Dick Lilly lays out a pretty hilarious idea in Crosscut about the Gates taking over some empty SPS buildings and creating their vision of a good school. I thought he was kidding at first but no, he's serious. I don't have time to fully flesh this out but here's what I wrote at the Comments section.
No and hell no.
There is so much wrong with this idea I almost don't know where to start.
First and foremost, our schools are not for sale or lease. Want charters? Pass the legislation.
Second, The Bill and Melinda Gates Free Private School District? Okay, I'll bite. What have they done educationally to deserve this kind of latitude? Breaking up high schools into smaller schools (their first big effort)? It fell flat on it's face and that was after schools and districts had put in tremendous amounts of time "transforming."
Third, the in-fighting for what the Gates's schools would have over the regular schools would be HUGE. Mr. Lilly was on the Board; would he like to run again and be the Board member taking the flack because the Gates school had some benefit that the other schools don't?
It's funny because the UW's College of Education is using this same idea with Teach for America. "Oh, let them in and we can do great research on their methods." Their methods have only had marginal success and it is isn't even long-term success. So why allow Gates to experiment as well?
I love the way Mr. Lilly lumps all the people who mistrust (for good reason) the Gates Foundation. Way to marginalize very different people.
That Mr. Gates and Mr. Broad are aligned in throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at education in every direction doesn't raise any red flags? That Gates is trying to make an effort to hide some of this (read the recent NY Times article on his efforts) doesn't raise some red flags?
"To these folks, former Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson was a kind of Manchurian Candidate likely to destroy the district from within because she attended the Ely and Edythe Broad Foundation’s superintendent training programs. (That she did seriously damage the district and had to resign was just a coincidence that had nothing to do with her Broad training.)"
I'm thinking Mr. Lilly doesn't know much about Broad training (which I believe Board members used to get themselves) because Dr. Goodloe-Johnson followed a game plan laid out by Broad. Just a coincidence? No, it's not. Her hubris brought her down and it wasn't just a personality quirk.
Tell you what, you get Gates to promise to enroll his own kids in these schools and we'll see. He who believes class size doesn't matter (but his own kids will never see a class size larger than 16 and neither did he) and has nothing but disparaging things to say about our public schools, let him enroll his own children first.
No one is for the status quo. But Gates and Broad are not going to be the men behind the curtain guiding public education in this country. They were not hired, elected or appointed to do so. Bless the Gates for some of the important work they do but for me, I'd like them and ever other ed reformer to to keep their mitts off our district.