Discounting for the rhetoric and hyperbole, it is worth reading Bill and Melinda Gates’ letter about what they do and why they do it.

They claim that Deborah Meier was one of their primary inspirations for their work in education, but knowing Debby Meier, I doubt that they read her book The Power of Their Ideas or that they understood what she was saying.

Both of us had the chance to attend excellent schools, and we know how many doors that opened for us. We also know that millions of Americans, especially low-income students and students of color, don’t have that same opportunity.

Experts, of course, have a much more rigorous vocabulary to describe this situation. In 2001, I met an educator named Deborah Meier who had a big impact on me. Her book The Power of Their Ideas helped me understand why public schools are not only an important equalizer but the engine of a thriving democracy. A democracy requires equal participation from everyone, she writes. That means when our public schools fail to prepare students to fully participate in public life, they fail our country, too.

I think about that a lot. It really helps drive home the stakes of this work for me.

If you’d asked us 20 years ago, we would have guessed that global health would be our foundation’s riskiest work, and our U.S. education work would be our surest bet. In fact, it has turned out just the opposite.

Deborah Meier believes in democracy. She believes that democracy should be the norm inside schools and outside schools. She does not believe that billionaires should fund a national standardized curriculum and pay to impose it on everyone.

The Gates’ should invest more in global health, where help is desperately needed, and stop imposing standardized curriculum, standardized technology, and and standardized testing on everyone.

They truly  don’t understand Deborah Meier.