Post Scripts: Important voices that we don’t want to leave out – Facebook Comments to Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates

Dear Bill and Melinda ~

Dear Bill and Melinda,

We feel it’s important for you to hear the voices of those who leave comments on the footpaths of our letters to you – postscripts written by teachers on Facebook and Twitter who pause in their internet travels to read our letters to you on Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates.

We have collected a few of their comments here because we think it’s important to make them more public. We will do so again – from time to time – to elevate these previously silenced and hidden voices, for the purpose of establishing some semblance of democracy within the walls of this now corporate-run institution where we work.

While we will maintain a respectful tone in our letters to you, we do not want to silence other voices of dissent. Some of these voices express clear outrage, but in the spirit of democracy we did not edit them. Nor do we apologize for this. These voices convey what is happening to children and teachers because of the reforms you have pushed upon us all without our consent. The voices are important to listen to and to reflect upon, and hopefully they will inspire you to make the kinds of changes that truly improve education for all.

We also note that while we have no evidence that you are reading these letters, we do know that other teachers are reading them. We do know that the voices coming forward in each letter and postscript give courage to those who remain fearful. These letters to you have a wider audience of readers that are important to us; teachers working and living in fear, and the public who has – for too long – read about the demoralization of teachers in the press, demoralization often led by you.

We hope these postscripts, as we are calling them, help shift your thinking and change your ideas about education just like talking to other educators around the world has changed ours. We also hope they give other teachers the courage to speak out and to stand up. Additionally, we hope the people see how much teachers really care about their students and that they’ll gain a better understanding of the the oppression we are under. We are standing up – no longer silent.

Sincerely,

Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates

P.S. Please read the voices of real people below the blog posts they commented on, which were included for context.

The 12 Steps to Recovery for Teachers Under the Influence of Corporate Education Reform

“You two have captured the depth of despair of teachers all across the country. I pray that your letter writing campaign sparks others to share their stories and feelings as well. You are wonderful role models for what teachers stuck in the middle, delivering resting, not meaningful education. I love your spirit, your voices!” ~ Barbara Gilbert

#CCSS: Twenty times the testing may be an understatement for some districts.

“I teach juniors and seniors, worthless time consuming tests week after week that disrupt everything, teach the child nothing and only make them feel dumb and worthless.. It’s a matter of moral turpitude now. Teachers are getting close to feeling they have to protect the child from these worthless tests.” ~  P. Busche

“Thanx, Bill Gates for pushing me to home school. I never before had the thought……….” — J. Caldwell

Photo: @billgates @gatesed RSVP: you have an invitation. We are waiting to hear back from you!

A comment inspired by this graphic above:

“One thing I wish would be addressed is teacher’s pay. Schools that deal with children in poverty need teachers that will stay but because of teachers pay being tied to property taxes teachers move on after a year because the school down the road pays $20000 more. Right now, I teach 5 different preps, Rti and PBIS lessons. A friend of .that teaches 20 miles away teaches 2 preps no RtI and no PBIS gets 2 prep times and earns $30000 more than I do. No wonder people don’t stay at the poor schools. But kids in poverty NEED teachers to stick around, they need consistency. I know some states have figured this out but I bet if the Gates Foundation but there heads together they could figure this problem out.” — R. Brandmeyer

“Engaged” Virginia Teacher Speaks Truth about Measuring Student Engagement

“We can truly use the millions to create awareness and show how bad Common Core Agenda , standarized testing and persecution of teachers have create chaos in the classrooms…..If you really want to help go teach high school for one year in any of our inner city schools…Then and only then maybe we can speak the same language…” — D. Watkins

Fourth Generation Teacher: My Letter to Bill Gates — details to follow.

“What a powerful letter! I hope that these letters are being read by Mr. Gates…they are heartfelt and honest, sometimes even raw! I hope that something comes of this campaign.” — B. Gilbert

“:( to see a class called “Reading for Pleasure” tossed aside for more test prep.” — S. Doherty

More Harm Than Good? ~ Susannah Czernicki

“Bill Gates could care less. He will make a bundle of money. The man thinks he won the Presidential election. Maybe he did. Maybe his money bought him the rights. He thinks he has the right to dictate education for all of our children. Wonder if Common Core is taught were his children go. I know President Obama’s kids are not getting Common Core.” — K. Brakken

Dear Melinda: I resigned because of your edreform. I hope that as a woman and as a mother, you will hear what I am saying and do something about it before it really is too late.

“Wow! GREAT letter!! After reading so many of these, it’s hard to read more, and the bar is high, but this one did it for me.”  –S. Atkinson

High Stakes Tests Destroy Students’ Self-Esteem in Hours – Special Ed Teacher says “Heartbreaking”

“Seriously, this is child abuse. If I see one more child break into tears, bang their head on the table, take off running, self-injur (I teach elementary learning/emotional support) I’m going to snap myself!! Makes me want to leave teaching. When I have children, we will be opting out of this nonsense!” — M. Simmons

“It is so hard on the special education students. I have been a special education teacher for 15 years and this is a form of emotional abuse. I can not stand watching my students suffer with all this testing. They are so defeated.” — H. Jones

“Leave them alone. Testing does not teach learning, problem solving, analytic thing or creatively.”  – S. Clark

Is there someone out there who truly believes that a child with cognitive disabilities can pass these tests at grade level?

“Even students without any issues can have a hard time with these…some of my better students simply freeze cuz it’s a test and no one can give them a good sense of what they (the tests) really mean in the scheme of things…the admin puts fear in their hearts and tells them they will be put in the wrong classes…doubtful given that we have only 2 tracks…Honors/GT/GATE/AP…and everyone else…” — J. Oliverez

Who thought of forcing children on IEPs to take grade-level high stakes standardized tests anyway?

