Archives for category: Gates Foundation, Bill Gates

Thanks to Paul Thomas for the link to this impressive post by Kaiser Fung, a professional statistician.

Fung saw an article By Gates claiming that spending on education was rising but student achievement was flat.

Fung demolished this claim and said that Gates was promoting innumeracy.

The scales of his graph were wrong, the analysis was wrong, the arguments rested on fallacies. Gates, he said, compared apples and oranges, and he confused correlation with causation.

Fung writes: “Needless to say, test scores are a poor measure of the quality of education, especially in light of the frequent discovery of large-scale coordinated cheating by principals and teachers driven by perverse incentives of the high-stakes testing movement.” No one told Gates about that, apparently.

And he concludes:

” In the same article, Gates asserts that quality of teaching is the greatest decisive factor explaining student achievement. Which study proves that we are not told. How one can measure such an intangible quantity as “excellent teaching” we are not told. How student achievement is defined, well, you guessed it, we are not told.

“It’s great that the Gates Foundation supports investment in education. Apparently they need some statistical expertise so that they don’t waste more money on unproductive projects based on innumerate analyses.”

How refreshing to know that statisticians like Kaiser Fung are keeping an eye on what is called “reform,” but turns out to be the pet ideas or hobbies or whims of very wealthy people who know little or nothing about education.

This just in from a member of NEA from Massachusetts who is at the Denver convention. She hopes that Lily Eskelsen, the new president, will be a champion and fighter for kids, teachers, and public schools. Is she THE ONE? Will she stand up to the phony “reformers”? Will she fight for democratic control of the schools? Will she tell the plutocrats to use their billions to alleviate poverty instead of taking control of the schools?

I think Lily has it in her. Until proven wrong, I am placing bets that she will stand up fearlessly for what is right, that she will tell Arne Duncan to scram, that she will tell the billionaires to get another hobby.

Here is the message from one of her members:

My comment is awaiting moderation on Lily’s Blackboard.

Here it is.

Lily, thank you for posting this opportunity for substantive engagement on the Gates question.

I’m an activist NEA member in Massachusetts, in a low income district heavily engaged with the policies Bill and Melinda have imposed through their legislative interference and advocacy lobbying, with the compliance of the outgoing Massachusetts Teachers Association leadership.

MTA and NEA compliance directly aided in the imposition of Gates-backed corporate domination in my Commonwealth’s public schools, in my school, in my actual classroom, and over the actual living students I teach.

The (false) distinction you make between Gates’ imposed “standards” and the accountability measures he demands for them will allow the NEA to continue to take his money, and I’ll admit that almost chokes rank-and-file teachers who live and work under his heel. I am going to argue that you to can make a decision of your own, when you take office, to give that money back to him.

First, I’d like to offer congratulations on your succession to the presidency of NEA. The Representative assembly that voted you in brought with it a new activism and determination, and voted in resolutions which break sharply with the previous administration, of which you were a part. We look to you with great hope, holding our breath against it for fear of disappointment.

The Common Core standards can’t “stand on their own merit”. They were backwards-engineered to warp the teaching of language and literature into assessment readiness, with its own novel testing vocabulary. strung together with the bogus Moodle diagram you inserted in this page. The aligned WIDA tests that are now being imposed on ELL students, from the earliest grades, will steal the short and precious window of their childhood. People are tweeting me that those children can’t wait while you do your homework and find that out.

We’re fighting right now for schools in New Bedford and Holyoke that are already being taken over. They were full of living children, just a few weeks ago when we left them. What will we find in August?

We’re asking you to become the courageous and powerful leader of an engaged and mobilized union. I know you saw and felt the hall rise to its feet behind these initiatives. That felt different and deeper than the hearty applause for your victory, did it not?

Bring us to our feet: give back the Gates money.

The website I linked for you is an Education Week column describing the actual effects of the Gates Foundation’s profit-centered philanthropy model in the third world. It’s the responsibility of Americans to become aware of it, when we take money from American corporate philanthropies and allow them to pursue their profits internationally under the subsidy of our tax code.

