Archives for category: Gates Foundation, Bill Gates

Bill Gates gave a major national speech yesterday, announcing that he was very pleased with his efforts to improve teaching in America, even though they had produced no results other than a national teacher shortage. He promised to stay the course.

Peter Greene here presents the gist of Bill’s speech to the nation.

“It’s been fifteen years since we started trying to beat public education into submission with giant stacks of money, and it turns out that it’s a hell of a lot harder than curing major diseases. Turns out teachers are not nearly as compliant as bacteria. Who knew?

“Actually, there’s a whole long list of things that came as a surprise to us. Teachers and politicians and parents all had ideas about what ought or ought not to be happening in schools, and damned if they would just not shut up about it. At first stuff was going great and we were getting everyone to do just what we wanted them to, but then it was like they finally noticed that a bunch of clueless amateurs were trying to run the whole system, and the freaked out.

“I have to tell you. Right now as I’m sitting here, it still doesn’t occur to me that all the pushback might be related to the fact that I have no educational expertise at all, and yet I want to rewrite the whole US school system to my own specs. Why should that be a problem? I still don’t understand why I shouldn’t be able to just redo the whole mess without having to deal with unions or professional employees or elected officials. Of course nobody elected me to do this! I don’t mind, really– happy to take over this entire sector of the government anyway, you’re welcome…..

“Look, I’m a simple man. I had some ideas about how the entire US education system should work, and like any other citizen, I used my giant pile of money to impose my will on everyone else. It’s okay, because I just want to help. We’re not done yet– I’m going to keep trying to fix the entire teaching profession, even if nobody in the country actually asked me to do it. And no, I don’t intend to talk to anybody actually in the profession. What do they know about teaching? Besides, when you know you’re right, you don’t have to listen to anybody else.”

Hillsborough County in Florida was one of the major beneficiaries of the Gates Foundation’s fetish for teacher evaluation and bonus pay. Gates pledged “up to” $100 million, but is refusing to pay the last $20 million because there has been so little evidence of the link between bonuses and test scores. Duh. If the Gates Foundation read the research on incentive pay, it would have spent the money reducing class sizes for the neediest children.

The Gates program has cost a total of $271 million, including Gates’ $80 million.

The Hillsborough plan inspired state legislation:

“Enacted a year after Hillsborough launched its project, Senate Bill 736 in the Florida Legislature phased out teacher tenure and tied pay to supervisor evaluations and student test scores.”

The program never met its goal of firing 5% of teachers every year:

“The original proposal and a 2010 timeline called for the district to fire 5 percent of its teachers each year for poor performance. That would amount to more than 700 teachers. The thinking was they would be replaced by teachers who earned entry level wages, freeing up money to pay the bonuses for those at the top.

“But the mass firings never happened. While an undetermined number of teachers resign out of dissatisfaction or fear that they will be fired, only a handful of terminations happen because of bad evaluations.”

The Gates Foundation has another flop.

MaryEllen Elia, the superintendent of the Hillsborough school district when it received the Gates grant,, was fired by the school board, then hired this year as state superintendent in Néw York.

“Late in the process, the foundation rejected several of the district’s funding requests for Empowering Effective Teachers, which involves evaluating teachers using specially trained peers and bumping their pay with the idea that it would boost student performance.

“Each of the proposals were robustly outlined and presented,” a district report said.

“But Gates officials responded by pointing to language in the original agreement saying the foundation had promised “up to” $100 million, not necessarily the whole amount, according to the report.

“The district picked up the unpaid costs.

“Much of the disagreement amounted to a change in Gates’ philosophy, Brown said. “After a few years of research,” she said, “they believed there was not enough of a connection between performance bonuses and greater student achievement.”

Now for some laughs, enjoy Peter Greene’s take on Gates’ cancellation of $20 million. He reminds us that Hillsborough was a jewel in Gates’ crown in 2012.

Peter writes:

“Well, that was 2012. A few other things have happened in the meantime. Back in 2010, Arne Duncan and Dennis Van Roekel stopped by to make a fuss, but that was about the last time that anybody wanted to throw an EET party.

“That fire 5% of the sucky teachers thing? It should have gotten rid of 700 (700!!!) teachers– you know, the expensive ones, because everyone knows that the bad teachers that need to be rooted out are, coincidentally, the older teachers who cost a bunch of money. But it never happened.

