Bill Gates is apparently an expert on educational policy

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by porque_pig, Nov 20, 2010.

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  1. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    I think you misunderstand my point. Duncan has a lot of leadership experience in the field, but I PERSONALLY don't like his policy or where he's coming from. In your previous post, it seemed that you tried to validate Gates' stance because his mirrored that of Duncan, but for those who think Duncan is full of hot air, it would make Gates' argument seem anything but valid.

    Yes, Duncan has worked in educational administration for quite some time. I confess that some good things have been done in Chicago, but most of his goals, quite frankly, terrify me. I remember an NPR interview I heard with him in which he begged for longer school days, longer school weeks (6 days) and longer school years. When asked by the interviewer if he thought teachers should be paid more for all this extra time in the classroom, he said, "Well, there just isn't the money." Teachers' concerns are on the bottom of his list of priorities. He is not a teacher's Sec. of Ed. In terms of educational policy, I suppose he's fine. In terms of teacher job quality, not so much.
     
  2. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    I look around at other schools and as I read this forum I think it's a National phenomenon of administrators who dictate without common sense. Teachers have to spend so much time on RTI and raising the low bubble students and other STUPID stuff that any kid with average intelligence is thrown out to the side. It's tragic. If you have children of your own you better enrich their lives as much as you can, especially if you have elementary kids.

    I have my masters in gifted ed, I'm very well educated, and read but I feel like I no longer run my classroom. I paid for every penny of my Masters and I feel like it was icing on the cake as far as making me not just a competent teacher but a dynamic one.

    I wish someone with common sense would listen to me or a teacher about how to really charge and change what's going on in education. I think there's a bigger problem with admin than there is with a few bad teachers.

     
  3. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Worryingly our Government is having Arne over here advising them on education. Particularly Charter schools or Free schools as we are going to call them.
     
  4. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    In the article posted initially, I find this statement the most telling. Because schools have issues academically, because schools have problems financially, therefore we must cut the teacher budget to solve both problems. This is a financial assessment made by someone who looks at businesses and the bottom lines of companies.

    My problem with this is that he draws a corollary where perhaps there is none or a weak one at best.

    1. Schools do have budget issues. What would happen if my local high schools stopped having sports teams that absorb much of the local school budget? What would happen if neighborhoods were sponsoring those teams? What would happen if the buses were not running and people actually went to schools in their own neighborhoods? What would happen if my local schools actually invested in the education and not the periphery? Maybe those things are the holy grail where you live. I think LOCAL school districts should have the liberty to do what is best and right for their communities.

    2. Sometimes state and federal requirements to receive funding create other budgetary issues. Local schools should not have to kneel at the mighty budget kings' thrones to receive the money. Either my taxes are investing in education or they are choking local schools. You can decide for yourself.

    3. Sometimes teachers can become lax. Sometimes administrators and lawmakers do the same. That does not mean that experience should never be rewarded. That is silly. Sometimes people are exceptional teachers in the beginning of their career. That should be nurtured and rewarded as well. Teachers should make a wage that allows them to live in the average housing of the surrounding community without having to work an extra job. Teachers should not have to decide which pencil is the best deal and keep receipts for tax purposes. Those materials should be supplied by the schools.
    Teachers can not be expected to grow and develop and create great lessons if they are embroiled in balancing their own financial requirements against the needs of a classroom.

    4. Teaching is part a science and part an art. Teaching is not work in equals work out. Education can take some students a longer time than others to receive the benefits. To say that Bill Gates didn't profit and utilize his education simply because he did not complete his degree would be short sighted. Education is an investment in the mind of the student that may or many not produce immediate dividends.

    5. Metrics are for rulers. Benchmarks are for water levels. We can not strictly depend upon tests to indicate the quality of one's teacher. Can they show a trend in a particular classroom? Yes. Are they the only indicator? No. We can fill the forum with a plethora of examples where students who test well perform poorly in class and where students who perform well in class test poorly. We can find great teachers with the worst students who seem to have failed to do their job (when they have not failed.) We can find substandard teachers who do the bare minimum in a class of self motivated students who test well making the teacher look like they are proficient (when they are not.) I can quickly determine classrooms where the teacher is effective, can't you? The problem is that to create a formula that can be consistently applied (as loved by the business community) is daunting and perhaps nearly impossible. However, good administrators should be crying out that measurement at their local school should involve x, y and z. If everyone stands up, perhaps someone will listen.
     
  5. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    Nov 23, 2010

    Joyful!, your post was magnificent. I agree entirely.
     