Why Arne Duncan needs to listen to Bill and Melinda | Li…
I do not hate the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I know it might seem strange to have to make that statement, but such are the times we live in.
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A few years ago, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, David Coleman, and a merry band of policy wonks had a grand plan. The non-governmental groups like Achieve, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Coleman’s own Student Achievement Partners would write the Common Core standards (paid for by the Gates Foundation); Duncan would require states to agree to adopt them as a condition of eligibility for a share of the billions of Race to the Top funds at a time when states were broke; the Feds would spend $370 million to develop tests for the standards; and within a few short years the U.S. would have a seamless system of standards and assessments that could be used to evaluate students, teachers, and schools.

The reason that the Gates Foundation had to pay for the standards is that federal law prohibits the government from controlling, directing, or supervising curriculum or instruction. Of course, it is ludicrous to imagine that the federally-funded tests do not have any direct influence on curriculum or instruction. Many years ago, I interviewed a professor at MIT about his role in the new science programs of the 1960s, and he said something I never forgot: “Let me write a nation’s tests, and I care not who writes its songs or poetry.”

So how fares the seamless system? Not so well. Critics of the standards and tests seem to gathering strength and growing bolder. The lack of any democratic process for writing, reviewing, and revising the standards is coming back to bite the architects and generals who assumed they could engineer a swift and silent coup. The claim, often made by Duncan, that the U.S. needs a way to compare the performance of students in different states ignores the fact that the Federal National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) already exists to do precisely that. In addition, critics like Carol Burris and John Murphy have pointed out that the Common Core tests agreed upon a cut score (passing mark) that is designed to fail most students.

As politico.com reports, support for the federally-funded tests is crumbling as states discover the costs, the amount of time required, and their loss of sovereignty over a basic state function. The federal government pays about 10% of the cost of education, while states and localities pay the other 90%. Why should the federal government determine what happens in the nation’s schools? What happened to the long-established tradition that states are “laboratories of democracy”? Why shouldn’t the federal government stick to its mandate to fund poor schools and to defend the civil rights of students, instead of trying to standardize curriculum, instruction, and testing?

So far, at least 17 states have backed away from using the federal tests this spring, and some are determined not to use them ever. Another half-dozen may drop out. In many, legislators are appalled at the costs of adopting a federal test. Both the NEA and the AFT, which have supported the standards, have balked at the tests because teachers are not ready, nor is curriculum, teaching resources, and professional development.

Time and costs are big issues for the federal exams:

“PARCC estimates its exams will take eight hours for an average third-grader and nearly 10 hours for high school students — not counting optional midyear assessments to make sure students and teachers are on track.

“PARCC also plans to develop tests for kindergarten, first- and second- graders, instead of starting with third grade as is typical now. And it aims to test older students in 9th, 10th and 11th grades instead of just once during high school.

“Cost is also an issue. Many states need to spend heavily on computers and broadband so schools can deliver the exams online as planned. And the tests themselves cost more than many states currently spend — an estimated $19 to $24 per student if they’re administered online and up to $33 per student for paper-and-pencil versions.

“That adds up to big money for testing companies. Pearson, which won the right to deliver PARCC tests, could earn more than $1 billion over the next eight years if enough states sign on.”

One of the two federally-funded testing consortia, PARCC, is now entangled in a legal battle in New Mexico, which was sued by AIR for failing to take competitive bids for the lucrative testing contract. This could lead to copycat suits in other states whose laws require competitive bidding but ignored the law to award the contract to Pearson.

Frankly, the idea of subjecting third graders to an eight-hour exam is repugnant, as is the prospect of a 10-hour exam for high school students, as is the absurd idea of testing children in kindergarten, first, and second grades. All of these tests will be accompanied by test prep and interim exams and periodic exams. This is testing run amok, and the biggest beneficiary will be the testing industry, certainly not students.

Students don’t become smarter or wiser or more creative because of testing. Instead, all this testing will deduct as much as a month of instruction for testing and preparation for testing. In addition, states will spend tens of millions, hundreds of millions, or even more, to buy the technology and bandwidth necessary for the Common Core testing (Los Angeles–just one district–plans to spend a cool $1 billion to buy the technology for the Common Core tests). The money spent for Common Core testing means there will be less money to reduce class sizes, to hire arts teachers, to repair crumbling buildings, to hire school nurses, to keep libraries open and staffed, and to meet other basic needs). States are cutting the budget for schools at the same time that the Common Core is diverting huge sums for new technology, new textbooks, new professional development, and other requirements to prepare for the Common Core.

