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Gates Gives 15 States an Edge in Race to the Top

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In the $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund competition, 15 states are getting an important, early boost courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The foundation has hand-picked these states to receive up to $250,000 each to hire consultants to help them fill out their applications. (McKinsey & Co. and The Bridgespan Group are two examples of consulting firms states are considering.)

The 15 states are: Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.

These states represent either those in which Gates is already invested—or that the foundation thinks are on the right path to reform. Word about Gates' involvement in Race to the Top has been simmering for weeks now—and it's not secret to states getting the money—but the Foundation still isn't saying anything official.

Given how complex and lengthy the Race to the Top application process is, and how many different criteria states need to address, many will likely struggle to get everything done in time for Phase 1. (Applications will be due before the end of the year.) So having some high-powered consultants to help could make a big difference.

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Or, give an unfair advantage to states favored by a private foundation. If these states are awarded grants, the other 35 states and the District of Columbia should DEMAND a full congressional investigation and Arnie Duncan's head on a platter!!!

$250K isn't going to make a huge difference in any state that doesn't already have their feet moving in the right direction, especially not at the rates McKinsey and Bridgespan can garner. They will provide some advise and guidance, but real help in planning would require much more time and much more money.

What Gates is doing is called "leveraged philanthropy". He uses his "gifts" to get control of vast pools of public funds, which he has already arranged to distribute to his edubusiness co-conspirators through the leveraged political control of education in the selected states

“We’re not just looking for a plan but a commitment, … what you are doing now,” Mr. Duncan said. “This is not about the hypothetical. You must demonstrate to us your plans, ideas, and capacity to deliver on this.”

Who is this "us" that Duncan so arrogantly puts above actual educators, elected representatives, and communities? What is it we have to deliver to them?

Bill Gates and billionaire Democratic "donor" Eli Broad have dedicated their lives to the endless expansion of their own wealth and domination, not to justice for the low-income children they are now hiding behind. They have explicitly put their own "hand-picked" corporate raiders in charge of urban schools and districts, and now of the federal Department of Education.

So now, when they say "jump", the only conversation left for the disempowered state educational leadership is, "How high?"

I have been a grant-writer, and a good one. Based on that experience I can tell you that you cannot make a silk purse from a sow's ear. Most competitive grants (even such a tremendously huge one as Race to the Top) are looking for some reasonable indications that there is an ability on the part of the grantee to carry out what they are asking the funder to help them do. It helps to have a well-organized set of writers and compilers to make the case, but in the end, there has to be some history, some track record, some evidence available to indicate that your organization is a good risk. I have seen some pretty expensive endeavors in pulling together last minute "collaborations" in order to go after some available pot of money. I haven't seen them work well.

I feel so sorry for my friends in the US. In Canada, not only do we have universal health care because we believe it isn't any one's "fault" if they get sick and we don't allow drug or insurance companies to profit by our illnesses, we do not have to apply for grants to get the $ needed to educate our children. We believe that education is a universal right so we just "get" the $. And finally, a poorer performing school up here gets MORE $ to improve to be used for resources and teacher release time. Of course, some dimwit conservative politician might mess us up but we have Fullan & Leithwood so I feel pretty good about our education system.

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