Dr. Laura Chapman, Ph.D., is a retired professor of art education and frequent contributor to Diane Ravitch’s blog. Dr. Chapman believes that education is not a business. It is a public service, a public responsibility, and civic virtue to the extent that it prepares students to be active participants in determining how the larger society is governed and the values it honors.
The current triage in education seeks to close “underperforming schools,” fire “underperforming” teachers and principals, and blame students who are “underperforming” for not having enough grit, not having the right stuff, and not fixing the economy.
Unlike brands that can be vanished from the marketplace, our “underperforming” students do not go away.
On the Cincinnati ESSA Stakeholder Meeting on Thursday, September 29th, sponsored by Philanthropy Ohio, the Ohio Department of Education, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Knowledgeworks and United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Dr. Chapman sent some thought-provoking questions to Adrienne Wells of Philanthropy Ohio:
1. Please explain why this meeting, and others in Ohio, exclude the full spectrum of ESSA topics, especially a discussion of Ohio’s charter schools.
2. How have “stakeholders” been identified for an invitation to this event? Did your organization invite parents, teachers and professionals working in education, including those engaged in teacher education and affected by several titles in ESSA?
3. Why is the Ohio Superintendent acting as a minor player in sponsoring this event compared to the role of Ohio foundations and United Way?
4. Why did this message reach me (and perhaps many others) with an extremely short timeframe to schedule attendance?
5. I notice that the Ohio Grantmakers Forum, the prior name of Philanthropy Ohio, has been active in shaping legislation on education since before 2010. In a report on this activity titled: “Beyond Tinkering with Education Reform,” I find this statement:
One major benefit to the OGF’s Education Initiative success was the regional association being selected by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to be their sole grantee in Ohio for its educational policy work. “We’ll sub-grant out the Gates’ funding to other organizations for the educational work,” says Espy, then President of the Ohio Grantmakers Forum. “About 80 percent of those dollars will be used for their own work, but 20 percent has to be used for joint projects. This will result in foundations having a stronger, unified voice in Ohio (p.3).
That was 2009-2010 after HR1 was passed.
Since the inception of the Ohio Grantmakers Forum–now called Ohio Philanthropy–the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has sent your organization over $3 million dollars.
Ohio-based Knowledgeworks, a co-sponsor of the ESSA discussion groups and a major promoter of digital/online learning, has received nearly $50 million dollars from the Gates Foundation.
The Ohio Department of Education has received $7.3 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
That is a partial list of sums placed into Ohio by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the purpose of advancing their chosen educational work, not the work that stakeholders within Ohio have actively envisioned and wish to support.
6. Please explain why the Gates Foundation agenda, channeled through your organization and sponsors of this event, should be respected as valid for Ohio.
ESSA stakeholders need to think about Dr. Chapman’s questions and then demand that Ohio should not enact any legislation or regulations in addition to the federal minimum requirements of ESSA.
We must use this opportunity presented by the change in federal legislation to restore real local control to our schools and communities!