The billionaire boys club and public education

January 6, 2011
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By Dwayne Truss

The effort to privatize public education continues.

Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft) and members of the billionaire boys club continue to push so called “education reforms” even after the small school movement, also pushed by Bill Gates, proved a major failure. Bill Gates and his friends are now taking the gloves off by attacking all Illinois teachers through a Portland, Oregon-based education group named Stand for Children (SFC).

SFC quietly spent $600,000 in Illinois state races on the 2010 November ballot while Illinois unions were fighting hard to keep Democrats in power. State Reps. Keith Farnham (D) and Jehan Gordon (D) received $50,000 and $100,000 respectively from SFC.

This support resulted in Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) creating a special committee on education reform. The committee is only dealing with SFC legislative agenda through a draft bill called the Performance Counts Act that proposes to:

  • Prevent teachers from working anywhere in the state if they receive three unsatisfactory ratings over a 10-year period.
  • Revoke teachers’ certificates without a plan in place for teacher and student evaluations.
  • Prioritize evaluations over experience in layoffs, making seniority null and void.
  • Tie student test scores to teacher evaluation.
  • Strip Illinois teachers of tenure and their right to strike.

This bill is bad for our children and poor communities because the Performance Counts Act in its present form will discourage highly qualified individuals from entering the teaching profession because their jobs will be tied to socio-economic factors beyond their control. It will be difficult to recruit good teachers to work in poor communities because of historic low tests scores.

Good teachers may leave the teaching profession because there are no provisions for professional support and mentoring. Teachers’ relationship with principals will most likely become political rather than professional.

This bill continues to blame teachers and attack teachers unions. SFC is not helping children. This bill is a wolf in sheep clothing; a Trojan horse in disguise with the eventual goal of a complete corporate takeover of public education.

Countries such as China and India are making tremendous strides in their economies because of their investment in public education.

We need to stand up to the billionaires and challenge them to invest in the economic development of poor communities.  We need to tell our elected leaders to properly fund education, stop the siphoning of education dollars into tax-increment financing, and provide efficient resources to help strengthen families and increase parental involvement. Call your state rep and state senator, and tell them not to support this act.

Let us stop the blame game and remember that education begins at home.

Attend Saturday’s emergency meeting, set for 10 a.m. at SACCC’s office at 5660 W. Madison St. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss education topics/legislation that is being considered right now in Springfield – with no parent and community input.

We will be informing meeting participants about the truth regarding the Performance Counts Act, school vouchers, the continued attempt by corporations to privatize education, and the campaign for an elected Chicago Board of Education. A representative from Chicago Teachers Union is the invited speaker.

You may contact Truss at Austin_youth@sbcglobal.net or (773) 879-5216.

2 thoughts on “The billionaire boys club and public education

  1. Pingback: The billionaire boys club and public education – AustinTalks | Like My Comment

  2. I agree with the general premise, that this bill is very bad for education. It is taking the system in the wrong direction. Some provisions are removing safe guards that had been put into place to STOP abuses within the system. The ideas of tenure and seniority were put into place because the experienced teachers used to be the ones to get cut when there was a budget crunch. An experienced teacher’s salary is twice as expensive as a brand new teacher. Thus, tenure and seniority were invented to help fix these abuses that were occurring frequently. Yes, there are teachers who are poor performers who are protected by these policies. However, these ideas should be to tweak the policy so that evaluation plays a larger role in tenure/retention process, not removed.

    As for linking test scores to teacher evaluation… this is faulty at many levels. First, not all classes are created equal. This would be a tool for principals to eliminate teachers that they no longer wish to have at their school (and yes, things like this do happen). Second, it goes against the science of motivation, as laid out by Daniel Pink in the book “Drive.” Scientific studies have shown that the Carrot/Stick approach to motivating people to do better, in this case using test scores to punish or benefit teachers, has a NEGATIVE effect on results (aka, people perform WORSE). This makes for great stump speeches and campaign ads, but for bad policy that will ruin education. It is like a run-away train that is going to completely derail what little good is left in education. What is needed instead is for teacher autonomy to be reintroduced and reinforced, along with evaluations being used as feedback to help improve our teachers, not punish/reward them.

    No, teachers are not perfect. Indeed, teachers are far from perfect. However, the system has already neutered their power and potential for great influence, and this bill continues to push our country in the opposite direction of those countries who are crushing us now in the PISA study, such as Finland.

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