  6. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Or how about getting rid of the people in centeral admin who really can't tell you what they do and that one person could do the job, yet we employ 3-4. With their combined salaries, we could have saved 6-8 teaching jobs or 12-14 aide positions. But in this climate, it has nothing to do with the kids as it should be.

    Or how about not paying for computer programs or curriculum programs that teachers don't use, nor do they want to cause it takes away their creativity and instead makes them robots.....
     
  7. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Nov 23, 2010

    What the discussion keeps coming back to, unfortunately, is that all the problems in education are all Someone Else's Fault.
     
  9. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    I agree with this. I've stayed away from this thread because there is too much to say, with good, valid agreements being presented from both sides. But I agree that the profession has become "someone else's fault" by parents, teachers, administrators, community members, policy makers.....
     
  10. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    I disagree. This thread is responding to a specific article that declares teachers should not be compensated for their education or experience and that the budgetary problems, and therefore the academic problems, will be cured once that budget item is eliminated.

    I am a Someone Else as is everyone on this forum. We have to own what we do and work to improve it, each in his/her own classroom or administrative setting. While I can not solve the entire problem, I can do what I am able to do in my neck of the woods.:cool:
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 23, 2010

    As a mom of 3 kids in public schools, I've got to admit: teachers's concerns are pretty far down on my list as well.

    So I'm also far more concerned with educational policy. I don't want a "Teacher's Secretary of Education." I want a "Student's Secretary of Education."

    My point, however, had nothing to do with the actual points that Mr. Gates plans to make. It was that he is every bit as much entitled to an opinon as everyone here.

    If we never listen to an opinon with which we don't agree, or to arguments with which we're unfamiliar, we'll never learn.

    How very sad.
     
  12. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    Nov 23, 2010

    I think that the problems we have in education are everybody's fault. I just find that one group is consistently singled out as the scapegoat for the faults in American education.

    We can all work to become better teachers. Everyone has room for improvement. I would also like to see parents, students, administrators, government and the media admit to their own contributions to what ails us. If we can ALL admit to our shortcomings, great strides could be made in the realm of education. But teachers cannot fix things on their own by giving more and more to their jobs. We need help, and everyone has to give something up for true reform.
     
  13. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    Nov 23, 2010

    I hope I haven't offended you. I think we have been misunderstanding each other.

    As an aspiring public school teacher, I'm scared of what's waiting for me when I finish with my M.A. Some of my mentors have warned me about the position in which teachers have been placed over the last decade. It's NOT selfish of me to hope that teachers' needs are considered just as important as administrators' needs or students' needs or parents' needs. Education is the burden of society, and for that reason, all of society has a say (including, I confess, Bill Gates). My complaints are directly related to teachers being singled out when no one else is being held accountable for student success as well. Administrators are far more inclined to listen to political cronies or billionaires than their own teachers, and that is what concerns me.
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Nov 23, 2010

    It's quite likely that administrators are likelier to listen to outsiders than they are to their own teachers - but that may be at least in part because it is from outside of education that concrete plans tend to come. Judging from the responses on this forum, what administrators hear most from teachers is a variant on "Not that, and go away!"

    An earlier poster has noted that the solution that works in one place may not work in another. I think that's right. But if teachers want that case made, they themselves must begin to make it, and make it positively.

    So perhaps we need to launch a series of conversations to explore, not what's wrong with proposal X or proposal Y, but what good teaching looks like in a grade 4 classroom in Poughkeepsie, NY with 26 kids of whom five are on IEPs, six are English Learners (or whatever New York's term for that is - that's California's), and two show signs of giftedness.

    Maybe, instead of talking about how unfair it is to measure teacher achievement by student progress when children are underfed, underparented, or under-whatever-else, we need to consider actively what student progress DOES look like in such populations.
     
  15. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    This is completely untrue. (on a large scale) Yes-there are adminisrators that are in the "good old boy" club, and yes, there are administrators that don't have a clue about teaching. However, there are MANY people who are former classroom teachers that are now holding admin jobs, and I am sick to death of getting the "excuse" that I no longer know what it is like to be in a classroom. Like my state education job, coaching jobs, consulting job, state and federal grant jobs do not make me worthy of having an opinion because I am no longer in the classroom. This is NOT directed at you Porquepig, but rather at the countless posts I read regarding this, and my OWN teacher friends comments to me over the past few years.
    Trust me- I know about accountability. I've felt more accountabiliity in my semi-administrative jobs than I did as a teacher. I've been responsible for the growth of hundreds of kids as a non classroom teacher. I've seen many principals fired or replaced because of accountability. So we cannot argue that accountability only happens in the classrooms. True, this does not apply to all schools. But I've worked in several states with district and school admin and they are held very accountable.
    I have also worked with principals who listen VERY much to their teaching staff.
    There is a lot of politics to wade through. There are some VERY insightful arguments from both sides on this thread. I am just tired of the WE versus THEM argument. What can we come together on?
    ***and don't look at my typos. Acrylic nails are very unfriendly on the computer and I don't want to redo my post. ;)
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Not any administrator I've ever worked for, or any I've ever known. I know administrators are a popular scapegoat. But what you say certainly has not been my experience

