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In this comment, posted not long ago, reader Laura H. Chapman describes the Ohio view of education as workforce preparation. The pioneers of education had nobler goals. Above all, they considered the purpose of education to be preparation for citizenship in our emerging democracy. That meant literacy and numeracy but also character development with the hope of cultivating a commitment to democratic values and a readiness to participate in improving society on behalf of the community, not just oneself.
A resident of Ohio, Chapman describes the state’s narrow, utilitarian view of the goals of education. She notes that this goal was announced without any public discussion.
Several days ago, she wrote:
Today March 30, 2019, several Ohio newspapers had variations on the same announcement of a new non-profit headed by Lisa Gray, a long standing point person for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gray is now the “founder” of Ohio Excels, a corporate-led non-profit intent of making evidence of job preparation the priority for all high school graduates . The mission statement also includes educational choice, a policy perfectly consistent with the view that early apprenticeships and career prep from preschool are the singularly important missions of Ohio’s public schools.
This set of policy and practice priorities, comes to us hard on after the State Board of Education published Each Child, Our Future. Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education: 2019-2024 in June 2018. That plan also included a strong emphasis on workplace skills and early career education, notably with Lisa Gray participating in a “workgroup” on “ High School Success and Postsecondary Connections ” led by LEAH MOSCHELLA from JOBS FOR THE FUTURE (JFF) where Moschella is a senior program manager for the Pathways to Prosperity Network, a collaboration between the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
I judge that plan 2018 Ohio plan (a conceptual mishmash) left too many CEOs unhappy, so Ohio Excels will be putting a new plan is in place–one that is an offshoot of Jobs for the Future (JFF) and the Pathways to Prosperity Network.
I looked at the board of Ohio Excels and see lots of CEOs, many from activist positions in metro area business committees and civic and cultural groups. One is also on the board of Hillsdale College–a radical right school. I recognize another as a major supporter of the arts. Another was leading an initiative instigated by the MindTrust in Indianapolis, seeking more charter schools in Cincinnati with the usual patter about needing more “high quality seats.”
I am still unravelling the connections among all of these outfits, but so far I have discovered that JFF has received 35 grants for a total of about $122.5 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation dating from 2002. Early grants pushed the Common Core with “college and career” readiness, beginning in earnest in grade 9.
The Pathways to Prosperity Network has been funded within each member state (e.g., annual participation fee for California, $500,000) in addition to funds from the Carnegie Corporation of New York $450,000, the James Irvine Foundation (about $12 million, most in California), the Noyce Foundation (before it closed in 2015), and SAP an international Software company.
Jobs for the Future,appears to be inseparable from the Pathways to Prosperity Network. JFF has 18 projects in Ohio. All of these are designed to make Ohio education serve corporate interests. I have not yet done research on each of these projects.
Pathways to Prosperity Network (a project and all host to other efforts);
Center for Apprenticeship & Work-Based Learning;
Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative;
Postsecondary State Network;
Student Success Center Network;
Nudging to STEM Success;
Improved Reentry Education;
Jobs to Careers;
Counseling to Careers;
Middle-Skill STEM Pathways Initiative;
New Skills at Work;
Digital Career Accelerator;
Great Lakes College and Career Pathways Partnership;
Lumina Foundation Talent Hubs;
Google IT Support Professional Certificate;
Policy Leadership Trust, and the big surprise:
“Pay for Success in K–12 Education” wherein venture capitalists overtly hope to make money from turning K-12 education into a financial product with little or no public voice and oversight.
Jobs for the Future has “partners.” These are
Salesforce.org (cloud computing, artificial Intelligence),
Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) Foundation,
The James Irvine Foundation,
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation,
Social Finance (Pay for Success contracts), and yes–
US Department of LABOR and US Department of EDUCATION.
This national network of interlocking programs, foundations, and corporate groups has an agenda far removed from vocational eduction.
Ohio Excels, the new Ohio non-profit to be led by Lisa Gray has three staff and a policy agenda for public education that has not been shaped by public discussion. Our students are to part of the “talent pipeline” that CEOs say they want. Never mind what the life of our students may offer or require beyond getting a job and getting ready for a job beginning in Kindergarten. I hope to offer more detail about “Ohio Excels,” Jobs for the Future, and Pathways to Prosperity in another post.