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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gates Speech

To finish up with the AFT convention, I attended Bill Gates' speech.

There were a few protesters outside the entrance to the hall calling Gates a Trojan horse. I asked the AFT press area folks if leadership had said anything to members about the speech. They said that Randi Weingarten had said that AFT had a tradition of looking for speakers with different views. She also asked them to be respectful during the speech.

I sat through several discussions/votes on various resolutions (I missed the one they passed about teacher evalutions). It was pretty interesting and it felt very democratic. (There was quite the interesting discussion about whether children of illegal immigrants should have access to scholarships and loans.)

But finally, the lights went down and Randi was introducing Gates. She was very appreciative of him being there and pointed out that his foundation had given money for the AFT's Innovation project. She talked about teacher evaluations and "not making capable teachers afraid the results will be capricious".

(I stop here to point out the obvious. That ALL groups need money to sustain themselves and particularly, to do new work. That it puts AFT in the odd position of opposing many of the ideas the Gates Foundation has for public education while taking money from them.)

He got a standing ovation and audible boos. He just smiled. After it settled down and he began his speech about 50-60 people got up quietly and left. Some of the audience started chanting, "Nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, goodbye". I thought it a little disrespectful as those leaving said nothing and made a quiet statement. Bill Gates smiled and said, "Welcome to Seattle."

There was a lot of talk about public education being the top priority in the U.S. He did briefly mention charters. He said that public spending on education had doubled since 1973. He got big applause when he said reform would not succeed without teachers' agreement and input. He said it didn't mean that parents and principals did not have obligations; they do. They need to support the teachers as "great teachers are the most powerful point of leverage". He said it was important that the differences between an average school and a great school needs to shrink. He got some silence and boos when he said that tenure has to reflect more than the years as a teacher.

He said that no one can choose a world without change but he also applauded AFT's efforts.

He was calm, he was even charming. (He told a story about trying to teach his two children about science. He said he realized how hard teaching is although he joked that the parent/teacher conference was great.) He did acknowledge some of the mistakes the Foundation made. Most of the crowd ate it up. I was a little surprised at how people reacted but talking to some of them, most had no idea, before they heard him, anything about his feelings about public education.

I wondered how his speech at AFT differed from his one to a charter convention the week previous. Here's some of that speech:

When I speak about our foundation’s work in education one of the questions I get all the time and sometimes even in sort of an excusatory (sic) tone is, “Is it true that you support charter schools?” Well, I love that question because I like to answer, “Yes. We are guilty as charged.”

At the end of the day I asked one of the teachers what they liked about their work. And he said the key thing was that by teaching there he could be sure his students had…all teachers were effective…all teachers cared about that student and in the future grades, particularly there, where there was a charter high school that throughout their education everything that that teacher worked on would be reinforced and so that his hard work would end up making a difference in those students lives.

Charter schools are especially important right now because they are the only schools that have the full opportunity to innovate. The way we educate students in this country hasn’t changed in generations and it isn’t meeting the needs of today’s fast changing society.

I believe the seeds of that new approach are being sewn at your schools. We need the breakthroughs and your charters are showing that breakthroughs are possible. One area that’s particularly ripe right now is the use of technology in the classroom. So far technologies had a very modest effect despite pronouncements about TV or drill software, it hasn’t been integrated. But the possibilities are stronger than ever and I’m confident that there is a real opportunity here and charters can be at the forefront of this.

So charter schools and their ability to innovate are a key part of our foundation’s education strategy. Now the way that we’re working with charter schools has changed. I’m sure people have heard that the way we’re funding charter schools is different. And it’s true. We are looking at helping the charter movement in new ways. Over the last decade we invested in increasing the number of charter management organizations that had proven they could scale. Charter schools were still a new idea and it was very important that this idea of high quality replication really being proven out and so that we would have many significant large networks of successful schools. Now there are a number of those and they have got strong track records and it’s very important that we get both the government and local philanthropic support so that financial constraints are not holding back the expansion. When we have great charters that feel that they can develop additional capacity nothing should stand in the way of that—not charter limits, not facilities problems, not financial restrictions. And so given how important that is we will be strong advocates in helping in new ways. Certainly on the political front getting rid of the caps where there has been good progress, making sure the funding, which has not been equal that that is changed, and finally that there are facilities that are available and that doesn’t become this huge distraction and a problem that holds charters back.

