Corporate Education Reform

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

 

10593140_10205159415169597_59899267956315287_n

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

1920283_10205178045955355_2088141701603688712_n

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

Advertisements

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.”