Washington Badass Teachers Association

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

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

Jail Door

 

How do these stories impact our schools?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hat One: Humanitarian.

Hat Two: Profiteer from Racism and Human Suffering.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Cuts to Education

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

The statistics tell a troubling story:

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

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

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

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

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

Code Pink

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

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

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

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

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

Per Lael Henterly:

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

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

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

 

REBEL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Gates Control

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Julianna Dauble, Renton teacher and Rally Organizer

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

 

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