Enemies of Public Education: ExxonMobil

Here at the Chalk Face, we’ve spent some time questioning and exposing the intentions behind the energy giant, ExxonMobil.  Their ad campaign in support of Common Core continues to take up space and spread lies on the network airwaves.  It’s well-known by now that Bill Gates is the top fund owner for Exxon, which somewhat explains this.

ExxonMobil does not support teachers or students.  ExxonMobil is an enemy of public education.

Here is an excerpt from Uncommon: The Grassroots Movement to Save Our Children and their Schools, just for them:

ExxonMobil Logo

Why does ExxonMobil invest so much advertising and lobbying money to get states to adopt the Common Core? They’re an oil company. Sure, they need smart people to manage finances, engineer oil and gas extraction techniques and machines, maintain and build refineries, have a solid understanding of geology and mining, and do many other technical and science-related gas and oil things. You would think that ExxonMobil would want free-thinking, creative, and innovative learners coming to their ranks from high school and college. After all, smart oil companies understand that they will need to start adding investments and people to their alternative energy plans in order to stay competitive. The last thing you’d think ExxonMobil would need are common learning standards for the next generation of problem solvers.

Common Core is not the definition of an innovative program. It is strictly a one-size-fits-all set of national standards that leads every K-12 student to a predetermined and corporate-designed end. This one was even hard for Glenn Beck to wrap his mind around in April of 2013. So, why, really does ExxonMobil support the Common Core so strongly?

It’s for the exact same reasons—but in a different field—that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg want every high school graduate to know how to code software. Glenn Beck surmised that ExxonMobil wants (or uses) child labor. He almost figured it out, but not quite. ExxonMobil doesn’t want kids working for them, yet; they want lots of students trained in the STEM fields related to energy corporate giants so they can have cheap labor. The company needs lots and lots of engineers, mechanics, geologists, chemists, engineers and other skilled workers. Those jobs are relatively high-paying jobs, and while Exxon doesn’t have nearly as many H1-B visa applications as Microsoft or the other software giants, they do bring in a fair amount of foreign labor to work for a fraction of the cost as American engineers or geologists.

ExxonMobil’s website features a very attractive and comprehensive portion for math and science education initiatives and reform ideas, funded by the ExxonMobil Foundation. The overall message here is the same as everywhere else: the United States is failing and it’s because we aren’t training our teachers to teach math and science effectively. The Foundation follows the Bill Gates ideal that the best way to fix education is to fix teachers. The best way to fix teachers is to train them to teach the material that benefits the corporate sponsor.

I’ve actually attended a “development workshop,” sponsored by ConocoPhillips (another energy giant), where many other science teachers gathered to receive free materials, free gifts, free lunch, and free professional development–all in the name of teaching a few units on geology, plate tectonics, mining, energy production, and the benefits of “clean” fossil fuels. Did I mention we all got lots of free stuff? I got an answer right during an end-of-unit quiz and won a hat. It had the ConocoPhillips logo on it and was actually pretty nice, other than that. I also left with science kits to use in my classroom when I was teaching one of the dozens of lesson plans that I received in a very large ConocoPhillips binder. The kits really were very cool and I did use some of them to teach hands-on lessons. I tended to leave the pre-made lesson plans in the binder, though, since I already know how to teach science to 8th graders. I didn’t really think it was necessary to rely on an oil company to help me teach student-centered lessons that require critical thought.

Perhaps that’s a problem for corporations like ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil. Perhaps teachers like me are a problem for them. I didn’t do what they expected me to do when I returned to the classroom. These companies obviously spent plenty of money to invest in the idea that they were guiding the science curriculum in areas that affected their plans (the science kit alone was valued at over $500). After all, they are looking to the schools to build their workforce. If the schools are brazen enough to start trying to build corporate or entrepreneurial competitors, or some smart kids that will beat them to the alternative energy race, we’re going to have a problem. Correction: they will have a problem. We’ll actually probably benefit greatly from capitalism working the way it’s supposed to.

That’s one of the fundamental problems our country faces right now: capitalism doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to work on paper–but that’s a topic for another time.

The point here is that energy giants like ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips are attempting to join the movement to use public schools to meet their current and future agendas. The main idea is secure global competitiveness (again, for the company, not the kids or the country) and training teachers to train kids is the best strategy they have. More and more people who realize what Common Core is point to government indoctrination as the most dangerous result. I would like us to start worrying more about corporate “indoctrination,” where our kids are being taught in schools where the curriculum mostly aligns to the standards set by these types of corporations.

I even remember my ConocoPhillips trainer relaying the message that her corporate masters wanted her to tell: alternative energy is a thing of the distant future; we’re not there yet. I taught 7th graders at the time, in 2008. Those kids graduated this year, 2013. If ConocoPhillips had their way, my former students would be enrolling in geology and engineering courses. They’ll be using what I taught them about plate tectonics and the surface of the Earth to base their careers in the booming industry of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for the extraction of subterranean natural gas. ConocoPhillips is also hoping that enough of them will join the field that the corporations can bring down their salaries.

Recently, the CEO of ExxonMobil, R.W. Tillerson, sent a letter to the office of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett to convey the oil giant’s dissatisfaction with Corbett’s choice to put the Common Core State Standards on hold, pending further study and consideration. The letter suggests that the Common Core will prepare Pennsylvania kids with the necessary skills for today’s workforce, and that the Governor needs to hurry up with his soul-searching and get back to business. Tillerson then reminded Corbett of the money that ExxonMobil has already spent in Pennsylvania, and left with the air that the money and the jobs might not be in Pennsylvania for long if Corbett doesn’t pick up the pace and get back to the plan.

The government takes a lot of heat from the groups who worry about dumbing down the curriculum, taking away parents’ freedoms, and ruining our kids’ ability to think, at the same time that the corporations involved sneak their bribes and threats into states, districts, and schools. As you can see, even if a government entity (like a state governor) does have a moment of clarity, the corporations pulling his strings are quick to correct his out-of-line behavior.

So, we have tech giants and energy giants shilling for the implementation of these standards. Who’s next?

Find out who else the grassroots is fighting, and the brave ways they fight.  Order your copy of Uncommon now!

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Comments

  1. American public education is being hi-jacked by corporations and the politicians they own.

Trackbacks

  1. […] neither clearer nor fewer.  Yes, the CCSS do have a clear prescription, but not a clear purpose (we’ve had to dig that up ourselves).  And, there are a LOT of them, from Kindergarten to 12th grade.  Soon, we can expect Common […]

  2. […] Core Standards.  You know who else did just that?  Earlier this year, it was Rex Tillerson, of ExxonMobil, who threatened Pennsylvania (and who is, not coincidentally, a member of the BRT Executive […]

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