I was very pleased to see the promise of having this three-year goal of reducing the number of these low performing charters in two target states by 30%. That is absolutely fantastic.

What strikes me is how he absolutely seems to believe that only charters can provide the change needed for public education. Secretary Duncan certainly did not say that. Also, how neatly technology manages to present itself in his vision. That works out well for Microsoft.

39 comments:

reader said...

What strikes me is [...] how neatly technology manages to present itself in his vision. That works out well for Microsoft.

uhh. Bill Gates isn't at Microsoft anymore, remember? The boon in technology has mostly gone to Apple so far, at a much higher cost than it could have been. Does anybody really still think there's no role for technology in education moving forward? That much seems like stating the obvious, especially since it was Bill Gates talking and that's where he's spent his entire life.

Anonymous said...

"Does anybody really still think there's no role for technology in education moving forward?"

I think you're exactly right-I don't know of anyone in ANY job who is not somehow using technology in some way. Even my brother's traditional hands-on construction company is on Facebook and he's thinking of Twitter. My daughter's PT restaurant job includes posting online updates of events, and my younger daughter's summer camp "yearbook" is being done by the kids, using digital photo software and they're learning Power Point.

Technology is...everywhere, and Bill Gates was in the forefront of putting it there. Not that MS is the ONLY beneficiary-I don't belive it's got anything to do with FaceBook, Twitter or the best digital photo programs.

Anyone who doesn't think technology is going to be a facet in most parts of our kids' lives has their head in the sand.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bill Gates owns Microsoft, remember? He just doesn't run it. No one, especially me, is saying there's no role for technology. C'mon.

Anonymous said...

Normally I'm just a lurker...thanks for the details on the speech. What research is he reading that shows all the innovation is in charter schools? Unless it comes from a conservative think tank or is commissioned by a charter school proponent group, I've read no research that definitively shows charters are the way to go. I've spent time lately in both Arizona and Utah, and have yet to see anything truly "innovative" in any of their charter schools - or at least by what I define as innovative, meaning novel teaching approaches, engaging activities, etc. One charter school I was in recently in Utah was using a reading curriculum that was at least 30 years old; they bought it "cheap" from the public school district, that was getting rid of it from their surplus storage facility. That's innovation? In another, the "principal" was crowing about the fact that he'd been able to hire "teachers" so cheaply because the job market is so bad that people are desperate; none of them are certified to teach, but he paid for a private consultant to come in and give them classroom management tips and then they just have to "follow the lesson plans in the curriculum". How innovative. In Arizona, I've only been in 2 good charters, both run by groups of teachers who were laid off from the public school system after the horrific legislature cut the K-12 budget so badly. They don't cherry-pick their students like many other charters, and they are all working 14-16 hour days, quickly burning out trying to handle both the administrative and the teaching issues. I doubt either school will last much longer in their current form - either they'll quit or they'll end up selling out to an education management company. Too bad, because while I didn't see anything truly innovative in either of these schools, I did see some really good teaching, and the class size was ideal (18-20 kids per class). I visited another charter near the Scottsdale area, and wondered if I had somehow wandered into an all-white military school. There were NO children of any other race other than Caucasian. The emphasis of this school was "back to basics", and the kids were eerily silent, only answering in large group cued-recitation responses. That's innovation? If so, then it scared the bejeebers out of me. Of the charters I've observed, none offered transportation, which automatically leaves out a large group of students, primarily those of color or low income. How is that innovative?
Then there are the ethical issues - families starting a charter school and renting the building from another family member and employing all their family members, whether qualified or not. Is that a good use of public tax dollars? In Utah, the legislators who OK charter schools also own construction companies that build charter schools. Quite a racket. From my sister-in-law in Ohio, I get information about the lack of financial transparency from the education management companies running charters - they get public money, but no one knows where it goes, other than to donate to the local (mostly GOP) politicians. Accountability is good - but apparently only when applied to the public school system. Charters are not innovative. They are merely a return to a more stratified education system, keeping the haves and the have-nots in separate places, pushed by the corporate types who think the market-based ideology should apply everywhere. To quote: "Charter schools are especially important right now because they are the only schools that have the full opportunity to innovate." If that is the case, then why not work to give public schools the full opportunity to innovate? I'd also be interested to know what his definition of innovation is. Regardless, any innovation should be backed up by solid (peer-reviewed) research, not ideology.
-www.epicpolicy.org/
-credo.stanford.edu/reports/National_Release.pdf