Common Core testing will turn out to be the money pit that consumed American education. The sooner it dies, the sooner schools and teachers will be freed of the Giant Federal Accountability Plan hatched in secret and foisted upon our nation’s schools. And when it does die, teachers will have more time to do their job and to use their professional judgment to do what is best for each student..

Anthony Cody points out the contradiction between claims that the Common Core will prepare students for college and careers and the reality that the Common Core tests are designed to fail most students.

He also notes what happened to the GED graduation rate after Pearson took control of the program. The pass rate on the GED plummeted.

What is going on? Cody has two hypotheses:

“Hypothesis #1:

“Corporations are unable to find an adequate supply of highly skilled and educated people, and if we make it harder to graduate high school or earn a GED we will get a larger number of people on track for these skilled jobs.

“This is the basic reason stated by the Gates Foundation and other advocates of “higher standards.” This has been the rationale for the Common Core, along with the idea that we are somehow losing in an international race for higher test scores.

“If this were the case, we should see employers experiencing some sort of shortage of skilled workers. Economists can find no evidence of such a shortage. This report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the top seven occupations with the largest projected numerical growth require at most a two-year Associates degree, and most require only short-term on-the-job training.

“Hypothesis #2:

“Employers actually need FEWER employees with college degrees, and perhaps even fewer workers overall, due to increases in efficiency that are coming through technology. This creates a challenge to the stability of the system – how can we justify leaving many people who are willing to work idle? Perhaps we need a system to label these people “unready for college and career.”

“I do find some evidence to support this hypothesis. We are already in what has been termed a “jobless recovery,” which means that while corporate profits are sky-high, these profits are being made with fewer and fewer workers. A report in the MIT Technology Review suggests that in the next 20 years, 45% of American jobs could be eliminated as a result of computerization.

“There is an idea, most recently expounded by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, that any student, including those with significant learning disabilities, can pass ever more difficult tests. If our entire education system is re-tooled to prepare for Common Core tests, teachers are evaluated based on test scores, and energetic innovators produce new devices and “learning systems,” ALL students will somehow rise to meet the challenge. Where have we heard this premise before? Oh yes. The mythical 100% proficiency rates of No Child Left Behind. We have abandoned one myth simply to embrace another. I think it is time to call an end to this charade.

“Tests do not and cannot accurately measure who is “ready for college and career.” They can only serve to stigmatize, rank, sort, and justify the abandonment of an ever larger number of our students. The Gates Foundation’s Common Core project, in spite of Vicki Phillips’ reassurances, is NOT acting in the interests of our students when it labels large numbers of them as rejects. It is putting millions of them in grave danger. Fortunately, the Common Core tests are encountering serious trouble. The Pearson GED test ought to be rejected as well, and the sooner the better.

“Our public education system has as its noble mission the elevation of all students to their highest potential. This is not defined by their future usefulness to employers. And if corporations find ways to make their billions while employing fewer and fewer of our graduates, that will not be a failure of our educational system, nor of our students themselves. Our economic system ought to be critically examined and re-thought, if, in fact, “all lives have equal value.” As advances in efficiency allow greater productivity, those gains should be shared widely, not hoarded by the .01%. Any testing system that results in massive failure is an assault on our students and should be fought by anyone who cares for their future.”

At a meeting in Los Alamos, Bill Gates said it was easier to find cures for malaria and other diseases than to “fix” American education. Being the richest man in America, people hang on his every word.

Gates again knocks U.S. education. He said that technology should help, but it only benefits motivated students, and the U.S. has lots of unmotivated students. Usually, he blames teachers. Now he blames students.

My favorite line in the article: Gates could not land his private jet at the Los Alamos airport because his plane is too big for the runway.

