Clintonite John Podesta's Center for American Progress, already exposed as a corporate front group by Senator Elizabeth Warren, has gathered together the usual suspects -- private equity vultures, Silicon Valley moguls, neoliberal politicians, charter school advocates, billionaire philanthropists and lobbyists -- under a telltale hashtag called TeachStrong. (the immediate supposition that teachers are inherently weak and in dire need of improvement should be your first clue about their true agenda!)
I got the email announcing #TeachStrong on Tuesday, which appropriately enough was also the 150th anniversary of the publication of "Alice In Wonderland". So get ready for a tortured trip down a neoliberal rabbit hole:
It's time to elevate and modernize the teaching profession. (began CAP's email.)"Modernization" is the neoliberal buzzword for privatization. And whenever they crow about "bipartisan" you can almost feel the tentacles of Wall Street grasping you around your throat. And whenever they brag about their "diverse" groups joining together for a project, you can rest assured that even cursory searches of their funding and leadership will reveal astroturf groups within political parties within marketing divisions within corporations.
Our students are falling behind internationally. In an effort to catch up, we are asking more from our teachers than ever before. Yet we continue to provide them with inadequate preparation, training, and pay.To address this gap, the Center for American Progress and 40 partner organizations are launching the TeachStrong campaign. It is a movement to change the national education policy conversation and make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the most pressing and significant education policy priority for our nation. As a part of the campaign’s launch, TeachStrong held an event today with Governor Jack Markell (D) of Delaware and Governor Terry Branstad (R) of Iowa, where they discussed the need for a bipartisan effort to act.
Governor Markell, (D-Oligarchy) for example, was one of the original members of Bill and Hillary Clinton's Democratic Leadership Council, a/k/a the party's conservative Big Business wing. Before entering politics and most recently becoming an education concern troll, he held managerial positions at First Chicago Corporation, McKinsey, Comcast and the Nextel Corporation. As governor, one of his first accomplishments was the legalization of sports betting. In December 2013, following a lengthy investigation, a special prosecutor found that Markell had violated campaign finance law in 2008 by advising high-rollers how to sidestep donation limits. However, since the very brief statute of limitations had expired, and the prosecutor graciously allowed that ignorance of the law is an excuse when it comes to the misdeeds of VIPs like Markell, no criminal charges were ever pressed against him.
Markell is just the type of principled, qualified cat we need to help kids learn and to "elevate" teachers and improve their skills, don't you think?
|My Reality Is Just Different Than Yours|
But back to #TeachStrong and its diverse group of partners with the Brave New World goal of "building a better teacher."
Trust me: this gets curiouser and curiouser, the further down the rabbit hole you plummet, and the harder you try to dig your way back out of the muddy morass.
But take a peek behind the curtain anyway...
... and you can find the entire Fab Forty on the #TeachStrong webpage. To discern the funding and the people behind each partner, simply Google each of them individually, and then look for the fine print under "Our Board" or "Our Advisers" or "Our Directors" or "Our Team." Much to your surprise, you will discover that many of the "diverse partners" making up #TeachStrong are actually subsidiaries or downright clones of themselves! Here's a sampling of the subterfuge:
"Alliance For Excellent Education": led by former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, a lobbyist for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Common Core testing-for-profit program. His alliance is a front group for something called Digital Learning Day, which sells educational software to public schools. From that, he has developed "Project 24," which in turned spawned "Future Ready Schools," which gets taxpayer funding from Obama's Department of Education. Besides being a recent recipient of the "Bammy Award," he also serves on the Barbara Bush Family Literacy Board. Like a bipartisan circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel.....
Anyway, Wise gets assistance at his Alliance from Daniel H. Leeds, who also happens to sit on the board of the Center for American Progress! It's a small world after all. Leeds is the president of Fulcrum Investments, a private equity firm with a stake in charter schools and educational software.
"America Achieves": Another charter school front group, listing its funders as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Will and Flora Hewlett Foundation among other philanthrocapitalists. Its executive director, Jon Schnur, served on Barack Obama's transition team and as an advisor to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who is soon leaving public service to spend more time with his
"Digital Promise": This front group is at least upfront about admitting that teachers and students are not its top priorities. According to the website: "Building relationships with developers and entrepreneurs is core to Digital Promise’s work. The Corporate Partner Program aims to create mutually beneficial relationships between our corporate partners, our staff, and our network. We engage with corporate partners as thought leaders, co-designers, and problem solvers alongside our education leaders and researchers."
