Posts Tagged ‘Bill Gates’

PSAT for 6-4-13: Dump inBloom in Illinois!

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

psat_logoToday I’m sharing an action alert from Stop Common Core Illinois as a follow-up to yesterday’s blog:

ACTION ALERT: Let’s dump inBloom student data collection in Illinois!

Posted on June 3, 2013 by

Ok Illinois we’re not being loud enough! We are one of only THREE states not dumping InBloom!

Today call The ISBE at (217) 557-6763!

Listen friends we can talk about CC and data tracking, but unless we fight we won’t rid our state of this! You, yes YOU have to pick up the phone and call! Don’t expect everyone else to do it. 

If you don’t want your child tracked with InBloom then call!! TODAY!

Use their contact form:

Page three of this document has your local regional office:

Go to their FB page:

Go to the boards next meeting:
(it’s in Naperville!)

Tweet them:

Again don’t just sit on this! Call, write, tweet, and MAKE SOME NOISE! Tell them we want out of InBloom!!!

Christopher Koch got our state in Common Core and the data tracking with RTTT…let him know what you think! (Call one of these numbers and ask for him…it’s the main office number: 866/262-6663 • 217/782-4321)

Here’s a list of the board members:

Illinois still in student data mining program

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

spybloomYesterday the Tribune printed a Reuters story about the InBloom  (formerly Wireless Generation) program funded by Bill Gates that is currently collecting student confidential records it plans to share with private software companies. InBloom says it cannot guarantee the safety of this data.

The story reported that several states or districts which InBloom claimed were part of “Phase 1” of their project have either disavowed any involvement or pulled out.

The only remaining inBloom clients at this point are Illinois, Colorado and New York. Currently only Bloomington and Normal school districts are involved in our state, but Illinois plans to add Chicago and 34 other districts in 2014.

I’ve written about this before, and tip my hat to the tireless work of my PAA colleague Leonie Haimson to expose this enormous threat to family privacy. I’ll share more on this tomorrow for Public Schools Action Tuesday, but meanwhile, here’s the letter I just sent to the Tribune:

Thank you for publishing the excellent Stephanie Simon piece about states choosing not to share confidential student and teacher data with the Gates-funded corporation called inBloom Inc. Most parents are unaware of this threatened encroachment on family privacy which is already underway in the Bloomington and Normal school district and is slated to start in the Chicago Public Schools and 34 other districts in January 2014.

The confidential data being collected by InBloom includes children’s personally identifiable information such as name, address, grades, test scores, detailed disciplinary and health records, race, ethnicity, economic status, disabilities and other highly sensitive information. It is being collected into an electronic “data store” with an operating system built by Wireless Generation, a subsidiary of News Corporation, a company owned by Rupert Murdoch which has been found to have illegally violated privacy in Great Britain and in the US. The “data store” will be placed on a vulnerable data cloud managed by InBloom Inc. has already stated that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored…or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.” InBloom Inc. intends to make all this highly confidential data available to commercial vendors to help them develop and market their “learning products.”

All of this is happening without parental knowledge or consent, and is encouraged by federal privacy rule changes made last year by Education Secretary Arne Duncan. As Simon's report points out, several states have reconsidered their earlier agreements to join this questionable program.

Illinois should do the same.

Julie Woestehoff

Executive Director

Parents United for Responsible Education

Chicago, IL


Warning to Chicago about threat to student privacy

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Telescope 2From NYC’s Leonie Haimson:

Dear Karen Lewis and other Chicago friends and allies (among the SOS folks):

Thank you for fighting so valiantly to preserve public education in Chicago.  We are all with you in spirit.

I wanted to alert you to yet another real threat to your schools.

Yesterday, Stephanie Simon of Reuters revealed that at least four states have pulled out of the data mining Gates-funded operation called inBloom Inc., because of privacy concerns and protests from parents, and several others are reconsidering.  Only three states remain currently involved, NY, CO and IL.

