US Department of Pearson: Thinking the unthinkable: Why Bill Gates and Arne Duncan need to go

Sad Bill Gates Dear Bill and Arne,

We’ve written a story that is unthinkable.  Or is it?  We discovered you and Steve may be bowing out of Microsoft entirely, but will you and Arne bow out of the DOE too?  Who will replace you?  Here’s the scoop. A Microsoft US Department of Education without Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer  Arne Duncan? john-fallon-hi-res Although Ford’s Pearson’s chief executive, Alan Mulally  John Fallon, downplayed stories that reported he’s the leading candidate to replace Steve Ballmer Arne Duncan as chief executive  US Secretary of Microsoft  Education, the fact that at least one report named him as the top candidate may indicate that the Microsoft’s DOE’s board is looking both outside inside the company for entirely fresh  even more market-driven monopolistic  “corporate” vs. democratic perspectives.  Gates recently stated:

“It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.” 

That was when Fallon got in the game.  Corporations don’t have ten years to take financial risks on Gates’ ideas, and, after all, corporations rule.

“Gates may wield significant influence within Microsoft The Department of Education, but the man himself has moved on.”

The plot thickened on Monday when Reuters reported that three of the top investors in Microsoft the DOE want company department founder shadow director and current chairman Edu-Czar Bill Gates to step down as well.  The report says the three rebel Pearson shareholders hold more than 5 45 percent of the company DOE’s outstanding lobbying shares via A.L.E.C. —that’s slightly more than the 4.5  55 percent stake Gates still holds. Microsoft The Department of Education, naturally, hasn’t commented.  Gates, who once controlled 49 99 percent of the company DOE has steadily sold off millions of shares per year day subsequent to the release of Diane Ravitch’s new book, “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools” on in a pre-set  sudden change of plans that will see him pull out of the company (DOE) (financially at least) by 2018 2014.

Gates shouldn’t leave immediately. In fact, he’s the key to ensuring a successful transition between Ballmer Fallon and the new chief executive EdSec. “Bill is involved in the search for a new CEO (I mean Secretary of Education), and I believe he’ll stay put to ensure that the company’s (I mean, DOE’s) direction is clear and on a solid footing as the new CEO (I mean EdSec) takes over,” Wes Miller James Shelton, III,  an analyst currently an Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education for Innovation and Improvement and former Deputy Director of Education with Directions on Microsoft the Gates Foundation, said in an email.

After that process concludes, however, it’s probably time for both Ballmer Duncan and Gates to begin winding down. With Ballmer’s Duncan’s tenure as chief executive  (Ed Sec) ending in a little less than a  three year’s time (if not sooner), he’s already embarked on a farewell SALES tour of sorts, ensuring that Bill Gates pilot programs like WaKIDS  and their accompanying high stakes testing products for pre-K and kindergarten are purchased across the nation. Indeed, Ballmer’s  Duncan’s presentation at the company’s (DOE’s) recent analyst meeting where he met with 40 CEOs from the Business Roundtable, had the tone of a goodbye to PUBLIC programs like Head Start. Just prior to when the government shut down this program he remarked,

“The worst thing that I think can happen to kids and families, and particularly disadvantaged communities, is that people expect less of them, to make politicians look good.

It never made sense to me that poor children should be expected to learn just as readily as other students if they were hungry, if they couldn’t see the blackboard, or if their mouths ached from untreated cavities and gum disease.

Now, in an era of tight budgets and limited resources, it is absolutely right that we ask ourselves, what is the smartest use of our education dollars?

Today is a great day! I have looked forward to this day for a long time–and so have America’s teachers, parents, students, and school leaders. Today is the day that marks the beginning of the development of a new and much-improved generation of assessments for America’s schoolchildren. Today marks the start of Assessments 2.0. And today marks one more milestone, testifying to the transformational change now taking hold in our nation’s schools under the courageous leadership and vision of state and district officials.

The need is urgent, the time is now. With your commitment and your conviction, let us seek to ensure that every child in America grows up ready to learn  be subjected to testing and ready to make Pearson and Gates rich for life. Thanks largely to your determination, the nation’s schoolchildren took one giant step closer today to fulfilling that our corporate dream–and the American promise of education as the great equalizer profit generator, No Corporation Left Behind.”

