Archives for category: Gates Foundation, Bill Gates

John Thompson reviews Anthony Cody’s néw book THE EDUCATOR AND THE OLIGARCH. The book recapitulates Cody’s five-part debate with the Gates Foundation. Thompson says Cody demolished their spokesmen.

Thompson writes that Cody won the debate, hands down:

“They probably didn’t expect a mere teacher to assemble and concisely present such an overwhelming case against their policies. But, who knows?, perhaps they were completely unaware of the vast body of social science that Cody drew upon, and they blamed the messenger for the education research he brought to the table. The Educator and the Oligarch explains how the failed Gates reforms could create an education dystopia.”

Best of all is Thompson’s summary of Cody’s proposal for how Gates ought to be evaluated.

Example:

“Since Bill Gates, more than any other person, is responsible for the absurd evaluations that are now being imposed on teachers, Cody wonders if Gates’ practice as a philanthropist should be evaluated. If so, what would it look like? Cody makes a strong case that in the tradition of the Danielson and Marzano teacher evaluation frameworks, an abbreviated version of his evaluation would look like the following:

Standard 1: Awareness of the Social Conditions Targeted by Philanthropy

Rating: Below Standard

… Actions and statements by him and his representatives indicate ignorance of the pervasive effects of poverty, and the overwhelming research that indicates the need to address these effects directly.

Recommendation for Professional Growth: We recommend Bill Gates take a year off from his work as a philanthropist, and work as a high school instructor in an urban setting. …

In response to an earlier post about the U.S. Department of Education setting “measurable and rigorous targets” for children with disabilities, ages 0-3, Laura H. Chapman writes:

“This is nothing more than an extension of the Data Quality campaign that Bill Gates has funded since 2005 along with USDE– initially limited to Pre-K through college, but now clearly starting at birth, and likely in a race to get as much data into “the cloud” on each cohort of kids ASAP along with some hard-wired policies such as do this or we will gut the health and human services funding and IDEA funding for your state.

“Comply or else.

“Of course, closing the achievement gap will be easy enough if you just demand more of the parents and hand over all of the “evidence-based interventions” to instant experts. They will have conjured all of the necessary and sufficient measures for ratings of “infant and toddler and parent effectiveness.”

“Don’t forget checklists for observation, with rubrics for properly identifying all-purpose and specialized remedies for every condition, Instant experts on “disabilities” are sure to be ready (for a fee) to share their power points and modules for corrective action.

“Let’s see, let’s have some infant and toddler SLOs with targets to reach every three months, so quarterly reports can be filed at the state level. Or some VAM calculations with grand inferential leaps from scores on cognitive function, locomotion, eye-hand coordination, new scores for versions of the old Piaget experiments. Add some body sensors to pick up rigorous data on pee and poop and tantrum control, a measure of infant and toddler grit in retaining gas or vomit.

“Perhaps the real aim is to privatize the US Census, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, etc., etc., etc.

“I think that Arne Duncan and Bill Gates have never been in the presence of infants and toddlers and adults who are struggling to make sense out of the booming buzzing confusion that marks you as alive and human and doing your best even if you are not blessed from birth with “the right stuff,” plenty of money and connections with people who give you a bunch of tax dollars and discretionary authority to spend these at will..

“I hope the over-reach on this idiotic plan makes big news.

“My fear is that it will not.”

One of the genuine, stand-up heroes of American education is Anthony Cody. I am happy to place his name on the honor roll of this blog.

As a veteran teacher, he worked constantly to improve his craft. He became a National Board Certified Teacher. Now, he is an advocate for teachers and public education, for equity and children. As a blogger, he has been fearless in defending the right of every child to a good education. He has deferred to no one in his passion for justice. Please order his new book “The Educator and the Oligarch.”

Please read this interview of Anthony conducted by Valerie Strauss. He explains why he challenged the strategies of the Gates Foundation.

He says:

“One of the problems with the Gates Foundation is that they have had an almost unlimited source of funding over the past decade. And they are conducting a large-scale experiment with the children of the nation. Nobody voted for them to do this. They use the power of their money to pay for research, to pay organizations to support their agenda, and this undermines democratic decision-making, especially in communities that, due to poverty, lack effective political power.

“I have no great wealth, no real access to political power. I am a retired science teacher with a blog. I saw the effects their agenda had on the schools in Oakland and across the country, and I challenge them to take a closer look and see what is happening. See what happens when you increase class sizes, as Bill Gates suggested. See what happens when you tie teacher evaluations to test scores. See what happens when your policies ignore the very real effects of poverty. See what happens when you attempt to “personalize” instruction by the use of computers instead of human beings. I am one teacher, but as more and more people realize the experiment we have all become unwilling subjects of, more will join me in challenging this oligarch. Because money may give you the power to do all this, but might does not make right.”

