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What Bill Gates is really up to

I strongly recommend everyone read my colleague Nick Anderson's front page story on the incredible amounts of money being spent by Microsoft founder Bill Gates on public schools these days.

I am, I confess, not an objective observer of Gates, because he said many nice things about my last book. But Anderson doesn't have that problem. He gives us just about everything we need to know to decide if Gates's efforts are worthwhile. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving four times as much a year as the next leading private donor to public school programs. It has a $35 billion endowment. You can't understand current trends in school innovation without understanding Gates.

Read Jay's blog every day, and follow all of The Post's Education coverage on Twitter, Facebook and our Education web page.

By Jay Mathews  | July 12, 2010; 12:06 PM ET
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags:  Bill Gates, Nick Anderson piece on Gates' education empire, key to school innovation  
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Next: D.C. test scores: chilling out about short-term changes


We ARE living in the Twilight Zone.

Please check this out....

"Department of Education Awards $15 Million for Innovative Charter School Financing
􀀗NCB Capital Impact collaborated to form Charter School Financing Partnership to leverage $150 million for charter school facilities. Housing Partnership Network Inc. (HPN), an industry leader in peer
exchange and management of cooperative efforts, was awarded $15 million through the Department of Education’s (DOE) Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities Grants program to work with nonprofit financial institutions to develop innovative financing alternatives for charter schools. With this grant, HPN and NCB Capital Impact formed a new consortium, the Charter School
Financing Partnership (CSFP), along with Raza Development Fund, The Reinvestment Fund and Community Reinvestment Fund. CSFP will work to open the door for a greater number of charter schools to access the tax-exempt bond markets." (p.7)

The above was excerpted from this site:

This is the NCB Capital Impact Report for 2007. Yes, investment portpolio stuff!!!! Charter schools as investments. Sure, we all knew they were for profit at some level, but what more has happened even from 2007? The economy bust has left an open field for "investors" to tread over more honorable manners of education. Charter schools, standardized tests, business-style administrative ed schools, review teams serving dubious purposes, and on and on, where are our educational dollars reallllly going?

With the lines blurred between taxpayer collected funds turned funneled to various foundations then dispersed via grants to, oh, how shall I put it, the "chosen organizations to whom appropiate allegiances lie"....whatever is really going on? Has the education arena of our youth turned into a red light district for the undemocratic dogs, lovers of mighty profit?

Posted by: shadwell1 | July 12, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

When Bill Gates was head of Microsoft he allowed American jobs to be shipped to India for cheaper foreign workers. This was after the dot com bust when there were plenty of Americans programmers that needed jobs.

A little later his foundation gave millions for education in India. It made sense to upgrade the education of the nation that supplies your workers.

Many Americans programmers left the field.

Americans totally stopped enrolling in the Computer Sciences, a field that in 2000 Americans dominated.

Bill Gates then complained that Americans were not enrolled in the Computer Sciences.

Apparently Bill Gates believes Americans should spend $100,000 for a career in a field where there are no entry level jobs because of the policies of Bill Gates and other CEO's of shipping all entry level jobs to foreign countries.

Mr. Gates is the type of American CEO who if it involved a profit would cut off the legs of every American and then later complain that there were no Americans with two legs.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 12, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

From Alan Wolfe' s NYTimes review of Diane Ravitch's recent book:

Once an advocate of choice and testing, in “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” she................[snip] delivers the most damning criticism I have ever read of the role philanthropic institutions sometimes play in our society. “Never before,” she writes of the Gates Foundation, was there an entity “that gave grants to almost every major think tank and advocacy group in the field of education, leaving no one willing to criticize its vast power and unchecked influence.”

Posted by: incredulous | July 12, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

TAMPA -- Across the country, public education is in the midst of a quiet revolution. States are embracing voluntary national standards for English and math, while schools are paying teachers based on student performance.
Real nonsense.

The majority of public schools of the nation are schools of the affluent and the middle class and not the disaster Title 1 poverty public schools.

Parents are fully satisfied with these schools.

Public charter schools and performance pay are political nonsense for the neighborhoods of Title 1 poverty public schools.

The affluent and middle class public schools though are worrying about how to pay teachers when these schools are so heavily dependent upon property taxes in an economy that is causing such large declines in revenues. Many of these schools have already let teachers go.

The Title 1 poverty public schools are not effected by the economy since these schools have never been dependent upon property values in poverty neighborhoods.

Time for Washington Post reporters to differentiate about the majority of public schools in America that are effective and the minority Title 1 poverty public schools that have 56 percent failure rates in 4th grade reading.

Yes Washington DC the city of the Washington Post has the worst school system in the nation because it is mainly a Title 1 poverty public school system, but this does not justify the pretense that this is the same problem throughout the nation.

If the Washington Post was to inform Americans only on the basis of what was going on in Washington DC it would start a campaign to make sure every American made sure their car doors were locked before driving.

