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Jeb Bush, Common Core cronie$, Pearson, PARCC, and your kids’ privacy

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By Michelle Malkin  •  March 18, 2015 12:10 AM

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Last week, Jeb Bush was in New Hampshire, pressing on with his sordid campaign to delude conservatives into swallowing Common Core and massive, unfettered immigration policies. He has fashioned himself a champion of the American worker, even as he pompously pushes Gang of Eight amnesty as the “adult” plan in the room. And he has fashioned himself a champion of American parents, students, and “school choice,” even as he zealously crusades for failed Fed Ed rackets and data-mining schemes masquerading as “higher standards.”

(Amnesty and Common Core are two sides of the “same sides of the coin,” in more ways than one.)

The condescending Bush attitude is familiar to grass-roots activists and parents in Florida and across the country who have fought Club Bush and Common Core, Inc.

I’ve reported extensively on Club Bush and the D.C. corporate and Big Government lobbyists who comprise the arrogant Common Core overlords.

In particular, I’d like to refresh your memories about the cozy relationship between Club Bush and Common Core testing/tech conglomerate Pearson. As I reported in September 2013:

Can you spell b-o-o-n-d-o-g-g-l-e? Remember: Bush’s educational foundation, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, is tied at the hip to the federally funded testing consortium called PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), which raked in $186 million through Race to the Top to develop nationalized tests “aligned” to the top-down Common Core program.

One of the Bush foundation’s behemoth corporate sponsors is Pearson, the multi-billion-dollar educational publishing and testing conglomerate. Pearson snagged $23 million in contracts to design the first wave of PARCC test items. The company holds a $250 million contract with Florida to design and publish its state tests. Pearson designed New York’s Common Core-aligned assessments and is also the exclusive contractor for Texas state tests.

And in Los Angeles this summer, Pearson sealed a whopping $30 million taxpayer-subsidized deal to supply the city’s schools with 45,000 iPads pre-loaded with Pearson Common Core curriculum apps. That’s $678 per iPad, $200 more than the standard cost, with scant evidence that any of this shiny edu-tech will do anything to improve the achievement bottom line.

As with all political posers who grab power under the guise of doing it “for the children,” don’t read their lips. Follow the money.

In March 2014, I reported:

In December, you should know, the state of New York determined that Pearson’s nonprofit foundation had abused the law by siphoning charitable assets to benefit its for-profit arm in order to curry favor with the Common Core-peddling Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Pearson paid a $7.7 million settlement after the attorney general concluded that the company’s charitable arm was marketing Common Core course material it believed could be sold by the for-profit side for “tens of millions of dollars.” After being smoked out, the Pearson Foundation sold the courses to its corporate sibling for $15.1 million.

Here are some of the top donors to Bush’s foundation for 2014:

2014 ExcelinEd Donors
Greater than $1,000,000
Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
Walton Family Foundation
$500,001 – $1,000,000
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
GE Foundation
News Corporation
Charles & Helen Schwab Foundation
$250,001 – $500,000
Laura and John Arnold Foundation
Bessemer Trust
Bloomberg Philanthropies
Helios Education Foundation
The Kovner Foundation
The Stiles-Nicholson Foundation
Triad Foundation
$100,001 – $250,000
Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation
Jeb Bush & Associates
Emerson Collective
Jaquelin Hume Foundation Digital Learning Now
$50,001 – $100,000
ACT Aspire LLC National Summit
The Doris & Donald Fisher Fund National Summit
Kern Family Foundation National Summit
Bill and Susan Oberndorf Foundation National Summit
The Paul E. Singer Foundation
$25,001 – $50,000
Bill and Mary Ann Becker
College Board National Summit
Intel Corporation National Summit
William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust Arts for Life
K12 National Summit
McGraw-Hill Education National Summit
Peter G. Peterson
The Perelman Family Foundation Arts for Life
Tampa Bay Host Committee
Target

And 2013:

2013 ExcelinEd Donors
Greater than $1,000,000
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
GE Foundation
Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
$500,001 – $1,000,000
Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation
News Corporation
Walton Family Foundation
$250,001 – $500,000
Laura and John Arnold Foundation
Bloomberg Philanthropies
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Charles & Helen Schwab Foundation
$100,001 – $250,000
Emerson Collective
Kern Family Foundation
The Kovner Foundation
Microsoft National Summit
Anonymous
Anonymous
$50,001 – $100,000
The Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation
Exxon Mobil Corporation National Summit
The Doris & Donald Fisher Fund National Summit
Susan and Bill Oberndorf Foundation National Summit
The Paul E. Singer Foundation
Triad Foundation
R. Ted Weschler
$25,001 – $50,000
R. William Becker
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
The Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt National Summit
Intel Corporation National Summit
K12 National Summit
William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust
Pearson National Summit
Scholastic National Summit
The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation National Summit
William E. Simon Foundation
Target National Summit
Anonymous National Summit
Anonymous
The Perelman Family Foundation Arts for Life
$5,000 – $25,000
Academica Corp. National Summit
Alvarez & Marsal Holdings, LLC National Summit
Bart Broadman
Jeb Bush & Associates
Joseph L. Caruncho Arts for Life
Charter Schools USA National Summit
The Cobb Family Foundation, Inc.
The Gary Chartrand Advised Fund at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida
Edgenuity, Inc. National Summit
ETS National Summit
Finnegan Family Foundation
Jeanne Godwin Arts for Life
Goodnight Education Foundation
Knight Foundation Arts for Life
Kyra InfoTech, Inc. Arts for Life
Morgridge Family Foundation National Summit
PGA Tour Inc.
Publix Super Markets Charities Arts for Life
Raymond James Financial Arts for Life
Renaissance Learning National Summit
Responsive Education Solutions National Summit
Robert and Margaret Rothman Arts for Life
SAS Institute Inc. National Summit
State Farm Insurance National Summit
The Travelers Companies, Inc. National Summit
VSCHOOLZ National Summit
Wells Fargo

And in 2012:

2012 ExcelinEd Donors
Greater than $1,000,000
GE Foundation
$500,001 – $1,000,000
Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Walton Family Foundation
$250,001 – $500,000
Robertson Foundation
Charles & Helen Schwab Foundation
$100,001 – $250,000
Emerson Collective
Carnegie Corporation of New York
The Kovner Foundation
Anonymous
Anonymous
$50,001 – $100,000
The Doris & Donald Fisher Fund National Summit
Kern Family Foundation
Morris County Chamber of Commerce
Susan and Bill Oberndorf Foundation
Pearson National Summit
The Paul E. Singer Foundation
Target National Summit
Anonymous National Summit
$25,001 – $50,000
R. William Becker
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
The Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation
The Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation
Intel Corporation National Summit
K12 National Summit
George Kaiser Family Foundation National Summit
McGraw-Hill Companies National Summit
The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation National Summit
Scholastic National Summit
William E. Simon Foundation
Anonymous National Summit
$5,000 – $25,000
Academica Corp. National Summit
Alvarez & Marsal Holdings, LLC National Summit
Apex Learning National Summit
Jeb Bush & Associates
Charter Schools USA National Summit
The Cobb Family Foundation, Inc.
Connections Education National Summit
Edgenuity, Inc. National Summit
ETS National Summit
Finnegan Family Foundation
Don Gaetz
Garner Foundation
Goodnight Educational Foundation
Kenneth Hirsh
Kathy and Al Hubbard
Jackson Healthcare LLC
Dr. Arthur and Belinda Keiser Arts for Life
William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust Arts for Life
Kyra InfoTech, Inc. Arts for Life
Morgridge Family Foundation National Summit
Publix Super Markets Charities Arts for Life
Raymond James Financial Arts for Life
Robert and Margaret Rothman Arts for Life
SAS Institute Inc. National Summit
SMART Technologies National Summit
State Farm Insurance National Summit
Wal-Mart Foundation
World Affairs Council of Philadelphia
Wells Fargo Arts for Life
Anonymous
Anonymous Arts for Life
Anonymous Arts for Life
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous Arts for Life
Anonymous Arts for Life

FEE staff played a direct role in crafting legislation in Florida that would benefit donor Pearson:

FEE staff sought legislation that would count the state test, known as FCAT, as more than 50% of the state’s school accountability measure. FEE staffer Patricia Levesque wrote to a state official that she had negotiated the related language with state legislators, who were now “asking for the following, which the Foundation completely supports: FCAT shall be ‘at least 50%, but no more than 60%’ of a high school’s grade.” Pearson, the company that holds the $250 million FCAT contract and sponsors FEE through its foundation, has an obvious financial stake in ensuring that FCAT continues to be at the center of Florida’s education system.

