Dear Bill and Melinda,
One of the most dangerous and hypocritical conversations I have heard is your recent interview at Harvard University, as noted by your critic at the Washington Post’s The Answer Sheet, Valerie Strauss. [watch video below]
In this interview, you joke about being a college drop out. Yet you insist all children MUST be “college and career ready”. In this interview, you made a bunch of excuses about why you didn’t graduate college and yet you force-feed Common Core [Common Core-Pirate National Standards ] as a real life laboratory experiment on our nation’s public school children. In this interview you admit you may be making mistakes.
Valerie writes about a mistake you made at Microsoft saying:
‘This is the interview in which he said that the keyboard combination of hitting the control, alt and delete buttons to log into Windows was “a mistake.” ‘
We think you ought to use this as a metaphor to fix your big mistake, Bill and Melinda. You can do it. Your combination of privatization within a market model, standardization, and high stakes testing with carrots and sticks is a mistake.
In this interview you admit it may take ten years to know if your reforms are effective. You state:
“It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.”
Valerie Strauss goes on to write:
‘That’s what Bill Gates said on Sept. 21 (see video below) about the billions of dollars his foundation has plowed into education reform during a nearly hour-long interview he gave at Harvard University. He repeated the “we don’t know if it will work” refrain about his reform efforts a few days later during a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative.’
In this interview, you describe yourself as having been a “fanatic” about your business, Microsoft, during your thirties. You said you have “gotten over it”. We disagree. Your behavior and control wielded over our public institution indicate evidence of your fanaticism unchecked.
In this interview you glibly act as if America’s children, teachers, public schools and democracy have that luxury. Bill and Melinda, we repeat – get over it! Our nation’s children, our nation’s teachers, and our nation’s democracy don’t have the luxury of 10 years to wait to see if your experiments with them as lab rats are a big mistake. That is a dangerous paradigm.
We do not have that luxury. We instead feel Martin Luther King’s “fierce urgency of now“. Bill and Melinda, your FANATIC Corporate Education Reform experiments are a failure. Un-friend corporate education reform. Abort your mission. Admit your mistake. Now is time to hit CONTROL + ALT + DELETE.
The big HOAX is up. Your “Reign of Error” is over. Diane Ravitch is right. Now is the time for you and Melinda to apologize to all of those you have harmed and go live out your last years in “relaxation” instead of “fanaticism”.
Yes, not only are you fanatics, but you are also both hypocrites. The big reason you use to SELL Common Core is to “prepare students to be college and career ready”. You made this statement, along with many others about the big focus on “college and career readiness”…
“With the states’ release today of a set of clear and consistent academic standards, our nation is one step closer to supporting effective teaching in every classroom, charting a path to college and careers for all students, and developing the tools to help all children stay motivated and engaged in their own education. The more states that adopt these college and career based standards, the closer we will be to sharing innovation across state borders and becoming more competitive as a country.”
= Bill Gates, Co-Chair, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, quotes from supporters
You are very serious about forcing “college and career readiness” on our nation’s children. Yet in this interview you are glib. Clearly, based on your own words, you were NOT ready for college and still are not college ready. In the real world, just as you yourself demonstrated, there are many paths to success for children. We all want what you want for your children, Bill and Melinda.
We don’t want standardization any more than you do for your children. We don’t want high stakes testing any more than you do for your children. We don’t want narrowed mundane “Core for the Commoners” curriculum any more than you do for your children. We don’t want large class sizes any more than you do for your children. We don’t want poor prenatal care and lack of health insurance any more than you did for your children. We don’t want a lack of resources in schools that are as a result absent of music, the arts, PE, sports, libraries, librarians… any more than you do for your children. We feel the “urgency of now” for our children as they have only one childhood, just as you do for your children.
Is Common Core the supreme path to success for children? We don’t think so and no field tests have proven the CCSS will help children reach success.
The path to success for children is NOT through standardization. The path to success for children is NOT through a series of high stakes tests. The path to success for children is NOT through any punitive teacher evaluation system. The path to success for children is not through closing their public schools. The path to success for children is NOT through creating a data system that shares their private data. The path to success is NOT through corrupt charter schools that shut out children who are still learning English as a second language and children with special needs, nor is the path children who live in poverty are often put on who can’t afford the private charters through the reformy hoax of a voucher system. The path to success for children is NOT through a 5 week “summer camp” trainee from TEACH FOR AMERICA standing in for real professional teachers. The path to success for children is NOT from any one of your fanatic corporate reform experiments.
The path to success for children is this: “Schooling should help children DISCOVER their own unique talents, not “standardize” them.” The path to success for children is this: Freedom to Teach, Freedom to Learn: A Year at Mission Hill. The path to success for children is this: August to June, Bringing Life to School. The path to success for children is this: Pasi Sahlberg on why Finland leads the world in education. Bill and Melinda, the path to success for children is right in your own backyard: Lakeside School in Seattle. Like Diane Ravitch says:
“Bill and Melinda Gates are the best parents in Seattle.” ~ Diane Ravitch
Of course you are. We would all love to have this type of school for our children.
These paths to success for children share one thing in common: not one of these are based on your failing corporate reform agendas or subject to your failing policies.
