Thursday, July 21, 2011

Corporate Knights of the Round Table

“A world-class education is the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete for the best jobs, but whether America can outcompete countries around the world.”
- President Obama
In an education roundtable meeting Monday, in which there were no educators, President Obama secured millions of dollars from corporate leaders.  In attendance was:
·           Marguerite Kondrake, Pres. & CEO of America’s Promise
·           Alma Powell, Chairwoman of America’s Promise
·           General Colin Powell, founding Chairman of America’s Promise
·           Craig Barrett, former Pres. & CEO of Intel
·           Glenn Britt, CEO of Time Warner Cable
·           Steve Case, former Chairman & CEO of America Online
·           Brian Gallagher, Pres. & CEO of United Way Worldwide
·           William Green, Pres. & CEO of Accenture
·           Fred Humphries, Senior Vice President of Microsoft
·           Rhonda Mimms, Foundation Pres. of ING
·           Kathleen Murphy, Pres. of Fidelity Personal Investments
·           Ed Rust, CEO of State Farm
·           Randall Stephenson, Chairman & CEO of AT &T
·           Bill Swanson, Chairman & CEO of Raytheon
·           Laysha Ward, Foundation Pres. of Target
·           David Zaslav, Pres. & CEO of Discovery Communications
·           Bob Wise, a former governor, Pres. of Alliance for Excellent Education
·           Anne Finucane, Chair of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation

Many of my colleagues correctly point out that there were no educators at the meeting.  I can understand why not.  Educators cannot raise the kind of money that was pledged to education initiatives that day.  Collectively, more than $100 million in pledges to new initiatives was announced in conjunction with the meeting.

The meeting was essentially a fundraiser for education.  Nonprofit corporations have fundraisers all the time.  There is nothing improper about that.  Unfortunately our school system isn’t really set up to receive and distribute that large amount of pledges in an effective meaningful way. 

I just had a thought.  A congressional Act can abolish the U.S. Department of Education. Its $79 billion budget could then be used to establish and fund a private not-for-profit corporation to facilitate the development of public education. This would be similar to the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. Such a move can place in motion the means to shape the growing market for eLearning to serve our students. The current attempt to centralize public education through No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race To The Top (RTTT) is not working. The education equivalent of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) would accomplish more and be more effective.

Private foundations, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation, that distribute hundreds of millions of dollars to education initiatives, are already trying to do this on their own. Corporate foundations have invested over $514 million in education initiatives. President Obama in this recent roundtable meeting secured millions more from corporations. In short, it's happening anyway without public accountability.

A radical change in education from direct government control to government funded private not-for-profit corporations is an idea worth pursuing. Finding the right mixture of instruction, management­, and structure for sustainable funding and accreditation will be a challenge, but our kids are worth it.

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 Source: Fox News:

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