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Reform Pay$

February 25, 2014

A few days ago I posted on President Obama’s tacit acceptance of the privatization movement and over the past several days blog posts and columns reinforce the notion that privatizers are earning lots of profit providing public services at taxpayers expense… and doing so without any interference from any political party and any spotlight from national media.

Last Thursday Common Dreams posted an article summarizing the findings of a Center for Media in Democracy (CMD) report on “government” salaries indicating that the highest paid “government employees” are “…

…a group of private corporate executives across the country (who) have increasingly pushed for the privatization of public services while maneuvering high-paying contracts with the government “and then pay themselves and other executives eye-popping salaries.”

While the summary post of the CMD report focussed on an $8.3 million salary paid over three years to the head of a waterworks company and the high salaries raked in by private prisons,  it noted that “These high-payed privatized service providers are involved in the fields of education, corrections, waste management, water treatment, transportation and social services” and that these same providers “…muddy accountability, and cut corners when it comes to public health and safety.”

Diane Ravitch’s blog has been full of reports of grossly high salaries paid to CEOs in failing charter schools in Ohio, one of which included a link to an article in Plunderbund which reported on one executive, William Lager, who was paid $28,354,826 over a seven year period without submitting any invoices documenting his services. The article comments “…don’t you think Ohio’s and national newspapers be running front page stories if a public school superintendent in the state of Ohio was drawing an annual salary of over $1,000,000?”

The most blatant description of how to earn megabucks as an education entrepreneur comes from Education Next,in an article titled “For Education Entrepreneurs Innovation Yields High Returns” . The article describes how three technology mavens cashed in on the movement to use data from assessments to make millions of dollars. The article was of particular interest to me because I crossed paths with one of the entrepreneurs when he was just launching his business. The circumstances are too complicated to recount in this post, but at the time– in 2001— data warehousing was just beginning to emerge as a possible means of cataloguing local formative assessments we hoped to develop and data we wanted to collect and organize systematically to facilitate student transfers from school-to school and level-to-level. The difference between then and now: NCLB and RTTT, both of which put a premium on data collection and analysis, though the data being collected is summative instead of formative and being used for bogus purposes like teacher evaluation through VAM.

Here’s what’s alarming: high salaries and high profits are being valued more than high ideals… and when the profits are earned by turing teachers into automatons and student test scores into the ultimate “product” we are losing middle class jobs and the souls of our children.

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