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Gates Sets His Sights Higher than K-12

Diane Ravitch explains how Bill Gates is moving past K-12 and taking his money to reform higher education. 

With $36 billion, the Gates Foundation has too much money, too much power, and not enough common sense nor willingness to listen to those who warn that they are doing harm to basic social institutions.

Now the foundation has decided to destroy the civilizing and humanizing mission of higher education, and turn it into a process for acquiring job skills and degrees.

Read this article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Just as it has done in K-12 education, the foundation has bought the research, bought the evaluations, bought the advocacy groups, and even bought the media that reports on what the foundation is doing.

Gates may be able to buy institutional and political influence but he is having a hard time buying the hearts of teachers in classrooms.   The website, titled “Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates,”encourages educators to share their stories, reading: “We are teachers with questions. We are teachers who no longer want to live behind the Gates. We are teachers who are not funded by the Gates Foundation.” (quote via Huffington Post)

The Huffington Post sifted through the letters and found the #1 thing teachers want Bill Gates to know is Common Core will NOT fix things.

1. Implementing Common Core standards will not fix things. The Gates Foundation has provided $150 million in grant money for organizations to invest in Common Core implementation. Educators on “Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates” bemoan this, writing that Common Core standards will continue the trend of high-stakes testing in school. Instead of trying to fix education by investing in Common Core standards, one writer tells Gates to invest in poverty reduction instead. Writes Carmen R. Andrews, “The only people benefitting from the Common Core Standards and attached over-testing are those creating the tests and supporting materials.”

Sadly, instead of listening to teachers in the classroom, politicians are following the Gates money and taking the K-12 Common Core reforms from preschool through higher education.   K-12 is quickly becoming P-20, as Governor Snyder calls it “from pre-natal to lifelong learning.”

Ravitch concludes with the question that should be on Michigan lawmakers’ minds as they consider Common Core….

How can a democracy function when one man with $36 billion assumes the right and the power to reshape key institutions?