West Ed is one of the leading front groups and think tanks for privatization of education.  It is one of many faux groups that publish questionable data to be used to decimate public education by arguing it is a failure.

West Ed is funded the Bill and Melinda Gates crime family (http://www.wested.org/online_pubs/gates.profiles.pdf) as well The Lumina Foundation, our good friends who are in the process of dismantling community colleges in California and elsewhere (http://www.luminafoundation.org/dewayne_matthews/).

There are many more of these ‘public looking’ organizations but when googling them always add the words “Lumina Foundation” or “Bill and Melinda Gates” with your word search.  You would be surprised just how many of these so called ‘astro turf’ or faux groups are being used by the privatizers.

July 16, 2003

To: ARN (Assessment Reform Network)

Good morning colleagues:

As we consider these words, West Ed is in the process of debriefing all of Chicago’s curriculum people (http://www.wested.org/cs/we/print/docs/we/home.htm#data1).
Then West Ed will sell the curriculum materials (which have already been “aligned” to the latest Alice in Wonderland world of Illinois “Standards”) back to Chicago for $5 or $10 million under one of the biggest privatization schemes we’ve seen yet.

After they are debriefed, most of the curriculum people will be fired or sent back to the classroom, where they began their careers. The people who did the work came out of the ranks here in Chicago, many having 20 or more years of classroom and principal experienced. They will be replaced by West Ed functionaries, while the West Ed aura permeates all the propaganda supporting the scam. West Ed’s propagandists will be no different from the marketing departments of Edison Schools or Sylvan, but I have a hunch some people here will be lest likely to see the scam when the wolf looks like many of out local sheep (or talks professoreze to us).

This whole thing is being touted as another example of “reducing bureaucracy” in the Chicago Board of Education’s budget.
In fact, the privatization schemes that have been done to Chicago since 1995 (when Mayor Daley took over) have all cost the school budget between 200 percent and 1000 percent more than similar employee based activities would have cost. The earliest ones (touted by people like Mike Klonsky in attacks on the engineers and custodians in Catalyst magazine nearly ten years ago) involved replacing custodial workers who were union members (and receiving union wages and benefits) with outside contractors, who reduced wages and benefits by 30 to 50 percent, but ulatimely increaces overall costs (the difference goes in profit to the company with the contract, not to the workers).

None of our academic colleagues in the Chicago area is studying the various privatization scams because, in most cases, their are in on the scam from a different angle (i.e., not only this West Ed deal, but virtually every university that has provided the “failing” — i.e., low scoring — schools in Chicago with “external partners”).

Sylvan, mentioned here yesterday, is just an easy target as part of the privatization scams. Edison provides the same kind of distractors. I think we need to keep them in mind, but look deeper, including scams that include some of our “friends” (as West Ed does).

I think the more insidious privatization scams are the colleges and universities that dive into the teacher bashing industry by providing outside services to “failing” schools, rather than doing a principled critique of the root causes of the failures.

Here in Chicago, the privatizers include virtually every major professor who has written about Chicago’s “school reform” stuff for the past decade. Every one has been subsidized, usually in six or even seven figures. A good way to locate the names is to go through the archives of Catalyst magazine and see who they quote regularly.
Anyone know of other places where West Ed and similar prestigious groups are now cashing in on the latest wrinkles in the privatization hustle big time?
George Schmidt=