Archives for category: Gates Foundation, Bill Gates

Edushyster interviewed Joanne Barkan, one of our most perceptive writers about the farce/hoax called “education reform.”

Barkan has written a series of important articles about the reformers, they of high stature, who want to run the nation’s public schools that they do not patronize. “Got Dough?” is a classic. She quickly understood that the billionaires don’t trust democracy. And that is a theme of her work on education.

In response to one of EduShyster’s questions, Barkan replies:

Some of the wealthiest people in the United States have had an easy go of it. They started with wealth, likely went to private schools, and have no sense of what public education is and why it’s necessary. And, of course, there are also those who started with nothing and made their own fortunes. It seems that by the time they’ve made a lot of money, they’ve lost touch with the role of public education. The vast majority of the super wealthy send their own kids to private schools, which they do for a variety of reasons, including prestige. What’s interesting to me is that there are some states that have written into their constitutions that the primary obligation of state government is public education. When those constitutions were being written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, government was much more limited. We have a situation today where so many states are under tremendous financial pressure, and the first place they go when they have to cut is public education, as if public education were somehow an extra, as opposed to being a fundamental responsibility.

EduShyster: I was smitten by the subtitle of your article: *Bill Gates, Washington State and the Nuisance of Democracy.* What is it about democracy that plutocrats find so irksome?

Barkan: The plutocrats—people like Bill and Melinda Gates, Michael Bloomberg, John Arnold, or Eli Broad—have very set ideas about what they want to do. It doesn’t matter to them, or perhaps they just don’t understand, that their ideas may not be based on sound research or principles. They know what they want, and they come out of professional experiences where they’ve had complete authority. When they get to public education, they expect to be in control and to make things happen as quickly as if they were still running their companies. But as everyone should know, democracy is slow, and it’s messy, and that turns out to be a great nuisance for plutocrats.

The rest of the interview is fascinating and enlightening.

Mitchell Robinson, professor of music education at Michigan State University, writes here about the frightening new direction that is on the horizon for evaluating student teachers.

Here comes NOTE (National Observational Teaching Examination), created by ETS, in which student teachers are judged by their ability to instruct cartoon characters (“avatars”).

Robinson minces no words in chastising educators who have decided to join forces with the corporatization of teacher education-evaluation.

He writes:

Now, even some of these education experts, tempted by the prospect of previously unimaginable wealth and power, have sold out their profession for a shot at cashing in on the corporate reform gravy train. Witness Dr. Deborah Ball’s stepping down as Dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan to concentrate on her work on NOTE: National Observational Teaching Examination for ETS, the Educational Testing Service.

As I’ve written about previously here, and here, and others have written about here, NOTE is a high-stakes student teacher evaluation test that requires pre-service teachers to “instruct” avatars–yes, avatars! And if their “teaching” of these cartoon characters isn’t deemed adequate, the student teacher is denied their certification or teaching license, in spite of the fact that the student teacher in question has just completed an accredited, rigorous 4 or 5 year teacher preparation program, regardless of the student teacher’s earned GPA or demonstrated capability to teach real, live children in hundreds of hours of field experiences in local school classrooms, or the intern’s exhibited knowledge, understanding or competence in their subject area.

(And, just to rub a little salt in the wound: the persons who are remotely-operating the avatars are not teachers themselves–they are unemployed actors who have been trained to manipulate the joy sticks and computer simulations that control the avatars’ voices and movements. The designers of the avatar system found that teachers thought too much about their responses to the interns’ teaching “moves”–the actors didn’t concern themselves with matters like content correctness or developmentally-appropriate responses; they just followed the provided script, and efficiently completed the task at hand.)

Schools Matter reported on this alarming new methodology here and here, and clarifies that the new technology-driven program is funded by….(no surprise)…the Gates Foundation, which gave $7 million to “remake teacher education in a corporate high tech image, one that can be turned into deep and fast-running revenue streams by the increasingly rapacious Silicon Valley data miners and dystopian isolationists who view democratic community as a threat to unbridled corporate greed.” It seems that Bill Gates will never abandon his goal of standardizing American education.

Our reader Jack Covey supplied this video.

Do you suppose that future teachers might master teaching cartoon avatars yet lack the skills and knowledge of a well-prepared teacher?

