Two years ago we asked for help to unravel the connections we uncovered between multinational technology corporations and our B.C. government. We hoped that an investigative journalist could dig below the surface of the story of education in BC and help us to connect the dots.
Because we believe that public school classrooms are no place for the promotion of the private profits of corporations, for a long time we have been vocal in our resistance to the creep of corporations into our schools. Now we are soliciting your help because it seems that corporations have an ally in their quest: the B.C. Ministry of Education.
The Ministry’s sudden promotion of coding in schools took us by surprise. We could not understand why or how coding zipped up the priority list of what is needed in schools ahead of seismic upgrades and repairs to leaky roofs. We had not seen it mentioned anywhere in the roll-out of BC’s new curriculum documents. And we tried hard to understand how we could teach coding without computers even while we were assured by the Minister that we didn’t need computers for the task.
But our confusion has recently ended. We now see that computer coding is the key that will provide an open door for corporations to enter public school classrooms and access what they see as a most valuable commodity: our students, their future consumers.
Not only will our 500 000 public school students provide a motherlode of information for marketers through the data-mining of their online behaviours, but the sale of necessary technology to school districts will provide corporations with billions of public funds.
A big slice of that $5.5 trillion pie.
Take a look at the following “dots” and see if you come up with the same picture that we do:
- Lighthouse Labs has been contracted by the BC government to teach coding.
- Computer coding programs such as Coding Quest have been run by The Learning Partnership, a “national charity” that operates out of Ontario.
The Learning Partnership has multiple corporate partners/funders:
- Deloitte, authors of the Deloitte Report on BC Public Education that recommended the amalgamation of school districts and the reduction in school buses.
- Pearson International, a name that appears throughout the world in every instance where privatization of the public education system has been instituted.
- CISCO, tied to major privatization initiatives in public schools in the US, UK and Australia, as well as the more lucrative public health system here in Canada. Cisco also has deep ties with Innovation Unit that is connected to GELP which is partly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ellen Koshland Family Fund, both highly involved in the promotion of Common Core in the US. The Gates foundation’s new project is focused on personalized learning which we have seen, more often than not, involves personal computers, the product that made Gates one of the wealthiest men on the planet.
All of these groups joined previous Minister of Education Fassbender at the Wosk Forum on K-12 Education in January 2015.
Can you see why alarms are ringing for teachers and for parents when we notice so many corporate links to our public classrooms?
What we see is a pattern emerging that looks very familiar. It’s a pattern we’ve seen unfold in other countries where the project to privatize public education is more advanced.
We have also seen multiple examples of the failure of Milton Friedman’s injunction to ignore the pedagogical and democratic ideals of public education in the pursuit of private profit siphoned from the public purse.
We hope that you in the media will prove us wrong, that you will show us that our public education system will not go down the same path to privatization as the deteriorating public education systems in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.
Please investigate these links so that you can assure us that our children’s future is not being sold to the highest corporate bidder.
Public School Teachers
(This post is the result of a collaboration with fellow teacher, Bruce McCloy, who provided most of the research.)