Yet she also revealed that Illinois plans to expand inBloom data sharing and data mining to 35 districts serving half a million students starting in 2015.

Here is the list of these “RTT” districts, which includes the Chicago public schools (D 299).

inBloom violates teacher privacy as well as student privacy; see Anthony Cody about how:

Will the Data Warehouse Become Every Student and Teacher’s “Permanent Record”?

Anthony doesn’t mention one of the biggest threats – the ultimate goal is to replace teachers with software programs and increase class size to huge levels as you can see in the inBloom promotional video.

inBloom is collecting more than 400 data points – and some of the most sensitive information one can possibly imagine.  We got a list straight off the inBloom website. An excerpt with some of the most troubling data can be downloaded here, as a pdf. And the longer version can be downloaded here: full data elements.

Even if one believes in the efficacy of online learning, data clouds are notoriously vulnerable, and inBloom has stated that it will not be responsible if the data breaches in storage or transmission.  Please be aware of this huge threat to your children’s privacy and safety as well as that of teachers.

If you’d like more information on inBloom and their goal to commercialize student data and provide it to as many for-profit vendors as possible, you can check out my inBloom page here, with links to (now many) news articles, documents etc.

PSAT for 10-30-12: Boycott Amazon?

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

I try to use the first PSAT of the month (when I remember) to identify some of the worst enemies of public education for us to boycott. So far, I’ve gleefully picked on Bill Gates, Penny Pritzker, Bruce Rauner and Walmart, and generally followed my own advice. I’m doing November’s entry a week early to highlight a ballot proposition in Washington state that will be decided next Tuesday.

And this time I have to pick on Amazon, a tough one for me since I am a persistent Amazon shopper (like, yesterday, for example). They just make it it so darn easy…

But pick on Amazon I must, in special solidarity with the citizens of Washington State and especially my great Parents Across America friend Dora Taylor who writes the wonderful blog

Why? Well, despite the fact that the folks out there in Washington, Bill Gates’ own neighbors, have repeatedly rejected the establishment of charter schools in their state, Bill and his know-nothing-about-education pals keep trying, and this year they have ponied up nearly $10 million to push ballot initiative 1240, allowing up to 40 charter schools in Washington

Dora posted an analysis of the initiative by local education expert Dr. Wayne Au, who points out that charter schools are undemocratic, take funds away from struggling public school districts, and – contrary to assertions in the initiative’s language  – are not better than traditional schools.

Dr. Au lays out the numbers:

The Yes On 1240 Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools has received $9,132,994.26 in donations. $6.7 million, or roughly 73% of that comes from 5 donors:

  1. Bill Gates – $3,000,000;
  2. Alice Walton (heiress daughter of Walmart founder, Sam Walton) – $1,700,000;
  3. Nicolas Hanauer  (venture capitalist, early investor in – $1,000,000;
  4. Mike Bezos (father of founder Jeff Bezos) – $500,000;
  5. Jackie Bezos (mother of founder Jeff Bezos) – $500,000;

A total of $8.85 million, or just under 97% of the campaign is being funded by 19 donors, most of them being millionaires or billionaires, and some of them out-of-state.

So, I suppose that since Amazon’s Jeff Bezos himself is not a donor – just his parents, and maybe they don’t get along, right? – I could give Amazon a pass. And Christmas is coming – that next-day delivery is pretty sweet…Still, I will thing twice and I think you should too.

