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In Annual Newsletter, Gates Goes Silent on Education

February 18, 2017

Each year, the Gates Foundation issues an annual newsletter touting what it perceives as the gains made by its spending.

In 2015, the education focus of the newsletter was, “Better software will revolutionize learning.” The 2015 Gates ed celebration includes the following comment:

Our foundation gives more money to education than to any other cause in the United States because it’s the best lever we’ve seen for giving every child in America a chance to make the most of their lives.

Gates acknowledges that it gives more money to education than to any other US cause. Therefore, it is strange that there is no mention of the Common Core, which Gates has spent hundreds of millions to fund (see here, as well).

Gates also does not mention that it can pull its financial support if and when it likes, which is what happened in 2015 to Hillsborough County Schools’ “Empowering Effective Teachers” grant from Gates. Hillsborough was left holding the bag to the tune of 20 million “late in the process.”

Thus, teacher evaluation was another Gates-funded flop (see here for cautions about its test-score center), as was its “small schools” effort– more than $2 billion according to Gates in 2009– as the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss notes in 2014. Chopping larger schools into smaller ones mostly didn’t work, and what Gates glosses over is how chaotic it can be to the school system to alter itself on a billionaire’s whim and then be shrugged off by the billionaire. (More about Gates’ small schools bail in this post.)

Note that Gates offered no funding to systems to reinstate the system it had in place prior to participating in Gates’ failed “small schools” push.

Gates offers no insurance, and by 2015, “small schools” is a term surely not mentioned in its annual proclamation of the educational wonder that is the Gates educational funding hobby.

What is also notable is that in its 2016 newsletter, “Two Superpowers We Wish We Had,” Gates doesn’t mention its biggest domestic spend– US education– at all.

Moreover, the Gates 2017 annual newsletter, entitled, “Dear Warren: Warren Buffet’s Best Investment” also makes zero mention of Gates’ greatest US-funded area: education.

In 2013, in a Harvard interview, Gates casually observed, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but we won’t know for probably a decade.”

Our education stuff.

Gates paid his first money into Common Core in 2008— a feat that Washington Post reported Lyndsey Layton termed “the swift Common Core revolution.” It’s 2017. Ten years since that *initial investment,* and no comment– not a word– in 2017– on that or any other Gates education *stuff.*

There is a convenience in being a billionaire funder. No matter what he pays for– no matter whose lives are altered or how– the billionaire answers to no one.

His life continues, unaffected and untouched.

He need not even address his biggest area of US spending in his newsletter.

bill gates shrug  Bill Gates


Want to read more about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. speduktr permalink

    I had noticed that we weren’t hearing much about Bill lately, not that I miss him. It sounds like perhaps he is either conceding the field or going underground until he can figure out what Betsy is going to do.

  2. Christine Langhoff permalink

    Saturday Night Live has been making a comeback in the Trump era, but your post reminds me of SNL in the days gone by and of the signature phrase of the great comic Gilda Radner’s Emily Litella: “Never mind”.

    We in Boston were victims of the infamous small schools experiment, in which our comprehensive high schools were chopped into pieces which could never be reassembled. The state announced the takeover and churnaround of one of the last of these on Thursday this week. Never mind.

  3. From an educational standpoint, there’s not much depth to this man.

  4. It is bad that I look at with nostalgia, to the days when Gates was the worst thing I had to worry about?

  5. This is is stealth move, to distract from his ongoing, staggering investment in a nationwide program to impose his digital learning algorithms on states by force of law, under the “flexibility” of ESSA.

    Microsoft itself is also leading the charge for digitized control of his new paradigm, which he is still massively promoting through his “Next Generation Learning Challenge” grants, at the same time he attempts to extract more profit from it through his corporate partners. It’s dizzying, not quiet at all.

    In my own state of Massachusetts, for instance, these “Industry Partners” are imposing their private profit mining on our public schools, without our consent or knowledge.

    GIANCARLO BROTTO, Global Education Strategist, SMART Technologies
    BYRON GARRETT, Director, US Education, Microsoft Corporation
    BILL HAGEN, Director of Solution Sales – Cloud Productivity,
    US Education, Microsoft Corporation
    DUANE WHEELER, Senior Architect, Networking Practice, Insight
    JULIE WILLIAMS, Account Executive, Edgenuity”

    Click to access CDE16_WHITE_PAPER_CAO_V.PDF

  6. Linda permalink

    The Center for American Progress (CAP’s “Progress Party” featured Corey Booker, as its keynote speaker, last year) received $550,000, in 2013, from Gates, to support Common Core. In 2014, CAP received $800,000, from Gates, to “improve post secondary…quality”. And, in 2015, CAP received $850,000, “to raise expectations for all students”.

  7. Linda permalink

    Gates is funding Frontier Set, which includes 30 colleges (no ivy leagues). The program’s goal is “to create new institutional delivery systems”. The “supporters” include APLU and AASCU.
    America weeps over the loss of its superb public university system.

  8. Linda permalink

    From a review of Nicole Aschoff’s book, The Prophets of Capital , “The Gates Foundation’s desire too introduce more markets reinforces structural inequities even if it closes in on inequities at the margin, which adds up to a profoundly undemocratic initiative…vulnerable citizens at the mercy of plutocratic generosity.”-Lyle Jeremy Rubin

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  1. Mercedes Schneider: Bill Gates Goes Strangely Silent About His Education Agenda | Diane Ravitch's blog

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