|Collective Pres. Laurene Powell Jobs|
Take the word, collective, for example, as in socialist collectivism, collective bargaining, collective farming, anarchist or Marxist collectives, which is usually associated with the left-wing, labor movements. In the late 60s and early 70s you also had the rise of feminist collectives and so on. In other words, grassroots organizations synonymous with social change.
Can top-down, corporate reformers now take ownership of the terminology? You bet they can.
Sign of the times... Crain's Chicago Business recently launched its CEO Collective. No, it has nothing to do with socialism, street-protest affinity groups, or going off the the country to start a commune.
Listen to the way they describe it to potential recruits, using lots of ed reform jargon.
An exclusive year-long program for Chicago CEOs and founders, Crain’s CEO Collective offers participants an opportunity to work alongside their new professional network and dive deep into their most pressing challenges – empowering them to transform their organization.
This facilitated peer-learning program will include modules on issue resolution, leadership development, strategic thinking and innovation. Plus, members will be introduced to guest speakers that will enrich, inspire and energize their journey. CEOs will also gain a renewed awareness of issues and opportunities in Chicago.Wow, peer-coaching, professional development, innovation -- this sounds like it came directly out of the school reform movement of the 1990s.
What they don't offer in their ads, but I'm sure is included in the Collective's membership fee, are workshops of how to undermine unions and get rid of, or around collective bargaining.
Another new corporate collective that caught my eye is the so-called Emerson Collective, started by Laurene Powell Jobs, the billionaire widow of Apple founder, Steve Jobs. After reading the Collective's mission statement, I'm ready to join up, if they'll have me as a collective member. But I doubt it.
We are an organization dedicated to removing barriers to opportunity so people can live to their full potential. Established by Laurene Powell Jobs, we center our work on education, immigration reform, the environment and other social justice initiatives. We use a wide range of tools and strategies—partnering with entrepreneurs and experts, parents and policymakers, advocates and administrators—to spur change and promote equality.
Unlike her husband Steve, who didn't believe in philanthropy, Powell Jobs is president of the Collective, which doubles as an LLC of course. That means, instead of a tax-exempt 501(c)(3), like the Gates or Walton Foundations which bankroll privately-run charter schools, the Emerson Collective can make grants, for-profit investments and political donations — and does not have to publicly report its donations as a foundation does.
Get the picture. If you call your personal tax shelter a "collective" and give it social -justice window dressing, you can operate free from public accountability or oversight.
Yes, better to operate in the shadows, or as the collectivists might say, "with flexibility".
|Duncan joins the Collective|
One can only imagine what he and his collective are re-imagining. A new race to the top, perhaps? More testing madness? Unregulated and re-segregated charters?
I couldn't find out Duncan's salary at the Collective or how much Jobs pays in taxes. No public accountability, remember?
Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Pricilla Chan, have done something similar. Except that they don't call their power philanthropy a collective. Rather, it's the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Yes, it's an initiative rather than a collective. And their LLC focuses on --wait for it-- "personalized learning and underserved communities".
Zuckerberg's version of Duncan is former U.S. Education Department deputy secretary and Gates Foundation refugee Jim Shelton.
Among the missing from these top-down reform collectives, initiatives, innovators, and school re-imaginers, are the teachers themselves. After all, what would they know about personalized learning in underserved communities?