First published on TCFKSM on July 9, 2013.
"The education industry represents, in our opinion, the final frontier of a number of sectors once under public control... represents the largest market opportunity... the K-12 market is the Big Enchilada." — Montgomery Securities prospectus quoted in Jonathan Kozol
National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ)'s dubious reputation for manufacturing "research" beneficial to the neoliberal education reform project is well earned. Professor Ravitch's introduction to Dr. Mercedes Schneider's latest piece tersely sums up the astrotank* that is NCTQ:
NCTQ is not a research organization. It is not a think tank. It is not a professional organization. It is an advocacy group and few of its board members have ever taught or have any direct knowledge of teaching or teacher preparation.
A little more on NCTQ's funding sources and board members before getting started:
NCTQ of course, is funded by the usual suspects. Prominent corporate education reform pushers the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Edythe and Eli Broad Foundation are front and center, as are fringe right benefactors like the Searle Freedom Trust. NCTQ's Board of Directors and staff are pretty scary, but the real eye opener is their Advisory Board chock full of reactionaries, profiteers, neoliberal darlings, and corporate education reform luminaries. Just a few names should suffice: fringe right American Enterprise Institute's Rick Hess, billionaire Bloomberg's former hatchet man and New York City pariah Joel Klein, discredited and disgraced leader of the District of Columbia's "erasuregate" scandal Michelle Rhee, reactionary The Hoover Institution's Eric Hanushek, and so many more. Although there are one or two nominally liberal organizations thrown in for good measure, these advisors are by and large right wing think tanks, companies and individuals that make money off of education, anti-union advocacy groups, and a few foundation representatives like Stefanie Sanford of the, you guessed it, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Around a year ago Professor Horn wrote about all the emails he receives from online diploma mills. I get those too, and I also get press releases from just about every nefarious privatization group around, including The Broad Foundation, The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the Center for American Progress, and others. Today's subject line of note in my inbox?
Press Release: NCTQ and SearchSoft Provide Important New Tool for School Districts to Recruit Best Trained New Teachers
How noble of the NCTQ to partner up with a privately held, for profit firm whose market share is on the up and up as more and more Broad Academy and Teach for America (TFA) Alumni run more and more school district administrations. There's not a ton of information readily available about SearchSoft Solutions, Inc. However, Boston-based venture capital firm Schoolhouse Partners has invested in SearchSoft Solutions, Inc., and Manta's website lists the following about them:
Searchsoft Solutions in Indianapolis, IN is a private company categorized under Computer Software Development and Applications. Our records show it was established in 1998 and incorporated in Indiana. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $2.5 to 5 million and employs a staff of approximately 10 to 19.
NCTQ's latest tie-in of their policy advocacy to a profitable business venture reminds us that the "K-12 market" really "is the Big Enchilada."
* Astrotank: portmanteau of astroturf and think tank. The rationale behind coining this new word should be fairly self explanatory.