In the early years of this century, Bill Gates felt certain
that he knew how to fix the nation’s high schools. He pumped $2
billion into breaking them into smaller schools, often Nader the
same roof.

In 2008, he decided he was not pleased with the
results,and he dropped that idea.

Then, he decided that teacher evaluation was broken, and he would use his billions–plus the
billions of Race to the Top–to create a metric that would identify
the best and worst teachers.

He adamantly opposed reducing class size, even though his own children go to a school known for small classes.

His theory was that “bad” teachers identified by his
metric would be fired, while the “best” teachers would get more
money and larger classes. He gave hundreds of millions dollars to
district to develop the measuring stick, but so far there has been
no results.

The federal government, fully on board with the Gates
idea, now has almost every state following agates’ plan. As
Valerie Strauss points out on her blog, Gates
now says
that it will take about a decade to determine whether his latest
hunch actually works.

So far, it has failed to produce a reliable
metric or results anywhere. So far, it has failed wherever it was tried, and billions of dollars have been wasted.

In the meanwhile, real teachers are being fired and losing their livelihood based on Gates’ latest big
idea. Strauss writes: “Hmmm. Teachers around the country are
saddled every single year with teacher evaluation systems that his
foundation has funded, based on no record of success and highly
questionable “research.”

And now Gates says he won’t know if the
reforms he is funding will work for another decade. But teachers
can lose their jobs right now because of reforms he is funding.

In the past he sounded pretty sure of what he was doing. In this 2011 oped
in The Washington Post (cited in Valerie’s post), he wrote: “What should policymakers do? One
approach is to get more students in front of top teachers by
identifying the top 25 percent of teachers and asking them to take
on four or five more students.” The problem with Gates is that he
tries out his ideas as if he were playing with toy soldiers.

Doesn’t anyone around him have the chutzpah to tell him that his
untested hunches don’t work and are ruining the lives of decent
people? Will anyone in his foundation be held accountable for his
latest foray into redesigning the nation’s public schools? I have
some really good ideas for him in my latest book. They have solid
research behind them. They work. They help people instead of
ruining the lives of others. They do no harm. I wish he would read
it. He could leave a lasting legacy of success rather than a long string of costly failures that harmed people who were doing good work.