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D.L. Paulson: Why Education Profiteering Is Not in the Best Interest of Society and Not Even a Good Investment

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Author: dianeravitch

Reader D.L. Paulson is not impressed with the entrepreneurial strategy of profiting from public education funding:

The track record of GSV Capital, in terms of educational investments, is not very good. Perhaps its biggest dud: Coursera. But that’s the corporate wing. There are also “personal investments” by GSC Advisors (http://gsvadvisors.com/about/personal-investments/). Besides the obvious conflict of interest with this investment strategy—which should be no surprise for anyone following Deborah Quazzo’s career—it’s striking how poorly most of the companies are doing. If not for Japanese-like keiretsu (for example, a GSV-funded company called Clever partnering with other GSV companies), most would falter. It’s like a 1999 tech bubble waiting to pop. Or worse, GSV is fleecing investors with a pyramid scheme, complete with its own market research firm and cheerleading press (edsurge.com, also GSV funded).

For more on this, see http://hackeducation.com/2015/02/05/whos-investing-in-ed-tech and Mercedes Schneider’s Chronicle of Echoes.

All investment talk aside, it’s sad to think that GSV compares its corporate mission to the American revolution (see http://gsvadvisors.com/wordpress/wp-content/themes/gsvadvisors/American%20Revolution%202.0.pdf). There is no lack of irony here. The extraction of profits from public schools is not democratic. It’s the reverse. It’s more control by corporations and less control by individuals over their own lives. It’s meant to replace the human endeavors of teaching and learning with machines, solely for the purpose of efficiency and maximizing profit. “Reform” is just a pretense to pull in more investors. (When your fund under-performs, it helps to fall back on some notion of social responsibility.) GSV’s mission is totally antithetical to freedom and self-fulfillment, two key ideas behind the real American Revolution.

Please read the following sentence from http://www.tealsk12.org/staging/wp-content/uploads/formidable/The-New-Role-of-Business-in-Global-Education_Final_1.8.2014.pdf. And before you read the sentence, know that the report comes from a kindred spirit of GSV Advisors. The subtitle is, “How companies can create shared value by improving education while driving shareholder returns”. The authors swoon over these companies, saying:

“They are transforming the education pipeline by reimagining education as a dynamic ecosystem in which companies are fully engaged from cradle to career.”

Cradle to career? That should make us shudder.

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