“All I really need to know I learned in smoke-filled back rooms.” (apologies to Robert Fulghum)

0. *****Always accept grant money from Bill Gates.****

1. Test everything that moves (even the classroom goldfish)

2. Play with cut scores.

3. Don’t hit teachers (Just fire them)

4. Always leave things in more chaos than when you found them.

5. NEVER (EVER!!) CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.

6. Never admit you are wrong and never (ever!) say you are sorry.

7. Wash your hands of everything that goes wrong.

8. Flush after each school closing.

9. VAMs and failings (students, teachers, schools) are good.

10. Unions and teacher independence and creativity in the classroom are bad.

11. Mandate a Fair and Balanced (TM) curriculum – teaching some Common Core math and some close reading and never (ever) allowing students to draw or paint or sing or dance or play or go out for recess and making sure they do a minimum of 4 hours homework every day (especially in kindergarten)

12. Take a shot of whiskey every afternoon.

13. When you go out into the world, watch out for Diane Ravitch, hold secret meetings, and stick together.

14. Beware the American Statistical Association. Remember Vergara: The student test scores go down and the teacher firings go up and nobody really knows how or why, but we all like that.

15. Statistics and standardized tests and VAMs – they all lie. So do we.

16. And then remember the Common Core books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – Test”

How many times have you heard people like Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, Joel Klein (remember him?) and other so-called reformers say that poverty doesn’t matter, that poverty is an excuse for poor teaching?

I have always believed that poverty imposes tremendous burdens on students and their families: hunger, homelessness, lack of medical care, illness, etc.

The best evidence of the difference that poverty makes is SAT scores. The poorest kids have the lowest scores, the most affluent have the highest. The difference from bottom to top is nearly 400 points. To be exact, it is 398 points.

The Wall Street Journal suggests a new name for the SAT: the Student Affluence Test.

What does the SAT measure? Family income and family education.

Those with vast resources of their own probably think that poverty is a personal defect rather than the inevitable result of an inequitable tax system.

Anthony Cody just published a book about his efforts to educate Bill Gates. The book is called “The Educator and the Oligarch: A Teacher Challenges Bill Gates.” Please buy it and read it.

Bill Gates has used his billions to impose his ideas, despite his total lack of experience as a teacher or student or parent in the nation’s public schools. He surrounds himself with people who obviously never say no to him, never tell him his ideas are wacky and harmful.

Anthony Cody set himself the mission of explaining to Bill Gates why his ideas were wrong and what he should do instead. Cody even got the Foundation to engage in a dialogue with him.

I was honored to write the preface to my friend Anthony’s book.

This is what I wrote:

Anthony Cody is a teacher. For Cody, teaching is not just a job. It is his profession. It is his way of life. It is the place where his brain, his life experience, and his heart are joined. Having spent eighteen years as a middle-school science teacher in Oakland, California, having achieved National Board Certification while teaching in one of the nation’s toughest urban districts, Cody embraces teaching as his mission in life. He now coaches teachers, mentors teachers, and tries to instill in them the love and spirit that animated his own teaching.

When Cody began blogging on a regular basis in Education Week, he called his blog “Living in Dialogue,” which was an acknowledgement that truth is elusive and that there are usually at least two sides to every argument. Each column ends with pointed questions, inviting readers to agree or disagree with him, not to accept whatever he wrote as authoritative. He writes in the spirit of the science that he taught, with an informed mind, but with a skeptical bent, encouraging readers to question him and to question their own beliefs.

As a regular blogger, one with a particular interest in the teaching profession, it was only a matter of time until he began taking on the myriad of interest groups that are now seeking to undermine and destroy his beloved profession. He developed a large following, as he sharpened his ideas and his aims. In time, he recognized that the most powerful force in opposition to his own ideas about teaching was the Gates Foundation.

With his blog as his platform, he trained his sights on the Gates Foundation. While others feared to criticize the richest foundation in the United States, Cody regularly devoted blogs to questioning its ideas and programs. He questioned its focus on standardized testing. He questioned its belief that teachers should be judged by the test scores of their students. He questioned its support for organizations that are anti-union and anti-teacher. He questioned its decision to create new organizations of young teachers to act as a fifth column within teachers’ unions, ready to testify in legislative hearings against the interests of teachers and unions.

Perhaps because of his persistence, perhaps because of his earnest tone, perhaps because of his experience, Anthony Cody managed to get the attention of the Gates Foundation. The Foundation agreed to engage in a written debate with Cody. At the time, some of his admirers wondered whether the Gates Foundation would find a way to buy off or mollify or silence one of its most outspoken critics. But they underestimated Cody.

He exchanged several blogs with high-level members of the Gates Foundation, and his blogs were incisive, carefully documented, and fearless. The main point that he made—drawing on his own experience in Oakland as a classroom teacher but also on external and unimpeachable data—is that poverty is the greatest handicap to the academic performance of students today, not “bad teachers.” He knew that the Gates Foundation had helped to fund the anti-teacher propaganda film “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” and he saw the hand of the Foundation in almost every effort to reduce the status of the teaching profession and to replace it with scripts, standardized testing, and technology.