What Gates needs to know:

1. The terrible effects of poverty on children’s ability to succeed in school. The fact that the U.S. has the highest child poverty rate of all advanced nations. He should read Richard Rothstein’s enlightening book, “Class and Schools,” which summarizes the social science on this issue. Or, if he doesn’t like reading books, he might read this article from the New York Times about counties in Texas where the economy is booming yet 39% of the children live in poverty. He should think about children who miss school because they are sick. Think about children who don’t get routine medical care. Think about children who are not sure there will be dinner on the table. They don’t need more tests. They don’t need schools where their teachers are evaluated by their test scores. They need economic security. If Bill thinks long enough about the lives of these children, maybe he will come up with some big ideas to do something about it.

2. His ideas about fixing education are wrong. He is surrounded by yes men and women who don’t want to break the bad news to him.

In response to a post by Peter Greene (“The Arne Duncan Drinking Game“), this reader describes the National PTA convention in Texas. The National PTA has received $2.5 million from the Gates Foundation, including $500,000 specifically for Common Core. Also, the National PTA provided a screening of the anti-public school “Waiting for Superman” at its annual convention in 2011. Odd.

She writes:

“I was at that PTA convention in Texas and I bit my tongue through his entire speech. I wanted to throw up. I have lost faith in the PTA. While I love what PTA does at a local level for our schools, I am sickened by what I see at the state and National PTA levels. Our voices as members have been sold out to corporate interests, and the top leadership is out of touch with parents today. Most of the top leaders dont even have children in public schools anymore so they think we are overreacting about the excessive testing and problems with common core. The leaders enjoy the power and prestige of their office and won’t listen to parents and teachers.

“Even more alarming, the general meetings at the national PTA convention were sponsored by Discover Card, Microsoft, and Pearson. During the general meetings, attendees were forced to sit through 15 minute commercials about their corporations and hear about their “partnerships” with PTA. The week before the convention, delegates received emails from PTA with advertisements for Pearson, telling us to be sure to stop by Pearson’s booth in the exhibit hall. How much did PTA get to spam our inboxes with marketing? We paid a lot of money to attend that convention, I don’t appreciate my email address being sold like that, especially to Pearson.”

Jesse Hagopian of Garfield High School in Seattle wrote this speech for the protest at the gates of the Gates Foundation a few days ago:

“Comments from Jesse Hagopian For the Gates Foundation Protest:”

Teaching in the shadow of the Gates Foundation is an ominous and treacherous endeavor. Everywhere you turn there is another so-called “expert”, funded by the Gates foundation–with very little, if any classroom experience—who believes that their dollars have given them sense.

Gates believes in the right of the rich to control the schools and even the very idea of what knowledge is. We believe that education and knowledge should be democratic pursuits and that only through collaboration—not market competition—can we fully become complete human beings.

Gates believes the intellectual and social-emotional processes can and should be reduced to a test score. We believe standardized testing can’t begin to quantify the things that matter most in education: imagination, collaboration, civic courage, empathy, and creativity.

The problem for us is that Gates has a few more dollars than we have.

The problem for Gates is that we have a few more friends, co-workers, and students than he has.

The power of solidarity to defeat the powerful was on full display when teachers at Garfield High School—and then teachers around Seattle—refused to administer the Measures of Academic Progress ( or MAP) test. That struggle defeated the MAP test for high schools in Seattle and helped to ignite a movement around the nation, not only against high-stakes testing, but also to redefine the purpose of education beyond the confines of “career and college ready” to talk about education in pursuit of social justice.

I am sorry I cannot be with you in person today as I am in Omaha sharing the lessons of this growing movement and meeting new people who want to join it. I am excited to say that we are currently in the midst of the biggest uprising against high-stakes testing in U.S. history.

And when the last bubble test is thrown into the dumpster; when our libraries and computer labs are liberated from Pearson tests and can again be used again for research, inquiry, and incubators of imagination; When our schools cease to rank and sort our children and instead become centers of empowerment; you all here today will be remembered as having stared down the self appointed Testocracy Tsar, Bill Gates, and having said to him loud and clear: “our schools are not for sale!”
Jesse co

On June 7, Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post wrote a blockbuster article about how Bill Gates pulled off the Common Core coup, which the headline calls “the swift Common Core revolution.” In a short period of time, less time than it takes a state to write standards in one subject, the U.S. suddenly had “national standards,” written and then adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia. The secret, revealed in Layton’s article: Gates paid for everything, and the U.S. Department of Education used Race to the Top funding as an incentive for states to adopt CCSS. Layton credits Gates with spending some $200 million for the writing, implementation, and advocacy of CCSS, but others believe that Gates’ investment was $2.3 billion. Whether $200 million or $2.3 billion, Gates bought control of standards, curriculum, and assessment in the vast majority of American public schools. Almost every major national organization and education policy group accepted Gates funding to promote CCSS. The Common Core standards were Gates-led, not state-led.

