Nearly every reform group and reformer is on the payroll.
So are the teachers unions.
As one graduate student who pored over the Gates Foundation tax filings noted:
“It’s easier to name which groups Gates doesn’t support than to list all of those they do, because it’s just so overwhelming."
Should one oligarch have this much power to promote his "reform" agenda?
Let's list the groups, organizations, institutions, notable education reform individuals and media companies that are named in the Times article as on the Gates Foundation payroll:
1. Teach Plus
2. The Education Trust
3. Education Week
4. Education Equality Project
5. Harvard University (which got a $3.5 million grant to place “strategic data fellows” who could act as “entrepreneurial change agents” in school districts in Boston, Los Angeles and elsewhere)
6. Scores of other schools and universities
7. The National Governors Association
8. Council of Chief State School Officers
9. Achieve Inc.
10. The Alliance for Excellent Education
11. The Fordham Institute
12. The Center on Education Policy (which laughingly touts itself as "independent" while sucking on the Gates Foundation largesse)
13. The New Teacher Project
14. The AFT and the NEA
15. The ad campaign for "Waiting for Superman"
16. Foundation for Educational Excellence, founded by Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida
17. Educators for Excellence
18. Frederick Hess, education writer and blogger, member of the American Enterprise Institute
19. NPR and other public media
And what does the Gates Foundation money buy from these groups?
Advocacy, that's what. Give Gates what he wants or risk losing the Gates Foundation largesse next year. As Frederick Hess said in the article:
Mr. Hess, a frequent blogger on education whose institute received $500,000 from the Gates foundation in 2009 “to influence the national education debates,” acknowledged that he and others sometimes felt constrained. “As researchers, we have a reasonable self-preservation instinct,” he said. “There can be an exquisite carefulness about how we’re going to say anything that could reflect badly on a foundation.”
“Everybody’s implicated,” he added
Indeed, everybody is implicated.
This idea that the Scapegoat Teachers movement sprang up out of the dust and there is this overwhelming "grassroots" support to radically "reform" public education ought to be into a coffin and buried deep under ground after you read the Times article, see how many groups have promoted Gates' "Scapegoat Teachers" movement, his Common Core initiatives, his push for nationalized standardized tests tied to those standards, and his desire to bust the teachers unions and end the way teachers are compensated and protected.
Yes, the teachers unions are on the payroll too, which is part of the problem here - there is no well-funded pushback to the Education Oligarch's radical education agenda and advocacy.
There IS real grassroots opposition to Gates and his agenda, of course, from real parents and students and teachers who are negatively affected by what the Gates Foundation is promoting.
But it is difficult to make yourself heard when one man so controls the dialogue on education - right down to how the stories get framed on NPR, at Education Week, or indeed, even on the corporate media like MSNBC, or how they get studied at universities and thinktanks.
Over the next five years, Gates plans to spend $3.5 billion on education reform efforts. The Times article frames the dangers of all this money and advocacy coming from one man this way:
“It’s Orwellian in the sense that through this vast funding they start to control even how we tacitly think about the problems facing public education,” said Bruce Fuller, an education professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who said he received no financing from the foundation.
Indeed, it is Orwellian.
Maybe we should try and, you know, put a stop to it.