Thursday, July 3, 2014

Oregon SOS at the Gates Foundation Protest in Seattle

On Thursday, June 26th, members of Oregon Save Our Schools joined Oregon Bad Ass Teachers (BATs) in Seattle in solidarity with Washington BATs and Washington Save Our Schools at an event designed to bring attention to Bill Gates’ undue influence in our public schools. A group estimated to be between 150-300 teachers, parents, and supporters marched from Westlake Center, where the event began with a rally, to the headquarters of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation about a mile away.
Oregon SOS members Deb Mayer, Catherine Carroll, Kris Alman, and
Kathleen Hagans-Jeskey with teacher & activist Anthony Cody

The event began with singing, led by Washington BATs Chorus, and speakers at Westlake Center. Speakers at the initial event site included Dr. Wayne Au, Assistant Professor of Education at UW Bothell and editor of Rethinking Schools, and Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant. The event was full of music. Singing continued as the group made their way to the Gates Foundation. There, more singing followed as well as dancing and more speakers.

Speakers at the Gates Foundation event site included Susan DuFresne, co-founder of the website Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates.

Ms. DuFresne read a letter of the group’s demand that the Gates Foundation divest from corporate education reform and then presented bound hard copies to a Gates Foundation representative of the hundreds of letters which teachers have written on her website to Bill and Melinda Gates with the hope that they would be read and would receive a response. Ms. DuFresne was followed by speakers Morna McDermott of United Opt Out and Anthony Cody. Cody’s Living in Dialogue blog appears in Education Week and his first book, The Educator and The Oligarch, which analyzes the destructive influence that the Gates Foundation has had on national education policy, will be released this fall. Along with education historian and former Assistant US Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, Anthony Cody is also co-founder of The Network for Public Education.

We would like to give a big thank you from Oregon Save Our Schools to the Washington BATs for organizing this high quality event. It was a pleasure to attend and hopefully a wakeup call for the many residents of Seattle, the Pacific Northwest, and the nation who see Gates as a benevolent benefactor in the sphere of public education when the policies he promotes are in fact harmful to our students.