dan dempsey said...

Effective Schools is innovation the key?

With all the talk about NOT really knowing what makes an effective teacher but teachers being the key to improved achievement ... what kind of analysis is that?

Innovation Innovation ... what kind of innovation? How would Gates know?

From my friend Bob Dean:
.... I believe the illusion of successful teaching is often more popular than methods that actually work.

Bill Gates has managed to be a huge factor in swinging the focus to teacher quality rather than addressing issues such as: Experimental curriculum, social promotion, focusing on the lowest common denominator instead of promoting excellence, the myth that everyone can achieve a high standard (kind of like everyone being above average), kids can learn to be problem solvers without learning any content, the failure of our Ed schools to prepare teachers for the classroom, the demise of vocational education (we don't train workers anymore we get them from Mexico), the quest for equal outcome not equal opportunity, social justice in math education, concentration on pedagogy rather than success (it has become more important how you teach than what your students actually learn), Educational research driven by grants, profit, and notoriety rather than scientific methods, finding something new is more important than finding something true...... and I could go on and on....

My point is that Bill Gates gets press because Bill Gates is a gazillionaire. .... Bill Gates admits he knows nothing about teaching but that doesn't stop people from seeking his advice and even putting it into practice....

The methods that Bill Gates used to become a gazillionaire work in the business world.....they also could give the illusion that they work in the classroom... . although ...., it could be eliminating all kinds of factors that really make good teachers.

==========

See this effective schools report from the SPS's Gates Data Fellow Eric Anderson PhD

Focus on What Works .. that is exactly what Dr. Anderson is doing.

This report was part of the school improvement grant for West Seattle Elementary and Hawthorne Elementary.

reader said...

Bill Gates owns Microsoft, remember?

You mean, he owns like 8% of Microsoft. Meaning, he's really rich... not that he owns Microsoft. Sure a lot of his portfolio might be in Microsoft stock, so are lots of people's, esp here in Seattle.

reader said...

PS. My kids' school spent more than $100,000 on computers. What kind of computers were they? Not pc's. At about 2 grand a pop (at the time), on the great Apple deal. The PC's were a few hundrend. But who cares, right? It's the kids. Worth every penny. What did the school ever do with them? Nothing... except the MAP.

Sahila said...

Gates made his money indulging in anti-competitive practices, which, thanks to the snowball effect, leapfrogged him to super wealth, giving him the leverage now to indulging in anti-competitive practices in education and in global health.... which is really funny given this is supposed to be a free market capitalist system, which is supposed to encourage competition...

Anonymous said...

Gates made his money indulging in anti-competitive practices, which, thanks to the snowball effect, leapfrogged him to super wealth, giving him the leverage now to indulging in anti-competitive practices in education and in global health....

That is a gross generalization of Microsoft's antitrust problems. The technology field has been characterized by improved efficiency a high rate of innovation and lower prices. On the whole, Micrsoft has made a positive contribution to those trends.

dan dempsey said...

