I have to say I am skeptical of Bill Gates asking for support of his educational vision. I am tired of the Gates Foundation putting out its version of how education should and can be fixed with The Gates Foundation plan using taxpayer money. Here is one of the latest articles and tweets from the Gates Foundation about "where's the outrage"?
The Foundation's contention is the outrage has to do with inequality of opportunity. Read what Bill Gates has to say about these inequalities in the US educational system:
So many very talented and capable young people will not reach their full potential – just because they didn’t get lucky. Whenever I have a chance to talk with someone who has been affected by the foundation’s work in the United States, it gives me an even deeper, personal understanding of the phenomenal difference an education can make in a child’s life. And that’s why it’s so important to continue this work.
Does reaching your full potential have to do with LUCK or applying yourself to a goal and working hard? Does reaching your full potential have to do with self-direction and parental support or is it predicated on spending more taxpayer money and more governmental mandates? Is providing a world class education THE goal the public school system (increasingly driven by the private money of Bill Gates) should have for EVERY child?
From The View from Chaos Manner:
One of Gates’ problems is egalitarianism. Gates has said often that every American child deserves a world class university prep education. That goal is unattainable even in Lake Wobegon where all the children are above average, because not even all those who are above average can or should go to university, and a world class university prep education doesn’t necessarily equip them to do much in the real world. I understand that there can be real value in a university prep education coupled with some practical instruction, and if all the children were really above average this might be a goal worth striving for; but everywhere except in Lake Wobegon half the children are below average, and condemning all the children to a world class university prep education dooms about half of them to a school life of hell followed by being thrust out into the School of Hard Knocks unprepared to do anything anyone would pay you money to have done. OK – I exaggerate. But not by all that much.
The author is sympathetic to Gates' attempt to weed out bad teachers and corrupt unions, but acknowledges not all students are cut out to go to college and questions if that is a good use of money and educational direction. Question: whose money is being used to work toward these goals, The Gates Foundation or the American taxpayer?
The Wall Street Journal wrote about Gates' foray into educational reform (On the Poor Return from Bill Gates's Education Effort) and ends the article with this paragraph:
It's a response that in some ways encapsulates the Gates Foundation's approach to education reform—more evolution, less disruption. It attempts to do as much good as possible without upsetting too many players. You can quibble with Mr. Gates about that strategy. You can second-guess him. You can even offer free advice. Or you can shake his hand, thank him for his time and remember that it's his money.
The Journal is partially correct. It IS his money, but HIS money and HIS vision are directing the larger policies of the DOE which the taxpayers are paying for and have no voice. As Ze'ev Wurman has commented in response to the WSJ's article:
Jason Riley's interview with Bill Gates ("Was the $5 Billion Worth It?," Weekend Interview, July 23) shines a bright spotlight on some problems with Mr. Gates' educational and civic thinking.
Mr. Gates says he is a strong supporter of a uniform core curriculum across the land, and justifies it with "It's ludicrous to think that multiplication in Alabama and multiplication in New York are really different." Yet this is a false analogy. It is not about multiplication being different, but about how to teach it, and when. If the single best answer to this question was as obvious as Mr. Gates implies, we would not have a dozen nations lead America by a wide margin on international examinations, yet each having a widely different curriculum. Then Mr. Gates argues about possible economies of scale and why he does not see the need for competition among state standards. "This is like having a common electrical system. It just makes sense to me," he says. Yet education is not only about economies of scale, but also about what different people want. Further, the list of countries that beat us includes countries like Canada and Australia, where each of the provinces has a different set of standards. It is not surprising, however, to hear Mr. Gates preach one-size-fits-all -- luckily we didn't listen to him in the computer business, otherwise we would be all still running Microsoft DOS rather than playing with our Androids and iPads.
In the interview Mr. Gates clearly states that his goal is "to leverage private money" in a way that "redirects" how tax dollars are spent inside public education. Mr. Gates is using his personal philanthropy to direct government policy, to channel taxpayers' funds to pay for the national curriculum he personally wants. (emphasis added)
I would suggest those of you have twitter accounts reply to The Gates Foundation with these questions (search for the twitter using "gatesfoundation" as your search term):
Let's put the outrage where it belongs: To the people who are paying for a system that doesn't work, may not represent their values and is unconstitutional. Read our previous blog entry about Elizabeth Warren and Bill Gates. Where's the outrage from the students who are not college oriented (they don't want to go to college, have no desire to do so) and can't find jobs now because of the lack of skilled labor positions? Read this tweet by the Gates Foundation and a response:
Infographic: Diplomas = Dollars. See the tremendous potential impact if we help dropouts become graduates: http://gates.ly/oH1GdU
Here is a response from Raj Mahon, Founder CEO, Calcutta Yellow Pages, Indias premier Yellow Pages and Business directory for Kolkata, Calcutta, India:
Why are we letting folks like Elizabeth Warren and Bill Gates drive any educational conversation and force the American taxpayer to pay for their vision?