Meanwhile, check out some of these other donors to the Washington state charter push:

  1. Connie Ballmer (wife of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer) – $500,000;
  2. Anne Dinning (managing director of hedge fund giant, D.E. Shaw Investments) – $250,000;
  3. Michael Wolf (Yahoo! Inc. board of directors) – $250,000;
  4. Katherine Binder (EMFCO Holdings Chairwoman) – $200,000;
  5. Eli Broad (real estate mogul, Broad Foundation) – $200,000;
  6. Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder) – $100,000;
  7. Doris Fisher (Gap co-founder) – $100,000;
  8. Reed Hastings (CEO of Netflix) – $100,000;
  9. Gabe Newell (formerly of Microsoft, co-founder of video game developer Valve Corporation) – $100,000;
  10. Benjamin Slivka (former Microsoft, co-founder DreamBox Learning) – $100,000;
  11. Microsoft – $100,000;
  12. Bruce McCaw (co-founder of McCaw Cellular, now known as Cingular Wireless) – $50,000;
  13. Jolene McCaw (wife of Bruce McCaw, both of the Apex Foundation) – $50,000;
  14. Education Reform Now Advocacy (a wing of the Democrats for Education Reform) – $50,000;

Well, I’m already good on Yahoo, the Gap, and Valve video games….

And you can join forces against Bill and the Waltons by donating to the anti-1240 campaign here. I just did.


Education’s 1% – how vulture philanthropists dictate school policy

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

A day or so ago, I re-read Joanne Barkan’s excellent article, “Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools.” about the Bill Gates-Eli Broad-Walton family oligarchy that is dictating much of public school policy these days, and I was struck by her final paragraph, which hadn’t jumped out the first time I read it (before Occupy Wall Street happened!):

“All children should have access to a good public school. And public schools should be run by officials who answer to the voters. Gates, Broad, and Walton answer to no one. Tax payers still fund more than 99 percent of the cost of K–12 education. Private foundations should not be setting public policy for them. Private money should not be producing what amounts to false advertising for a faulty product. The imperious overreaching of the Big Three undermines democracy just as surely as it damages public education.”

It’s kinda creepy, isn’t it? So perfect.

Here’s how Joanne’s article starts out, to put it in context (but read the whole thing you haven’t already, or read it again – you’ll find something new as I did!):

THE COST of K–12 public schooling in the United States comes to well over $500 billion per year. So, how much influence could anyone in the private sector exert by controlling just a few billion dollars of that immense sum? Decisive influence, it turns out. A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels. In the domain of venture philanthropy—where donors decide what social transformation they want to engineer and then design and fund projects to implement their vision—investing in education yields great bang for the buck.

Hundreds of private philanthropies together spend almost $4 billion annually to support or transform K–12 education, most of it directed to schools that serve low-income children (only religious organizations receive more money). But three funders—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad (rhymes with road) Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation—working in sync, command the field. Whatever nuances differentiate the motivations of the Big Three, their market-based goals for overhauling public education coincide: choice, competition, deregulation, accountability, and data-based decision-making. And they fund the same vehicles to achieve their goals: charter schools, high-stakes standardized testing for students, merit pay for teachers whose students improve their test scores, firing teachers and closing schools when scores don’t rise adequately, and longitudinal data collection on the performance of every student and teacher. Other foundations—Ford, Hewlett, Annenberg, Milken, to name just a few—often join in funding one project or another, but the education reform movement’s success so far has depended on the size and clout of the Gates-Broad-Walton triumvirate.

PSAT for 1-17-12: Time to put pressure where it hurts

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

For the past few years I’ve been trying pretty much single-handedly to goad people into a boycott of Microsoft, WalMart, and other corporations behind the attack on public education. Three years ago, I publicly vowed to stop using the Microsoft operating system, and I did. The bottom point under Take Action on the right hand side of this site urging the boycott has been there for at least a year.

So far, Microsoft and WalMart seem to be doing pretty well without me.

Boycotts are tough. Maybe impossible on this scale.

So, more recently, I’ve been zeroing in on a related idea that may be a more effective, easier way to challenge the power of what Diane Ravitch calls the Billionaire Boys Club.

Sticking those school reform vultures right in their corporate image. It’s their Achilles heel. 

A business’s corporate image  is its overall reputation, the way its activities, products or services are perceived by their customers, shareholders, the financial community, and the general public. Corporations want the public to believe that they are good citizens. The resources companies budget for charitable activities are considered a good and even necessary investment. They know that consumers often consider the environmental and social image of firms in making their purchasing decisions. So, one of the key components of any marketing strategy is controlling the corporation’s image, its message and the fragile corporate personality that keeps its ideal customers choosing you.

