Current Reading

This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

I'm currently reading The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies by Polish philosopher Ryszard Legutko.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Policy Patrons

I'm almost done with Policy Patrons.  My main take-aways are:
1) The Gates and Broad Foundations are aggressive in pushing grantees to do what Gates and Broad staff believe is the best practice, while the Ford and Kellogg Foundations want to hear the best ideas that prospective grantees have to offer, and then decide what to fund.

2) Gates and Broad have not been afraid to push on public policy.  They don't want to just fund schools to do something, they want to fund test cases and then see the results influence public policy.

3) Common Core is a Gates initiative that was starting up before Obama took office, involved Governors back when Obama was just a Senator, and then the Obama Administration's Department of Education got stuffed to the gills with former Gates staffers or grantees.  Obama will get the (circle one: blame, credit) for Common Core, but it's really Gates' idea.

4) Every now and then McKinsey people turn up in this story.  They aren't thick on the ground, but they show up every now and then.  I have the misfortune of working alongside a former McKinsey guy who decided to inflict himself on higher ed and become an evangelist for edufads.  So I have a pretty knee-jerk reaction when I see McKinsey in this story.

ADDENDUM:  I like this quote on page 121:
Several interviewees from nonprofit organizations in the education sector  noted that they had experienced foundation staff who had described teachers, nonprofit leaders, or administrators as lazy and ill equipped with the appropriate expertise that would enable them to "just solve the problem," as one source stated.
It seems like there's an embedded assumption that educational problems are solvable by schools.  Maybe educational problems are better solved by first solving problems of socioeconomic status.  Maybe educational outcomes are an effect of some cause located off-campus.

ADDENDUM 2:  Really, the last few pages of Chapter 6, on how the technocrats at the foundations assume everything is simple and treat evidence accordingly, is mandatory reading for anybody who wants to understand this.