About charters try the following from: Correlates of High Achieving Schools : Learning from Top Performing Inner City Public Schools

Learning from Charter Schools
(page 2)

KIPP is the most prominent and well-known example of effective urban charter schools. Today, 66 KIPP schools in 20 states enroll more than 16,000 students. In many cities—including New York, Washington, Baltimore, San Jose, and New Orleans—the top-performing public middle school is now a KIPP school. KIPP’s success has been attributed to a combination of factors: high expectations for all students, a focus on achievement results, a longer school day, a principal totally in charge, an emphasis on finding the best teachers, rewards for student success, and close contact with parents (Mathews, 2010).

Some public charter schools have proven that minority students from low income families can achieve at not merely a high level, but an elite level. Harlem Success Academy ranks #32 out of 3,500 public schools in New York, and no public school in the state scored higher on the state math exam.

American Indian Public Charter School, which serves socioeconomically disadvantaged students in Oakland, California, is another example. Among the thousands of public schools in California, only four middle schools and three high schools scored higher on state exams in 2009 – and AIPCS was the only one to serve underprivileged children. Hispanic and African American students at AIPCS score as high as any students in the state.

Admittedly, high performing charter schools have certain advantages that traditional district schools often do not. They cannot select their students, but they are free to implement a program that will attract and retain only the most academically motivated. Because families and students are free to leave if they can’t handle the rigor and discipline, these schools enroll a self-screened student body that is willing to accept a program that demands near-perfect attendance, piles on the homework, and keeps discipline so tight that there are no distractions or disruptions. Highly effective charter schools also tend to attract talented young teachers from prestigious universities who are willing to work long extended days.

reader said...

The point is, Sahila, education reform doesn't benefit Microsoft (the company), or Bill Gates (the individual). I've yet to see any widespread use of pc's in public schools. Lots of private schools now require laptops, nominally benefits MS I suppose. Constant basing doesn't lend you any credibilty as anything other than a basher.

Sahila said...

SPS Community Meeting,
1pm, Sunday 18 July,
my house north Greenwood, Seattle

Purpose: discussion/decision to begin recall/election planning/action...


Several of us are committed to this path already.

All who are interested in participating in this effort are welcome...

email me at metamind_universal@yahoo.com or call 206 679 1738, for the address.

Please spread the word amongst your various SPS interest groups

Namaste

Sahila ChangeBringer

PS: I have been thinking for a long time what real 'education reform' would look like...

And it seems to me that if we are going to the trouble of recalling, electing and maybe filing more lawsuits to undo the damage that's been done in the District, then assuming the best of all possible outcomes, we have an amazing opportunity as a community to create a school 'system' that works for all our children and accommodates/enables all our preferences...

We've been lead to believe that life (and education) is an 'either/or' proposition. Its not necessarily so. It can be a very successful case of "and/also".

So what I am proposing is that we use this opportunity not just to 'tweak' our SPS education system, but to change it so that it does become truly the beginning of a vibrant, human-centered life journey.

And I suggest we start the dialogue, research, planning for that at this meeting on 18th July...

There is plenty of research on what works - research and models from here and overseas... it doesnt have to cost more money...

All we need is the imagination and will to make it happen...

Who's in?

MathTeacher42 said...

Sahila at 8:59 p.m.

Hello, you live in Seattle!

Whenever you think of Gates, just think of this youtube of Elvis in Vegas singing "How Great Thou Art"! Think of it as many times as you need to - get with the Program!



I think you're bumping up against Evolutionary Biology meets Seattle, America, 2010.

For millenia, in agricultural societies, "What Color Is Your Parachute" had 3 chapters for career choices - you could be 1 of the great, 1 of the lackeys of the great, and 1 of the serfs of the great.

Whether you were born great, achieved greatness, or had greatness thrust upon you, you'd better live according to the guidelines of 'The Prince' or, you'd be toast, instead of being a Prince.

To be a lackey to the Prince meant beating out the other aspiring lackeys. It was probably a good idea to know the guidelines of "The Prince", too.

To be a serf meant keeping your head low and keep your head bowed if you wanted to keep your head attached, and give all your surplus to the Prince and his lackeys.

Fast forward through scores of centuries, and all kinds of technological changes, and all kinds of social changes, and it sometimes seems like society really hasn't changed that much!

