Mr. and Mrs. Gates

Update; these are some choice comments made by the Gates as reported in the Washington Post today.

Gates on Common Core:

“The early days almost went too well for us,” Gates said. “There was adoption, everything seemed to be on track. ...We didn’t realize the issue would be confounded with what is the appropriate role of the federal and state government, we didn’t think it would be confounded with questions about are there too many tests, confounded with if you’re raising the bar, what is the right set of things to help teachers be ready for that?

Mrs Gates on testing:

“In a few states, they went too quickly, rolling out the standards and the assessments went too fast and parents rightfully said, ‘Oh my gosh, a new test,’ ” Melinda Gates said.  

OH, blame it on the states. 

You'll note there is no admission that they might have been wrong.  Not one single word.

End of update.

Oh yes, those halcyon days when you pushed thru the standards you wanted.  It was all falling into place and then people started asking questions.  And yes, changing the curriculum because of the standards WOULD require teacher support - you didn't even consider that?

Bill and Melinda Gates are having a two-day (kinda secret) Gates Foundation event in downtown Bellevue.  Yesterday, the first day of the event, Mr. and Mrs. Gates sat down to opine about their adventures in public education.

The Gates' friends at the Times, which gets funding for education reporting from the Foundation, put out one version of this story yesterday that I see that TODAY has now been edited.  A quote by Gates is altered and soft quotes from State Superintendent Randy Dorn and the head of the Road Map project are in.  (I really have to start taking screenshots of these stories since the Times feels compelled to rewrite them at will.)

From the Times:

Working on reforming the U.S. education system is the hardest job they’ve ever tackled, Bill and Melinda Gates said Wednesday — even more difficult and complex than trying to find a cure for malaria.

And again, failure after failure and yet they just keep trying to see what might stick.  Using other people's children as their guinea pigs.

“If we come up with a new malaria drug, a new malaria vaccine, nobody votes to uninvent our malaria vaccine,” said Gates, to laughter from the audience.

If only teaching children was equivalent to a vaccine.  Very business-minded that Gates, looking for a single, one-size-fits-all formula that does not exist.

On Common Core:

Bill Gates acknowledged that the foundation was taken aback by the pushback on Common Core.  (Editor's note - this next sentence was in the original story but now removed. It was part of my comment at the Times yesterday.  I guess they won't go so far as to edit comments.)

"The foundation, and some others perhaps, were naive about these rollouts" and what kind of political fallout would come from it," he said. 
There you have the ENTIRE issue with the Gates Foundation on public education.  They are not "naive."  They live in an echo chamber of their own making. They talk back and forth and never truly hear themselves.  Even in the face of years of mostly failure and heavy criticism, they remain resolutely tone-deaf. 

Melinda Gates said she believes a few states moved too fast into Common Core, particularly in introducing new tests, which upset parents. “At the political level, there’s a lot of noise,” she said. “But if you go out and survey teachers, they are for the Common Core.”

You have all the money in the world to do the best survey of American public education teachers - every single one of them if you wanted to - so why don't you if you believe CC is so beloved by teachers?  

Bill Gates said he thought Common Core became mixed up with issues of overtesting, a concern that the federal government was playing too heavy a hand in local education, and what he sees as Internet-fed myths about the difficulty of the subjects.

Talk about misdirection, there's Gates trying to "squirrel!" the criticism over Common Core by saying people were really upset with testing.  And internet-fed myths? You mean like the fact that Mr. Gates - with his own money - funded the creation of Common Core and to this day won't admit it? That's proveable.

I wish they would stick to global health.


Anonymous said…
Their interview with Gwen Ifill at PBS is an "interesting" read

Bill and Melinda Gates on the political debate over Common Core standards

Anonymous said…
Melinda Gates speaks:
“At the political level, there’s a lot of noise,” she said. “But if you go out and survey teachers, they are for the Common Core.

The teachers would prefer not to be punished by admin .... so little will be said against "common core" and associated testing ..... this hardly indicates teachers are pro-common core.

Exhausted Mind
Anonymous said…
Dear Mr. Gates,

It is very difficult to address a system when you have no skin in the game. The only way you can gather sufficient knowledge to form an educated opinion is to send your own flesh and blood to an urban public school.

Until then, your perspective remains off target.

SW Mom
Anonymous said…
SW Mom, so taxpayers without their own flesh and blood in public schools should keep their opinions to themselves? If true, Melissa should shut this blog down. She no longer has children in SPS.

Citizen Kane
Anonymous said…
@ Citizen Kane

Nope, not what I'm saying. I'm saying we should not confuse hands-on, direct experience with one-step-removed, more-distant experience. This is the difference between subjective and objective knowledge, both important perspectives but not the same thing and it is dangerous to think they are interchangeable.

Ask Mr. Gates how he would feel if public school parents made policy decisions about private schools.

I am glad Mr. Gates is concerned about public education. He should be. We should also recognize the limits of an outside perspective and give it a space at the table but not the whole table. As for your comment about taxpayers, they should simply recognize the limits of their opinions. Even as a current SPS parent, there is due diligence needed before I can assume my experience at my elementary school can be generalized across the board.

A parent with recent experience in SPS, such as Melissa, has a different voice than someone who does not have such experience. While SPS is not exactly the same as it was 10 years ago, I get the impression that it is not that different either.

SW Mom
Anonymous said…
Improving U.S. schools tougher than global health, Gates says

From the Washington Post 10/07/2015

The Gates Foundation has spent more than $200 million in a campaign to create the Common Core State Standards and get them adopted by 42 states as well as the District of Columbia.