Jon Parker, a teacher in Pittsburgh, warns that the corporate reformers are trying to reverse the results of the school board election that they lost by attacking the board’s choice of a pro-public education superintendent. The reformers (Gates-funded and called “A+ Schools”) are abetted by the pro-privatization Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Reformers don’t like democracy unless they can buy it. The pro-public education board ended the Gates’ experiment with test-based evaluation and canceled a contract with Teach for America. That sort of thing makes reformers really angry. How dare they assert a vision different from the great Bill Gates! How dare they end his experiment in evaluating teachers! How dare they say no to TFA!

Parker outlines the scenario:

Chapter 1: Pittsburgh has a democratically elected school board.

Chapter 2: Pittsburgh’s citizens vote for pro-public education candidates.

Chapter 3: A+ Schools’ (a.k.a. Bill Gates’ employee) candidates lose.

Chapter 4: A+ Schools doesn’t know what it feels like to lose and becomes upset.

Chapter 5: Pittsburgh’s democratically elected school board selects a pro-public schools superintendent without allowing A+ Schools to railroad the process.

Chapter 6: A+ Schools becomes more upset and elicits the support of local media in a witch hunt against the new superintendent.

Valerie Strauss reviews the flap-flap over Bill Gates’ conclusion that poor people should raise chickens. She wonders what teachers would say to Gates if they had the chance, having suffered through his disastrous education theories and experiments for nearly 15 years.

The best line in her post is this one:

Some critics said the program was a publicity stunt and wouldn’t solve the underlying problems of poverty in Africa. “Our father, Who art Uncle Bill, Hallowed be thy whims …” Nigerian satirist and author Elnathan John wrote on Twitter.

Gene V. Glass, distinguished education researcher, gives Bill Gates a short lesson about chickens and generational poverty.

Bill Gates recently advised poor people to raise chickens to improve their lives.

He had Africa in mind, but he also offered chickens to Bolivia.

The Bolivian government was offended by Gates’ offer. Bolivia raises millions of chickens and exports them to the world.

“How can he think we are living 500 years ago, in the middle of the jungle not knowing how to produce?” Bolivian Development Minister Cesar Cocarico told journalists. “Respectfully, he should stop talking about Bolivia.”

Wouldn’t it be great if public schools and superintendents could respond like that to Bill Gates? Something like this: “We are professional educators and we know what we are doing. Please don’t offer money to try out your experiments on our children. Please take your advice and your money elsewhere.”

Yesterday our friendly reader Raj reacted with outrage to the post about Bill Gates telling poor people around the world to improve their lot in life by raising chickens. Raj said the source was a disreputable British rag, and I should be ashamed for referring to such “sensational” claims.


To satisfy Raj’s curiosity (and my own), I did a wee bit of Internet research, and in four seconds, I found the original source of the story: it was an article written by Bill Gates.


The guy with $70 billion says if he were poor, he would raise chickens.


Now don’t get get me wrong. Raising chickens is a swell thing to do, and I donate to the Heifer Fund to help buy animals for people in poverty. Of course, I can’t raise chickens myself because I live in an apartment building, and it is probably against the house rules to raise chickens in an apartment. Also, I am not poor, so he wasn’t talking to me.


Bill Gates is different from me. He has about $70 billion. World leaders listen to him. I would expect him to have more fully developed ideas about how to reduce poverty. There is a big difference between abject poverty and subsistence. Maybe raising chickens would help large numbers of people live at a subsistence level.


But with Gates’ billions and his huge staff, I expected deep thinking about the structural nature of poverty. Not chickens.



Bill Gates knows everything. He even knows how poor people can raise themselves out of poverty. With all his billions, he has become an expert on everything there is to know.

He advises poor people everywhere to keep chickens if they want a better life.

That’s better than VAMming their teachers.

Poor Bill Gates. He doesn’t have anyone near him or on his payroll to tell him when to be quiet.

2010 was the high watermark of the corporate reform movement.

In spring 2010, the entire staff at Central Falls, Rhode Island, was fired because of low test scores, which created a national sensation. Arne Duncan and President Obama hailed the courage of Deborah Gist, the state superintendent, and Frances Gallo, the city superintendent, who ordered and confirmed the strategy. Duncan said the firings showed that the administrators were “doing the right things for kids.”

Thus began the reformers’ war against teachers.

In September 2010, “Waiting for Superman,” debuted with a multimillion dollar campaign to promote it: the cover of TIME, appearances by the “stars” on Oprah (Michelle Rhee, Geoffrey Canada, Bill Gates, etc.), and NBC’s Education Nation, focused on promoting the film and its advocacy for charters. “Superman” was a hit job on unions, teachers, and public schools. Its data were skewed, and some of its scenes were staged. It was denied an Academy Award. But Bill Gates put up at least $2 million for public relations.