This book is a record of Anthony Cody’s valiant struggle to force the nation’s most powerful foundation and richest person to listen to the voice of an experienced teacher. Did Cody succeed? It is hard to know. Even as Cody was debating the Gates Foundation, it was spending billions of dollars to develop and implement the Common Core standards, which was yet another attempt to “teacher-proof” America’s classrooms. Cody knows that past efforts at “teacher-proofing” the schools were never successful. He knows that good schools depend on teachers who are well prepared, devoted to improving their craft, and devoted to their students.

There is no replacement for well-prepared teachers or for a school where collaboration—not competition—is the norm. Cody also understands that teachers alone—no matter how good or great they are—and schools alone—no matter how good or great they are—cannot overcome the handicaps imposed on children, families and communities by inequality, poverty, and segregation. This is his message to the oligarch who runs the Gates Foundation: Will he listen?

Diane Ravitch

Daniel S. Katz, a professor of education at Seton Hall University, explains on his blog how to recognize a phony education reform group.

The key is, as always, follow the money. If the group is funded by the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Walton Foundation, the John Arnold Foundation, or the Helmsley Foundation (among others), you can bet there are no grassroots. If they not only have said funding but an expensive location and grow rapidly, and if they advocate for charter schools and test-based evaluation of teachers, there are no grassroots, only faux reform roots that are part of the movement to privatize public education. The “reform” movement likes to pretend that it has a broad base so it funds numerous “front” groups. We have not seen so many front groups since the 1930s. Today, as then, they represent no community, no one but the funders and the elites and those with a hidden but anti-democratic agenda.

Readers of this blog understand the corporate assault on public education. With few exceptions, you know of Bill Gates’ belief that metrics can solve all the world’s problems. You are aware from the events in your state or district that corporate raiders look at the public schools as a way to get rich with their sales pitch for a charter school, a charter chain, a cyberschool, a professional development gig, or new technology.

 

Again and again, the question arises: How do we get the story to the mainstream media when media giants are cashing in on testing and technology? How can we make the voices of parents and teachers heard?

 

Here it is. Bob Herbert, who was a columnist for the New York Times, tells the story in his new book, Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America (Doubleday).

 

Herbert’ explains “The Plot Against Public Education: How Millionaires and Billionaires Are Ruining Our Schools” in politico.com.

 

 

Here is Bob Herbert on the reformers’ favorite reform:

 

“This hit-or-miss attitude—let’s try this, let’s try that—has been a hallmark of school reform efforts in recent years. The experiments trotted out by the big-money crowd have been all over the map. But if there is one broad approach (in addition to the importance of testing) that the corporate-style reformers and privatization advocates have united around, it’s the efficacy of charter schools. Charter schools were supposed to prove beyond a doubt that poverty didn’t matter, that all you had to do was free up schools from the rigidities of the traditional public system and the kids would flourish, no matter how poor they were or how chaotic their home environments.

 

“Corporate leaders, hedge fund managers and foundations with fabulous sums of money at their disposal lined up in support of charter schools, and politicians were quick to follow. They argued that charters would not only boost test scores and close achievement gaps but also make headway on the vexing problem of racial isolation in schools.

 

“None of it was true. Charters never came close to living up to the hype. After several years of experimentation and the expenditure of billions of dollars, charter schools and their teachers proved, on the whole, to be no more effective than traditional schools. In many cases, the charters produced worse outcomes. And the levels of racial segregation and isolation in charter schools were often scandalous. While originally conceived a way for teachers to seek new ways to reach the kids who were having the most difficult time, the charter school system instead ended up leaving behind the most disadvantaged youngsters.”

 

This is a lucid and compelling account of the corporate-driven effort to replace public education–a basic democratic institution–with a market-based, data-driven system of choice and metrics. Herbert sees through the subterfuge s and the double talk. This is an article you should read and a book I plan to order right now.

Peter Greene knows, unlike Bill Gates, that children are not like toasters that Ned to be plugged into an electrical outlet that is everywhere the same. But then Gates brings in the metaphor of a railroad gauge. Ah! A fresh metaphor! New writer? Who knows?

Greene explains why it is a bad metaphor that has nothing to do with students or teaching. And he asks the $64 question: if standardization and uniformity are so great, why does Gates love charter schools?

And now the big question: what metaphor will Gates use next to make the case for standardization of learning?

As we noted previously, Bill Gates compares the Common Core to standardization of electrical plugs and outlets, and to the gauge of railroad tracks. This is not a new metaphor from him. He used it several months ago when he explained the need for Common Core to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The question of the day, therefore, is this: is your child an electrical outlet, an electrical plug, or an electrical appliance? Is she a toaster or a lamp?

Here is the standard I want for my grandchildren and your children: the standards at Lakeside Academy in Seattle, where Bill sends his children. The school has small classes, experienced teachers, a beautiful campus, a wonderful arts program, foreign languages, a fabulous gymnasium, a well-stocked library, the latest technology. That’s where I want our children educated. Not as toasters but as human beings.

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