I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Somerby Asks Impolite Questions

Really, how rude!
Does Bill Gates know what he’s talking about? Maybe not, but money does talk! At one point, Ravitch quotes Frederick Hess on the way these foundations’ mega-money has purchased silence from the press corps and from the wider policy world. Generally, Hess would be seen as a conservative. Can this really be true?
RAVITCH (page 201): Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute has written that the major foundations—especially Gates, Broad and Walton—are the beneficiaries of remarkably “gentle treatment” by the press, which suspends its skeptical faculties in covering their grants to school reform. “One has to search hard to find even the most obliquely critical accounts” in the national media of the major foundations’ activities related to education, Hess reports.Furthermore, he writes, education policy experts steer clear of criticizing the mega-rich foundations; to date, not a single book has been published that has questioned their education strategies. Academics carefully avoid expressing any thoughts that might alienate the big foundations, to avoid jeopardizing future contributions to their projects, their university, or the [school] district they hope to work with. Hess observes that “academics, activists and the policy community live in a world where philanthropists are royalty.” Everyone, it seems, is fearful of offending the big foundations, so there is an “amiable conspiracy of silence…”
First, can Frederick Hess say those things? Beyond that, can it really be true that our academics and our “education experts”—the ones who never seem to notice our burgeoning public school testing scandals—behave in such crass ways, stuffing Gates money into their pants while skillfully looking away? 
Ravitch focuses on the three billionaires who run those big foundations. For the record, let’s mention a fourth billionaire—New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has gotten a very wide berth at the New York Times for his various boondoggles. And by the way—why does Gates himself get such good press? Why do his error-laden columns get published by the Washington Post? Over the years, we’ve often noted the ridiculous columns written by major columnists after they were wined, dined and jetted around by various Gates affiliates. (Examples: Bob Herbert, the late David Broder.) Beyond that, could it be that Gates gets favorable treatment at the Post because Melinda Gates sits on the newspaper’s board, extending the web of conflicts which makes such a travesty of the Post’s education performance? 
At this point, we come to our most unfortunate question: Can it really be true that fiery liberals defer to these billionaires? Does that explain the groaning silence from the career liberal world as people like Gates spread their bull crap around—as they keep making bogus statements, as they lead the brain-dead attacks against public school teachers and their infernal unions?
Bob obviously does not understand that massive amounts of money make a person both intellectually and morally superior. Billionaires get deference because they've earned it. If Bill Gates said serving strawberry ice cream every day in our nation's school cafeterias was the answer to bridging the "achievement gap," we'd have no choice but to implement his plans immediately.

In the cities first, of course. Because... well... you know...

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