Look at the worship of the Great in our culture - Maybe some of us are destined to be toadies?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf0vJiyeLIo

BM

Sahila said...

Anonymous... sorry, I dont agree with your characterisation... go here for a synopsis of what really happened:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft


Excerpts:
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates was called "evasive and nonresponsive" by a source present at a session in which Gates was questioned on his deposition.[2] He argued over the definitions of words such as "compete", "concerned", "ask", and "we".[3] BusinessWeek reported, "Early rounds of his deposition show him offering obfuscatory answers and saying 'I don't recall' so many times that even the presiding judge had to chuckle. Worse, many of the technology chief's denials and pleas of ignorance have been directly refuted by prosecutors with snippets of E-mail Gates both sent and received."[4] Intel Vice-President Steven McGeady, called as a witness, quoted Paul Maritz, a senior Microsoft vice president as having stated an intention to "extinguish" and "smother" rival Netscape Communications Corporation and to "cut off Netscape's air supply" by giving away a clone of Netscape's flagship product for free. The Microsoft executive denied the allegations.[5]...

When the judge ordered Microsoft to offer a version of Windows which did not include Internet Explorer, Microsoft responded that the company would offer manufacturers a choice: one version of Windows that was obsolete, or another that did not work properly. The judge asked, "It seemed absolutely clear to you that I entered an order that required that you distribute a product that would not work?" David D. Cole, a Microsoft vice president, replied, "In plain English, yes. We followed that order. It wasn't my place to consider the consequences of that."[9]...

Judge Jackson issued his findings of fact[11] on November 5, 1999, which stated that Microsoft's dominance of the x86 based personal computer operating systems market constituted a monopoly, and that Microsoft had taken actions to crush threats to that monopoly, including Apple, Java, Netscape, Lotus Notes, Real Networks, Linux, and others. Then on April 3, 2000, he issued a two-part ruling: his conclusions of law were that Microsoft had committed monopolization, attempted monopolization, and tying in violation of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, and his remedy was that Microsoft must be broken into two separate units, one to produce the operating system, and one to produce other software components....

And then of course there are the European anti-trust suits Microsoft/Gates also lost... and it's ongoing...

In January 2009, the European Commission announced it would investigate the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows operating systems from Microsoft, saying "Microsoft's tying of Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice."[24][25] In response, Microsoft announced that it would not bundle Internet Explorer with Windows 7 E, the version of Windows 7 to be sold in Europe.[26][27][28][29][30][31]

On December 16, 2009, the European Union agreed to allow competing browsers, with Microsoft providing a "ballot box" screen letting users choose one of twelve popular products listed in random order.[32] The twelve browsers were Avant, Chrome, Firefox, Flock GreenBrowser, Internet Explorer, K-Meleon, Maxthon, Opera, Safari, Sleipnir, and Slim.[33] which are accessible via BrowserChoice.eu.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Microsoft_competition_case

Unknown said...

Anonymous -- That's a lot of useful information. Thanks. I'm curious what led you to check out all those charter schools?

Sahila said...

Reader - the latest prong of school based 'education reform' is online courses... read an article on that yesterday but dont have time now to find it and post it here... breakfast and playdate for son next on the agenda...

And guess who are the beneficiaries of that? Hardware and software providers... Real live teachers gone...

Dorothy Neville said...

On-line courses can also benefit kids. And all the ones I am familiar with include real live teachers.

Jet City mom said...

I remember being very amused by the school district being all too ready to drink the Microsoft kool aid, when it was evident and equivalent to being given a cheap printer, which only used expensive ink/paper which had to be purchased from a certain vendor, and the learning curve was such that classes had to be given on using the printer- every year.


We have had Apple computer as our family computers from the time D's elementary school allowed parents to be part of the purchase order, twenty + years ago/ ( the same school the Gates kids attend).
Haven't owned any Microsoft products for years- last MS software I had was a copy of Word, when it came on about 11 floppy disks.

