Talking to the Choir: AEI panels discuss their attack on public education

by Ken Derstine

April 2, 2015

I have stumbled onto this amazing video from a panel at the American Enterprise Institute (look at this link) on February 5, 2015. This is a spawning center of neoliberalism! This is the corporate education reformers talking to the choir. It is amazing to watch. This confirms much of what I said in Who’s Is Eli Broad and Why Is He Trying to Destroy Public Education? from their goals, to their deep collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, to Randi Weingarten’s collaboration with them. 

Also, they might present a front that they are powerful because of the subservience of the corporate media, but among themselves they know they are just putting “a bucket in the ocean”. A number of times they ask why the corporate funders keep funding the corporate attack on education when it obviously is not working. They are also aware they are in an ivory tower and have little understanding of their impact on the “grassroots”. This is the video: 

Is the ‘new’ education philanthropy good for schools? Examining foundation-funded school reform | American Enterprise Institute

This video is also on YouTube and should be downloaded.

This video is four hours long, but watch a little of it to get the flavor. (Warning: I said there is no way I can give four hours to this, but it is so engrossing and important, I watched it off and on for two days and I’m sure I will rewatch parts.) 

Watch the first two panelists in the in the first panel. The second panelist, Sarah Reckhow, (starting at 16:00)  co-authored the policy paper ‘Singing from the same hymnbook': Education policy advocacy at Gates and Broad | Michigan State University . What struck me is how matter of fact she is in the video and the paper about Randi Weingarten participating with them which is obviously assumed by other panelists to be common knowledge. See pages 18 and 19 of the paper which shows Randi Weingarten’s collaboration with them. Sarah Reckhow comments that Randi Weingarten has been working with them to develop a teacher evaluation based on standardized tests.

Anthony Cody had a post about this paper on February 9. Reckhow and Tomkins-Stange Document How Gates and Broad Money Got Everyone “Singing from the Same Hymnbook  While he does link the AEI page which has this paper with an easy to miss link to the video of the four-hour AEI conference, he makes no mention of Randi Weingarten’s role.

After watching the second panelist, go to 53:00 - 59:00. There is a real demoralization they are showing. Notice what they say about the impact of the Chicago teachers strike.

The second panel is about the “backlash” against corporate education reform. (starts at about 1:30) The demoralization is very evident here.

Howard Fuller of Black Alliance for Educational Opportunity (which Philadelphia mayoral candidate Anthony Williams is affiliated with - see my article Corporate Education Reform and Civil Rights ) is on the second panel. Notable quote (1:55:45): “We (BAEO) wouldn’t exist without John Walton and this is one of the reasons I love that man."

At 1:47 the panelist Larry Cuban speaks about the Broad Superintendent’s Academy. He is followed by Howard Fuller. (Starts at 1:52:19.) His remarks are very revealing about how disconnected these people are from what is the reality in public schools and from the impact of what they are doing. Fuller seems totally unaware that he is working for the same political forces that have been underfunding schools for decades and the money BAEO receives from them comes from the low wage exploitation of Walmart workers.

The third panel, starts at 2:45:25, is about the future of corporate philanthropy. It starts with Dana Goldstein. I commented about Dana Goldstein on Schools Matter on September 30, 2014. There are also articles on Schools Matter if you do a search in the search engine for “Dana Goldstein". 

The second panelist (2:55:20) talks about corporate education reform in higher education. Anyone in higher education should watch this…and be very afraid. The fourth panelist, Jim Blew (3:18:15), left the Walton Foundation to replace Michelle Rhee at Students First. He spends most of his time attacking teacher unions. (Note: He says his father was a teacher union organizer.) One corporate ed reform organization he cites (which has gone below the radar, I never heard of them; they are not mentioned on Sourcewatch) as being very influential is the Fisher Family

 This is the initial article that led to my finding this video:

School Masters: How Gates and Broad Came to Shape the Education Policy Debate | Inside Philanthropy
March 24, 2015

Moderator Frederick Hess at the end of panel one made an off the cuff comment (at 51:00 in the video) which summed up the bottom line for these people.:

They (venture philanthropists) may not be as powerful as they think they are in terms of shaping what happens in the nation’s schools and classrooms, but they’re very powerful in terms of us being able to feed our families and being able to do the research and analysis we like to do.

In other words, there is no real passion, no real belief in what they are doing; they are looking at spreadsheets and each others position papers….and they are just in it for the big bucks.


Also see:

Turning Collaboration Into a Bad Word
Defend Public Education  - April 12, 2015
More details about Randi Weingarten's collaboration with the Gates Foundation and the resulting praise from the American Enterprise Institute.

Divide and Conquer: The Philadelphia Story
Defend Public Education - May 4, 2015 

Common Sense in Philadelphia
Defend Public Education - May 21, 2015

Corinthian Colleges Secretly Funded D.C. Think Tanks, Dark Money Election Efforts
The Intercept - May 4, 2015

"Another gainful employment regulation opponent, the American Enterprise Institute, is listed as a Corinthian creditor. AEI scholars have repeatedly attacked rules, calling them as example of the Obama administration's "crusade against for-profit colleges." Last October Andrew Kelly, AEI's resident scholar on higher education education reform, speciffically defended Corinthian and criticized the "Obama administration's bloodlust for such schools."

5 Thoughts on Nevada's Landmark School Choice Law
Pudicity - June 11, 2015
by Fredrick Hess - promoter of standardized tests at this conference - Duplicity personified
"Now, I've met Murillo (Nevada NEA President). He knows that plenty of teachers in Nevada are frustrated with testing, disciplinary issues, teacher evaluation, accountability systems, and more. And the opportunity for families to choose the kinds of teaching and schooling that will best serve their children means more kids will be in different kinds of schools—which gives teachers opportunities to work in schools that aren't wired into the system of state-mandated evaluations and accountability, if they wish. After all, many of those "private school interests" will offer a very different school culture and approach. Seems like a win-win to me. I hope Nevada's educators proceed with that possibility in mind." 

Which Side Are You On? | Defend Public Education!