Friday, April 08, 2005

Looking at their motives: Achieve and the Gates Foundation

One of the things that makes covering education policy so dreary is this: unless you know who the playas are, who funds them, and with whom they hold hands, it's too easy to end up being their unwitting tool.

I say this only because that has been me, and in the last couple years, I've gotten much more careful. I find much of education policy rhetoric so incredibly wonderful and positive, full of fantastic plans and goals, and, boy, is it too easy to fall in love. If I see any organization out there spouting amazing and magical solutions, I invariably check them out as thoroughly as I can: Board of Directors, sources of funding, what publications they've put out, what other policy they support (eg does the head of their organization sign PNAC letters along with the rest of the neocons?), so on.

Here's a piece that provides a larger picture regarding two of these organizations you might've heard about: Achieve and the Gates Foundation.

Lots of PR out there regarding their programs, with goals that are just to die for. I get envious, too. I dearly want good public education for all, and these guys sound like they have solutions.

But here's the case where I would caution all to carefully vet your sources that you are citing. PR pieces are designed to sound good. If it sounds too good to be true, it just might be the case.

A while back, many Californians believed the lies of our current politican sitting in the governor's seat, enough so they voted this guy in to power. I never believed the guy but it doesn't make me feel good that more of us now realize what a huge mistake it was to vote for him. I think the reality is that we, as well-meaning humans, want the dreams of a better life. Too bad we get taken in too easily.