Technology is certainly important as a tool, but you can teach without it, and should , the younger your students are.

Online classes- allow students more flexibility with time offerings, and in subject matter. Some colleges for instance have some onsite meetings, but most classes are online.

Robots don't teach the courses- nor do teachers in Mumbai- they are local instructors, who often also teach courses in the school building.

It's really predictable to paint Gates as the anti christ, without actually listening to what he is saying. Gotta have a bad guy, I suppose- otherwise who would you feel superior to?

Anonymous said...

You want technology?

Well check this out:

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/gates-ultimate-dream-of-education/

Chris S. said...

reader, I don't want to argue with you about Microsoft, but at the core of this issue is, does Bill Gates have a potential conflict of interest when technology overlaps with ed reform? Yes, of course that potential is there. Does it mean he should stay out? No. But it doesn't hurt to remind ourselves of it and do our best to make sure both parties (public schools and Microsoft) will benefit. I don't see what benefit your denial brings unless you like to provoke Sahila....oh.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity, any explanation why my last comment was deleted?

Anonymous said...

For an interesting read on the AFT convention and Bill Gates' speech, see:

http://dailycensored.com/2010/07/13/attending-the-aft-convention-in-seattle-and-protesting-with-bamn-and-othes-the-horrific-policies-of-race-to-the-top/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Dailycensored+%28Daily+Censored%29

reader said...

Wanton deletions of posts? Now the norm on this blog... not to worry. Anony, you must have offended one of the principals. Perhaps the "anonymous" was the problem. Did you insult someone who ran for the office of school board but didn't make it? Perhaps the post content was a problem.

Shahila. Does Microsoft make any "online for pay" education sites? Duh. No. Where's the evil payolla? Is money itself just so evil? Rich guy should shut up and pay up.

Bottom line. You're out of your depth.

gavroche said...

reader -- Before you start accusing others of not doing their homework on issues, you might want to do a bit of reading yourself about Bill Gates' vision for education, beginning with his "School of the Future" in Philadelphia -- no books or pencils, all kids were given laptops (PCs no doubt) and homework was delivered solely through a Microsoft portal, cameras in the classroom, SmartBoards galore, technology was the order of the day.

The school failed, by the way.

You might also want to peruse a speech that Gates gave last year at the Government Leaders Forum, in Leesburg, Va. (March 26, 2009):

Nearly every point he makes about education leads to some kind of technology or software as the solution. All roads lead to Microsoft.

It seems pretty likely that he or his company stands to profit from these tech-tunnel-vision education "reforms" he touts.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No Reader, I merely deleted it because everyone has been warned that we do not allow anonymous posts. Nothing nefarious about it.

Sahila said...

Reader....

Bill Gates/Microsoft MO is plainly visible in his education initiative, just as is his MO in global health... and in both cases, there are gross conflicts of interest...

The Gates Foundation has billions of dollars invested in pharmaceutical and biotech companies, many specialising in vaccine development and genetic engineering and has links with Monsanto and what does the Foundation do in its 3rd world global health activities?

Push expensive vaccine programs in countries that cant afford to buy them without tying their economies to corporations and foreign 'aid' and foster the use of genetically engineered crops/seeds and chemical fertilisers and pesticides sold by Monsanto...

Completely ignoring what are the biggest causes of death in those regions, affecting mostly women and children, that have cheap, simple, sustainable, community-level solutions available...

I've written about this before and provided references - wont go to that trouble this time...

If you want to know more, you can do the research yourself... but I notice that you rarely provide data and sources for your statements, so I have little confidence you will actually go and educate yourself...

Maureen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maureen said...

I'm not sure it's necessary to ascribe nefarious monetary motives to Gates as far as technology in education is concerned. The fact is that he is obviously someone who believes in the power of technology. He wouldn't have been successful in the industry if he were a Luddite.

Authors probably think there isn't enough writing in schools. Mathematicians want more time spent on math. I bet he would support technology in the classroom even if he never made a penny on it (especially since he has plenty of pennies already.)