Bill Gates, whose foundation has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into K-12 education and influenced state and federal policy to embrace charter schools, teacher evaluation and the Common Core academic standards

Anyone still naive enough to think the Common Core was a state led effort?

Just shows what Gates plus Obama/Duncan "Race to the Top" bribe money can do.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
Melissa wrote:

Talk about misdirection, there's Gates trying to "squirrel!" the criticism over Common Core by saying people were really upset with testing. And internet-fed myths? You mean like the fact that Mr. Gates - with his own money - funded the creation of Common Core and to this day won't admit it? That's proveable.

So I get it ......

Mr. Gates apparently believes that: If one repeats a lie often enough it will become the truth. .. as for me I don't buy it.

-- Dan Dempsey
Citizen Kane, I have a right to this blog and not having kids in the system doesn't matter. As you said, I'm a taxpayer. But no person should have a bigger voice or vote than another. Gates has thrown his weight and his money around long enough, with no real successes, and yes, I think he should back off.

Patrick said…
Mr. Gates' direct experience with public schools comes from when he was in 5th grade. How can you form an informed opinion about how schools could be helped with no experience as an older child or as a parent, all information from stereotypes or reports passed through layer after layer of administration with every layer adding its own spin?

We'd be better off if he stayed out of public education. Why doesn't he endow a private school somewhere? Show how well it works first, and then maybe public schools will want to copy it voluntarily.
Anonymous said…
@Melissa, I never suggested that you don't have a right to this blog. I was simply demonstrating the flaw in SW Mom's logic about how should have a voice and who shouldn't.

While you think Gates has a bigger voice that another and should back off, I think WEA has a bigger voice than others and should back off. But, guess what? Neither of us is going to get what we want.

Citizen Kane
The WEA is a group. Gates is a single person. Big difference.
Anonymous said…
Well, apparently Gates is pressing on anyway.

Let's see how well WEA presses on after the SCOTUS rules against unions in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.

Citizen Kane
Anonymous said…
If B&MG want to meddle in public education I wish they would start by throwing some $$$ at SPS to enable them to retain the staff instead having to lose staff in October, add support staff for ELL, Sp Ed, reduce class sizes overall, pay for a 2 tier bus system (instead of the cost cutting terrible 3 tier system), create more school seats since we're over capacity, and pay teachers more (if you want to get good quality teachers and therefore the best outcomes you need an incentive for good quality people to do the job), repairing decrepit buildings.
These things would have more meaningful impact and improve outcomes for more students that all the $$$ they are throwing at common core. Once they've fixed SPS then maybe start on other needy districts. That would be true philanthropy, not this political meddling, special project junket, ed reform stuff they are currently doing.
Note - I would want the money to come with strings - the strings being that not a cent can be spent of central admin staff and projects.
There you have my little fantasy. But wouldn't it be great.........

Anonymous said…
Daydreamer wrote:
and pay teachers more (if you want to get good quality teachers and therefore the best outcomes you need an incentive for good quality people to do the job),

No need to pay more.
If Central Admin would curtail the unproductive nonsense they force teachers to deal with throughout the year, then good quality people would be happy to be on the job. These days in the SPS, many good quality classroom instructional experts are frustrated and tired.

Exhausted Mind
Anonymous said…
Melissa wrote:

The WEA is a group. Gates is a single person. Big difference.

But Gates has worked to correct that "single person" criticism. His money has been used to create several new Ed Reform groups and he has poured money into existing groups.

Follow the money... Gates is more than a single person these days, he is many groups as well.

-- Dan Dempsey
I would be good if Gates asked districts and states what would truly help and make a difference. For example, if he REALLY wanted to make a difference in high schools, he'd fund a pilot program of intervention specialists, trying different methods, finding the ones that work for the most at-risk kids and then fund those.

It would be good if the Alliance for Education asked the district what they need help with the most instead of doing their thing.

Anonymous said…
Hey Gates, get out of education, don't trip over a concrete rice bag on your way out.

Anonymous said…
So Gates is going to continue to push hard on Common Core. Yet Early CCSS Adopting New York faltered and Obama is putting in NY's King as US Secretary of Education to replace Duncan. (No confirmation hearing needed.)

The earliest CCSS adopter was Kentucky. A careful look at Kentucky is in order.

Richard Innes tells me that:

Kentucky puts New York to shame in the fall-all-over-Common-Core department.
However, New York's apparent faltering is news.

BTW, Kentucky, which has more experience with CCSS testing than any other state, New York included. KY experienced "flat" scores for elementary and middle schools when the 2015 release came out last week. There was some improvement in some areas of the high schools on the state's KPREP tests, but math isn't one of them.
The 2015 KPREP Math proficiency rate of 38.1 percent is down from the 40.0 percent rate posted in 2012.

The supposed only bright spot was in the area of graduation rates and college and/or career ready rates. But, those numbers are also problematic, as this short blog paper points out:

Kentucky education’s shaky statistics

When the college/career ready numbers are tied to those graduation rate figures, it turns out that a gruesomely large proportion of our students are leaving high school with only a hollow piece of paper. Thousands being declared ready are not really getting the educations they need.

How many kids are we talking about? Even if we accept both Kentucky Education’s college/career rates and graduation rate data as accurate, the Bluegrass Institute estimates that more than 40 percent of the students who started the ninth grade with the high school class of 2015 failed to leave school with an adequate preparation for life. Some of those who failed dropped out of high school, but many were socially promoted all the way to an empty diploma.

Meanwhile Mr. Gates promises to keep on pushing this CCSS stuff.

It is past time to get WA State out of this.

-- Dan Dempsey

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