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StaffRobert HeinyGates Among those "Assaulting" Public Education

Gates Among those “Assaulting” Public Education

(Venture Philanthropy) VP not only pushes privatization and deregulation, the most significant policy dictates of neoliberalism1 by championing charter schools, voucher schemes, private scholarship tax credits, and corporate models of curriculum, administration, and teacher preparation and practice, but Venture Philanthropy is also consistent with the steady expansion of neoliberal language and rationales in public education, including the increasing centrality of business terms to describe educational reforms and policies: choice, competition, efficiency, accountability, monopoly, turnaround, and failure.

Kenneth Saltman, Associate Professor, Educational Policy Studies and Research, DePaul University, says that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other philanthropists are assaulting public education with neoliberal political schooling programs. From that view, he offers a critique of venture philanthropy (VP) he says is modeled on venture capital and the investments in the technology boom of the early 1990’s.

Saltman’s critique deserves balance. I have not taken time to prepare or offer it.

In short, it seems puzzling to assert that anyone or any organization is “assaulting” public schooling, an evolving organization. The critique fails to discuss optional ways of increasing student learning, the primary reason schooling exists. Instead, it gives priority to a view of how people use this organization for other purposes. Motivations and definitions exist other than those attributed to philanthropic efforts the writer describes. For example, the term education refers to more than public schooling, historically only one organization of the social institution of education. In short, the critique offers an incomplete historical summary of the uses of philanthropy in public schooling and other human services.

Setting aside the overt political bias, readers will find the article a useful introduction to vocabulary and reasoning in discussions about public schooling. Many public school teacher blogs, including those that use leadership labels, follow similar lines of reasoning.

Perhaps I missed it, but does this critique argue against use of Tablet and other mobile PCs to increase learning in and out of schools?

Saltman, Kenneth. (2009). The Rise of Venture Philanthropy and the Ongoing Neoliberal Assault on Public Education: The Case of the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. Workplace, 16, 53-72.

Robert Heiny
Robert Heinyhttp://www.robertheiny.com
Robert W. Heiny, Ph.D. is a retired professor, social scientist, and business partner with previous academic appointments as a public school classroom teacher, senior faculty, or senior research member, and administrator. Appointments included at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Peabody College and the Kennedy Center now of Vanderbilt University; and Brandeis University. Dr. Heiny also served as Director of the Montana Center on Disabilities. His peer reviewed contributions to education include publication in The Encyclopedia of Education (1971), and in professional journals and conferences. He served s an expert reviewer of proposals to USOE, and on a team that wrote plans for 12 state-wide and multistate special education and preschools programs. He currently writes user guides for educators and learners as well as columns for TuxReports.com.

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