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Joined: 07 Mar 1999
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Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 1:53 pm    Post subject: Education reform Reply with quote

A more nuanced approach by Bill Gates and his foundation on testing and school reform. Perhaps reform as not as simple as the nostrums of those who are beside themselves with hate for unions.

April 06, 2013 4:00 am • BILL GATES | co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Tom Brady may be the best quarterback in football, but he is also infamously, hilariously slow. YouTube videos of his 40-yard dash have gotten many thousands of hits from sports fans looking for a good laugh.

If the New England Patriots had chosen a quarterback based only on foot speed, they would have missed out on three Super Bowl victories. But National Football League teams ask prospects to run, jump and lift weights. They interview them for hours. They watch game film. In short, they use multiple measures to determine the best players.

In much the same way that sports teams identify and nurture talent, there is a window of opportunity in public education to create systems that encourage and develop fantastic teachers, leading to better results for students.

Efforts are being made to define effective teaching and give teachers the support they need to be as effective as possible. But as states and districts rush to implement new teacher development and evaluation systems, there is a risk they’ll use hastily contrived, unproven measures. One glaring example is the rush to develop new assessments in grades and subjects not currently covered by state tests. Some states and districts are talking about developing tests for all subjects, including choir and gym, just so they have something to measure.

In one Midwestern state, for example, a 166-page Physical Education Evaluation Instrument holds teachers accountable for ensuring that students meet state-defined targets for physical education, such as consistently demonstrating “correct skipping technique with a smooth and effortless rhythm” and “strike consistently a ball with a paddle to a target area with accuracy and good technique.” I’m not making this up!

This is one reason there is a backlash against standardized tests — in particular, using student test scores as the primary basis for making decisions about firing, promoting and compensating teachers. I’m all for accountability, but I understand teachers’ concerns and frustrations.

Even in subjects where the assessments have been validated, such as literacy and math, test scores don’t show a teacher areas in which they need to improve.

If we aren’t careful to build a system that provides feedback and that teachers trust, this opportunity to dramatically improve the U.S. education system will be wasted.

The fact is, teachers want to be accountable to their students. What the country needs are thoughtfully developed teacher evaluation systems that include multiple measures of performance, such as student surveys, classroom observations by experienced colleagues and student test results.

Of particular concern is the possibility that test results alone will be used to determine a large part of how much teachers get paid. I have talked to many teachers over the past several years, and not one has told me they would be more motivated, or become a better teacher, by competing with other teachers in their school. To the contrary, teachers want an environment based on collaboration, in which they can rely on one another to share lesson plans, get advice and understand what’s working well in other classrooms. Surveys by MetLife and other research of teachers back this up.
Teachers also tell me that while compensation is important, so are factors such as high-quality professional development opportunities, a strong school leader, engaged families and the chance to work with like-minded colleagues.

While there is justification for rewarding teachers based in part on how their students perform, compensation systems should use multiple measures, including classroom observation. In top-performing education systems in other parts of the world, such as Singapore and Shanghai, accomplished teachers earn more by taking on additional responsibilities such as coaching and mentoring other teachers and helping to capture and spread effective teaching techniques. Such systems are a way to attract, retain and reward the best teachers; make great use of their skills; and honor the collaborative nature of work in schools.

States, districts and the U.S. Education Department would do well to encourage the right balance. States such as Connecticut, Delaware and Kentucky are showing leadership in creating feedback and evaluation systems that reflect the patience and involvement of teachers and administrators. This is what’s required to build the kind of infrastructure that stands the test of time.

Exciting progress is being made in education across the country. The challenge now is to make sure we balance the urgency for change with the need to ensure fair ways to develop, evaluate and compensate teachers for the work they do.

Let’s be thoughtful about our approach so that one day we can say this was the moment we joined together to drive the long-term improvement our schools need.


Bill Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This column appeared first in The Washington Post.

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Kinds of runs contrary to the right wing narrative. Like Diane Ravitch, Bill seems to have learned something about education.
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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Odd topic, coming from a state which now bans schools from suspending or incarcerating students who destroy others' learning opportunity by calling teachers ANY obscene names they wish or even attacking them physically. Then there's USC Prof Darry Sragow doing his damnedest to create new generations of little far left monsters. The state needs to clean up its act if it or its citizens want any credibility regarding any education issue. Let's hope mac is proposing a total reversal of his state's educational insanity.
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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr. Fick-shun wrote:
...doing his damnedest to create new generations of little far left monsters. The state needs to clean up its act if it or its citizens want any credibility regarding any education issue.

You're right, Mikey. He should be doing his damnedest to create new generations of little far right angels.

And to improve credibility, they can squash all that evolution and global warming education. That should convince everybody.

