Will BCG Take Away School Board’s Power?

The Tulsa World reported today (Feb. 11, 2016) that “Tulsa Public Schools may award a contract approaching $920,000 to a consulting firm that would help the district take its new five-year strategic plan from a vision into reality…”

Like many of you, my hair caught on fire when I read this until I got to the next sentence: “The contact would be fully funded by donors.”

OK, they’re not taking money out of some secret school fund, but whoa, whoa, whoa. Who are the “donors” and who is the consulting firm? And why do we need a consulting firm when we have a superintendent and a school board?

First, the firm is Boston Consulting Group, BCG. I think we’re supposed to be impressed because they’re a popular place work; they have a really, really difficult interview process; and they have offices all over the world. Oh, and the guy who started it went to Harvard.

And, they helped privatize Philadelphia schools, recommending mass school closings and handing students over to private organizations. Do we want our school board to lose its control? BCG also “consulted” with New Orleans schools, which are all corporate charters now. (And, no, they’re not doing better than the public schools.)

Should we trust BCG with Tulsa Public Schools?

I hope the school board doesn’t just make the decision to award BCG a contract without doing due diligence research. BCG may be great with businesses, but businesses and schools do not and should not function the same way.

For a perspective on BCG consulting with school districts, read Peter Greene’s Curmudgucation blog “Boston Consulting Group: Another Dark Horseman.”

Peter Greene asks good questions like how is BCG connected to the Gates Foundation and former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan?

Greene writes:

“Word went out today that immediately after Arkansas decided to make Little Rock Schools non-public, the Walton family called a “focus group” meeting “in conjunction with the Boston Consulting Group. This is worse than finding the slender man in the back of your family portrait. For a public school system, this is finding the grim reaper at your front door. And he’s not selling cookies.”

I have to wonder, after reading up on BCG and some of BCG ties, if possibly the Gates Foundation or the Walton Foundation might be funding their possible consultation with Tulsa Public Schools. Either way, it’s bad news for public schools, but good news for private corporations.

According to educator Diane Ravitch, “The management consultants [BCG] are known for their dedication to privatization and profit. They were advisors in the project that led to the elimination of public schools and teachers’ unions in New Orleans.”

If that’s not enough, here’s more food for thought.

Wherever the Boston Consulting Group goes, certain outcomes are predictable:

  1. It will recommend closing public schools.
  2. It will recommend opening privately managed charter schools.
  3. Most of the schools closed will be in African-American neighborhoods.
  4. Most of the teachers laid off will be African American.
  5. The Boston Consulting Group will get a fee that is outrageous in comparison to the work they do in writing a report (the report is everywhere the same, just change the name of the city).

In this case, they make the usual recommendations for Memphis.

Before, their handiwork was seen in Philadelphia.

Who advises them? Margaret Spellings.

Look, parents. I have no inside knowledge – no more than you do. But as a citizen and a former TPS parent, I want to know who is funding BCG and why. I hope that it is not the case that BCG will come in and create a business efficiency model and then turn our public schools over to corporations. That’s not where I want my tax dollars to go. I understand that our public schools are underfunded, but once they’re privatized, we lose control of our schools and, I believe, we lose something deeper – the foundation of our democratic society.

I just request that before the Tulsa School Board votes to approve the BCG contract next Tues. that they understand that free money is not “free.” I hope that they will look out for the best interests of our children.

Categories: Editor’s Blog