"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stephen Krashen Agrees with me...

...or I agree with him...whichever. On December 27 I wrote:
2. He [Duncan] realizes that if master's degrees in education meant something then his own qualifications would be suspect. He has no educational training. He has never taught in a public school...has never worked in a public school...has never even attended a public school. It's in his best interest to imply that teachers with master's degrees don't know any more than he does with his bachelor's degree in Sociology.
Then, I read this today...
Prediction: Arne Duncan's next move

by Stephen Krashen

I predict that Arne Duncan's next move will be to declare that teachers don't need any kind of degree in education or any course work in education. In fact, he will say they are better off without it.

Guess who has no degrees or course work in education: Arne Duncan. Nor, to my knowledge, has he ever spent any time alone in a room with children or high school students.

And the same is true for many of his advisers.

Analogy: The hospital administrators whose only training is watching Dr. Oz are telling the surgeons how to operate, and are making wild statements about the quality of medical schools and how much preparation medical professionals should have.

This has to stop.

— Stephen Krashen
NCTE Members Open Forum

And just for the record...Margaret Spellings, Duncan's predecessor at the US DOE had the same qualifications that Duncan has...none.

[Note: You may have noticed that I inserted an apostrophe for "master's degree." When I posted on 12/27, I left it out. I have since checked and found that most (but not all) sources say use the apostrophe. You can read that information here.]


Monday, December 27, 2010

Advanced Degrees Don't Matter

Why is it that Arne Duncan, the US Secretary of Education, denounces teachers masters degrees as not effective and too expensive? He claims that advanced degrees do not make better teachers...except perhaps for Math and Science teachers.

Here are some possible reasons for Duncan's position on this issue...

1. He equates "good teaching" with test scores. Teaching students to get higher scores on tests does not require a masters degree. The learning doesn't last...doesn't mean anything beyond the test taking, but that's where he is...tests are the only things that matter.

2. He realizes that if masters degrees in education meant something then his own qualifications would be suspect. He has no educational training. He has never taught in a public school...has never worked in a public school...has never even attended a public school. It's in his best interest to imply that teachers with masters degrees don't know any more than he does with his bachelors degree in Sociology.

3. Ditto number two, above, for his friend and ally in the destruction of America's Public Schools, Bill Gates (aka, the college drop out).

4. If masters degrees in Education were meaningful then Teach For America, which puts non-educators into classrooms where the most experienced, best trained teachers are needed, would not be as good as having education school graduates teaching. Duncan has emotionally invested himself in TFA. He doesn't want to admit that experienced teachers with training are better than college graduates with 5 weeks of training.

5. If teachers with years of experience and advanced degrees are not any better than beginning teachers, then the higher salaries paid to teachers with experience and advanced degrees can be saved. The price of education is too high. The truth is that children in the United States are not valued. We're not interested in how we can improve their learning...just how we can save money. Duncan is playing to the Americans who want services but don't want to pay for it.

The Secretary of Education as well as the President and most US Politicians still won't admit the obvious truth. The fault lies with the system that keeps 20% of our children living in poverty. They blame the public schools, teachers and teachers unions for their own failing.


Friday, December 24, 2010

NY Student Play Banned

A student play blasting N.Y. school reform is banned

By Valerie Strauss

Fourteen students from two New York City schools -- Jamaica High and Queens Collegiate -- wrote an impressive play about school reform under Chancellor Joel Klein and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, based on the classic play “Antigone.” They were rehearsing to perform the play -- complete with music, visual projections and lights -- when they were told that their principals had decided not to allow them stage it. The play, titled “Declassified: Struggle for Existence (We Used to Eat Lunch Together,” was banned.
Some dialogue...
Tireseus (the blind prophet): Do you really think closing schools is the answer?

Chancellor: The school is failing.

Tireseus: Or maybe you are failing the school. Why not give them what they need to succeed?

Chancellor: But schools must be held accountable.

Tireseus: And what about you, Chancellor? Who’s holding you accountable?
Read the whole play here...



Thursday, December 23, 2010

No Parishioner Left Behind

Would you get a new family doctor because your current family doctor has a lot of experience? Would you change lawyers because your lawyer has a lot of experience? Would you fire you accountant and hire a younger, cheaper person because your accountant has an advanced degree?

Would we treat the clergy the way we treat teachers? Would you hire a new clergyman because your current pastor (priest, rabbi, imam or minister) has a master's degree...or a Ph.D? Would you fire your congregation's spiritual leader because he had "too much experience?" Would we treat any other professional like we treat teachers?

According to US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (B.A. Sociology, 1987, Harvard University), advanced degrees for teachers are a waste of time and money...experience means nothing in education.

Miles Horten takes Race to the Top to it's logical conclusion in the spiritual realm...