“And that $100 million grant that Kinser was so proud of? Funny thing. Gates officials would now like you to know that the grant actually said “up to” $100 million.

“I am kind of excited about that, because I know realize that I can tell, say, a used car dealer that I will pay “up to” seventy grand for a car and just pay five thousand bucks. I could promise to buy a new house with “up to” $10 million and just fork over a check for $10.75. I do regret not knowing this trick when my children were young and I could have bribed them to do chores with offers of “up to” $100 for mowing the lawn.”

Now for a deep analysis, read Mercedes Schneider’s analysis of the Hillsborough debacle. The Gates money was a Trojan horse. Not only did it fail to produce a new generation of super-teachers, it drained the district’s reserves.

The Gates money–$80 million, not the promised $100 million–was a cause of great celebration when it was announced. Hillsborough would be a “national model.” In the end, Superintendent Elia was fired in January 2015, the district lost millions, and Gates learned…what?

Mercedes writes:

“Of course, Gates had some ideas about how this “teacher effectiveness” business should work. The report linked above has as its second sentence, “A teacher’s effectiveness has more impact on student learning than any other factor under the control of school systems, including class size, school size, and the quality of after-school programs.” When pro-corporate-reform organizations toss around such statements, they never seem to follow it with the fact that factors external to the classroom hold far more sway that does the teacher. (In analyzing the proportion of teacher influence captured via value-added modeling– VAM– the American Statistical Association notes that teacher influence accounts for between 1 and 14 percent of variance in student test scores. Thus, between 86 and 99 percent of a student’s test score is out of the teacher’s control.)

“Nevertheless, ignoring that the teacher controls so little of student outcomes in the form of market-driven-reform-loving test scores, in its efforts to try to purchase higher student test scores, the Gates Foundation offered ten school districts nationwide the multi-million-dollar-funded opportunity to prove that teachers could indeed be cajoled into producing better “student achievement” (i.e., ever-higher test scores) when such teachers were measured by their students’ test scores and offered more money for “raising” said scores.

“As a 2009 winner of an Empowering Effective Teachers grant, Hillsborough was thrilled (“We’ll be a national model!”). A December 21, 2015 archive of Hillsborough schools’ “Empowering Teachers” webpage includes a number of enthusiastic responses regarding the newly-acquired, $100 million Gates grant. Front and center in these celebratory public statements is then-Hillsborough superintendent, MaryEllen Elia (Then-Governor Charlie Crist: “I commend Superintendent MaryEllen Elia and the Hillsborough County School District for their enthusiasm and commitment to working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation during the next seven years to improve student academic performance through rewarding high quality teachers both professionally and monetarily. The foundation’s generous grant award of $100 million will greatly enhance the work the district has already done in this area.”)

“However, part of the Hillsborough-Gates agreement involved Hillsborough’s ponying up money of its own– which ended up eating into the Hillsborough schools’ reserves and threatening its bond rating. As reported in the August 04, 2015, Tampa Bay Tribune, the Empowering Effective Teachers initiative is not the only financial stressor affecting the Hillsborough bond rating, but it is nevertheless noteworthy.”

How many more such defeats can the reformers take before they figure out that their ideas are failures?

Seattle parents are encouraging others to cancel their subscription to the Seattle Times, which is anti-union, anti-teacher, anti-public school, and pro-charter.

Dora Taylor writes on the parent activist blog:

“The majority of people I speak to are thoroughly disgusted with the Times and its biased editorials and selection of topics headlined that seem to reflect the opinion of the moneyed few rather than providing real information.

“Bill Gates bought a section of the Seattle Times and titled it the Education Lab. It seemed it wasn’t enough that the Seattle Times was already a shill for charter schools and merit pay for teachers based on test scores, Gates now had his own pull-out section of the newspaper.

“Now parents of students in Seattle Public Schools are fighting mad about the one-sided reporting and editorializing of the teachers’ strike and they are taking action….”

Wayne Au, a professor at the University of Washington, explains why the Washington Supreme Court declared charter schools unconstitutional and why this decision has national implications.

The Court’s decision, he writes, was a “major rebuke” to the charter industry (and to Seattle’s richest resident, Bill Gates, who plunked millions into the 2012 referendum allowing charter schools, which passed by 50.69% of the vote).