Well, if you can engage with Thought Leaders, who needs any damned teachers? And their corporate sponsors are a Who's Who of the Oligarchy. The ubiquitous Bill and Melinda Gates, Hewlett Packard, McGraw-Hill, Apple, Amazon, Discovery and Microsoft to name just a few. Ka-ching!
And the Board of Directors is to die for. Among them is one Gilman Louie, described on Digital Promise's website as "the founder and former CEO of In-Q-Tel, a strategic venture fund created to help enhance national security by connecting the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. intelligence community with venture-backed entrepreneurial companies. (my bold.) Previously Mr. Louie built a career as a pioneer in the interactive entertainment industry, with accomplishments that include the design and development of the Falcon F-16 flight simulator as well as being the person who licensed Tetris, the world’s most popular computer game, from its developers in the Soviet Union. During that career, Mr. Louie founded and ran a publicly traded company called Spectrum HoloByte which ultimately was acquired by Hasbro Corporation, where he served as chief creative officer. He has served on a number of boards of directors, including Wizards of the Coast, Netwitness, Ribbit, Zephyr Technologies, the National Venture Capital Association, the CIA Officers Memorial Fund and currently chairs the Mandarin Institute and the Federation of American Scientists."
Just the kind of intelligence expert we need to
"Emerson Collective": Founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple founder and jobs off-shorer Steve Jobs, this "partner" of the CAP anti-teacher offensive is obviously in no great need of outside funding. As a result, watch for a Brave New World Jobs Elementary coming soon to a neighborhood near you. Students will concentrate not on the Three R's, but on "personalization" and "syncing." Needless to say, this involves lots and lots of very pricey educational software, to be installed in both homes and classrooms. Mrs. Jobs explains:
Are we all mad here, or do you think that Laurene Jobs and Gilman Louie would make an excellent team? Ka-ching on steroids!"We've developed a set of algorithms that choreograph the movement of students between learning stations (that include both live and digital instruction), identify the skills and concepts each student is ready to learn as well as which of their classmates need the same skills. As a result, students spend more time on skills they are ready to learn, understand their personal learning goals, and are accountable for their own learning. Learn more about our most recent results here.
"Hope Street Group": Just when I thought I'd finally reached rock bottom of the rabbit hole with Laurene Jobs' Orwellian vision, there is this hilariously named education reform front group. Actually, you should probably abandon hope once you've entered this domain, which prominently features the mugshot of outgoing Education Sec. Arne Duncan. It seems to have little or nothing to do with actual teaching, what with its core message that education must be viewed as "an economic opportunity," along with health and jobs, small j, to be oxymoronically aligned with "market forces for social good." (the accepted definition of Clintonian third way politics, or neoliberalism.)
The Board of Directors is a star-studded cast of plutocratic characters from private equity, the tech industry, vulture capitalism and the predatory health insurance cartel.
Hope Street is definitely Arne Duncan's baby (or at least one of them), now that he is retiring from "public service". Triple-triple-triple Ka-ching!
"Third Way": If it's American Progress, and there is money to be made from the commonwealth, you cannot possibly leave out Wall Street billionaire and Clinton pal Pete Peterson. Now that his austerity for the masses initiative is in temporary hibernation due to campaign politics, he might as well glom onto public education to get his outsized share, right? This guy actually wants Congress to reauthorize George Bush's No Child Left Behind scam, and the Clintons' think tank is welcoming him with open arms, just as Bill and Hill welcomed him with open arms to their family foundation, and even lent out daughter Chelsea in calling for cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
The aforementioned astroturf organizations are just a tiny slice of the Center for Progress's #TeachStrong initiative. To be fair, there do seem to be a few legitimate teachers' groups interspersed among the lot for appearance's sake, not least of them Randi Weingarten's American Federation of Teachers, which mysteriously endorsed Hillary Clinton without even bothering to take a vote from actual members.
"... if you drink much from a bottle marked 'poison,' it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later." -- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.