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Public School Reform and the Software Tycoons

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Does Dan Walters, a columnist for The Sacramento Bee, see that public school reform in California is a growth opportunity for wealthy private interests? Apparently not, as he conveys no sense that “Silicon Valley tycoons” have such pecuniary motives when they donate to candidate Marshall Tuck vying to unseat Tom Torlakson, current California State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

We maintain software capitalists contribute to Tuck’s 2014 campaign to increase corporate power in California’s public schools and to shape important curriculum decisions. Ours is no conspiracy theory.

We point to the owners of the hardware and software delivering Common Core State Standards (from David Coleman’s firm Student Achievement Partners, composed, copyrighted and promoted in conjunction with the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers) and its testing predecessors to K-12 pupils in Calif. When Laurene Powell Jobs, philanthropist and widow of Steve Jobs, ponies up $500,000 to Tuck’s campaign, this is an investment in the company’s bottom line of growing its education products and services.

Look no further than Apple’s iPads with embedded instructional data from Pearson, Inc. (owner of Addison-Wesley, Allyn and Bacon, Benjamin Cummings, Longman, Prentice Hall, and Scott Foresman) the Los Angeles Unified School District bought for students. Pearson dubs itself “the world’s leading learning company,” earning $7 billion in education revenues for 2011, according to its 2012 annual report, as 84 percent of the firm’s education revenues flow from student assessments and achievement tests.

There are 6.2 million public school K-12 students in the Golden State. The potential profits for campaign donors is big, indeed.

If we accept wrong assumptions about the Tuck v. Torlakson election for relative to the motives of software tycoons, our conclusions do not matter.

Duane Campbell is a professor emeritus of bilingual multicultural education at California State University Sacramento, a union activist, and chair of Sacramento DSA.

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

 

 

 

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