At the heart of the Washington State’s Supreme Court ruling was the idea that charter schools, as defined by the law, were not actually “public schools.” The key issue is this: Washington State’s constitution has a provision that only “common schools” receive tax dollars allocated for public education. The law in Washington State is structured so that charter schools are governed at both the school level and state level by an appointed board, not an elected one. As such, charter schools in Washington State would receive public monies without any guarantee of accountability to any democratically elected, public body. The Washington State Supreme Court decided that this lack of public oversight of charter schools meant that did not meet the definition of “common schools” and therefore are not eligible to receive public monies made available for public schools.

Au was a plaintiff in the lawsuit; before that, he frequently spoke and wrote about the dangers that privately managed charter schools pose to public education. He understood that they are a precursor to privatization and a direct threat to community responsibility for public schools for all children.

As background, he points out that the Washington Supreme Court had previously ordered the legislature to fully fund the state’s public schools and is fining the legislature $100,000 a day for its failure to do so (since August 15).

Charter school supporters are furious about the Court’s decision and are now trying to persuade the legislature to create a separate funding stream for charter schools. Au asks how this make sense: Why should the legislature create a separate fund for charters enrolling 1,300 students when it has not properly funded public schools enrolling 1 MILLION students?

Our blog poet, who signs as SomeDam Poet, contributed these words of wisdom:


Hail Arne
Full of Gates
The Core is with thee
Mes-sed art thou among Reformers
And mes-sed is the fruit of thy room, RTTT


Our Coleman
Who aren’t an educator
Hollow be they claim
Thy King-dom come,
Thy will be dumb,
In NY as it is in Washington
Spare us this Core our daily bore,
and forgive us our testpasses,
as we forgive those who testpass in charters ;
and lead us not into DAM nation,
but deliver us from Common Core.



A comment posted on the blog:


“Thank-you. I’ve been teaching for 26 years. I currently teach kindergarten. You should see the SLO (Student Learning Objective) test that I have to give my kindergarteners next week. The state of Georgia, in its infinite wisdom, came up with the term Student Learning Objective, realizing too late that it spells SLO. How appropriate.


“Anyway, next week’s test is hilarious when you read it, knowing what I know about five year olds & seeing it from their point of view. It is also ridiculous and sad. I so wish Bill Gates would come and administer that test for me next week so he could get a taste of what he & others are causing our students to go through. Testing isn’t educating, but it’s all we seem to do anymore. Even in primary school.


“To make matters worse, our new “teacher evaluation instrument” is convoluted and makes little sense. We are observed 6 times a year and downgraded if our lesson plans aren’t done just so, no matter that they are MY lesson plans. Here’s the real kicker: we must have our “I can” statements clearly posted, taking up valuable wall space, and we must refer to them and chant “I can….. ” do whatever ridiculous, age inappropriate objective set aside for us to “teach them.” I said the “I can” statements with my students a couple of times, realized how utterly useless they are, and haven’t done it since. It’s bad enough that I have to have them posted. My principal has told me that I live in a world of “butterflies, birds, and rainbows” and that I “do my own thing.” I’m glad she’s finally figured that out.”

Over 100 international organizations signed a statement critical of privatization of education in Kenya and Uganda. They specifically criticized the World Bank for endorsing a for-profit chain of schools called Bridge International Academies. According to the statement released today, “BIA is backed by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Pierre Omidiyar, and multinational publishing company Pearson, among others. It operates in Kenya and Uganda, with plans to invest in Nigeria, India and other countries. It now has close to 120,000 pupils enrolled in more than 400 schools.” The endorsers of the statement believe these countries need free public education with qualified teachers, not for-profit schools with untrained teachers.

The press release, with links, reads as follows:

Over 100 organisations around the world express deep concerns about the World Bank support for privatisation in education

Press release – 14 May 2015
(Nairobi, Kampala, Washington DC, Brussels)

Today, more than one hundred national and international organisations across the world released a joint open statement addressed to the president of the World Bank, Jim Kim. The statement expresses their deep concerns about the World Bank’s expressed support for the development of a multinational chain of low-fee profit-making private primary schools targeting poor families in Kenya and Uganda, Bridge International Academies (BIA). It comes as a response to a recent speech of the president of the World Bank, Jim Kim, who praised BIA as a means to alleviate poverty.

