Saturday, April 06, 2013

Bill Gates renounces key elements of corporate education "reform"

In this Washington Post OpEd, Bill Gates says test scores should at most be PART of how teachers are evaluated, merit pay won't work, and teachers want collaboration not competition with their peers--in essence, he repudiates more than half of the right wing, corporate education "reform" agenda that has been implemented by the Bush administration and now President Obama, his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and corporate Democrats like Rahm Emanuel--with disastrous results.

My wife is an elementary school teacher, and because of what these "reformers" have done, she doesn't want any of our children to go to public school.

So we will be paying taxes for schools that we can't send our middle class kids to because wealthy people (who don't send their kids to public schools) have ruined them by dictating how they should be run.

Gates started driving the direction of education reform policy before he knew what the hell he was doing (unless he had a financial angle for himself).

Now he seems to be moving toward what schools, principals, teachers, and UNIONS already figured out a long time ago.

Mr. Gates, protect your legacy as an entrepreneur and philanthropist: admit your mistake and vow to use your money to undo the damage you have done through your demand for repetitive standardized testing, union busting, school closings, and turning over public education to less effective for-profit charter schools and education management companies. Also, join your father in lobbying to get wealthy people like yourself to pay their fair share of taxes, which would go a long way toward helping public education.

In the future, if you want to help education, listen to educators, researchers, parents, and students, instead of trust fund babies and hedge fund managers looking to make a buck off of our kids like so many mortgage back derivatives or pork bellies.

And please send your Washington Post opinion piece to President Obama and Arne Duncan, so they can adjust their policies accordingly.

I certainly will.


Bill Gates: A fairer way to evaluate teachers (excerpt)

The fact is, teachers want to be accountable to their students. What the country needs are thoughtfully developed teacher evaluation systems that include multiple measures of performance, such as student surveys, classroom observations by experienced colleagues and student test results.

Of particular concern is the possibility that test results alone will be used to determine a large part of how much teachers get paid. I have talked to many teachers over the past several years, and not one has told me they would be more motivated, or become a better teacher, by competing with other teachers in their school. To the contrary, teachers want an environment based on collaboration, in which they can rely on one another to share lesson plans, get advice and understand what’s working well in other classrooms. Surveys by MetLife and other research of teachers back this up.

Teachers also tell me that while compensation is important, so are factors such as high-quality professional development opportunities, a strong school leader, engaged families and the chance to work with like-minded colleagues.

While there is justification for rewarding teachers based in part on how their students perform, compensation systems should use multiple measures, including classroom observation. In top-performing education systems in other parts of the world, such as Singapore and Shanghai, accomplished teachers earn more by taking on additional responsibilities such as coaching and mentoring other teachers and helping to capture and spread effective teaching techniques. Such systems are a way to attract, retain and reward the best teachers; make great use of their skills; and honor the collaborative nature of work in schools.