Layton interviewed many people for the article. Her interview with Gates was attached to the article as a video.

Mercedes Schneider transcribed the interview and posted it here. Schneider is writing a book about the origins of the Common Core.

When the Gates Foundation proclaimed the need for a two-year moratorium on the stakes associated with Common Core testing, it created a lot of buzz. Was it a retreat? Was it a trick? We’re they trying to lull critics with a two-year delay? We’re they bowing to the outrage of testing opponents? Of course, most curious of all is that everyone accepts that Bill Gates is in charge of American education, and he calls the shots.

John Thompson, historian and teacher, is willing to accept the Foundation’s olive branch, but he is clear that he will never accept test-based accountability.

He writes:

“Although I once supported Common Core, I don’t see how I could now support national standards in an age of accountability-driven reform. The fouled-up mandates of the last decade are a reminder of the benefits of local governance. So, while I would work with the Foundation to help rectify a huge mistake born of their overreach, I would not trust that the next era of top-down reform would be more balanced or wise.

“I believe that test-driven reformers have now put themselves in a trap of one step forward, two steps back. Next year, as the mutually incompatible policies of Common Core testing and value-added evaluations are implemented, the inevitable trainwreck will occur in many or most urban districts. The press will be full of heart-rending stories of tearful students and frazzled teachers. Some states, like those led by Chiefs for Change, will stay the course, as they accuse their more practical allies of “dithering.” Their priority will thus be even clearer. Nothing can slow their commitment to test and punish.

“A moratorium would be little more than a truce of sorts. We educators would continue to openly oppose high-stakes testing. And, we will continue to oppose the next generation of bubble-in accountability that captures the fancy of the Billionaires Boys Club. But, the Gates Foundation and the participating states would have their hands full patching up their systems of incentives and punishment.

“After all sides make their case for another two years, more voters will want to determine the future path for their children’s schools. If edu-philanthropists and the federal government continue to act as if school improvement is above the voters’ pay grade, that technocratic hubris will backfire.

“If we go two years without high-stakes testing and the Earth doesn’t spin off its axis, more voters will be open to school improvement policies that respect students and teachers.

“Reformers won’t give up either – unless their world spins off its axis.”

Peter Greene responded to John Thompson’s post, and Greene made clear that he doesn’t trust the “reformers” for a minute.

He writes:

“The moratorium smells like a practical decision, the latest version of the Bad Tests Are Ruining Public Support for Our Beautiful Beautiful Common Core Standards argument that we’ve been hearing for a while, and the tension around it underlines one of the fault lines that have been present among the reformsters since day one– there are reformsters who want to do national standards and testing “right,” but they have allied themselves with corporate powers who got into this to have a shot at that sweet sweet pile of education tax money, and they have more inclination to wait than my dog has to sit and stare longingly at his bowl of food….The reformsters have put down their club, but that’s probably because they’ve gone to pick up a gun.”

Then John Thompson wrote a reply to Peter Greene, which Greene posted on his blog:

Thompson linked to some other great posts about Common Core and the moratorium, and he said:

“I agree with this great post, Data is the Fools Gold of Common Core

“Paul Thomas didn’t mention me, but I often ask myself what his response will be to some of my posts. He responded to Gate’s call with a brilliant passage from Hemingway. Yes, the “Road to hell is paved with unbought stuffed dogs.”

“His post prompted an equally good metaphor by Anthony Cody. Common Core is like a road through the Amazon forest. Stop the road and you can save the forest. (That explains why I said that I can’t see myself supporting a new set of NATIONAL standards, after Common Core is defeated.)

