Gates Versus Duncan - Who's the Bigger Ed Reform Problem? (and their Competition)

Or, what does the fox say? 

Bill Gates

June 13th, 2012

A relatively tiny donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has created quite a stir over the past several days. News broke that Clemson U. had late last year obtained a nearly half million dollar grant from the foundation to conduct a pilot study with Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) bracelets, wireless sensors that track physiological reactions, in schools. The idea supposedly was that children would wear these biometric bracelets in classrooms to measure their engagement. What made this grant even more polarizing was the notion that the bracelets were in fact tools that would evaluate teachers’ effectiveness.

So what are these bracelets for? According to the foundation, they are intended to “help students and teachers gain a better understanding of how and when students are most engaged in the classroom.” 

Here's what the writer at Forbes had to say (and beware of wealthy people who will experiment on other people's children)):

It all sounds a bit futuristic and creepy and I would not be happy if either of my daughters were part of the study. But I, for one, will give Gates the benefit of the doubt.  For starters, it’s truly a small sum in the scheme of things. 

There are no easy answers when it comes to fixing education in this country. Let’s be glad that Bill Gates is at least trying, even if he makes some controversial decisions along the way.

Kind of breathtaking but you know what?  We actually have some paternalistic thinking like this right in SPS (and I'll get to that when I write about student data privacy where apparently some staff members believe that some parents have fewer rights than other parents).  
September 27, 2013

It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that 
we won't know for probably a decade. 

This was at a lecture at Harvard University (see The Answer Sheet).

Oh dear, we'll just have to wait and see.  With someone else's kids but surely not Gates'.

Arne Duncan:

From The Answer Sheet, November 6, 2013:

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan went this week to Haiti, the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world, and talked to education officials there about the great value in collecting data to improve schools. He was quoted by the Associated Press as saying:
"One of the many needs here are clear data systems, having transparency, knowing basic things, like how many children we have, how many schools there are, how many teachers we have.  I think it’s so important that everybody be transparent and honest on the good, the bad and the ugly."
Duncan, the AP also reported, visited a school where children sleep on the street  (which is not unusual in a country where 80 percent of the population live in dire poverty), and saw a class packed with more than 100 seventh graders. Most of the schools in Haiti don’t have toilets, and many are without running water.

But a data system is what they need most, right, Arne?

Of course, nothing matches Duncan's remarks last week about the pushback on Common Core from "white suburban moms":

It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said. “You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.”

He is now backpedaling - somewhat - saying his words were "clumsy."

"My point is that children from every demographic across this country need a well-rounded, world-class education, and frankly we have challenges not just in our inner cities but in our suburban areas, too, and we need to have honest conversations about that," he told CNN.

So even if your child is in what you believe to be a good school and doing well - according to your children's teachers and what you see, Duncan is still saying, all is not well.

 I'm supposing in the future we'll all be able to identify those who learned under Common Core and those who did not.  Families will point to the older child with sadness ("he didn't have Common Core") but brighten up at the younger one who did.

Who are these people who seem to know so much about education?

A list of 11 "education" leaders who are running things but have never taught (From the Huffington Post): Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Bill Coleman, Michael Bloomberg, Senator Tom Harkin, Janet Napolitano, Kevin Johnson, Wendy Kopp, Rupert Murdoch, Cory Booker, and Mark Zuckerberg.  

How could they have left off Michelle Rhee?  Speaking of, she and Diane Ravitch were scheduled to debate at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania in Feb. 2014.  It would have been the battle of the titans.  But I'll let Diane tell you what happened:

As you may recall, Rhee first demanded that we have two people on each team, then three people on each team.

I readily assented and selected a wonderful second and third for the debate.

Early on, Rhee said her second would be Rod Paige.

My choices were the Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg (a visiting scholar at Harvard this year) and Philadelphia parent activist Helen Gym.

Rhee and I–through our agents– mutually agreed on the date.

However, the debate is off because Rhee says she cannot find a third partner.

This is the information I received from Lehigh.

I don’t know anything more, except that this debate will not happen.

I am very disappointed.

I was looking forward to it.


Anonymous said…
"Public education appears to be on its way out in the US, for the Neo-Lib reason of prostrating all before their market god as DSW points out and because it is an “outdated” model. From declining percentages of budgets that come from tax dollars, to attacks on teachers’ unions, to the abomination of NCLB, the US owning class (and millions of its lower-classed idolators) have decided they no longer need it.

Public education in the US has been from its inception a creation of the owning class designed for social reproduction and the “education” of citizens in ways that best fit the needs of the nation, as the owning class defines those needs. A financed-based economy does not require the same sort of public education as a manufacturing-based one. As the US has evolved to the former, its owning class sees little reason to fund the system designed for manufacturing. They can now always get the necessary number of technicians from those segments of society that can afford private school, and they don’t need domestically-educated machinists, drafters, white-collar cubicle workers, etc. in anywhere near the numbers they did a couple of generations ago. Their old system of public education simply no longer serves their purposes, and they are taking it apart.

Their efforts now are to kill two birds with one stone: Convince a critical mass of the citizenry that the old, manufacturing-based, public form of education has to go; and turn the new system into a source for the extraction of excess profit. Arne Duncan, as he has been paid by these folks to do, is doing his best to achieve these goals."

Comment #32 from:

Arne Dincan Doubles Down on Suburban Moms Comment


Ann D
Just Saying said…
" The idea supposedly was that children would wear these biometric bracelets in classrooms to measure their engagement. What made this grant even more polarizing was the notion that the bracelets were in fact tools that would evaluate teachers’ effectiveness."

Engagement in what? I'm wondering if Gates ever had a crush on the kid sitting next to him...;)
seattle citizen said…
Thanks for the golf ad spam, oDesk! I'm sure your iOver (ball) app will help as many people as ol' Bill's biometric bracelets. Did you copy their ad? They sound similar: "My students use the BioBand (in many appealing colors!) to monitor their own engagement, and adjust accordingly. The BioBand keeps their mind on the ball, and when they daydream and their engagement falters, this data is quickly sent to inBloom Tech Support via Blu-Tooth, and a gentle yet mobilizing electric current is sent back to the student via the BioBand Battery Booster app. THEN they pay attention! After just one session, legislators watching for data output to use to justify funding their edu-business contibutors are so satisfied they order more BioBands for schools AND the newest, more powerful Booster Battery 5000watt. BioBand: Boosting the engagement of brains through gentle electric shock since 2011"

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