Sahila said...

Maureen - he and Broad and Mike Milken call it venture philanthropy for a reason... just like venture capitalists, they expect a return on their 'philanthropic' investment... profits and competent,compliant workers...

These capitalists (IT, Insurance/Construction/Junk Bonds) have just moved their operations into a new, lucrative, virtually risk free arena - probably the last bastion of public spending...

reader said...

Gavroach, again, Bill Gates doesn't "own" Microsoft. He does own Microsoft stock, so do I. Yes Microsoft has a presence in education, but a small one. I can assure you educational software or initiatives are essentially a big fat 0 investmentwise at Microsoft. In fact, the "educational software" department, such as it is, was been re-orged under Office.... (meaning it's a gnat under the foot of an elephant). I'm not saying they are good products, that they will reform any school, or anything else. Just that Bill Gates really doesn't have a personal payback scheme.

Shahila, now you're saying that the Gates global health initiative (also evil) is also designed to personally benefit Bill Gates? or Microsoft, by proxy? (He's got a lot of dough, it IS going to be invested in something.) And also that somehow that is linked to his educational initiatives? Right. More idiotic paranoia that limits your credibility.

Sahila said...

What I'm saying is he favours expensive top down solutions that benefit big business and dont solve the problems... monopoly thinking...

He's an idiot to think that you can scale up education and health solutions using technology - what works is small scale community based initiatives that are tailored for specific conditions in each community...

I've got friends working in Africa and India doing exactly that - working on health, education, farming and housing, enabling communities to decide and implement for themselves what they need and how they want to solve their problems...

check out Project Ethiopia - started and continued by two people from the Interfaith Community Church where I sometimes hang out...

http://projectethiopia.com/

Judy and Dennis started this about five years ago with $300 in spending money they had left over at the end of a safari trip... they paid a guide to take them to a local village, saw the need, gave their money to buy books for the school and then came home and decided to just keep doing what they could... Its amazing what these two people have managed to help these communities create...

small is beautiful and sustainable and empowering...and white multi-billion dollar corporations arent making profits on the backs of other peoples' misery...

Maureen said...

Sahila says: and Broad and Mike Milken call it venture philanthropy for a reason... just like venture capitalists, they expect a return on their 'philanthropic' investment... profits and competent,compliant workers...


You know, I really don't agree with you here.

I see "venture philanthropy" as an effort to make sure you are getting the most bang for your donated buck. Why is that wrong? If you have $X to donate and you have the choice of two projects: the first raises 10 children out of poverty (and trickles down to their children). The other pays for (e.g.) art camp for those ten kids for a month each (with no lasting results), why would you object to a system that helps you choose the first investment over the second? Why is trying to put your donated dollars into the most productive project wrong? You imply that "venture philanthropy" means the return goes directly to the philanthopist. I do not believe that is true. I think the point is the philanthropist wants to maximize the good that they do for the dollars they are donating. Why is that wrong?

Sahila said...

See this page for a breakdown of some of Broad's 'investments'

http://broadeducation.org/investments/current_investments/investments_all.html

almost total control of the country's education system from go to whoa...

that's what "venture philanthropy" in education buys you... that's what the ROI is...

reader said...

Well Shahila, I do agree with you that dilly-dallying around with education seems to be a hobby for the rich and famous (along with a dozen of bloggers). I don't think this special hobby makes anyone skilled or knowledgeable. The following do NOT qualify anybody for influence: having lots of money, having a kid or 2 in public school, teaching math, etc. I also eschew private donations on principle. Schools should be publicly funded period. No auctions, pta bakesales, volunteering, special foundations sponsoring needy schools, etc. But if you take money (or services) from one, and accept the inevitable strings, it's going to be a slippery slope... pretty soon, influence is everywhere. That's where we are now.

But, I disagree that Microsoft or Bill Gates stands to gain financially from any of this. If you think Microsoft is going to be a beneficiary, you don't understand the slightest thing about its business. Don't you think if they coulda made a mint in public ed... they woulda by now already? Especially since the gravy train has mostly run dry.

