College Dropout Bill Gates, Who Spends Millions on Harvard, Gets Honorary Doctorate
In 2007, Bill Gates spoke at Harvard University’s graduation.
Gates dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft.
In 2007, Harvard awarded Gates an honorary doctorate.
Gates has never had to follow a predetermined program of study in order to earn a college degree via traditional coursework.
Moreover, since 1996, Gates has donated $262 million to Harvard in the form of 97 grants.
Talk about “paying” for a college degree.
Keep in mind that this is the same Bill Gates who is paying billions to impose the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) on American education, complete with curriculum, assessments, and data collection, to enable “powerful market forces” to drive American education– and not just k-12 education– education from preschool through college.
In this six-minute clip of Gates’ speech at Harvard, he states, “Though I left early, I was transformed by my years at Harvard.”
So it is possible for a student to choose to drop out and still acknowledge that leaving without completing a degree had nothing to do with deficient teaching??
This idea really puts a kink in using student “outcome data” to “assess teacher effectiveness.”
Gates even jokes that it is good that he was not invited to speak at orientation, the implication being that he might have tried to talk other young Harvard students into dropping out.
I realize that this is Harvard, where Gates admits “being in the midst of so much energy and intelligence,” an ivory place from which one’s departure could not possibly be attributed to some value-added measure of faculty ineptness at sufficiently challenging young dropout, Bill Gates.
Gates has spent millions in an effort to bolster college completion rates. However, it appears that doing so feeds into his fixation with “aligning standards” and “strengthening data systems.”
In this second, four-minute, segment of his 2007 Harvard commencement speech, Gates notes learning about “education inequity.” Of course, the irony lost on Gates is that if one comes from privilege like he does (he is speaking at Harvard, plus the high school Gates attended, Lakeside in Seattle, Washington, currently charges $28k per year tuition), one need not ever worry about some billionaire attempting to use him or her as an experiment in “common standards.”
Gates speaks about “taking on [education] inequities”…”in this age of accelerating technology”:
…in this age of accelerating technology, we can finally take on these inequities, and we can solve them.
Gates talks about saving lives of children in other countries via delivery of medicine. He registers his surprise at discovering that “some lives” are deemed “worth saving, and others are not.”
Allow me to slightly alter Gates’ words to suit his push of CCSS “implementation” onto a public education system from which he himself was exempt:
Some lives are “worth” the educational experiment that is CCSS, and others (those of the privileged) are not.
With Gates, it always seems to come back to “the market.” He notes that “the market did not reward saving the lives of these children.”
He notes that a problem with providing necessary medical assistance abroad is that the parents of these children “had no power in the market and no voice in the system.”
Note what Gates is advocating: “Power in the market” translates into “voice in the system.”
Yet Gates now wishes to unleash the CCSS experiment onto American public education because “scale is good for free market competition.”
So, in the case of CCSS, “the market” can be trusted?
In his 2007 speech, Gates refers to “making market forces work” as “a more creative capitalism”– in “stretching the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit.” However, if one insists upon standardizing a system– as in the case of nationwide CCSS– then the “market forces” will be hijacked by mega-corporations– such as Pearson. In order for “more people to make a profit,” one must enforce antitrust laws in order to protect an open (i.e., non-monopolized) market.
Thus, it appears that states’ having their own education standards– and in selecting their own educational materials– better serves Gates’ “market” and the people who should be benefiting from that market– multiple, smaller businesses that have an investment in the regional and local economies in which they are situated.
Gates talks about “press[ing] governments around the world to better spend taxpayer money in ways that better reflect the values of the people who pay the taxes.”
This from a man who is spending billions on pushing CCSS onto America’s schools– and who has spend over one million dollars on the federal government itself.
Gates closes the second segment of his 2007 Harvard speech with this:
If we can find approaches that meet the needs of the poor in ways that generate profits for business and votes for politicians, we will have found a sustainable way to reduce inequity in the world.
When it comes to CCSS, it seems that Gates has achieved the “generat[ing] profits for business”– mega-business– and even the part about “generat[ing] votes for politicians. However, as concerns the “poor”– as defined not only economically, but also academically, and especially as concerns the inability to deliver favorable standardized test results– Gates and his beloved CCSS completely miss the mark.
Through the lenses of his gilded experience, Gates is unable (or unwilling) to see that his purchasing power is undermining state sovereignty over American education.
Here are three more segments of Gates’ 2007 Harvard graduation speech. I am sure Gates provides more fodder for writing, but I will forego doing so for now.