“I’d say that that metaphor is supportive of both sides on the point that separates Curmudguation and me. In the overall fight against the road, don’t we accept as many temporary delays as we can get while trying to kill it? Students who would be damaged next year by Common Core testing are like a village that is first in the road’s path. Saving that village is a first step. Saving the village of teachers who would have been punished in the next two years is a second step.

“Whether we’re environmentalists fighting a road or educators fighting corporate reform, we must discuss and debate the best ways to win short term and long term political victories.”

In a note to me, John Thompson pointed out that our side, which doesn’t have a name, cherishes the clash of ideas. The “reformers” march in lockstep (my words, not Thompson’s) in support of test-based accountability for students and teachers, Common Core, and school choice. Our side, whatever it is called, is more interesting, more willing to disagree, readier to debate and to think out loud.

PROTEST

The Gates Foundation

When: June 26th 5PM

Where: Rally at Westlake Park (401 Pine St, Seattle)

March to Gates Foundation (440 5th Ave N, Seattle)

Our schools are under attack from the mega rich who seek to reduce education to standardized test scores while busting unions & denying at-risk youth a rich and holistic school experiences. To broaden and deepen public awareness about this, the BadAss Teachers (BATs) of Washington & allies are protesting The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday June 26th.

The Gates Foundation is a symbolic site because many of their experimental ‘reforms’ have done untold damage to our school system. Over-testing, charter schools, replacing teachers with computers, competitive grants, Teach for America, new standards profiting publishing companies instead of funding basic education; these will continue until we rise up & say NO. Educators should lead education, profit-driven entities & their foundations should not.

The monetary power of this one foundation has changed the face of our country’s school policy and agenda.

With this protest we galvanize a coalition of supporters to demand that teacher assessments are measuring student learning, that education policy is transparently & democratically created, & that every child’s needs are met in their public school.

Our Demands:

Redirect monies spent on experimental school reforms to empower citizens and promote whole child education. Further, we demand that philanthropists and the rest of the 1% pay their fair share for a socially just society.

Speakers: Anthony Cody (prolific education leader from CA) & Kshama Sawant (speaking as a teacher & city council member) will engage the crowd by connecting public education issues to larger issues of democracy vs. oligarchy. Morna McDermott & other education heroes will also make the case for school transformation, not corporate reformation.

From Westlake Park we will march to the corner of 5th AVE N and Mercer with chants and our chorus leading songs about positive education themes.

The RALLY to Save Education is an initial step in the movement to reclaim public schools from corporate interests. We are protesting The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Thursday June 26 but after that public demonstration, organizers are gathering to plan next steps. We are building a coalition, you are needed.

Anthony Cody will be speaking at 10:30 on Friday June 27th at the University of Washington HUB Room 332. His talk about the education ‘reform’ movement and how to reclaim our schools will be live streamed @ schoolhouselive.org

There will then be three breakout sessions for you to choose from (these are as valuable as YOU make them! We aren’t teaching you what to do, we are asking you to plan next steps for yourselves & to inspire others new to organizing):

Opt Out planning in your locale: Why & How?
Creating 21st Century Schools-what is our vision?
Coalition Building with other organizers who see Gates as a threat to social justice

Following those three work groups we will show the movie Standardized. A panel of speakers will do some Q & A following the movie.

Details here: https://m.facebook.com/events/742638552449687

Location here: http://depts.washington.edu/thehub/reserve-the-hub/hub-spaces/hub-332/

Rally has been formally endorsed by:

Network for Public Education

http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/about-npe/

United OptOut
Parents Across America
Seattle Education Association
Renton Education Association
Highline Education Association
Tacoma Education Association
Marysville Education Association
Reynolds Education Association
Social Equality Educators (SEE) of SEA
Chicago Teachers Union CORE Caucus
Save Our Schools national organizing committee,
Fairtest.org (event is publicized on their action network- http://www.fairtest.org/testing-resistance-reform-spring)
National BATS

Online Presence:

Facebook Group:

https://www.facebook.com/EducatingTheGatesFoundation?ref=hl

Facebook Event (RSVP here or on Weebly site below):

https://www.facebook.com/events/1414946478760549/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Flashmob Info (everyone is welcome! Practices are on Saturdays but dance can also be learned online!)

https://m.facebook.com/events/250271828430004

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