Fallon followed up saying:

“Pearson has a clear position of leadership in global learning and publishing, with strong foundations for growth in technology, services and developing economies. Our challenge is to seize those opportunities in an era of tremendous industry change.”

There are billions of dollars to be made by privatizing Head Start.  Once Fallon replaces Duncan at the helm of the DOE, they can really cash in on the private schools, the testing, and the curriculum for pre-K and kindergarten.  That explains, in part, the government shut down of Head Start.  Duncan followed up his remarks telling the nation that we can make billions off testing only to find out what we already know:

“Tragically, too many of our children are not getting a strong start in life.  until we privatize Head Start, Teachers Corporations will won’t have the (profits from) assessments they have longed for.” 

Fallon wants to develop a stronghold in pre-K and kindergarten private charter schools, and suggests modeling schools after the Success Academy, Democracy Prep, and KIPP charter school systems. We can tap our high-profile right wing and/or corporate interest friends on the shoulders, including the Walton Family, the DeVos Family, the Bradley Foundation, and more. Let’s also not forget the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Jeff Bezos. In another report about Duncan’s sales tour, Lindsay Layton writes:

“Advocates for early childhood education (high stakes testing) are organizing a national campaign led by the First Five Years Fund, which supports early childhood education (high stakes testing) programs for low-income children, and the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank associated with the Obama administration. They have hired Jim Messina, the manager of Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, to help devise a strategy and have created a (testing corporation) “war room” in an office building on Capitol Hill.”

Investors Anti-corporate reformers and advocates for “whole child education”, led by Diane Ravitch, have long hoped to mount Ballmer’s  Duncan’s head on a pike. In May March 2012, Forbes, Peter Smagorinsky, Distinguished Research Professor of English Education at The University of Georgia named him the world’s worst most “test obsessed” CEO (Ed Sec).  In 2012, Education Next Readers’ Poll gave Arne Duncan a solid “F” as Secretary of Education.

arne-duncan-poll1 And, yet, Ballmer  Gates and Duncan’s green-lit Windows 8 Race to the Top and Common Core are still clawing their way to relevance any measurable effectiveness whatsoever.  Of course, Gates famously watched the Internet Finland pass Microsoft the US in international test scores by, but then aggressively bundled Internet Explorer Common Core with Windows No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top to catch up.  The lesson? Microsoft Bill Gates and the US DOE make BIG mistakes, but also quickly fixes  create even more of them.

Fallon argued before that the timing of Ballmer’s Duncan’s replacement will potentially undo the “One Microsoft Pearson DOE” strategy that was introduced with Ballmer’s Duncan’s corporate (DOE) reorganization this past summer administration. Microsoft The DOE has aligned itself around market driven strategies and products: devices (designed for replacing teachers),  TFA (designed for replacing teachers and busting teacher unions), Common Core (designed for boring “commoners”, increasing drop-out rates, increasing the opportunity gap, and creating profit), charter schools (designed for replacing public schools), services high stakes testing (designed for failing children, firing teachers, and closing schools). The DOE has spread ownership of key technologies such as operating testing and data tracking systems to various groups, rather than keeping them bottled up in individual product silos.

Fallon likes Ballmer’s  Duncan’s vision. Hardware, testing, and software partners may gripe and moan cheer wildly about Microsoft the DOE cutting into force-feeding their business, but Microsoft’s Xbox Apple’s iPad, Surface Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify Android Tablets, and soon Lumia phones potential “halo” (inspired) “next-generation Measuring Effective Teaching (MET)” video cameras for every classroom (making “firing teachers” as fun as a “killing spree” on X-box) as well as galvanic skin response bracelets will attract new customers to the Microsoft  DOE’s corporate reformy ecosystem (though, admittedly, that halo glow isn’t shining very brightly at the moment as Opt Out movements grow and Diane Ravitch’s new book soars towards the top of the best seller list.  In essence, Microsoft the DOE should set a bar for its testing, hardware and software partners, and Ballmer  Duncan has demonstrated the passion necessary to set this bar high.  He’s got all the zest and enthusiasm that any employee might ask of his or her chief executive.  He’ll be missed.

Gates has to go

Ballmer Duncan’s future aside, I can now imagine a Microsoft DOE without Bill Gates. I once thought that a Microsoft  DOE without Ballmer Duncan and Gates would be ultimately untenable, but now I see a different path forward.

Gates may wield significant influence within Microsoft the DOE, but the man himself has moved on. Very few international institutions (the World Bank? the United Nations?) wield the political clout, dedication, and capital of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates may indeed have the mental bandwidth to discuss healthcare and education with global leaders, all while doodling strategies for wearable computers on a napkin. But he shouldn’t. Eliminate malaria, Bill. It’s simply more important.

What’s more, Microsoft  the DOE’s shareholders and customers (children) deserve a board DOE that’s fully engaged with the company Pearson’s challenges. Yes, a board only formally meets once a month, if that. But Microsoft the DOE’s footing is more precarious than it’s ever been. Could a focused Gates help steer the ship? Absolutely. But with his philanthropic foundation hanging over his head? I’m not so sure. At the very least, Gates himself may have to answer some tough questions. At the macroscopic level, Microsoft the DOE must surmount two major problems: implement a vision to guide it through the next decade and beyond, and then execute it. The “One Microsoft Pearson” vision is that plan. And now it needs to be executed.

Pearson Always Earning Microsoft The DOE may be looking for a dynamic chief executive with fresh ideas, but if the company wants to execute Ballmer Duncan’s plan, then what it’s really looking for is nothing more than a steward. Longer-term, that creates a problem. Eventually, someone in the executive ranks will be asked to change course again. Gates could help steer that transition. Yes, he missed the Internet, but he also anticipated the wearable and tablet standardization and high stakes testing trends, with the SPOT watch MET and Tablet PC Common Core. And yet, if Microsoft the DOE’s troubles stem from a reluctance to give up on its past, then Gates may not be the right man for the job. Quite frankly, it’s all a bit of a mess. Maybe Microsoft the DOE should compromise. An intermediary step would be to name Gates as executive chairman, a figurehead title that would preserve his legacy without giving him any real power. Microsoft The US Department of Education Pearson needs a man like Bill Gates. But it can’t afford to keep him much longer. Fallon went on to ensure a full Pearson take-over, providing the reformy’s world view, using almost word for word, the text from Diane Ravitch’s ending paragraph in Reign of Error:

“Despite its faults, the American system of democratically corporate controlled schools has been the mainstay  downfall of our communities and the foundation of our nation corporations’ success. We must work together to improve destroy our public schools.  We must extend eliminate the promise of equal educational opportunity to all the for all but OUR children of our nation.  Protecting Destroying our public schools against for privatization and saving closing them permanently for future generations of American children is the civil rights 1%’s most important issue of our time.”

One thing we can agree on is that we can’t afford to keep either Gates or Duncan much longer. But who will replace them?

Susan and Katie, Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates


About Highlighting Members' Needs

We are running for the following Renton Education Association positions because we believe in the following planks: Becca Ritchie, Candidate for REA President, Nelsen Middle School, Computer Tech Susan DuFresne, Candidate for Primary Executive Board, Maplewood Heights Elementary, Integrated Kindergarten ✅  Demanding a healthy work-load/life balance. ✅  Bargaining competitive professional compensation. ✅  Challenging the status quo test culture with: Less is more! ✅  Emphasizing our professional expertise. ✅  Prioritizing equity and access for all. ✅  Utilizing 2-way 21st century communication tools. ✅  Acting in solidarity with all unions. ✅  Supporting ALL members. ✅   Implementing developmentally appropriate K-3 curriculum/assessment.
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4 Responses to US Department of Pearson: Thinking the unthinkable: Why Bill Gates and Arne Duncan need to go

    • Teachers'LettersToBillGates says:

      Yes, they are dangerous. Yet their propaganda is working like the latest “Made for TV” infomercial.

      Teach-Ins and creative protests will take them down with the power of the truth! Share our work widely as well to educate and activate!

      Susan & Katie, Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates

  1. Pingback: US Department of Pearson: Thinking the unthinkable: Why Bill Gates and Arne Duncan need to go… |

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