Sahila said...

reader... from the Gates Governers' Forum speech Gavroche gave a live link to above, re profits for Microsoft and other IT companies...

"...I am very optimistic about the future. The world as a whole continues to make breakthroughs. The speed of the chips, the speed of the networks, the quality of the software, not just in quantitative terms but in qualitative terms, things like visual recognition, speech recognition, mapping information, learning algorithms, textbooks online so that kids can navigate and use interactive information...

In education some of the new dollars aren't just to spend more money but also to finally really measure future effectiveness, take some of the experimental models, which in this country are called charter schools, and get behind them, let them duplicate; and in the case of Microsoft and my foundation we're looking at breakthrough ways of using online material, both videos and interactive tests that can diagnose what a student knows, what they don't know, and made education far more effective....

So, you're hearing me talk a lot about education as the key to economic growth. Obviously, Microsoft sees software as catalytic in many areas, but I do put this at the top. It's catalytic in business formation, catalytic in government efficiency, government transparency, and I know there have been good discussions about all of these things."


All of this software/hardware development for education equates to more money going into the Microsoft coffers...

Gates goes on to speak about how teachers in some countries have to buy their own computers at $10/month from Microsoft/the Gates Foundation...

"Now, this all boils down to individual opportunities. We're committed to help with this at all levels of the system, even very young people who get the comfort, all the way up to the university where it's kind of tragic if you're investing in somebody at the university level for them not to have the comfort and the tools and the latest software.

We work, of course, through Partners in Learning. That's our way of going to the education groups in each country, and saying how can we best work with you.

And it's been adopted; you know, what class do we start in, how do we train the teachers, how much online content do we have. ...

One example in Guatemala is that the Ministry of Education is going to ensure complete access to computers over the next three years.

Now, one of the things they know -- and this is a lesson we've seen -- is you've got to get the teachers so they don't feel threatened by this, and so they're making sure the teachers get them early on, and they actually have a very inexpensive way that those teachers can buy the machine for $10 a month, and actually have them home and get comfortable, so the students are not too far ahead, and they feel like they can integrate it into the classroom. It's a great kind of program, and one that I think will be a success and could spread elsewhere."


Money, money, money - its a rich man's world.... ahahaha - all the things I could do, if I had a little money, honey, in a rich man's world... why I could buy and control the education systems of the world and in my monopolistic fashion, stock it with my hardware and software....

Maureen said...

So, you're hearing me talk a lot about education as the key to economic growth. Obviously, Microsoft sees software as catalytic in many areas, but I do put this at the top. It's catalytic in business formation, catalytic in government efficiency, government transparency, and I know there have been good discussions about all of these things.

I believe education IS the key to economic growth (as well as personal, emotional, health happiness...). And I think software can be catalytic in information provision in all sorts of areas. Bill Gates agrees with me. Plus he makes money selling software. So what? It is up to us and our elected representatives to make sure we balance Gate's influence so that technology doesn't get too much emphasis. Use his money and bully pulpit to cover the things that we agree are good about technology (why is it bad for Guatemalan teachers to be allowed to buy computers for $10 per month?). That frees up tax money to put towards the other areas of education that we think are important.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Maureen, I think you're being a little naive. Gates gives his money and takes his money away if the entity he gave it to is not doing what he wants. It's not like we are using his money to fund something basic; there are very strict rules to how it can be used. That's okay but let's not pretend like it's all good. It's got good points and bad points.

Maureen said...

I would agree that my posts here are too simplistic.

My point is that "venture philanthropy" isn't necessarily a bad thing: the point of it is to choose projects in a way that makes it more likely the philanthropist's goals are met. Andrew Carnegie built libraries. He didn't just hand millions of dollars over to city governments to do whatever they wanted.

That is not to say that some of these philanthropists don't have additional motives and are trying to drive projects that make them money in other areas. That is also true of politicians and their hangers on, and they don't even put any money into the system. (See some links to Neil Bush and Ignite Learning here for instance).