And FEE staff volunteered to help draft an executive order backed by Pearson to expand cyberschooling:

As the Portland Press-Herald has reported, the e-mails were evidence of “a partnership formed between Maine’s top education official and a foundation entangled with the very companies that stand to make millions of dollars from the policies it advocates.”

FEE Deputy Director Deirdre Finn wrote, “We can definitely help develop an executive order,” referring to what became a February 2012 executive order by Gov. LePage directing his education commissioner to develop a plan to open the door to more cyber-schooling in Maine. The elements of the order originated with the Digital Learning Council, a group co-chaired by Bush and funded by FEE donors K12 Inc, the Pearson Foundation and McGraw-Hill.

Related from the vigilant Dr. Susan Berry: Jeb Bush’s Education Reform Empire

Additionally, Bush has joined with former president of the pro-Common Core Fordham Institute Chester Finn and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Conservatives for Higher Standards, a group that promotes the Common Core standards but whose supporters still call themselves “conservatives.” Among the organization’s supporters are Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), soon-to-be head of the Senate committee that oversees education; former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R); former U.S. Secretary of Education Bill Bennett; Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R); Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R); former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R); and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R).

The Fordham Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Bush’s national organization have all been awarded grants by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the primary private backer of the Common Core standards.

In 2013, Bush’s FEE itself received $3,500,000 from the Gates Foundation. Two million dollars of that was awarded to FEE “to support Common Core implementation,” and $1.5 million was “for general operating support.”

In 2012, FEE received $151,068 from Gates, essentially for PR funding “to complete a statewide communications campaign in Florida delivering the message on why there is a drop in school grades, why it is temporary, and how raising the bar on education standards leads to greater student success.”

The year before saw a $1 million grant from Gates, once again “for general operating support,” and in 2010, FEE was awarded $501,485 “to launch the Digital Learning Council in an effort to bring digital learning to every school, every classroom, and every child.”

In addition to the Gates Foundation, FEE’s donor list includes names not unfamiliar to critics of the Common Core standards: the GE Foundation, the Helmsley Charitable Trust, News Corp, the Walton Family Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carnegie Corporation, the Schwab Foundation, Microsoft, Exxon Mobil, Paul Singer Foundation, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Intel, K12, Pearson, Scholastic, and Target.

Book publishers such as Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, K12, and Scholastic are all poised to reap billions off the sale of Common Core-aligned textbooks and instructional materials that school districts are forced to purchase if they want their students to succeed on the Common Core-aligned assessments. Similarly, technology companies will benefit from the online assessments and student data collection.

As the Tampa Bay Times reported in May, the potential market for textbooks and instructional materials required for Common Core is as much as $8 billion, according to the Fordham Institute.

FEE’s board of directors includes Joel Klein, former New York City schools chancellor, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Klein is now the CEO of Amplify, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

In January of 2013, In the Public Interest, a project of labor advocacy group The Partnership for Working Families, published a press release in which it revealed emails between FEE and state education officials. The release stated the emails – all available for viewing and obtained through public records requests – demonstrate FEE was “writing state education laws and regulations in ways that could benefit its corporate funders.”

I reported further on the Pearson/iPad fiasco in September 2013:

The Los Angeles Unified School District school board shoveled $30 million to Pearson for the leaky iPads, but nobody foresaw this glaring security weakness. Where’s the fiscal accountability? Where’s the adult responsibility?

Remember: These “reform” programs are not about stimulating brain cells. It’s all about stimulating the Benjamins. Pearson is the multibillion-dollar educational publishing and testing conglomerate at the center of the federally driven, taxpayer-funded “standards” racket. For Pearson, ed publishing and ed computing are a $6 billion global business. For nearly a decade, the company has plotted a digital learning takeover. According to industry estimates, Pearson’s digital learning products are used by more than 25 million people in North America. Common Core has been a convenient new catalyst for getting the next generation of consumers hooked.

As I reported last week, Pearson sealed its whopping $30 million taxpayer-subsidized deal to supply the city’s schools with 45,000 iPads pre-loaded with Pearson Common Core curriculum apps earlier this summer. I repeat: That works out to $678 per glorified e-textbook, $200 more than the standard cost, with scant evidence that any of this software and hardware will do anything to improve the achievement bottom line.

The abysmal history of federal investments in ed technology is as crystal-clear as an HD touch screen. Take President Obama’s $49 million technology initiative for the Detroit public schools, funded by federal stimulus money. The city is bankrupt. The urban school system is overrun by corruption, violence and incompetence. The federal ed tech program showered some 40,000 new (foreign-made) ASUS netbook computers on Detroit, plus thousands of printers, scanners and desktop computers to teachers and kids from early childhood through 12th grade.

