Has it been ten years already?
Jeb Bush's reformsteriffic organization Foundation for Excellence in Education (now in the process of morphing its name to ExcelinEd) just announced its tenth annual national summit. This time it's in Nashville, and the big news is that speakers will include Bush Buddy Betsy DeVos! Squeee!
This annual Big Wet Kiss to privatization has always brought out the shiniest stars in the reformster firmament, and Bush himself will be there (because, really, does he have any place else he needs to be) to provide the keynote kickoff to the "content-rich" agenda on November 30.
The National Summit will focus on reform topics of educational
opportunity, innovation and quality in general sessions with nationally
renowned speakers, targeted strategy sessions and hands-on workshops
featuring policy experts, legislators and educators sharing proven and
next generation policy solutions for improving learning for all
Why attend? Well, it will be "the education networking event of the year" and a "one-stop shop for the nuts and bolts of education reform" and provide "opportunities to connect with nationally renowned speakers and leaders." Here's a nice summary from the press release:
Each year, the National Summit on Education Reform serves as a strategic
convening for leaders who want a timely, comprehensive overview of all
elements of transformative education policy. The unique gathering equips
them with the knowledge, know-how and a network of experts to champion
students in every classroom across America. Last year’s National Summit
convened 1,045 education leaders from 47 states, with 94 percent of
attendees praising the event as “outstanding” or “above average.”
What other talking treats will appear? Clayton Christensen (Harvard Business School professor and "disruptive innovation expert"). Dr. Steve Perry (charter school boss and self-aggrandizing scrapper). Derrell Bradford, Andy Smarick, and Chad Alderman.(reliable thinky tank and advocacy guys). Antwon Wilson (Broadie, DC Public School Chancellor and Guy Who Blew a Giant Hoe in the Budget of His Previous District). Neerav Kingland (Helped hash up New Orleans schools).
Kate Walsh (NCTQ) and Elisa Vilanueva-Beard (CEO of TFA) will be part of an "expert panel" about the teacher shortage led by Daniel Weisberg (CEO of TNTP). Mike Petrilli (Fordham and every article ever written about education) will moderate a panel about "the truth behind private school choice."
Not a public education advocate anywhere in sight. The crowd seems tilted a bit more toward the "free market profiteering" wing of the reform movement than the "social justice" wing. And a whole session about how to use the proper term for your branding so that you can sell your reform.
Media folks, including bloggers, can register to cover the event "from the designated press areas." And you can still join the distinguished list of sponsors, including the Walton Familu, Exxon-Mobile, the College Board, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Amplify, K12, NWEA, Charter Schools USA, and State Farm.
Ten years of this summiting, or roughly the same amount of time Bill Gates said we would have to wait until we knew whether or not "our education stuff worked." Of course, the education stuff hasn't worked and doesn't work, unless of course by "work" you mean "makes it possible for a lot of people to get their hands on a lot of money."
I could say that it's not normal for a Secretary of Education to attend this celebration of the privatizing and dismantling of public education, but Arne Duncan and Rod Paige have both done Bush's Happy Reformster Retreat. But it certainly underlines how clearly DeVos is not on the side of public education in this country. At least her security detail will be able to relax while she spends the weekend surrounded by friendly faces.