed to allow the public to share their concerns about the impacts of the policies created by the investments and agendas influencing policies by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  We invite you to share your concerns here in our comment section.  We will post letters to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation here.

Join us here to express your concerns about the hoax of corporate education reform.  How do the policies of the Gates Foundation impact your children?  You as a student?  Your school?  Your profession? Your community? Democracy?

Are you interested in building a coalition with us?  What issues are you concerned about regarding the Gates Foundation and how do they impact you?

Our story is under construction as we form relationships with other groups who have realized the negative consequences of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation policies and are working for democracy vs oligarchy.

Join us in our the #EducatingGates Rally on June 26th in Seattle and in building our #StopGatesCoalition Movement!

Follow us on Twitter: @EducatingGatesF .

Sign up for our rally here.

Like our Facebook Page here.

Join our Facebook event here.

Interested in being part of our Flash Mob at the Rally?  Join the Facebook Flash Mob event here.

Meanwhile, if you can define oligarchy, thank a teacher!  We all do better when we all do better!

Thank you for your activism!

In solidarity,

Susan DuFresne, WaBAT and Co-organizer of #EducatingGates, #StopGatesCoalition