Vultures of ESEA

As it becomes increasingly apparent that our public education system is reaching a breaking point of sorts (see: teacher shortages, fed-up students and parents, andprincipals who have apparently lost their minds), a potential reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act sits on the desks of our elected officials in Washington.

“The purpose of this act is to restore freedom to parents, teachers, principals and other school leaders, States, Governors, and local communities so that they can improve their local public schools,” the Senate version states.

How kind of them to finally think of us.


Too bad it’s a bunch of baloney.

Read what Morna McDermott of United Opt Out (and creator of this incredible flowchart showing Common Core’s countless corporate connections) has to say about the Trojan horse inherent in the rewrites in this blog post that has made its way to the National Education Policy Center.

Now check out the playbook corporate consultants have developed for a behind-the-scenes looks at the way state power afforded by the new ESEA will be manipulated to the liking of corporate profiteers.

No really – there’s an actual playbook, developed by a consultant group called Bellwether Education, whose client list includes… well, everyone you’d expect it to include.

If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you know that I’ve argued elsewhere that one of the real purposes of the Common Core Standards is to unleash a multi-billion dollar market by joining forces with a “competency” (proficiency, mastery, customized) based model of learning that is meant to bring about a massive expansion of “personalized” (digital and online) learning. Savvy investors have been counting on this unbundling for at least a decade.  See below:


To that end, Bellwether has provided its clients with a set of policy strategies to be enacted on the state and local level that will ensure that their products make it into our schools and that their shareholders will get a return on their investments.

Click the image below  to see a timeline of how some of these “plays” have already transpired here in Maine:

Screen shot 2015-08-22 at 9.47.21 AM

Incubate or create a nonprofit organization to support personalized learning”?


“Waive or eliminate seat-time requirements to enable implementation of competency-based learning models”?

Check. (See LD 1422, Maine’s one-of-a-kind proficiency-based diploma mandate.)

“Modify teacher evaluation frameworks to foster the collaborative teaching that occurs in personalized learning environments”?


“Ensure third-party providers are able to access the data they need to support personalized learning, while also protecting students’ privacy and FERPA rights”?

Probably to the first part, who knows to the second.

Now go here to see the how these policy plays are manifesting themselves in schools in my hometown of Auburn, Maine, where we are clients of the Gates-funded Reinventing Schools Coalition, imported from Alaska in 2009 following their multi-million dollar experimentation in the Bering Straight.

Beware.  These guys are hungry.


Author: Emily Talmage

My name is Emily Talmage and I teach fourth grade at Montello Elementary School in Lewiston, Maine. In addition to teaching in Lewiston, I have also taught special education and general education in New York City, including one year at a “high-performing” charter school in Brooklyn. I also have two master’s degrees; one in Urban Education from Mercy College, and another in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. I have also worked as a research analyst and assistant at the National Center for Children and Families at Columbia and Oldham Innovative Research in Portland.

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