From Substance News
How Reform comes to America's religious leaders

Miles Horton - December, 2010


Dear Reverend Pastor ___________ ,

I hereby propose that the State of Illinois grade the excellence of yours and every other church on the achievements of its members. As a single standard of measure, we can test, pretest, re-test, and post-test church members on their knowledge of biblical scripture. However, should you prefer multiple measures of achievement we can development granular data on:

• church attendance,
• evidence of piety,
• tithing,
• membership growth rate, and of course,
• the moral perfection of your members.

Churches that do not meet these Core Standards of Measurement will be placed on probationary status. This status involves immediate loss of:

• tax- exempt status,
• spiritual autonomy
• internal governance

Churches that show lack of improvement over 2 years will be subject to intervention by a group of experts that include (in addition to disaffected seminary students) psychologists, researchers, economists and of course, MBA’s. Sermons will be videotaped, reviewed, and analyzed by this team of experts for the rating of each Pastor and his church.

Funds for this spiritual enterprise will come from a grant generously provided by Larry Flint, Hugh Hefner, Bob Guccione, Ron Jeremy, and a Business Roundtable composed of Pimps, Hustlers, High Rollers, and Drug Dealers. As this money is provided on a “venture philanthropy” rather than purely charitable basis, it will be accompanied by explicit guidelines for institutional improvement and an in-house manager to insure compliance with our high standards of excellence.

Please be mindful that it is not for the sake of the “Saints” and the “Saved” that we initiate this reform, but for the sake of the many lost souls that our dysfunctional ecclesiastical institutions have woefully allowed to fall by the wayside and fester in incorrigible iniquity. The time has come to stop looking out only for the interests of the clergy and the perfect, as far too many unfortunate lost souls spiral headlong ever downward into the abyss of hell. Indeed the weight of their sin and evil is plunging the earth itself into a perpetual night of unending darkness.

Yet there is hope. This reformation is driven by entrepreneurial innovation, the noblesse oblige of the wealthy, and utmost faith in the invisible hand of the almighty Free Market. Therefore our message is: “Repent ye now! Reform is at hand!”

Your humble brother in the faith:

Miles Horten
See also No Cow Left Behind and No Dentist Left Behind.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Best Holiday Gift You'll Ever Give...

This is the time of year for people to buy, buy, buy. Real Life and Virtual Retailers count on the Christmas/Holiday season to break into "the black" (Hence, "Black Friday" after Thanksgiving) for the fiscal year.

Every year Americans spend millions on clothes, toys, electronics, gift cards, greeting cards and decorations (among other things). The commercial aspect of the "Holiday Season" is well documented. The frenzy of spending starts earlier and earlier each year.

Every once in a while, though, someone reminds us that gifts don't have to cost a lot of money.

Jesse Turner, the director of the Central Connecticut State Literacy Center Department of Reading Language Arts, has a blog called Children are More Than Test Scores. His entry for today, December 21, 2010, reminded me that amid my thrashing about trying to convince people that NCLB and RttT are going to be the downfall of Public Education in the United States, there is the quiet voice of reason making a suggestion that will do more to educate our children than all the laws and tests will ever do.

When his daughter was 7 years old, in second grade, she brought home a note from her teacher.
The note 14 years ago said: Read to and with your child for some 30 minutes a night. This was the request from Mrs. Crowley her second grade teacher…Her note to parents simply said: read to and with your child for 30 minutes every night. It was hand written something unheard of in these days of the printer rules. Do this to encourage a love of reading, be a ham, play it up, and enjoy every moment.
According to Jim Trelease, author of the Read Aloud Handbook, reading aloud to your children is the single most effective thing that parents (and, I might add, teachers) can do to improve reading skills. He wrote,
Looking at the impact of frequent household reading to preschoolers, the analysis showed clear positive gains for phonemic awareness, language growth and beginning reading skills. In addition, there was just as much of an impact for lower SES children as higher SES, and the earlier or younger the reading began, the better the results. Even when children reach primary grades, research has shown repeat (3) picture book readings increases vocabulary acquisition by 15 to 40 percent, and the learning is relatively permanent. The international assessment of 150,000 fourth-graders in showed an average 35-point advantage for students who were read to more often by parents.
So, here's the gift from Jesse Turner...
...parents, grandparents, guardians read to your children, read to them not to bring up their test scores, not even to make them better readers, but to plant a love of reading.

Let's pass on Mrs. Crowley’s message written from a time when children were more than test scores… Before the race to the top, and before NCLB. Do it to encourage a love of reading, be a ham, play it up, and enjoy every moment..

Monday, December 20, 2010

Teacher Absences

There's a new central office administrator in the school system from which I retired last June. One of his "pet" concerns is teacher absences.

