Why do we let Bill Gates get away with this stuff?

Some beautiful questions from Myra Blackmon about the influence of Bill Gates on education, comparing it to the careful and time-consuming process we require drug companies to go through before they can bring a new drug to market.

 Gates is rich, he has purchased his bully pulpit and we are swallowing his “brilliance” hook, line and sinker.

Just because he has made a lot of money. Just because he is smart. Gates is suddenly the education expert, advising the president and secretary of education on what is “best” for America’s children. He funds the development and promotion of his idea of “good” education practice.
He has never taught nor studied education.

His own children went to private schools that wouldn’t touch his ideas with a 10-foot pole. But he is Bill Gates and we let him get away with it.

Gates decided, for example, that the Common Core State Standards are a great idea. And he proceeded to pour mountains of money into bringing it to market with little or no research, no clinical trials and absolutely no evidence of efficacy. He gives organizations big money to push the Common Core, which was developed in virtual secrecy, with almost no input from real teachers.
Gates also espouses “data-driven” education, in which numbers and data analysis take precedence over what teachers and parents believe is best for individual children. Their scores on high-stakes tests trump any firsthand knowledge or special circumstances that might determine the educational course for any given child.
There is no evidence that Gates’ big ideas work. We are allowing him to experiment on our children, absent even the simplest protections we would expect for a new medication or a new infant formula. We believe that because he is smart and rich, he knows what is best for our children.

Where is the moral outrage? Why on earth do we accept what Bill Gates says and deny the research that tells us not only that data-driven, test-based education doesn’t work, but tells us what can best help our children learn?

— thanks to Diane Ravitch for bringing this to my attention.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Behind every great fortune is a great crime.

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  2. I feel moral outrage by Bill Gates’ largely uninformed interventions. But, I don’t equate Bill Gates with high-stakes testing or the alleged “worship of measurement”. Indeed, Bill Gates is the primary funder of the Common Core Standards initiative — an effort to institutionalize fuzzy measurement and no-stakes testing for students into the foreseeable future.

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