‘In her tremendously well received article, “Got Dough? How Billionaire”s Rule Our Schools, Joanne Barkan skillfully relates the story of how America”s richest citizens are staffing our public schools with leaders who are not educators. Barkan interview on MSNBC:
The Gates Foundation, The Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation through collaborative efforts have founded the NewSchools Venture Fund. Through that venture, they are involved in every aspect of education from staffing to construction to food service and everything in between. The smallest of the three, the Broad (rhymes with toad) Foundation can”t resist staffing schools with hand-picked favorites who have no education credentials whatsoever. As Barkan relates:
The smallest of the Big Three,* the Broad Foundation, headed by Eli Broad, gets its largest return on education investments from its two training projects. The mission of both is to move professionals from their current careers in business, the military, law, government, and so on into jobs as superintendents and upper-level managers of urban public school districts. In their new jobs, they can implement the foundation’s agenda. One project, the Broad Superintendents Academy, pays all tuition and travel costs for top executives in their fields to go through a course of six extended weekend sessions, assignments, and site visits. Broad then helps to place them in superintendent jobs. The academy is thriving. According to the Web site, “graduates of the program currently work as superintendents or school district executives in fifty-three cities across twenty-eight states. In 2009, 43 percent of all large urban superintendent openings were filled by Broad Academy graduates.”
The second project, the Broad Residency, places professionals with master’s degrees and several years of work experience into full-time managerial jobs in school districts, charter school management organizations, and federal and state education departments. While they’re working, residents get two years of “professional development” from Broad, all costs covered, including travel. The foundation also subsidizes their salaries (50 percent the first year, 25 percent the second year). It’s another success story for Broad, which has placed more than two hundred residents in more than fifty education institutions.
Not only does Broad choose candidates who are not educators for admittance into his programs, he insists that they not be educators. If this sounds absurd to you, that”s because it is. It is a favorite past time of all three of these malevolent benefactors to belittle the knowledge, skill, talent, and experience it takes to be an excellent educator.
In reform-speak, both the Broad Academy and Residency are not mere programs: they are “pipelines.” Once Broad alumni are working inside the education system, they naturally favor hiring other “Broadies”, which ups the leverage. This is the biggest return on investment. It”s a brilliant scheme in a “Pinky and the Brain” kind of way. By controlling the staff, the wealthy control the messenger. By controlling schools, they control the message.
How are we going to stop them?