Thus launched the reformers’ fraudulent fight for privatization as a “civil rights” issue.

Into this fray came the Los Angeles Times, with its own evaluation of thousands of teachers in Los Angeles, created by an economist who employed the methods approved by the Gates Foundation. Teachers were rated on a scale from least effective to most effective. One of those teachers, a dedicated fifth grade teacher named Rigoberto Ruelas, jumped off a bridge and committed suicide after he was publicly labeled as one of the least effective teachers in math and average in reading. Who knew that becoming a teacher would be a hazardous profession?

Anthony Cody delves into the journalistic responsibility of the Los Angeles Times in this important post. The LA Times hired an economist who created VAM ratings and used test scores to rank teachers. Its reporters, Jason Felch and Jason Song, warned against using test scores as the only measure to rank teachers, then proceeded to use test scores as the only measure to rank teachers. The two Jasons, as they were known, hoped to win a Pulitzer Prize. They didn’t. They did come in second in the Education Writers Association choice of the best reporting of the year. Felch was subsequently fired for an ethical breach that involved inappropriate relations with a source.

Cody is concerned about the ethics of journalists who cloak their advocacy and partisanship behind the charade of journalistic independence.

Now, it turns out that the Hechinger Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University, funded the LA Times’ rating scheme. And who do you think funded the Hechinger Report: the Gates Foundation.

We know more about VAM now. We know that it has been rejected by numerous scholars and scholarly associations as invalid, unstable, and unreliable.

Who killed Rigoberto Ruelas?

In her annual report, the CEO of the Gates Foundation admitted that mistakes had been made in the implementation of the Common Core. ” She promised to “double down” in the future and to listen to teachers. 
Laura Chapman describes how the Gates Foundation is listening to teachers: 

“The Gates Foundation offers up a lot of sweet talk about listening to teachers.
“The “listening” pitch is an excuse to get teachers’ emails. These provide teachers who cooperate in this deception with edited and hyped feedback designed to ensure any voices heard will be Gates-compliant. 
“Here is the link to one of the most recent “invitations.” It is one of many others that creates the illusion that “nobody knows teaching more than teachers.” 
“There are other initiatives to extract information from teachers and tell them what they should do and think. 
“In December 2015, the Gates Foundation solicited application for new positions. One was “an opportunity for a multi-talented strategist and communicator who will be responsible for managing and developing programming, partnerships and campaigns to support Teacher2Teacher including face-to-face experiences, integration of social media channels and other digital platforms, identification and management of key partnerships, and ongoing analysis to ensure that all efforts are meeting the needs of teachers. This Program Officer should be a team player, an experienced project manager, and have significant experience managing and integrating cross-channel campaigns and partnerships. Experience working across multiple teams in complex environments is preferable, as is demonstrated commitment to education and the values of the Foundation. This individual will work closely with the Teacher to Teacher working group, which spans different teams at the Foundation, and will provide the expertise and creativity to fuel community growth and engagement.”
“At about the same time, the Gates Foundation had a job opening for “program manager” of Teacher2Teacher. Teacher2Teacher was described as a portfolio of “Teacher2Teacher managed platforms.“ “The aim is to “grow” the portfolio through an annual marketing campaign to increase the engagement and connections among traditional and nontraditional “partners” and participants in Teacher2Teacher managed platforms. The manager will negotiate then oversee all contracts, communications, budgeting, and reporting. This position also requires monitoring the efficiency and effectiveness of all aspects of the program, internal and external. It includes a duty to work with Foundation staff on expanding the portfolio based on research and evaluation of marketing trends and other strategies to ensure the program is ‘cutting edge,’ especially in social media and digital activity.”
“The Foundation spawns initiatives and markets these as if the interests of teachers are a major concern. No so, by a long shot. The Gates Foundation pretends to listen while building a cadre of teachers who will comply with the Gates Foundation efforts to remove all remnants of independent professional thinking among teachers. 
“Gates-loyal teachers are being cultivated in ways that distract attention from the longstanding role of teacher renewal, education, and advocacy offered by professional associations of teachers in specific subjects (e.g., National Council of Teachers of English) or grade levels (e.g., The National Association for the Education of Young Children).
“Here is an example of the Gates strategy of endless mission-creep.”


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