    I agree with TG-- big shock, huh??

    Education will never improve until we stop blaming others and look within.

    We've spent 10 pages on whether or not Bill Gates is allowed to have an opinion.
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Haven't we had this conversation once or twice before??
     
  18. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I've stayed out of this conversation for many reasons, not the least of which is the differences in our school systems. This hit home for me, however. In almost every meeting I have about a student--with teachers, administrators, parents, outside professionals--I find myself frustrated with the focus on the negative instead of the positive. Perhaps this is something that needs to be considered with school policies as well--never mind what isn't working, what is?
     
  19. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    To be perfectly honest, the ideas are just those of Bill or his friends. He has had a huge, half decade division of committees dedicated to re aligning the early ed, k-12 and higher ed worlds. These committees have teachers, parents, administrators, media mogels, business leaders and many other different groups of people. There are many surveys that go out to the community leaders for response.

    He has had many public forums (in Washington) asking for comment and has taken some of the comments to heart.

    It isn't so much what he is asking for, or that he is asking for that I have issue with. Personally I only have issue with the amount of politcal sway he has here. Openly he is setting policy and directly working with the law makers and so on. Not hidden behind a PAC of some sort. It is just a bit......over commercial.

    He has done a lot of good work as well.....but the power of money is scary sometimes.
     
  20. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    I don't know.....I didn't read anything in the article that was uniquely Bill"s idea. It seems as if he was commenting on an issue that has been around the block a few times.
    I welcome his opinion, purely as an outsider genius looking in on "things." Budget, mainly. I don't agree with everything he said, but like to read on all things educational policy.
     
  21. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    Okay, this post has gotten out of hand.

    1.) The post was initially about the suggestion that teachers should no longer receive extra pay for advanced degrees and teaching experience and that smaller class sizes should not be a focus of educational reform. I disagree with this. That was the source of my frustration.

    2.) There have been several good suggestions made by posters regarding what may work instead of what Bill Gates has proposed. Please don't overlook the positive things that people have posted in this thread. Complaining about the lack of negativity simply perpetuates the negativity you are complaining about. In fact, would someone like to start a post about suggestions for alternative budget control measures? That may be more fruitful than this marathon thread.

    3.) I in no way intended to discredit all politicians, administrators, or teachers. My criticism is based on my own experience. OBVIOUSLY, everyone here comes from different school systems and different work environments. It would be silly to say that all administrators discredit what their teachers say, and I should have been more careful in my wording. My views come from the fact that teachers rarely make it into Sec. of Ed. or State Superintendent positions, and most school boards have no teacher members even though some have student members. While teachers may be able to influence the opinions of the administrators in their schools or districts, a lot of recent legislation in the field of education did NOT take teachers' thoughts into consideration (I remember many teachers being furious about the lack of teacher involvement in the formulation of NCLB).

    4.) As I said in a previous post, Bill Gates IS allowed to have an opinion. And so am I.
     
  22. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    I was just going to start a solutions post. :)
     
  23. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think that most posters in this thread have remained civil. This is one of the better threads I've read in a while, actually, because there seems to be some good discourse happening here.
     
  24. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    This is where we can agree, I believe. So maybe we should start a new thread that says "Good teaching in my town consists of the following:"

    It will take more effort and courage to approach things this way than it will to look at a chart of test scores. However, I am a firm believer that with effort beginning at the teacher level, we can and should succeed in creating an effective guideline for good teaching.
     
  25. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    Well, I just started a post on education reform. Maybe we can post "good teaching looks like"..... there???
     
  26. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    :yeahthat:

    I've said on here before, that everybody deserves the blame and responsibility for this broken education system. However, I am shocked that anyone could not agree that teachers (who are the lowest on the power pole) are taking the brunt of the blame, actually taking ALL of the blame, and that is my issue.

