In Penetrating Analysis, Joanne Barkan Predicts Likely Direction of a DeVos Education Department

Joanne Barkan has published another of her remarkably lucid and well-written articles at Dissent, this time a profile of Betsy DeVos.  Barkan explicitly predicts how DeVos, if she is confirmed as Secretary of Education, will set out to accomplish her stated goal of using the power of the U.S. Department of Education to expand education […]

Joanne Barkan Describes Bill Gates and the “Nuisance of Democracy”

Please do read Joanne Barkan’s fascinating and carefully written new piece in the Nonprofit Quarterly, Charitable Plutocacy: Bill Gates, Washington State, and the Nuisance of Democracy. In the first place Barkan summarizes the history of the efforts by their proponents to launch charter schools in the state of Washington.  Twice this month, I’ve been part […]

After Years of Failed Initiatives, Gates Foundation Keeps on Trying to Fix the Schools

You might imagine that Bill and Melinda Gates, with all their money, a large staff, and access to research would have developed a more nuanced and helpful strategy for school reform.  But you’d be wrong.  In their 2020 Gates Foundation Annual Letter, Bill and Melinda Gates continue to assume that academic outcomes as measured by […]

Melinda Gates and the Blindness of Privilege

Last Sunday, the New York Times Magazine published an interview—David Marchese talking with Melinda Gates—about the enormous power of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for shaping our lives.  Marchese asks Ms. Gates directly about the Gates Foundation’s role in driving today’s neoliberal public education policy. Doesn’t a giant foundation—“Its endowment at $50.7 billion… the […]

Today’s Philanthropy: Giving Back While Perpetuating Inequality and the Power of Big Money

Although he died in 2006, the Rev. William Sloane Coffin, longtime pastor of New York’s Riverside Church and a lifetime advocate for justice, speaks to our times: “Charity is a matter of personal attributes; justice, a matter of public policy. Charity seeks to alleviate the effects of injustice; justice seeks to eliminate the causes of […]

Gates Foundation Unable to Address Real Needs in Public Schools. When Will We Ever Learn?

Bill and Melinda Gates just released this year’s Gates Foundation’s Annual Letter on the foundation’s giving. Here are some principles I fall back on when I sit down to read such a letter. First I think about the serious warnings we’ve had over the years about the power of today’s mega philanthropies, larger and more […]

Gates Foundation’s Mega Philanthropy Keeps on Colliding with Democracy

In her annual letter summing up the year’s accomplishments of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation’s CEO, Sue Desmond-Hellmann, offers a sort of mea culpa to explain what has happened in the organization’s philanthropy in education. Gates has been at the forefront of strategic philanthropy, by which a foundation sets the priorities and […]

The Billionaire Boys Keep On Experimenting, Charterizing, and Limiting Democracy

Until Diane Ravitch published her 2010, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, we didn’t really have a name for the major transformation in the size and practice of venture philanthropy.  Ravitch describes “the Billionaire Boys Club” to explain a new trend in gigantic philanthropy in our age of the plutocrats, fortunes […]

Phew! At Least Bill Gates Didn’t Announce Another Big Experiment on Our Children

Bill Gates presented the keynote at the U.S. Education Learning Forum, an event this week described by Education Week‘s Alyson Klein as “meant to mark the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s 15th year playing in the education field.”  In his remarks Bill Gates is reported by Liana Heitin of Education Week to have, “recommitted the […]