Amazon is giving free cloud computing training to public school students. What could go wrong?

Welcome to Cashing in on Kids, a newsletter for people fighting to stop the privatization of America’s public schools—produced by In the Public Interest.

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Amazon is now offering free cloud computing training to public school students. Amazon—owned by the world’s richest person—is teaming up with public school districts to provide free cloud computing training using Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud business. Last week, partnerships were announced with Metro Nashville Public Schools and schools across Utah.

What’s wrong with a little charity? One, experts warn that training students in skills that corporations say they want might result in time wasted if the skill falls out of fashion within a few years.

But the real problem is that, this is yet another instance of corporations and the wealthy giving back to society on their terms rather than simply paying their fair share in taxes.

From March to June 2020, as tens of millions Americans lost jobs, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos saw his wealth rise by an estimated $48 billion. Famously, Amazon paid zero in federal income tax in 2017 and 2018, while paying a mere $162 million in 2019.

Meanwhile, America’s public schools are facing a financial meltdown as state budgets flounder during the pandemic.

As writer Anand Giridharadas says, “’The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help,’ Ronald Reagan said a long time ago. But time necessitates revision. Today the nine most terrifying words in the English language might be: I’m rich, and I’m here to change the world.”

Public funds for public schools. Sharon Krengel, policy and outreach director of the Education Law Center, writes: “Just as state and local budgets are tanking, DeVos, Trump, and others want to divert public money from a public good that has never seemed so essential for children, families, and communities everywhere. Now more than ever, public funds should support public schools.” In the Public Interest

Charter schools have failed. Journalist Jeff Bryant outlines the takeaways from the Network for Public Education’s new report on charter school closures. “Sending students to charter schools comes with a considerable downside: the schools may not stay open for very long.” The Progressive

How Google Classroom erases trans students. A middle school teacher looks at the way Google Classroom has erased their trans students by not letting them use their chosen name in online learning. Rethinking Schools

Walton family finds another way in to charter market. The Walton family-backed Equitable Facilities Fund, “a relatively new startup whose mission is ‘to make it easier, faster and less expensive for charter schools to put down roots in sustainable facilities’” went to the bond market last week to price a $141 million deal consisting of national charter school revolving loan fund revenue bonds.” Bond Buyer

What about books? Chicago Public Schools teacher Autumn Laidler asks on Twitter, “How are folks doing books for remote learning?” Answers include connecting with public librarians, starting a mutual aid Venmo account, and a number of free edtech options. Hopefully those options remain free. “Unfortunately my school does not have a Librarian or media specialist…..or a full time nurse or social worker for that matter,” Laidler adds. Twitter