Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bill Gates and The Big Education Duh

This week is apparently the time of year when big names make obvious comments about important issues so they can make headlines. Yesterday it was Elton John and his hugely obvious statement about religion. Today, Bill Gates takes a turn in a Microsoft-sized obvious statement about education. Who do these people think they are?
In an interview with the AP, Gates is quoted as saying, "the U.S. education system needs higher standards, clear accountability, flexible personnel practices and innovation." No kidding Bill, we didn't know that. Teachers have been saying the same things for years and we are ignored by lawmakers. What in the world makes Bill Gates think his opinion on the matter will do any good? He doesn't even contribute to the public education system. All of his kids are in private schools. SO he just thinks these things. He doesn't actually know. That explains why the points he makes are so off.
For example he says, ""Real accountability means more than having goals; it also means having clear consequences for not meeting the goals." Consequences for who? If you say teachers, you should be tarred and featured in Window's setup disks. The problem in this country is not teachers. The problem is with apathetic parents and students and incompetent administrations and lawmakers. In other words, the people that complete the puzzle of education are lacking. Teachers get all the blame. It seems Bill agrees.
He goes on to say, "It's astonishing to me to have a system that doesn't allow us to pay more for someone with scarce abilities, that doesn't allow us to pay more to reward strong performance." "That is tantamount to saying teacher talent and performance don't matter and that's basically saying students don't matter." No Bill, performance pay is not the answer. If you start paying teachers based on how their students do on some idiotic standardized tests, you are going to lose some of the best educators in the world. Performance pay is not a real solution. Other industries don't use it, why should education.
This all boils down to the fact that Bill Gates, like other people around the country, knows nothing about education. The decisions on education need to be made by the teachers. What gates fails to realize is that the system is only broken because it was built with broken parts. The only true working part are the teachers. We know our own jobs. And we are tired of other people telling us how to do it.

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