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Education Reporter

Chipping Away at Local Control
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Globalization of American education continues to chip away at public control of local schools. In a move that extends access to school content and the treasure trove of public funds, technology companies are teaming up with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization).

Microsoft, Intel, Hitachi, Hewlett-Packard, and Alcatel are among UNESCO's partners from the technology sector. The range of partnership activity involves "teacher syllabus programmes to community access centres, science networks and recording cultural heritage." (The New Courier, 5-5-2005)

UNESCO sugar daddies 
On November 17, 2004, Microsoft Corporation was added to UNESCO's list of sugar daddies when Bill Gates signed a 26-page "Cooperation Agreement" with UNESCO on behalf of Microsoft.

On that day, Mr. Koichioro Matsuura, UNESCO Director-General, commended the event in his speech: "I am delighted that Microsoft today joins the long list of partners with whom UNESCO has established excellent cooperation over past years. They include, to name but a few, L'Oreal, DaimlerChrysler, Hewlett Packard, Suez and Intel."

Matsuura also explained, "UNESCO and Microsoft will work together in eight areas." Education and training are highlighted as especially important areas for helping UNESCO with its global education reform mandates that involve worldwide curricula reflecting UNESCO values.

The UNESCO-Microsoft plans include creating a "Syllabus for Teacher Training on Integrating ICT into Teaching" involving standards, guidelines, benchmarks, and assessment techniques. The Syllabus will "form the basis for deriving training content to be delivered to teachers." And "UNESCO will explore how to facilitate content development."

Prior to the Microsoft agreement, UNESCO and Intel signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to "Develop Guidelines for Worldwide Teacher Technology Training."

A September 11, 2004 UNESCO press release says the two groups "will work together on a multi-stakeholder initiative." UNESCO and Intel "will develop a syllabus, which sets the standards" for ICT knowledge and skills, and can be "used to design training content."

The partners will work to develop "a mechanism by which course providers, educational policy-makers and teachers can refer to the syllabus" to decide if course content and training programs are aligned with the standards. (UNESCO Press Release No. 2004-103, 9-11-2004)

Purpose of partnerships 
The expansion of United Nations partnerships is expected to avert the failure experienced by the League of Nations — the forerunner of the United Nations. As Melinda Kimble, Senior Vice President of the United Nations Foundation said in her June 29, 2004 "Public-Private Partnerships and the United Nations" statement: "It is currently popular to talk about public-private partnerships as a new mechanism to advance the work and support the core goals of the United Nations.

This assumption, like many others, ignores the number of public-private partnerships that supported this institution since the inception. At the outset, there was broad recognition that civil society, especially in the Western democracies, needed to be actively engaged in building this new institution, if it were to withstand potential political attacks that contributed to the failure of the League of Nations. The concept of national United Nations Associations (UNAs) was born." (ECOSOC 2004 High Level Segment, HLS Plenary Debate, 6-29-2004)

International developments place education input beyond the reach of parents, educators, and elected officials. The citizens who fund education and send their children to public and private schools are being stripped of decision making as UNESCO and UNESCO's partners set global education standards and content for courses, assessments, and teacher training.

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