An open invitation to dialogue with teachers from the US and around the world

Dear Bill and Melinda ~

We would like to invite you to engage in dialogue with school teachers from the US and around the world about the very broad topic of public education.

It has not gone unnoticed that you have used your vast wealth and power to create corporate education reforms without the democratic process that should include the voices of millions of professional public school educators, administrators, parents, students, and community members, both in our country and around the world.

We would appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to respond to our letters. We invite readers to share their letters, which we will re-blog to engage you both, and to create an archive of this democratic process.

We hope that you will find that we can participate in a dialogue that is respectful, yet still allows us to express dissent with your influence on policies that impact our students’ lives, our professions, our daily lives, our schools, and our communities.

We have been silenced too long and we may have some pent up emotions to express. We invite our readers to join in the conversation, which we hope will ultimately result in a positive influence on public education as a whole.

We thank you in advance as we truly hope to have a rich ongoing discussion with you about public education. Will you join us?

Sincerely,

Teachers’ Letters To Bill Gates

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About Highlighting Members' Needs

We are running for the following Renton Education Association positions because we believe in the following planks: Becca Ritchie, Candidate for REA President, Nelsen Middle School, Computer Tech Susan DuFresne, Candidate for Primary Executive Board, Maplewood Heights Elementary, Integrated Kindergarten ✅  Demanding a healthy work-load/life balance. ✅  Bargaining competitive professional compensation. ✅  Challenging the status quo test culture with: Less is more! ✅  Emphasizing our professional expertise. ✅  Prioritizing equity and access for all. ✅  Utilizing 2-way 21st century communication tools. ✅  Acting in solidarity with all unions. ✅  Supporting ALL members. ✅   Implementing developmentally appropriate K-3 curriculum/assessment.
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7 Responses to An open invitation to dialogue with teachers from the US and around the world

  1. Deborah Carter says:

    Imagine you’re a doctor. You’re required to diagnose and treat 30 patients at a time, all in the same room, all with different ailments.

    Some are rapidly losing blood from gaping wounds, while some suffer from minor scrapes or sniffles; others have chronic conditions – potentially serious, but manageable. A few are healthy but striving to become more physically fit. You want them all to thrive.

    Some patients absolutely refuse to take the medicine you prescribe or simply can’t afford it, and some have no one at home to help them get around. Others are able to pay for the very best specialists to supplement the care you give them.

    A number of “medical reformers” spend the bulk of their time criticizing how you do your job, despite the fact that they have no medical training themselves. And when you need to take time off, you are required to leave explicit directions for a surrogate – who most likely also has no medical training – to treat your patients for the day.

    On top of all of that, there’s a series of standardized wellness exams, created by for-profit companies, which each patient must pass at the end of a fixed number of weeks. The state has approved a law connecting your pay to the percentage of your patients who pass these wellness exams.

    Colleagues who practice at exclusive clinics in the posh part of town handle only 20 patients at a time (patients who must apply to be admitted to the clinic and show that they can afford the most expensive treatments). They have no trouble keeping their patients healthy; all of their patients pass the exam easily. Those who see 40 patients at a time in a run-down facility with no resources are not so fortunate.

    What medical student in her right mind would ever specialize in oncology under those circumstances?

    It sounds ridiculous because it is. We would never expect anything like this scenario from our medical professionals – or legal professionals, or business professionals. And yet it is precisely the demand we place on professionals in the field of education.

    In an effort to quantify in the simplest terms that which is phenomenally complex – i.e., student growth – we often rely on standardized tests. Now, when I measure student growth in my class, I consider many factors in a wide variety of formats: essays, projects, class discussions, notes, quizzes…. But by all means, let’s reduce everything to a multiple-choice score. That will tell us how much each student has learned; also, it’s super-easy to score, and it results in huge profits for the testing industry!

    Except. Some kids walk into our classrooms already able to excel on the first day; their passing the exam at the end of the course does not necessarily indicate growth. Others have backgrounds that make it impossible for them to have any hope of passing in the short time we have together: learning disabilities, problems at home, poor teachers in previous years.

    So look at that group of 30 diverse individuals and ask yourself, what test can measure what’s going on in each of their brains? How do you plan to measure the effect of each teacher on that brain? Most importantly, will any of this help a single student to thrive?

    • livingbehindthegates says:

      Thank you for your great comment, Deborah. We re-blogged your comment to ask Bill and Melinda your great questions! I hope they will respond. Please follow and share our blog with other teachers.

    • Gayle Greene says:

      Eloquently said! thanks for this. And this is a wonderful forum–keep up the good work!

  2. Heidi Butkus says:

    That WAS a great comment and a perfect analogy. Bravo!

  3. melody H. says:

    That was an excellent point. I once had to ask someone if he would put his life in the hands of a florist to operate on him? I personally feel that the education field had been taken for a ride, and that all of those for profit standardized tests are doing nothing but endangering the life of the patients. What truly would work will be to level the field so that all students, teachers, schools, districts and states could have the same resources available to them. Allow the teachers to use their creativity, spontaneity, intuition, connection and understanding of their students in order to cater to their individual needs. No amount of money nor tests can compensate that.

  4. Pingback: Our Top 10 from 2013, but Bill Gates is Still Not Making Nice with Teachers | Teachers' Letters to Bill Gates

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