“When I have to administer these tests to SWDs [students with disabilities] or newcomer ELLs [English Language Learners], I find myself apologizing to them and feel fake.” — Katie Lapham

“That has to be the worst thing about NCLB.” — A. Tenaglia

My letter to a 5th grader despondent over low ELA score. I was in his shoes.

“How wonderfully written. Had to have made a difference to that child…” — M. Nurse

Dear Bill: We’re teachers, and we can do so much, but… “What we can’t do, however, is address all of the problems that put or keep families in poverty.”

“When you see an article that tells you that you are crazy for challenging the core, or one that puts you in a box, tweet, I am ___, and a ___ and I am #againstcommoncore. They need to know that we are Democrats, Libertarians, atheists, Christians, teachers, college graduates, military, parents, grandparents, business owners, and we are all against the core!” — R. Eckert

And to the Seattle Times post on their front page:

Gates Foundation Looking to Make Nice with Teachers by Linda Shaw

“Teacher Evaluations: why don’t they start with teacher training programs and make them more rigorous-like medicine or law school? ohhh, I know, no one would go through such a process to be degraded, underpaid and under appreciated.It would coast to much money to do this…so lets go after current teachers and ignore issues such as poverty.” — P. Voas

“As far as I (a teacher) am concerned actions speak louder than words. I call the Gates’ Foundation “bovine feces” statements and lay down the future of our country. I also remind dear Bill and Melinda that there is a big difference between entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Unlike his windows operating systems, our children cannot be “fixed”, “updated”, or “replaced/recreated” every few years.” — A. MacAbee

“This is nothing but PR…and working to appropriate…its an old trick that’s been around for a long, long time.” — S. Grande

Dear Melinda: I resigned because of your edreform. I hope that as a woman and as a mother, you will hear what I am saying and do something about it before it really is too late.

“Students take many of the mandatory tests to measure progress in math and reading on computers running a Microsoft operating system. Bill and Malinda Gates want education reform to line their pockets with more money. Apparently having as much money as a small nation hidden in off shore accounts so they don’t pay federal income tax is not enough for them. Greed is the motivation for the Gates’ educational reform.” — L. Caywood

“This totally broke my heart…but I completely understand where she is coming from!” — P. Monds

“Wow, very moving! I truly pray that it gets read by Melinda Gates!” — J. Curry-Lambert

“This is how many teachers feel, and this letter stated it beautifully! Why can’t the teaching be left up to the experts–the teaching professionals who have the knowledge and pedagogy? Are lay people telling other professionals how to do their jobs? Imagine telling your doctor what he/she should be doing!” — S. Mazzell

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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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2 Responses to Post Scripts: Important voices that we don’t want to leave out – Facebook Comments to Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates

  1. Rosalyn Smith says:

    Expecting students with learning differences, or English Language Learners to “achieve” at grade level is cruel and unrealistic. Overall, teaching ” how to take the test” does not teach creativity, concepts that ‘stick’, or even the joy of learning and applying a new skill. All of it is counter to normal brain and second- language development. There are so many socioeconomic issues that are patently ignored in the learning, as well as the testing process.
    Why do you think YOU have the answers?

  2. Nancy Papas says:

    Many of our very best teachers in Indiana are leaving the profession thanks to current education ‘reforms” and the emphasis to standardize students and teachers as robots. Yes students have to learn many socially acceptable behaviors and certain basic life skills that apply to all, but schools should also maximize each student’s individual potential and gifts.

    Requiring students who cannot yet speak or understand academic English to take standardized tests in English is cruel and serves no useful purpose other than to unfairly paint the student, teachers, and school as failures. Yet I have to wonder if painting everyone as failures is the agenda to justify profit-making reforms.

    In Indiana, schools must purchase expensive standardized tests to PROVE that results from the state’s required standardized test don’t truly reflect achievement. (The state won’t accept
    any other ‘proof’.) Some schools and grades disrupt up to 140 days of the 180 day school calendar with standardized testing. At even one hour per test, that accumulates to 28 entire days of elementary school instruction lost to testing. We CANNOT afford to lose nearly 6 weeks of instruction to testing. (And if students score too well or too poorly, the teacher is suspected of cheating or incompetence. This is a no-win situation for teachers. No wonder they’re leaving.)

    I purchased a computer OTHER THAN MICROSOFT because I’m so angry at Bill Gates for undermining achievement, morale, and the love of teaching and learning. The working conditions in schools are nothing like the free spirited atmosphere in silicon valley where creativity is encouraged, valued and rewarded. Microsoft’s creative employees would leave in droves if they had to put up with teacher working conditions.

    Unfortunately, huge class-sizes, testing demands, teacher and teacher aide layoffs, budget cuts, lack of supplies, and more are all ‘rolliing downhill’ onto teacher shoulders. Even politically conservative researchers (Eric Hanuchek) note that a teacher only controls for 10% of achievement while 60% of achievement is controlled by factors OUTSIDE the school. Yet, teachers and schools will receive ALL the blame when abused, hungry, homeless, sick,
    non-English speaking, special ed., drug abusing, and/or chronically absent students don’t score well on a standardized test that may or MAY NOT test what was taught.

    Families with jobs and who could provide middle-class upbringing to their children AND teachers
    who were allowed to educate – not just train students for test-taking and jobs – enabled America to go to the moon. If our corporate policies will stop driving more and more families into poverty and if education reforms will stop driving our best teachers out of teaching, the sky again will be the only limit to students’, teachers’, and schools’ achievement and success.

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