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In this week's program, we take a closer look at the role of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in funding and promoting corporate education reform. The Gates Foundation is one of a handful of venture philanthropists - along with the Broad and Walton Foundations - who have spent billions of dollars in the last decade to change the face of public education in the United States.
Gates' agenda for reform is essentially identical to that of the U.S. Department of Education, namely increasing the use of high-stakes standardized tests at all levels, standardizing curriculum, creating a de-unionized system of merit-based pay for teachers tied to student test scores, and disinvesting in neighborhood public schools in favor of opening new charter schools.
As we've explored in previous episodes of Education Radio, all of these reforms can be tied to a larger ideology of free-market competition and a corporate agenda of deregulation and privatization, and are actually leading to greater social and economic inequalities.