Dear Bill and Melinda,
One of our readers posted this comment in reply to our blog post to you: Dear Bill: Money Can’t Buy You Love — the Most Important Ingredient to a Good Education.
She has some questions for you that we are sure other teachers are wondering about also.
“Where were Bill and Melinda when I stayed after school to phone DCS after comforting a little boy who shared that daddy had beaten mommy the night before? Where were Bill and Melinda when I was on the phone with DCS after a child arrived at school wearing the same dirty clothes from the previous day stating that he fell asleep in his clothes and shoes after having nothing for dinner and now his feet hurt? Where were Bill and Melinda when I was rushing to Walmart to purchase shoes for a little boy whose shoes were 2 sizes too small or to purchase a coat for a little girl that is cold and does not have a coat? Where were Bill and Melinda when I reached into my already stretched income to buy food for a child? Where were Bill and Melinda when I contacted everyone I know in search of bunk beds after a child informed me that he and his 2 brothers all sleep on the floor because they do not have beds? Where were Bill and Melinda when I was taking in children as respite care while DCS searched for a more permanent foster care placement? Where were Bill and Melinda when I did without something so that I could buy things to enrich the curriculum in my classroom? There is a lot more that I could say. Unfortunately, Bill and Melinda are far too busy to listen. There is a great deal more to teaching than filling in bubbles.” — Tracy Eddins
These questions remind me of a video that your education reform – specifically, its impact on children, teachers, schools, and communities in high poverty areas – inspired me to create.
Last year, Anthony Cody, author of the Living in Dialogue blog, engaged in an online dialogue with The Gates Foundation through Impatient Optimists, the foundation’s blog. The topic was education reform and poverty. Anthony wrote the following in his blog post titled Dialogue with the Gates Foundation: Can Schools Defeat Poverty by Ignoring It?:
“The Gates Foundation’s central slogan is “All lives have equal value,” and the thrust of their work around education has been promoting institutional and political reform, based on the premise that this will increase equity, especially for the poor. The Gates Foundation has avoided systematic efforts to achieve equity of resources for schools and the children who attend them; instead, it asserts that teacher effectiveness is the best lever in this regard, and it has focused most of its research and advocacy on promoting public investment in systems that measure and promote teacher effectiveness. [Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates, emphasis added only]
In the name of reform, the Gates Foundation has wielded its political influence to effectively shift public funds, earmarked for the service of poor children, away from investment in those children’s direct education experience. Through the Race to the Top and NCLB waiver conditions, the US Department of Education has instead dedicated public resources to creating state and federal mandates for the Gates Foundation’s costly project — making sure every aspect of our educational system is “driven by data.” The future public expenditures required by the transition to the Common Core, with its greatly expanded assessment systems, will further deplete resources available for classrooms.
This is a huge error. In the US, the linchpin for education is not teacher effectiveness or data-driven management systems. It is the effects of poverty and racial isolation on our children.”
— Anthony Cody
Now we’re taking a trip back to the linchpin: As this teacher and Anthony Cody have pointed out — poverty and corporate education reform don’t mix.
Your education policies and positions do not appear to have increased equity, particularly for the poor. Do you agree that perhaps corporate education reform is not what these children need the most? Instead, what if you created a special fund so that schools could use wraparound services within a “community schools’ model” [with resources controlled by individual communities] to meet the physical and emotional needs of these children?
Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates