Anthony Cody entered into a dialogue with the Gates Foundation about its goals and programs.
Please read it and share it.
Cody describes many of the ways that Gates has supported privatization, despite the lack of any evidence for its strategies.
He reviews the poor results of value-added assessment, pushed hard by the Gates Foundation.
He shows how Gates favors programs where someone will make a profit.
Cody raises significant questions at the end of his part of the dialogue:
In the process by which decisions are being made about our schools, private companies with a vested interest in advancing profitable solutions have become ever more influential. The Gates Foundation has tied the future of American education to the capacity of the marketplace to raise all boats, but the poor are being left in leaky dinghies.
Neither the scourge of high stakes tests nor the false choices offered by charter schools, real or virtual, will serve to improve our schools. Solutions are to be found in rebuilding our local schools, recommitting to the social compact that says, in this community we care for all our children, and we do not leave their fate to chance, to a lottery for scarce slots. We have the wealth in this nation to give every child a high quality education, if that is what we decide to do. With the money we spent on the Bush tax cuts for millionaires in one month we could hire 72,000 more teachers for a year. It is all about our priorities.
So as we bring this dialogue to a close, we come up against some of the hardest questions.
Can we recommit to the democratic ideal of an excellent public school for every child?
Can the Gates Foundation reconsider and reexamine its own underlying assumptions, and change its agenda in response to the consequences we are seeing?
Given the undesirable results that we are seeing from the use of VAM in teacher pay and evaluations, is the Gates Foundation willing to put its influence to work on reversing these policies?
Does the Gates Foundation intend to continue to support the expansion of charter schools and “virtual” schools at the expense of regular public schools?
Must every solution to educational problems be driven by opportunities for profit? Or could the Gates Foundation consider supporting a greater investment in programs that directly respond to the conditions our children find themselves in due to poverty? Things like smaller class size, libraries, health care centers, nutrition programs, (none of which may be profitable ventures.)
How will the Gates Foundation answer? Will they dodge his direct questions in this post as they did his powerful column about the Foundation’s silence on the issue of poverty?