The key word here is fragile, as in this warning from a marketing blogger:

Corporate image can be quite fragile. It requires constant maintenance, and any threat against it should be dealt with as swiftly as possible. Because people have a tendency to remember the bad more vividly than the good, destroying a reputation is far easier than repairing it.

Fragile. Yes, I like the sound of that.

Another expert writes:

In the past, marketing departments and corporate communication departments kept these messages very controlled. Now, blogging, tweeting and wikipedia entries and independent review sites can derail your positioning before you’ve had the first cup of coffee.

Going back to the quote from Paul D’Amato about speaking truth to power in my blog yesterday – “The problem is that power already knows the truth, they just don’t care because they’re power” – yes, they have power, and no, they don’t care about the truth, but they do care about their FRAGILE corporate image.

That’s where we have to attack them.

Of course, we can choose a target and picket, like PURE did years ago with Walgreen’s when they spent money to defeat the Fair School Funding amendment in Illinois. We complained that Walgreen’s wanted us to buy our children’s school supplies from them but didn’t want to pay their fair share for education. We actually got the schools open with that action. The old GEM coalition went after Walgreen’s and McDonald’s in 2009 to protest their support for Renaissance 2010, and got some good publicity.

But even without picketing, we can begin to chip away at that fragile corporate image. We can blog and tweet about the people and corporations behind the attack on public education. Groups like PURE and PAA can also coordinate letters to various corporations implicated in the attack, and collect and disseminate the reality behind the corporate image – and the personal image – of those who are hurting public education and our children. I’m talking about Bill Gates’ image as a great, big-hearted do-gooder. I’m talking about Penny Pritzker’s image as a pillar of the community and Friend of Barack. I’m talking about the others behind the attack – United Way. Eli Broad. Robin Steans. BP. Ford. Hewlett. Philip Anschutz. The Koch brothers. Searle Freedom Trust. It goes on and on.

So, for Public Schools Action Tuesday for today, why not go to the I Hate Microsoft Facebook page and post something you know about Bill Gates’ attack on public education (I just did).

More to come.

Rahm continues to lie about charter schools

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

I’m beginning to think that our Mayor, the child of a family of geniuses, may not be the sharpest knife in the Emanuel’s kitchen drawer.

Case in point. Despite having been schooled by a group of high school students after making wildly inaccurate statements during the mayoral campaign about how great charter schools are vs traditional CPS high schools, and despite having the Sun-Times run a sidebar headlined “Emanuel’s charter stats don’t add up,” the Mayor continues to “misstate” the truth about charters.

Yesterday, City Hall issued an announcement about a new deal between Chicago and the Gates Foundation to provide even more money for charter schools under the guise of “sharing best practices.” The rationale, according to the press release, is that “more than 100 charter schools already provide quality education in Chicago’s underserved communities that otherwise have limited options.’’

Yet, just a few days ago, the state of Illinois reported data showing “wildly mixed results” in Chicago charter school achievement. Even the rabidly pro-charter school Chicago Tribune reported that “New data suggests many charter schools in Chicago are performing no better than traditional neighborhood schools, and some are doing worse.”

There are only 110 charter schools in Chicago (actually, officially only 71). So, given the data from the state, how can there be “more than 100” charter schools providing a quality education in Chicago’s underserved communities???

They mayor is lying.

The Sun-Times reported on this lie, and quoted me calling it a lie, along with this statement: “I believe that ‘sharing’ best practices is just a cover for getting more money for charters.’’

Charter schools wouldn’t exist at all if it weren’t for the warm and fuzzy sales pitch that they would bring great ideas and innovation to public education in exchange for freedom from district rules. That just hasn’t happened. And it’s not likely to happen under yet another misguided and poorly-thought-out Gates Foundation boondoggle.

Support PURE!
About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.