With signatories including community-based, national, and international organisations, as well as networks and trade unions representing thousands of organisations and millions of individuals in five continents, the statement reflects a growing global movement questioning policies in support for private education in developing countries, including from the World Bank. The statement was written and signed by 30 organisations in Uganda and Kenya, which are the countries primarily affected by the World Bank policy, and received the additional support of 116 organisations.

BIA uses highly standardised teaching methods, untrained low-paid teachers, and aggressive marketing strategies to target poor households, building on their aspiration to a better life to sell them its services.

According to a resident of Mathare, one of the oldest informal settlements in Nairobi, where BIA operates:

“Bridge, they come here, but they don’t understand how things work. They don’t work with other schools, with the community. They just come from door to door to sell their product.”

Nevertheless, the World Bank has invested 10 million dollars in BIA, while on the other hand it has no active or planned investments in either Kenya or Uganda’s public basic education systems.

In his speech delivered earlier in April, Jim Kim claimed that that “average scores for reading and math have risen high above their public school peers” in Bridge International Academies. Yet, the source of the data quoted by Jim Kim has not been disclosed by the World Bank, and it appears to have been taken directly from a study conducted by BIA itself.

The World Bank president further stated that “the cost per student at Bridge Academies is just $6 dollars a month”. This suggestion that $6 is an acceptable amount of money for poor households to pay reveals a profound lack of understanding of the reality of the lives of the poorest. Kenyan and Ugandan organisations have calculated that for half of the population in Kenya and Uganda, spending $6 per month per child to send three primary school age children to a Bridge Academy would cost at least a quarter of their monthly income – whereas these families are already struggling to be able to provide three meals a day to their children.

Moreover, the real total cost of sending one child to a Bridge school may in fact be between $9 and $13 a month, and up to $20 when including school meals. Based on these figures, sending three children to BIA would represent 68% (in Kenya) to 75% (in Uganda) of the monthly income of half the population in these countries.

Salima Namusobya, the Director of the Initiative for Socio-Economic Rights, a Ugandan organisation that also signed the joint statement, said:

“If the World Bank is genuine about fulfilling its mission to provide every child with the chance to have a high-quality primary education regardless of their family’s income, they should be campaigning for a no-fee system in particular contexts like that of Uganda.
The speech from Jim Kim came shortly after members of civil society from several countries, including Uganda, met with senior education officials of the World Bank specifically to discuss its support for fee-charging, private primary schools, and funding for BIA in particular.

It also comes at a time where there is an unprecedented increase in financing of private education across the world, especially in Africa, often with the support of foreign investors. These investments have attracted equally growing criticism, including in a recent report highlighting how the UK government, via its Department for International Development (DfID), supports privatising education and health services. DfID is also an investor in Bridge International Academies.
The organisations’ statement calls on the World Bank in particular to stop promoting and cease investing in Bridge International Academies and other fee-charging, private providers of basic education, and instead to support the free, public, quality education which the laws applicable in Kenya, Uganda, and other countries require.


BIA is backed by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Pierre Omidiya, and multinational publishing company Pearson, among others. It operates in Kenya and Uganda, with plans to invest in Nigeria, India and other countries. It now has close to 120,000 pupils enrolled in more than 400 schools.


* The statement can be found on

* The letter accompanying the statement sent to Jim Kim, and which sums up the arguments made in the statement, can be found on

* For more information on privatisation in education and projects currently being run, check

* Follow the hashtag #EducationBeforeProfit on social media


David Edwards, Education International Deputy General Secretary, via email: or mobile: 0032 473 84 73 61

Education International
Internationale de l’Éducation
Internacional de la Educación

Head Office|5 bd du Roi Albert II|1210 Brussels |Belgium
Tel.:+32 2 224
06 11 | Fax: +32 2 224 06 06 |

More than any other person, with the possible exception of President Obama and Secretary Duncan, Bill Gates controls American education. He has promoted charter schools (a passion he shares with ALEC, Obama, and every rightwing governor); VAM; high-stakes testing; Common Core; and whatever promotes free-market fundamentalism. His billions are the tiller that guides the ship.

Anthony Cody reproduces an interview in which Gates shows zero knowledge of how his pet reforms have failed. He shows no recognition of charter scandals or the effect of charters on the public schools who lose their top students and funding. He seems unaware that VAM has failed everywhere.

Cody points out that Gates uses the same talking points he used years ago. He lauds mayoral control and cites NYC and Chicago as successful school systems (he dropped DC from his standard line about the glories of top-down decision making).