I have yet to see an article on education in the Washington Post about the majority of public schools in America.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 12, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

(Melinda Gates, wife of the Microsoft chairman, and investor Warren E. Buffett, a major donor to the foundation, are both on The Washington Post Co. board of directors.)
An article in the Washington Post coupled with two educational columnists creating columns that are references to the article.

At a certain point the Washington Post starts to lose all creditability as a major newspaper.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 12, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Gates is "so" dedicated to "education reform" that his foundation lured Dr. John Deasy away from his job as superintendent of Prince George's County Public Schools.

Posted by: edlharris | July 12, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

For bsallamack---You make an excellent point about this being mostly a middle class country with mostly middle class schools that do a pretty good job, at least in getting most kids to or above grade level and sending them off to college. I have made the same point many times. You will see a few valentines to the quality of the Washington suburban schools among my columns in the last year. Every year I note that although only 6 percent of high schools nationally reach the standard of college-level test participation recognized by Newsweek, more than 70 percent of Washington area schools do.
Our problem, as you say, are the 25 percent of schools in the cities and rural areas where most of the children are poor. I think just about every writer on the Post has made that point at one time or another. We still write about the suburban middle class schools. That is where most of our readers are, but one of our jobs as journalists is to investigate and describe what needs improvement in our country and our community, and there is no greater example of that than the quality of education for low-income kids.
And I think if you spoke to the college professors who receive middle class students from our average high schools, as well as many teachers in those high schools and people who worry about the rising demands of middle class jobs in this century, you would hear them all saying that those middle class schools, despite their satisfactory numbers, have much room for improvement. There has been no significant improvement in average reading or math achievement for 17 year olds in the last 30 years. The average college-bound middle class high school student in the US spends only about an hour a day on homework, and two or three hours watching TV and doing video games. Up to now, our schools have gotten somewhat better in each generation for all socio economic groups, but we seem to have plateaued. So you are right, we don't have to panic, but there is cause for concern for most kids, and cause for great concern for poor minority kids.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | July 13, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Up to now, our schools have gotten somewhat better in each generation for all socio economic groups, but we seem to have plateaued.
This is not true for the Title 1 public schools which have probably gotten worse.
So you are right, we don't have to panic, but there is cause for concern for most kids, and cause for great concern for poor minority kids.
Change the Title 1 public schools but do not allow panic for these schools to do damage for the large majority of public schools that do not fall in this category.

The majority of public schools do not need expensive new methods for evaluating the students or the teachers. All of this is expensive and does not contribute to education in these schools. Performance pay for teachers in these schools are an absurdity and a waste of money.

Schools that are not Title 1 public schools will improve by more individuals that are dedicated to teaching. The nation wide panic in regard to Title 1 public schools and teacher bashing has only driven away possible talented teachers who do not want to be associated with a career field where teachers are looked upon as some lower life form. Yes in a down market many of the unemployed are considering teaching, but there is nothing to indicate that these are the best candidates for teaching.

Be honest there is really not great concern for most students in public schools. Public schools have always had teachers that student find really good while there are other teachers that are so so or boring. This is life and not a major problem.

These are teachers and not the doctors that may have to do surgery on you.

But even in these schools that are doing well change can be made. Schools are short of science and mathematics teachers since most individuals in these fields are interested in these fields and not in education.

Use new means to get some of these individuals into school on part time basis. Work with colleges to get some of the adjuncts to teach part time in high schools. Stop spending all the money on AP and spend the money to bring in college adjuncts as part time teachers.

There is plenty that can be done to improve public schools that are not Title 1 but none of these things can be done if Americans are in panic mode or concerned.

In regard to Title 1 public schools, just look at Race To The Top. All of the criterion of the program are based on the problems of Title 1 public schools. So now we have a program of the Federal government to turn all of the public educational policies of every state to the education policies for the problems of Title 1 public schools. Common sense would indicate that instead of improving public education this will degrade education by saddling non Title 1 public schools with policies geared to Tittle 1 public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 13, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Story for the New York Times.

Ms. Rhee in the past has made claims of significant gains in public education based upon DC test results.

In the past there never has been totally objective evidence to refute these claims or support these claims.

Recent DC test results released by Ms. Rhee show that these claims were not valid.

DC test results for 2010 for elementary students
proficient or above
math 43 percent
reading 44 percent

These results are impossible to reconcile with the national tests.
2009 national 4th grade tests DC
proficient or above
math 17 percent
reading 11 percent

It is impossible to make any valid claim regarding DC test results when the concept of proficiency on a DC test is so far removed from the concept of proficiency on national tests.

It is apparent that improved test scores in DC have been simply obtained by lowering the standards of these tests and that there is no evidence to support the claims of Ms. Rhee of improvement of public education in DC.

Emailed to the public editor and reporters covering education.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 13, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

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