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

Saturday, August 17, 2013

B'Bye Bowen

Another one of Jeb! Bush's Chiefs For Change moves on to greener pastures:
Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen announced Friday that he will resign effective Sept. 12 to take a job with the national Council of Chief State School Officers, according to a statement from Gov. Paul LePage.
Bowen, who was appointed by LePage in March 2011, has been at the center of the governor’s ambitious and sometimes controversial education reform agenda, though even some of his most virulent policy opponents said he did his job with grace.
As Diane Ravitch reminds us, part of that "grace" would be pushing legislation and regulations that would greatly benefit education privatizers:
A Maine Sunday Telegram investigation found large portions of Maine’s digital education agenda are being guided behind the scenes by out-of-state companies that stand to capitalize on the changes, especially the nation’s two largest online education providers.
K12 Inc. of Herndon, Va., and Connections Education, the Baltimore-based subsidiary of education publishing giant Pearson, are both seeking to expand online offerings and to open full-time virtual charter schools in Maine, with taxpayers paying the tuition for the students who use the services.
At stake is the future of thousands of Maine schoolchildren who would enroll in the full-time virtual schools and, if the companies had their way, the future of tens of thousands more who would be legally required to take online courses at their public high schools in order to receive their diplomas.
The two companies have at times acted directly, spending tens of thousands of dollars lobbying lawmakers in Augusta and nurturing the creation of the supposedly independent boards for the proposed virtual schools they would operate and largely control. [emphasis mine]
Lovely. No wonder Bowen was "graciously" in an open war with members of the Legislature, even as the big bucks flowed from the virtual charter industry. Bowen was also responsible for implementing a school evaluation system that essentially punishes schools that serve poor children.

Now Bowen is off to the Council of Chief State School Officers, which, at this point, has pretty much become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Gates Foundation. Bill Gates himself told the CCSSO that more money for schools was off the table:
K-12 expenditures this year have stagnated for the third year in a row. Federal funding has delayed some of the pain from this. When that funding stops, the budget gaps will get worse. But the truly scary thing is this – even when state revenues start to grow again, the budget gaps don’t go away. The longevity-based pay raises, COLAs, and benefits embedded in the budget will make school spending grow faster than state revenues. Other state budget categories, particularly health care, will keep growing. So even when things start getting better for the economy, things will still be difficult for school budgets.
I wish reform could be done with incremental dollars. Our foundation is against reductions in K-12 spending, but the reality is that most states will have flat or reduced budgets. If education weren’t the most urgent and important issue in this country, we might consider waiting to take action. [emphasis mine]
Gates goes on to explain to the CCSSO that "innovation" - in other words, more useless digital junk - will "save" education and prevent us from having to tax folks like him - the folks who benefit from the massive inequity and regressive taxation this country continues to suffer under.

Stephen Bowen pushed this digital crap in Maine for the same reason he's going to push it at the CCSSO: to keep us from confronting the truth that money does matter in education, and we have plenty of money if we're just willing to tax folks like Gates at pre-Reagan levels.

I'm not particularly hopeful, but maybe Maine will get a new education commissioner who's willing to at least openly discuss this state of affairs. Until we see who takes over, let's cross Stephen Bowen off the big board.

Two down, five and one-half to go...

My Chiefs are dropping like flies!

1 comment:

ad77 said...

Oh Darn it! This is a shame!

This could have been Cerf's new job!