What comes clear is that he doesn’t care about evidence or lives in a bubble where sycophants protect him from bad news.

It is time for him to stop meddling in school reform. His efforts, though well intentioned, have failed. The backlash will grow as parents react against Gates’ obsession with testing and free market economics.

You can meet Anthony Cody at the following events:

“Note: I will be doing three Educator and Oligarch book talks this week, starting Weds. May 13, at Copperfield’s Books in San Rafael, California, then on to Spokane, Washington on Thursday, May 14, and wrapping up the series in Seattle, Washington on Friday, May 15. All events are free and open to the public.”

Jennifer is a Momma Bear in Tennessee. The Momma Bears are a parent group that fights for their children and their schools.

Jennifer had a fantasy: She imagined she was stuck in an elevator with Bill Gates. Trapped between floors. And she told him what she thought. In the time they were stuck, she insisted he watch a video that disproved his world-view. She even gave him fruit snacks (he was famished).

What did she teach him? Read and enjoy.

Denny Taylor is Professor Emerita of Literacy Studies at Hofstra University. She has won many awards for her writing about literacy and literature. She is also the founder and CEO of Garn Press, which published the book I am reviewing (and also published Anthony Cody’s The Educator and the Oligarch).


Save Our Children, Save Our School, Pearson Broke the Golden Rule is a political satire about the current education “reform” movement. It takes place in an imaginary “Cafe Griensteidl” in New York City, at 72nd Street and Broadway, where the author and a friend meet for coffee. In this comedy, the leading players in the “reform” movement appear at the cafe and get into discussion or debate with the author. Nine powerful men happen to be in the cafe, including Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, Joel Klein, and Michael Barber (of Pearson). They banter with the author and her friend. She makes clear that these nine powerful men know nothing about education yet are taking control of the American public school system.


The men leave, and in the last “Act” of the book, twelve eminent female scholars (living and dead) talk about what is happening and the need to resist. The chapter is headed by this statement: “In which twelve venerable women scholars with more than 500 years of teaching experience refuse to capitulate to the demands made by nine rich men who have no teaching qualifications or teaching experience.” Hannah Arendt, Virginia Woolf, Simone Weil, Adrienne Rich, Yetta Goodman, Toni Morrison, and more are there. As the wise women speak, people come into the cafe and make YouTube videos, Tweet, or just listen. Yetta begins to rap. Horns honk. Traffic jams form at the corner of 72nd Street and Broadway. The women at the table clap along with Yetta’s rapping. The women talk about how to stop the corporate takeover of U.S. education.


Denny Taylor, sitting at the table with the great women, says, “Children have a right to a free and public education. For the pursuit of human knowledge and understanding that is free of corporate greed.”


“We should not have to ask permission for teachers to teach in developmentally appropriate ways that inspire and excite, and enhance our children’s incredible capacity to learn–


“–for the sheer joyfulness of their lives and for their lightness of being.”


The great women agree: We are and always will be defenders of every child’s right to a childhood free of despots and demons, except those they imagine when playing with friends….”


The author says, “Dump Pearson….Barber and Pearson are taking our children in the wrong direction,” she says. “His Whole System of Global Education Revolution is a global social catastrophe, a total system failure.”


Others ask how to stop this recklessness. The author responds, “The madness will stop if we refuse to participate. The struggle for democracy is always ground up….Make it a crime for oligarchs to interfere with democratic social systems. It’s vote tampering on a national scale.” She adds, referring to Bill Gates, “He’s violating the rights of fifty million children, jeopardizing their future. Send him to jail.”


“Tell Gates we choose decency and democracy and not the indecency of his oligarchy. He does not have the power to dictate how our children are taught in public schools.


“Tell him we refuse to participate in his Common Core experiments. Ban the use of galvanic skin devices in affective computing trials that he’s funded.


“Tell him to stop wasting his money. To spend it for the Common Good. Build new public schools. Create parks in poor urban neighborhoods. Make sure there are health centers. Medical care for everyone in the community.


“Tell him to put his money into Earth-friendly low-income housing.


“Libraries. Media centers.


“Work with local leaders. Make sure they’re not exploited…


“Pearson could too. Tell Barber we take back our independence. That US public schools are no longer under Pearson’s colonial rule.”


The book is funny, learned, and zany. If you want to order it, go to


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