Diane Ravitch Takes Down Gates Foundation Role in U.S. Education

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, July 12, 2012

If you don’t know who Diane Ravitch is, you should. Be assured that the die-hard advocates of privatized approaches to education reform know this brilliant New York University education professor. 

If you don’t know who Diane Ravitch is, you should. Be assured that the die-hard advocates of privatized approaches to education reform know this brilliant New York University education professor, who was once seen as generally supportive of the conservative critique of public education, but has drifted to being equally critical of charter schools and school vouchers. (See her 2010 book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, and NPQ articles on her here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

The July 5 entry in her personal blog is titled, “I Am Puzzled by the Gates Foundation,” a commentary on a guest column by “Chemtchr” in Anthony Cody’s column for Education Week discussing the “leveraged philanthropy” model of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Chemtchr takes off on the Foundation’s concept of leverage, which, in her mind, seems to be significantly focused on public-private partnerships in which the partner is a large corporate behemoth as interested in profits as it might be in social good, the latter suffering at the expense of maximum profits. She ticks off Gates Foundation partnerships Monsanto (on sustainable agriculture), GlaxoSmithKline (vaccination), Pearson Education (a British education services firm Gates has apparently recruited on U.S. school reform), and others. She also notes that Gates grants or investments that “are positioned to leverage control of policy analysis and news outlets,” such as the Foundation’s sponsorship of the Guardian’s coverage of global development issues and its partial funding of Education Week itself on education reform. It is a devastating critique, not that it suggests that Gates intentionally promotes corporate profits, but that the Foundation’s leveraged philanthropy takes it that way nonetheless.

who was once seen as generally supportive of the conservative critique of public education, but has drifted to being equally critical of charter schools and school vouchers. (See her 2010 book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, and NPQ articles on her here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

The July 5 entry in her personal blog is titled, “I Am Puzzled by the Gates Foundation,” a commentary on a guest column by “Chemtchr” in Anthony Cody’s column for Education Week discussing the “leveraged philanthropy” model of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Chemtchr takes off on the Foundation’s concept of leverage, which, in her mind, seems to be significantly focused on public-private partnerships in which the partner is a large corporate behemoth as interested in profits as it might be in social good, the latter suffering at the expense of maximum profits. She ticks off Gates Foundation partnerships Monsanto (on sustainable agriculture), GlaxoSmithKline (vaccination), Pearson Education (a British education services firm Gates has apparently recruited on U.S. school reform), and others. She also notes that Gates grants or investments that “are positioned to leverage control of policy analysis and news outlets,” such as the Foundation’s sponsorship of the Guardian’s coverage of global development issues and its partial funding of Education Week itself on education reform. It is a devastating critique, not that it suggests that Gates intentionally promotes corporate profits, but that the Foundation’s leveraged philanthropy takes it that way nonetheless.

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