    I do not defend bad teachers, but I will not sit here and pretend bad admins, bad districts, bad academic coaches, bad school members, bad superintendents, bad HR/central office personnel, and bad state dept of ed workers, and bad federal dept of ed workers should be totally exempt from any blame.

    But they are exempt. All of the blame falls on all teachers, and how anyone can exempt the people making the critical, mandated, and legislated decisions from any blame whatsoever, boggles my mind.

    The fact is that, ambitious, passionate, bright and talented teachers go through war, and eventually end up leaving the system at higher rates than any other field.

    A great teacher will not always survive or thrive if they are working in a broken system. They prefer to take their talents elsewhere, it has been happening for years, and nothing the politicians are suggesting will help IMO because the roots of the issue are being ignored. The ones who are great and experienced, warn others not to enter the field, and they are also counting down the days until retirement. Why is that? It's very sad actually, that they have mastered their craft, yet, warn others not to enter.

    Band aids made of out of dollar bills will not cure this systemic poison in education.

    In my experience, and in the experience of many master teachers that I have worked with in this large district, most admins DO NOT support teachers on a whole. Or they support their favorites. Many teachers throughout the country have been railroaded out, for trying to do what is best for their students.

    And being pro-teacher doesn't mean you are against the students. Why can't we have a system that respects students and values and respects teachers as well? I wouldn't even want to teach for a parent who wanted to discredit my professional and legal concerns, yet expects me to work 60 hours for their child.

    Read Sabrina's story, and there are many many more out there:
    part 1:
    http://failingschools.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/retaliation-in-denver-public-schools-pt-1/

    part2

    http://failingschools.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/my-story-part-ii/


    Where are all of these supportive admins? I'd love to apply at their schools.
     
  27. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    Where in the world are you getting that anyone other than teachers are exempt from accountability??

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2010
  28. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    No one has stated Bill Gates is not allowed to have an opinion. Many have disagreed with him being considered an "expert" on education and the amount of influence he obviously does have on the discussion of educational policy, despite his lack of experience in the education field.

    Several people have pointed out some of the flaws in Mr. Gates suggestions for improving education and some have suggested he should spend a year actually working in education before making such recommendations because this would give him a better perspective of what it is actually like working in a school system day-in and day-out, but nobody has said Bill Gates doesn't have a right to voice an opinion. Just that his opinion should not be given any more weight than the opinions of those who actually work in education on a daily basis. It is true that outside opinions can sometimes see things inside opinions cannot and it is valuable to consider those opinions, but those should still be balanced with the opinions of insiders to find the best solution overall.

    Some posters have said "Teachers always complain about the suggestions of others, but never make any suggestions themselves." I made two detailed posts expressing some of my own suggestions for improving the education system and creating a fairer method for evaluating a teacher's effectiveness. I don't expect everyone to agree with my ideas and I admit my own experience is still very limited in comparison to others. I DO value experience and will freely admit educators with 10+ years probably have a better perspective on the bigger picture than I because of their experience. But a challenge was made for teachers to post suggestions of their own and I did so.

    I still feel Bill Gates' suggestions are flawed and have stated the reasons why. He does have a right to state his opinion and also has a right to dictate (at least to some degree) HOW the money HE donates through his committees is spent. I still feel his perspective could be improved by actually working in the education field and would honestly be interested to see what suggestions he had after spending a year (or three or five) in a classroom on a daily basis.
     
  29. Genmai

    Genmai Companion

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    Firstly, Gates is now devoting nearly his entire wealth to philanthropic activities to address very difficult neglected problems in the developing world (see the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for information). No one is able to fix the problems that his foundation is tackling so he threw his considerable money behind his words to address the problems. I urge quick trigger folks to do homework before cursing his "billions".

    Secondly, he doesn't profess to be an expert on education. He is merely stating his position. Whether or you like or dislike him, you have to admit that he has been exceptionally effective in taking an idea, overcoming considerable obstacles and transforming society. Isn't this what is needed for education right now? This leadership and insight is invaluable for addressing difficult problems and shouldn't be so blithely dismissed on account of him being a computer industry tycoon. Are all his ideas good? Do you have to agree with them? Does he deserve to be cursed for his wealth?

    Although he isn't an education expert, Gates may have hit the root of some of the big problems that bedevil the broken U.S. public K-12 education system: money

    This quote is from the article:
    “You can’t fund reforms without money,” he says. "And there is no more money." The only way out, he says, is by rethinking the way the nation’s $500 billion annual expenditures on public schools is allocated.


    Homework:
    http://www.gatesfoundation.org/united-states/Pages/education-strategy.aspx



    :2cents:
     
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