The district budget is $300 million in the hole. Meanwhile, the board slashed special education buses and shut down 70 schools. Have the devices helped students “compete in a global marketplace,” as champions of the program promised? SAT scores in Detroit remain “stagnant.” High school graduation rates are rock-bottom. According to the most recent data, just 3 percent of Detroit fourth-graders are proficient in math; 6 percent are proficient in reading. In 2010, 11 people were charged in connection with a lucrative fencing scheme involving hundreds of DPS computers, which they stole and sold on eBay or peddled to friends and family.

Nothing has changed. As I’ve reported previously, in both urban and rural school districts, large and small, these technology infusions have turned out to be gesture-driven boondoggles and political payoffs that squander precious educational resources — with few, if any, measurable academic benefits. The Obama administration plans to dig even deeper into the FedEdTech hole through a furtive $5 billion “fee” on cellphone users for “ConnectEd” — another progressive, FedEd boondoggle to subsidize high-speed Internet installation throughout the U.S.

Like districts across the country, Detroit and Los Angeles are infatuated with fancy electronic devices, glossy new textbooks and DVDs “aligned” to top-down Common Core “standards, and other whiz-bang gadgetry to stimulate “21st century learning.” Education’s Shiny Toy Syndrome is the result of a toxic alliance between big government and big business. In the words of Robert Small, the Maryland dad who was arrested last week for daring to raise questions about Common Core: “Parents, you need to question these people. … Don’t stand for this!”

The LAUSD superintendent John Deasy resigned over the scandal and the FBI is now investigating.

When parents like me and Glenn Beck started questioning the Common Core-aligned data-mining regime years ago, we were sneered at and labeled conspiracy kooks by the likes of Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, and other Common Core peddlers backed by Bill Gates and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Jeb Bush smugly wrote in National Review in August 2013:

Contrary to what Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck tell you, higher standards won’t harm parental choice, indoctrinate our children with a secret liberal agenda, or infringe on the privacy of student data.

While his lips were moving, the systematic data-mining, privacy-infringing, top-down te$$$ting racket rolled on. And it took a massive, grass-roots efforts by diverse activists on the left, right, and center to call Club Bush’s bluff and slow the gravy train.

Refreshers:

Rejecting Jeb Bush’s Fed Ed racket: Florida turns against Common Core

Big news in fight against Common Core: InBloom-peddling Jefferson County CO superintendent resigns tonight; school board severs ties with inBloom

Choose to refuse: Say NO to PARCC/SBAC testing

Rotten to the Core: Conservatives spearhead drive at RNC meeting to stop Common Core

Time To Opt Out of Creepy Fed Ed Data-Mining Racket

Rotten to the Core: The Feds’ Invasive Student Tracking Database

More parents stand up to educrats, face no-trespass and gag orders

Who’s tracking your children?

Why parents are “paranoid” about Common Core

Look who’s data-mining your toddlers

Common Core and the EduTech abyss

Now, in the latest Pearson-tied outrage, Jeb Bush’s crony corporate donor (in cahoots with the New Jersey Department of Education) has been caught spying on students who tweet about the PARCC tests and squelching their free speech. And even the outlets that used to be very, very quiet about Common Core because of their conflict of interest have been forced to cover the controversy:

Officials at Pearson did not explain how they are monitoring student activity, but it is believed that they are conducting key word searches for any mention of the PARCC tests on sites like Facebook and Twitter. The company has acknowledged the monitoring, saying, “We believe that a secure test maintains fairness for every student and the validity and integrity of the test results.”

The posting of Jewett’s letter has raised concerns among those in the Garden State.

“Twitter is a public forum but the problem here is that you have a large, multinational corporation and a state agency seeking out the bad guys and punishing them,” Braun told FoxNews.com. “This is a $108 million dollar contract and the state is turning the power over to Pearson.

“I want to know how they were able to connect a tweet with a kid at a certain district. Pearson was able to track the student down. I’m not able to do that,” Braun said.

Oh, hey. Let’s rewind that Jeb Bush tape again, shall we:

Contrary to what Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck tell you, higher standards won’t harm parental choice, indoctrinate our children with a secret liberal agenda, or infringe on the privacy of student data.

With “friends” like Jeb Bush, who needs leftist progressives to screw over American workers, parents, and students?

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