The Gates Foundation, on its blog-site called “Impatient Optimists,” responds to Anthony Cody’s searing critique of the foundation’s support for market-based reforms.
Please read Anthony’s post, then the Gates’ response.
I think it is shameful that the foundation’s representative begin by questioning whether Anthony believes that poor children can learn. This is the standard reformer tactic to anyone who raises the issue of poverty as an impediment to learning. They would have us believe that being hungry and homeless is just an excuse for bad teachers; that it doesn’t matter if children can’t see the front of the room, can’t hear the teacher, because they have never been screened for vision and hearing. No excuses!
To say this to Anthony Cody, who taught for nearly 20 years in the public schools of Oakland, California, is especially shameful. Do foundation executives who sit in plush headquarters in Seattle have the authority to impugn his bona fides?
Read the exchange. And ask yourself why the Gates Foundation has the moral authority to define the nation’s education agenda. Its two hobby horses right now are teacher evaluation and charter schools. It has spent hundreds of millions to find the magic formula that would identify those “bad” teachers and put a “great” teacher in every classroom. Now school districts across the nation are dancing to Gates’ tune, and no one knows whether the arcane mathematical formula designed by economists and statisticians really do produce “great” teachers, or even identify them. One sure result of this endeavor is that many millions will be–have been–diverted from instruction to testing and building data systems to tie test scores to teachers.
As for charters, study after study shows that they typically get the same results as public schools. Study after study shows that many charters exclude ELLs and special education students. There are some with high test scores, some with low test scores, but on average they don’t get better scores than public schools. The reason that Gates insists that they ARE public schools is because they are not. They are privately managed schools receiving public funds. Getting public dollars does not make them public schools. They are part of a larger movement of privatization, to remove an essential public institution to private control. No wonder the Wall Street crowd loves them so, regardless of results. No wonder the for-profit sector is growing.
Thanks to Anthony Cody for persuading the Gates Foundation to go public. They had nothing to say on the subject of poverty and in this post, they demonstrate that they continue to neglect its effects on students’ ability to succeed in school.