Hell, it was chilly this morning. That's proof enough.
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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to say up front that I like what Bill Gates is saying. Seems to me that it's a vision that provides a good basic strategy to enhance our educational system. Certainly good teachers and fair compensation for their efforts has to be at the heart of things. Also, I share mac's concern about whether the Republicans are willing to work to improve on what we have now. One wonders whether extreme austerity and a war on teachers unions is a sound way to the future.

Talking about extremists from the right, what's isobars' take on things? Does he have any comments on what Gates is saying? Well, no. isobars' comments are limited to shooting the messenger and showing his disdain for the state of California.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chandler--I'm disappointed, but not surprised, that righties like mrgybe have not weighed in, or apparently even noticed the evolution of Bill Gates' foundation's approach. Mrgybe in particular was fond of citing Gates when Scott Walker was attacking teacher's unions in Wisconsin, not long after Michelle Rhee was run out of Washington D. C. by parents upset with her war on unions.

Reform is difficult at the best of times, in every institution. Those who are entrenched in power spent their careers accumulating that power, and are generally blind to the institutional issues that need reform. The education hierarchy is not going to be the fountain of reform ideas-indeed they will resist reform, and the presence of the Gates' foundation is a gift to public policy making. The evolution of their understanding is to be applauded. There are about 4 million teachers in this country, most of them interested in improving the teaching profession and themselves. With the inherent resistance of hierarchies to reform, it is the rank and file teachers who must be engaged to reform the profession. The evolution of the Gates foundation shows first, an understanding that we are not going to fire our way to a better teaching corps, and second, scapegoating teachers is the best way to doom reform.

The movement of the Gates foundation to an engagement approach can be seen as a larger indictment of the right wing efforts so typified by Tea Baggers like Michelle Bachman. Bachman, of course, had no successful substantive legislation during her career, but was supported by those who though amateurs in government were the solution. Rather than look for shared areas where folks on the left and the right are interested in real improvements, the Tea Party types created a coalition of the stupid and conflicted. Their coalition attacking teachers and teachers unions included those who hate public education (the Ron Paul wing of the stupid party), those who want to use public money for religious education, (evangelicals and home schoolers), and those with a financial stake in the outcome. The uniting theory--wrong as can be--is that the market would and could fix education. Thus the right turned a blind eye to blatant conflicts of interest among those in their coalition who sought financial gain without respect to results.

It is interesting that the Gates foundation has moved on, and not surprising that those who worship at the altar of the market have not noticed.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 4:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

pueno wrote:
Mr. Fick-shun wrote:
...doing his damnedest to create new generations of little far left monsters. The state needs to clean up its act if it or its citizens want any credibility regarding any education issue.

You're right, Mikey. He should be doing his damnedest to create new generations of little far right angels.

And to improve credibility, they can squash all that evolution and global warming education. That should convince everybody.

Hell, it was chilly this morning. That's proof enough.

I agree with you!! free pokies
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From a righty - Yes Gates has it right. What we now have is the result of overwhelming bureaucracy and government. Everyone in the school systems outside the classroom is trying to justify their administrative position by creating what is unneeded - more ineffective ways to evaluate & measure student and teacher performance.

Yes, evaluations are necessary, but with large schools and not enough on site management, few know what is or isn't happening.

I have to go back to my independent school history - A structure that works:

Board of Directors - Head of school reports to them.

Head of school - Division heads (lower, middle, upper school) report to him/her.

Division heads - Department chairs (English, math, history, finearts, foreign language, science, PE/sports) report to him or her.

Department chairs, who also teach - Teachers report to him/her, & also division heads.

Teachers - students report to him/her.

No standardizing testing tied to grades or performance except AP classes.

Department chairs have a hand in hiring, firing and evaluating teachers, but do not have the final word. The final word is usually made by the head of school in conjunction with the division heads. Collegiality is critical and works well. The administration KNOWS what is happening in the classroom so that teacher evaluations and pay increases are tied directly to that knowledge. All teachers and most administrators (Head of School is the exception) are tied to one year contracts. If your performance is poor or weak, you will be looking for other work. Most are motivated to do as best they can.

This isn't the case in all independent schools, but my experience is that strong efforts are made to hire classroom teachers that also have the ability to coach. Most coaches in the schools where I worked also taught in the classroom, and most were highly admired and respected as classroom teachers. This results in balanced approach to education.

The only teachers teaching to a TEST are the AP teachers.

You can see what happens when teacher performance and pay are tied to standardized testing - check out Atlanta...........
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The big news here is that iso has abandoned his plonking device. He can even see his arch enemy Mac.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some things in your post Techno that I agree with, but some I have deep reservations about.

I generally agree about the limited value of the amount of testing we are doing, and the impetus for cheating that results. The best research that I've seen shows that making the curriculum more difficult is the best way to improve education. Harder, more conceptual math, more complex writing assignments where editing and redrafting is rigorous. Assessments are a different matter--but go on continuously.

I agree that the current role of the Federal government in education is largely counterproductive, and I disagree with Obama's approach. It is too distant from the school sites, and even with the best of intentions ends up arbitrarily rewarding only some of those who are pioneering more effective approaches. The bureaucracy associated with it is, as you say, self justifying, cumbersome, and doesn't add much value.

I disagree with the one-year contract idea for two reasons. First, tenure protects teachers from arbitrary firing by school boards and principals with agendas. Particularly in the South, that often involves the intrusion of religious curricula into the schools, and punishment of teachers who do not comply. (To be sure, the religious have the right to teach their children as they will--but not with public funds.) Second, teaching is not easily learned, and uncertainty about job prospects, combined with low pay, will increase an already excessive turnover rate.

Finally, you are silent about educating the hard-to-educate, which has been largely left to public schools as private schools vacuum up the higher performers. It is very difficult to manage disruptive kids with diagnosed, or undiagnosed learning or emotional disabilities. Some teachers love to do it, not me. But it is important to try to reach those kids, because otherwise they often end up in the law enforcement system. Independent schools just kick them out, and if they are in schools where there are no high achievers with a similar ethnic or social background they have no peer models to suggest a different approach.

Some kids who are disruptive have supportive parents and seem to develop their own issues. Others have horrific back stories that have curled my (few remaining) hairs.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was raised Catholic, and liked a lot of things about the church. But there is a difference between faith, and bat-shit crazy. I heard about this on a Catholic talk radio show last night--the essence of it is a view that the Gates' foundation is trying to establish standards in schools that will lead to eugenics, forced abortion, and other assorted evils. I'm not sure how fringe this is, but it is purely bat-shit crazy.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Catholic Melinda Gates Pushes Eugenics and Birth Control In "Defiance" to Vatican

Mark Matheny
July 12, 2012

Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates, the wife of Bill Gates, and a life-long Catholic, has defied the Catholic church by "vowing to dedicate her life to improving access to contraception for women in the developing world," according to The Independent.

Her and her husband are going to be donating $560 million through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation toward "reducing unwanted pregnancies in poorer countries, which experts say lead to more than 100,000 women dying prematurely every year, according to the article.

This announcement came in London yesterday at a summit co-hosted by Gates Foundation and The Department for International Development.

To start off the summit, the Indian government pledged to provide free access to family planning for all 64 million women currently denied the opportunity to control when and how many children to have.

“Of course I wrestled with this. As a Catholic I believe in this religion, there are amazing things about this religion, amazing moral teachings that I do believe in, but I also have to think about how we keep women alive,” said Melinda Gates, who said this in advance of the summit, despite the fact that her decision is in opposition to Catholic doctrine.

Or so it would seem.

Despite the charitable appearance of these donations and efforts of the Gates Foundation, these donations are meant for more sinister purposes.

Here are some of the real reasons behind all of the devotion and donations of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:

•They have donated money for the research of bracelets that would be "capable of gauging both emotional and physical responses to various stimuli. According to The Washington Post (WP), the Gates Foundation has already quietly spent more than $1 million on research into the biometric bracelets, which could forever alter the way students learn and teachers teach." -Infowars
•They have generously donated millions of dollars towards the development of vaccines that would supposedly eradicate polio. The vaccine is known as "OPV" or live oral polio virus vaccine. The Salem News reports that the virus used has twice the strength of the original vaccine and reported the number of cases of paralysis; “In 2011 there were an extra 47,500 new cases of NPAFP [non-polio acute flaccid paralysis]. Clinically indistinguishable from polio paralysis but twice as deadly, the incidence of NPAFP was directly proportional to doses of oral polio received. Through this data was collected within the polio surveillance system, it was not investigated.” Click here to see video report by Experimental Vaccines website.
•Some of their other acts of "kindness" are to feed thirdworld populations with "GMOs" or genetically modified organics. According to an article at : In Bill Gates, Monsanto also has one of the wealthiest and most influential "philanthropists" supporting their agenda and spreading misleading propaganda about their products.

In recent years, it has become disappointingly clear that Gates may be leading the pack as one of the most destructive "do-gooders" on the planet... His views on what is required to make a difference in poverty- and disease-stricken third world nations are short-sighted and misinformed at best. A recent article in the Seattle Times1 joins me in arguing that Bill Gates' support of genetically modified (GM) crops as a solution for world hunger is based on unsound science. A team of 900 scientists funded by the World Bank and United Nations, investigated the matter over the course of three years, and determined that the use of GM crops is simply NOT a meaningful solution to the complex situation of world hunger.

Instead, the scientists suggested that "agro-ecological" methods would provide the most viable means to ensure global food security, including the use of traditional seed varieties and local farming practices already adapted to the local ecology.

• Bill Gates has stated publicly that with the improvement of vaccines and health services, the world's population can be reduced by perhaps 15%!!!
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