FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

What Billionaires Mean by Education Reform

Recently, talk show host Oprah Winfrey focused on “America’s Education Crisis.” Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder, and his wife, Melinda, were guests. Stand Up is their national campaign to improve education for youth.

Does Oprah know that the $27 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also gave $4 million dollars to the Sacramento City Unified School District for “educational reform?”

For the context of this donation we turn to the district’s Sacramento High School. There, students, scores on standardized tests were low.

Officially, such exams are the best measure of what modern education can provide to the nation,s youth. Crucially, the SCUSD had taken state funds to improve SHS students, test scores. Subsequently, the scores lacked the desired improvement.

SHS risked becoming a “failed school.” Later to avoid state sanctions, the district decided to close SHS, located in the low-income, largely nonwhite neighborhood of Oak Park.

Against that backdrop, Starbucks Corp. and inflated home prices are sprouting in this gentrifying area.

Meet former NBA star Kevin Johnson of the Phoenix Suns, a SHS grad, and a guest on Oprah’s recent show. Retired from pro hoops, he was tapped to improve the education of SHS students, heading up the St. Hope Development Corporation. SHS was re-opened by KJ’s corporation, which has run it as a charter school, praised on the Winfrey show.

Significantly, many SHS parents and labor union members opposed the school’s privatization. Parents formed the Sacramento Coalition to Save Public Education. Some SHS teachers did not want to work without a union contract for a corporation.

Legitimizing the drive to privatize SHS was The Sacramento Bee, the city,s one daily paper for over a decade. The McClatchy Co. publishes The Bee. The Sacramento-based publisher is also the pending buyer of Knight Ridder Inc., the 12 union papers of which are on the selling block.

KJ’s corporation, in the context of “seed money” taken by the SCUSD from the Gates Foundation, took over a public high school and weakened labor unions. In the language of the market, non-union labor is more “flexible,” making it is easier for bosses to fire workers. This flexibility also weakens the political power of teachers’ unions.

Oprah’s recent two-part “special report” on the crisis in U.S. public schools included this gem: “I’ve often said that I believe that education is freedom.” Presumably, this includes freedom for billionaires to shape school reform as they see fit. But freeing public education by turning it over to corporations is no freedom at all.

SETH SANDRONSKY is a member of Sacramento Area Peace Action and a co-editor of Because People Matter, Sacramento’s progressive paper. He can be reached at ssandron@hotmail.com

 

 

 

More articles by:

Seth Sandronsky is a Sacramento journalist and member of the freelancers unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild. Emailsethsandronsky@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail