Today the USPS delivered a slick 20-page booklet titled Game-Changing Research Fuels Life-Changing Literacy from Education It is listed as a Special Report: The Science of Reading and Writing. The word “Advertisement” appears at the top of the page, the McGraw Hill logo at the bottom. The back cover is a 4/5 -page ad for McGraw Hill, with the invitation to go to an online quiz to “find out which Science of Reading-aligned program best fits your classroom’s needs.”
The respondents are asked to respond to some very general questions and then are required to give name and contact info if they want to find the best Science of Reading (sic) program for their unique needs.
Ordinarily, this is the type of junk mail I toss immediately. But I noticed that this slick, pricey booklet was mailed to my husband, retired professor of physics. When I was officially a Federal reading teacher, he did spend a week in my open classroom (Required for certain “reading” kids but open to all, grades 1-6.), showing three second graders how to use a side rule and sitting on the floor with some other kids who were hooking up a wind-up train, talking with them about load and momentum.
He is a writer, of textbooks and the mass market Einstein’s Mistakes: The Human Failings of Genius (positively reviewed in The Wall Street Journal, among others and given a great dustjacket blurb by Stephen Krashen), but I don’t have a clue why Education Week or McGraw Hill would want to tell him about their claims about the science of reading and writing.
Years back, a national test actually posed this question for 6th graders:
Most decisions concerning public schools are made by the:
c) Local businesses
d) School board
Of course, what’s missing was e) “None of the above.” As this slick booklet from Education Week and McGraw-Hill demonstrates, corporate elites, not your local butcher, baker, or candlestick maker, set the critical national agendas for public schools.
The last page of this corporate booklet lists the generous supporters who fund Education Week editorial projects like this one:
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Carnegie Corporation of New York
- Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
- Charles Butt Foundation
- Mott Foundation
- Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
- The Joyce Foundation
- The Lemelson Foundation
- Meyer Memorial Trust
- Nellie Mae Education Foundation
- Oak Foundation
- Spencer Foundation
- Wallace Foundation
- Walton Family Foundation
- William & Flora Hewlett Foundation
Clearly, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation impact on public school operations needs no introduction but that was in times past. Of late, they don’t seem to be doing much. Go to their website and you’ll read that they fund the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education. They funded the 2010 Big Ideas Fest, which was put on by the Institute. But beware. Gates is also committed to funding The Math Classroom All Children Deserve .
Gates is true to form, emphasizing THE classroom for ALL children.
Here are a few snippets of information about the other guys on the block who funded this booklet.
Allstate Foundation presence on this list is a mystery. In 2020 they donated $1.2 million for something 180 degrees from the Gates Foundation pledges. Allstate donated this money to fill teachers’ individual wish lists . The Foundation has a history of working with people on children’s social and emotional learning.
Chan Zuckerberg initiative pledged $30 million to Reach Every Reader, which is a partnership between their buddies, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Integrated Learning Initiative (MITili), and the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) and College of Communication & Information (CCI) at Florida State University. You can see a list of all the many many people involved.
Charles Butt Foundation: Through their Raising School Leaders program, the Foundation invests approximately $1 million annually in leadership development training to address student achievement and equity issues throughout Texas.
Joyce Foundation: There’s no indication just what the foundation’s involvement is here but they can’t be all bad. Since 1993, the Joyce Foundation has been unique in spending more than $54 million for 100+ grants that favor gun control.
Believing that “invention can solve many of the biggest economic and social challenges of our time,” The Lemelson Foundation “supports invention education as a dynamic, open-ended, transdisciplinary teaching approach rooted in problem identification and solution development.”
Look at the remarkable 2022 grants given by the Meyer Memorial Trust, based in the Pacific Northwest, and think about the bill of goods Education Week sold them to sponsor this booklet.
nelliemae grants seem to cover a wide spectrum, from the Boston Chinatown Lantern Festival Gala to Cognitive Behavioral Intervention.
Education Week hit paydirt with the Oak Foundation. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, they flew a banner in March 2022 Supporting Research Based Instruction . The Oak Foundation makes it clear that the also support Emily Hanford, American Public Media, and Instruction Based Partners, based in Nashville.
Spencer Foundation. Put “Emily Hanford” into a search on their site, and you’ll get 9 hits.
Wallace Foundation: Of late, this group has shown strong interest in learning opportunities for principals.
The Walton Family Foundation: “We are committed to collaborative, community-driven solutions.”
Now, back to the A’s. Missing from this list in Education Week is AERDF. The Advanced Education Research and Development Fund (AERDF), the outfit that launched Reading Reimagined, who promise to “produce pre-kindergarten through grade eight literacy solutions…develop and improve word recognition, fluency, and comprehension.” Scholarly work they cite includes that of Shaywitz, Torgensen, Foorman, Stanovich, Liben, the Education Week Research Center, the 2000 National Reading Panel, and APM Reports featuring Emily Hanford.
Take a deep breath. Here’s the Reading Reimagined Advisory Council, who Reading Reimagined proclaims are “national leaders representing practitioners, researchers, and product experts who share the program’s belief that every student is capable of being a great reader when given access to adequate resources and instruction. The Advisory Council will help build and hold the standard for evidence-based innovation projects and influence Reading Reimagined’s processes, goals, investment decisions, and overall outcomes during the program’s lifecycle.
- Kwasi Asare: Director of Channel Marketing, DigitalOcean
- Janice Jackson: Chief Executive Officer, HOPE Chicago, former Chief Executive Officer, Chicago Public Schools
- Ginny Lee: Former President and COO, Khan Academy
- Sue Pimentel: Founding Partner, StandardsWork and Student Achievement Partners
- Shalinee Sharma: Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Zearn Math
- Robert Sheffield: President, Consortium on Reaching Excellence in Education
- Dr. Julie Washington: Professor of Language and Literacy, University of California, Irvine
- Joanne Weiss: President, Weiss Associates, Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Department of Education
- Dr. Carey Wright: Mississippi State Secretary of Education
!!!!!!! [To preserve family values, swear words deleted.]
Joanne Weiss brings us full circle. We remember her as Arne Duncan’s chief of staff, hired to oversee Race to the Top. She tells us that she currently sits on the boards of Instruction Partners, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the National Center on Education and the Economy and Teaching Strategies. She chairs the Steering Committee for New Meridian and chairs the Investment Committee for Walton’s A-Street Ventures. She is an Expert-in-Residence at the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-Lab), a Senior Fellow with FutureEd at Georgetown University, a Distinguished Senior Fellow for the Education Commission of the States, and a former visiting professor in education policy at Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs. Joanne has been a member of many boards, including Aspire Public Schools, BloomBoard, Carnegie Learning, Green Dot Public Schools, Leadership Public Schools, Learn Zillion, New Leaders for New Schools, Rocketship Education, Revolution Foods, and Teachscape. She was also a member of the School Finance Redesign Project (a project of the University of Washington’s Center for Reinventing Public Education) and the Digital Media & Learning Project (a project of the MacArthur Foundation). She is Fellow in the inaugural cohort of the Aspen/Pahara Education Leadership Fellowship.
What qualifies Joanne for all this? She has a degree in biochemistry from Princeton University. Well hey, my husband has a Ph.D from the same place. Maybe the Gates Foundation is sending this 20-page booklet to all alumni.
The circle of foundations with big bucks harming public education is complete when you learn that AERDF is funded by:
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Chan Zuckerburg Initiative
- The Walton Family Foundation