Yet, absent of ANY expertise of your own in the profession of education — only through the fanatic abuse of your wealth used to buy POWER — you have insisted on pushing your mistaken combination of corporate education reform experiments on our children.
In this interview, you talked about yourself and Melinda running the foundation together, and you reference your mutual involvement in education via The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. You stated:
“It’s (education reform) a lot of fun to talk about.”
Bill and Melinda, we aren’t here for your marital or faux-philanthropic entertainment. You mentioned how much you “fell in love” with Warren Buffet and that you play bridge together. We are terribly sorry Warren gave you so much money to play games with our children. We aren’t here to be a topic over your bridge games with Warren Buffet. We aren’t here for your relaxation and we aren’t here for your experiments.
As noted, there has not been any field testing of your corporate reform measures, including the Common Core, and there’s absolutely no evidence that they are effective. While you insist on ideas that are measurable, you don’t apply these metrics to your own ideas. We agree with Dr. Tienken:
“Major policies that we impose on children and parents should have evidence to support their effectiveness.” –Dr. Christopher Tienken, Seton Hall University
WHY are WE here then, as teachers?
We are here because as professionals, we know how to help children find their OWN path to success. We are here because children need professional educators, not privateers driven by profit to help them discover their own paths to success. We are here because we have a great passion for learning and for creating life-long learners. We are here because we have the knowledge and expertise it takes to perform one of the most complex and respected (everywhere EXCEPT in the United States, thanks to you and your reformy friends) professions in the world – teaching children.
We are here because we have a calling to a noble profession to serve children after actually GRADUATING college, after being tested by the state, after serving as student teachers in our internships under a high degree of scrutiny by field supervisors and administration, after many of us have attended graduate school to earn a Masters degree, after many of us have passed our National Board Certification, after many of us have taught for several years only to pass through yet another hoop (Pro-Teach, etc.) required by our states to provide evidence that we truly ARE effective teachers, and we are here AS professionals – not college drop outs.
Let’s talk about experience and expertise for a moment. In this interview, you state:
“There’s tons of things that I’m not good at, so it’s always good to get other people involved…
My wife always gives me good feedback.”
We are here with a combined experience and expertise of 100,000’s of years – even more – as professional teachers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics:
“There were a projected 3.7 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) elementary and secondary school teachers in fall 2011. This number has risen 7 percent since 2001. The 2011 projected number of FTE teachers includes 3.3 million public school teachers and 0.4 million private school teachers.”
My point is, WE have a wealth of professional experience and expertise. See a rough estimate here:
- No Full Time teaching experience: 28,100
- 1-3 Years: 598,300
- 4-9 Years: 867,200
- 10-19 Years: 812,600
- 20 Years or More: 908,600
- SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education; National Center for Education Statistics Teacher Follow-up Survey. – Monster, “Why Teachers Quit”
I’ll let you do the math about the sum total number of years of teaching experience, education, and expertise we have in comparison to a college drop out and a business graduate [Melinda].
What a sham you live behind, Bill and Melinda. What terrible feedback you must be providing, Melinda. It’s time to hit CONTROL + ALT + DELETE on Melinda’s feedback and get “other people involved” – other people like students, parents, us PROFESSIONAL teachers with 100s of thousands of years of experience and – the democracy!
Here’s some feedback for you from a very talented student. He titles his poem “Rigged Game” for obvious reasons. If you haven’t listened to this yet, here’s a bit of poetry to help you understand just ONE place your corporate reforms aren’t working… in the lives of our students who are still learning English:
Our children aren’t here to be used as experiments, nor are our nation’s professional teachers, nor are teacher evaluations, nor are public schools, and neither is our nation’s democracy. We agree:
“The winners of a rigged game should not get to write the rules.” – Dylan Garity
Stop “fanatically” experimenting with all of us. Stop rigging the game. Stop writing the rules with your money.
In this interview, you say “we picked global health and education”. We didn’t pick you! We don’t need a rich fanatical couple controlling public education.
In this interview you mention:
“It is up to rich people alive to decide what to do with…”
It isn’t “up to rich people alive” to decide what we do in public education. It IS up to our nation’s professionals and our nation’s PEOPLE. We are a democracy.
America’s children, America’s teachers, America’s public schools do not have the luxury of being your lab rats for ten years. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, America can no longer afford the luxury of corporate reformers and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation administering “the tranquilizing drug of gradualism,” but, rather, we need you to join us in recognizing “the fierce urgency of now.”
If you truly cared about our children of poverty you would do what we suggest here: Hit CONTROL + ALT + DELETE on your fanatical corporate education reform. Abort your mission. Solve a real important problem for once without selfish motives.
In this interview you talk about your childrens’ inheritance. Leave a legacy that your children can inherit with pride rather than shame. Face it. You’re both getting old. You are facing your mortality. Your children may not have another ten years to wait for you to provide them with a prideful legacy. America’s children don’t have ten years to give for your entertainment. Your edu-experiment has failed. Abort. Recognize your combination is a mistake. Recognize the mortality of your reforms. Recognize “the fierce urgency of now”. Hit CONTROL + ALT + DELETE.
Susan and Katie, Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates