Of course Obama heads the list. Without him giving the green light to all of this, the mess would never have happened.
1. Barack Obama. Sad as I am to acknowledge it, rather than putting political energy into overturning NCLB, President Obama has maintained policies and funding for a modified but virulent NCLB/RttT. He has continued to appoint corporate-privatization advocates to education positions while he preserves his own image as a moderate by remaining euphemistically general on education policy. Until his ownership of these policies is confronted head on, and he is compelled to publicly respond, I fear he will continue to be a source of education's worst problems.
2. Arne Duncan, Sec. of USDOE. Duncan is directly responsible for forcing states to participate in an extortion scheme that withholds federal money from states that do not adopt high stakes testing attached to common core and to invalid, punitive teacher evaluations. He implements while ridiculing as silly, ignorant or fringe those who question his policies.
3. Bill and Melinda Gates, wealthy social engineers , have provided the money to push privatization as popular, best practice, and necessary, to the tune of at least $168 million, seeding money at: NPB, USDOE, both major unions, private media companies, state Depts. of Ed., and even stealth grants in the public schools themselves. Bill Gates has openly said his goal is deep profits and irritating public school teachers.
4. David Coleman, writer of the common core curriculum and lobbyist for its passage through the state governors. Now head of College Boards and helping bring profits, more testing, and standardization to the attack on higher education.
5. Eli Broad, wealthy social engineer, through his leadership training has created a generation of administrators and superintendents who are true believers in standards, a leadership force that views teachers as factory line workers who are to be managed and discarded. He also contributes substantially to many of the more visible reform programs to the level of $370 million.
6. David Van Roekel & Randi Weingarten, Union Presidents. The national leadership of both major unions have abandoned their primary missions and responsibilities to advocate for and defend teachers and schools. Were it not for grassroots movements, their open support for the privatization-reformist agenda, especially common core, has almost enabled the destructors to kill public schools and the unions with minimal resistance. Under their leadership both national offices accepted major reformist grants to convince members of the efficacy of common core and data collection.
7. Lindsay Russell, the director of ALEC's Education task force. ALEC has created the state by state legislation to implement an all out attack, against the schools, including teacher salaries, evaluation and due process, school takeovers, and mandatory privatization of poor schools. Their laws now permeate the statutes of many states.
8. Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, who sees the best teachers as those who embody youthful, Ralph Lauren style. Her sales pitch that her summer-trained golden work-force can bring upper class skills and values to inner city and rural poor students has resulted in an entire industry of private entrepreneurs. TFA, as a non-profit runs a budget of $244 million. Her managers continue to push.
9. Doug Kubach, chief executive of Pearson’s Assessment & Instruction group in North America. His job includes K-12 instructional resources, learning assessment, state and national testing, teacher licensure testing, clinical and talent assessment and early childhood programmes. He joined Pearson’s education business in 2000 as senior vice president strategy and chief technology officer for North America, and became head of Pearson’s US assessment. Pearson currently monopolizes or dominates the markets in K-12 for attendance and grading software, student high stakes tests, including scoring, data collection, and processing. They also dominate markets in test prep materials, textbooks, remediation and other instructional materials, as well as GED, Special Ed and other special populations testing and data collection. Their materials are centered around Common Core standards and teachers as collectors of the data which Pearson will process, maintain and redistribute for profit. They are currently poised for major moves in the college and digital market. Even with a 5.9% drop in profits, their 2013 North America profits were $1.26 billion.
10. The Governors of the states. For governors reform and privatization provided the almost perfect combination of promising voters great things while relieving actual responsibility. It also provided a great possibility for campaign contributions from wealthy reformers. Many saw school reform as the launch pad for their next level up the career ladder and sold the education of the states' children for what they hoped would be a highly popular easy fix. Only a few have made any effort to reframe their mistake and most continue to look for ways to punish teachers and offload the management of schools.
There are, of course, many other individual regional, corporate, and institutional enemies of the schools.
Democracy and its institutions are clearly on the ropes.