Video: Bill Gates, Expert On All That Matters
Billionaire Bill Gates has been buying the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for years now. He started doing so after being asked to by former Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) President Gene Wilhoit and edupreneur, CCSS “lead architect” David Coleman in the summer of 2008.
Gates has spent at least hundreds of millions on CCSS.
One Gates-funded entity is the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a “think tank” full of “scholars” who promote corporate-feeding “solutions” in American arenas, including education. As such, the “enterprise” in American Enterprise Institute is free enterprise.
Specifically, AEI has received over $5 million in Gates bucks. In August 2014, Gates gave AEI a fresh million for, among other promotions “in the K-12 and higher education space,” “impactful convenings.”
AEI is also connected to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as well as Koch-funding funnel, Donors Trust. Low bottom line. High profits. The ultimate in what matters.
When a billionaire gives millions to a nonprofit group of philanthropic-dependent “scholars” like those of AEI, well, those scholars just have to interview him extensively as though he is an expert on all of his purchased issues.
So it goes, apparently.
In the March 2014 AEI video interview below, Gates admits, “…There’s no proof that [public education] is going to be dramatically better 10 or 20 years from now” (9:20).
Yet Gates continues to pour millions into CCSS.
At the ten-minute point, Gates is expressing surprise that there is no clear connection between state per-pupil spending and “excellence” (a euphemism for stats, the corporate-reform centerpiece of which is the standardized test score). He states that Washington, DC, has “improved somewhat” via “personnel policies, shuttering schools” and “letting the charter schools take a somewhat higher share of the cohort.” Nevertheless, Gates states, DC is still “an abysmal system.”
No mention of former DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who (according to her 2008 TIME magazine cover) was supposed to sweep away the “bad” teachers. No mention of test scores rising under Rhee then dropping following her exit. Not one word.
Moreover, despite his labeling American K12 public education as “poor,” Gates terms American universities as “world class” (21:56). He talks of American university graduates “who do well” as “giving back” philanthropically and therefore being “the envy of the world.”
Back to those “failing” K12 public school classrooms:
Gates has a simplistic notion of some teachers “giving two years of learning” in a year and others “giving less than half a year of learning” (12:40).
Gates wants to “transfer” those “best practices” from one teacher to other teachers.
I sure would like to meet the teacher who “gives two years of learning” to all students in his/her class regardless of the student.
I just finished grading 135 research folders for my sophomore English students, so you’ll have to excuse me if I am not as sharp as Gates is on the subject, but it seems that where there is a “giver,” there must be a “receiver.”
Here is a phenomenon not addressed by the billionaire in all of his AEI-petted wisdom: The student who is content with a moderate grade.
I run into this quite a bit: Students who will work until they are satisfied with their grades, whether B, or C, or D– and who deliberately resist progress because they have banked an average on which they are satisfied to coast for a while.
It has nothing to do with me.
I also have those who push themselves really hard for an A and whose abilities place such an achievement out of reach.
Then there are those who want an A (or B, or C) but who want it on their terms. When I offer to “give” them true opportunity to engage in their own learning, they push back. They resist. (Surely not from teenagers, right?) Sometimes, they must be allowed to fail or must be otherwise disciplined before they are willing to “receive” what I am willing to “give.”
Gates wants “schools of education” to “drive for high-quality teaching,” yet he promotes under-regulated charters known for relying on the likes of five-week-trained Teach for America (TFA) temp teachers.
Gates wants “teacher improvement,” yet such becomes irrelevant if one also promotes teaching as a turnstile non-profession.
He also refers to technology in the classroom (including teacher prep) as “personalized learning.” (For more on what Gates calls “Next Generation Learning,” click here.)
I’m sorry to disappoint the billionaire, but in my classroom, “personalized learning” is the frequent, individual conferencing I conduct with each of my approximately 140 students over each student’s writing– the kind of “personalized learning” one would expect in a private school– the kind of school exempt from Gates-education experimentation.
It is more difficult for me to manage meeting with my students individually with my public-school class sizes.
But being a free enterprise promoter, Gates wants what might be “scaled up.” Surely sticking kids in front of computers allows for cuts in personnel– a thumbs-up for those low-bottom-liners.
If only Gates could impose his will on public education with as much ease as he invested in a malaria vaccine. (No kidding, he laments this at 14:45.)
In advising others on philanthropic contribution, Gates offers the example that they “pick a charter school” (29:01). He repeats the offer: Gates suggests that “the first philanthropic thing [people] will do will be something in their neighborhood where they can go… meet the kids at the charter school where they’re volunteering their time…” (29:47).
No mention of the K12 community school.
At 31:55 AEI’s Michael McShane asks Gates about CCSS as “a lever for improving the American education system. (McShane co-edited a pro-CCSS book with AEI’s Rick Hess, the link for which has gone dead on the AEI website but is saved on Google-cache here.)
I wrote about this AEI excerpt of Gates CCSS “explanation” in this April 27, 2014, post.
There is more to the entire hour-long Gates-AEI interview. I will stop for now, but not before dropping this Gates bomb from 47:20 in the interview:
…Capitalism over time, in general, over time, will create more inequality and technology, over time, will reduce demand for jobs particularly at the lower end of the skill set. …When people say we should raise the minimum wage, I think, boy, you know, I know some economists disagree. But I think, boy, I worry about what that does to job creation.
Gates supports both capitalism and technology as vehicles to drive American K12 public education even as he admits that capitalism over time creates more inequality, and those at the losing end of this capitalistic-created inequality are more likely to be replaced with machines.
So… given Gates’ preference for charters over traditional community public schools, is Gates indirectly admitting that he knows market-driven, “choice” education a-la charters will indeed lead to educational inequity? And is he also admitting that his push for technology in both K12 education and teacher prep will reduce teacher (and, as a result, teacher training) jobs in favor of machines?
I’ll just let those questions hang in the Gates-purchased, educational air.
Schneider is author of the ed reform whistleblower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education