The administrator, Mr. H, is trying to limit the number of days off teachers take. This makes sense from a fiscal point of view since when teachers are absent they get paid anyway and use a benefit day, and a substitute must also be paid.

The problem comes with Mr. H's attitude. According to some teachers, he acts condescending and overbearing. This may or may not be true, depending on one's point of view, however, the issue of teacher absences is indicative of other problems.

In his blog Reality Check, Walt Gardner wrote about teacher absenteeism in Central Falls Rhode Island. His comments are specific to the Rhode Island school district, but he makes some points which can be generalized to other schools and school systems. Mr. H, if you're reading this (which I doubt), pay attention. Perhaps you can figure out why teacher absences are a problem in our school district.
Nationwide, 5.3 percent of teachers are absent from the classroom on any given day, according to a 2008 study by the Center for American Progress. In New York City, one-fifth of teachers were absent for more than two weeks in the previous school year, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. Absenteeism was highest in schools serving the most disadvantaged students. In impoverished Brownsville, for example, 24.4 percent of teachers were out more than the 10 sick days allowed, compared with 13.2 percent in the posh Upper East Side.
Research shows that teachers who teach in high poverty schools are absent more. This makes sense, since there is generally more stress in those schools. The stress can come from a variety of areas, btw...students, administration, parents, and most of all, government threats of punishments for lack of "adequate yearly progress."

In our system, though, this does not seem to be a consistent pattern. Schools with high poverty rates do not seem to have more teacher absences than schools with fewer students living in poverty.

There is another issue, though, which I think relates specifically to our school system.
...It's here that it's instructive to look at San Diego.

From 1998 to 2005, teachers were subjected to an aggressive reform campaign without their input that was unprecedented in educational history. In The Death and Life of the Great American School System (Basic Books, 2010), Diane Ravitch devotes an entire chapter to what transpired. A wave of depression and anxiety swept teachers, forcing them to seek medical attention at the local Kaiser Permanente clinic. Once a new superintendent who embarked on a more collaborative strategy took over, clinic visits dropped precipitously.

The lessons from San Diego become even more relevant because in the 1990s, its schools were widely considered one of the best for an urban district. But despite San Diego's reputation, it didn't take long for Alan Bersin, a former federal prosecutor, to destroy morale as city superintendent. He rejected research that emphasized the importance of involving teachers in change, believing that what he was doing was in the best interests of students.

A similar rationale is heard at Central Falls High School. But when control supersedes consensus, it invariably results in severe teacher stress. In San Diego, Ravitch says that many teachers complained of "a climate of fear and suspicion," and of being "exhausted, stressed out, and in some cases, fearful of losing their jobs if they do not perform under this new program."
The low morale...the climate of "fear and suspicion" pervades our school district. Here are a few reasons. I'm sure current teachers in the system could add more...
  • The superintendent presented, and the school board approved, a plan to save millions of dollars for the school system. The plan would close 6 elementary schools, and move the students to centralized locations in and around high schools. A referendum to increase income from the community was soundly defeated during the last election. Teachers in the closing schools are uniformed about timelines for closing...about where they will be teaching...about cuts that need to be made...
  • During the last round of contract negotiations, the school board's team would not negotiate. They came to each meeting with a "this is what we want" attitude. There was no give and take and no discussion. The presentations from the school board's team did not respond to teachers proposals. It was not negotiations...it was not discussion. At the last minute, the school board agreed to language about parent teacher conferences, while teachers accepted a large increase in insurance premiums (a 500% increase gradually introduced over the next few years), a zero percent pay increase, and a retirement incentive package (which I took).
  • Elementary teachers have been given a curriculum developed with teacher input (a committee of classroom teachers) which takes much of the day to day decision making away from individual teachers. Much of the rest of the country has experienced this, but it's new in our school system. Teachers are now facilitators of the new curriculum. Each school has an instructional coach. The curriculum was given to the teachers with a minimal amount of training. What training there was, at least at the beginning, was scheduled to take place during the teachers' preparation time which meant less time to prepare lessons and materials.
Low morale leads to high turnover...high absentee rate...

There is little local control in elementary schools. Decisions from the central office are dumped on the principals who deliver it to teachers. The teachers are obliged to follow through. Directives come from above. There's little room for decision making at the building level. Complaints made to the principals might be listened to...but nothing can be done to change things at the local level.

Scripted curriculum + reliance on "data" (using DIBELS at the elementary level) from standardized tests + lack of opportunity for teacher individualism or creativity + loss of buildings to closings and the fear of job loss due to cutbacks = low morale = teacher absences.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Video to Assess Teachers

iamcompucomp has posted this video on YouTube.

News about new video evaluation system of teachers. . . so teachers can be held accountable for delivery of results.

School Reform Foundation and Charter Teachers for the Future of America have a plan for teacher evaluation. Every reform cliche is turned on its head here, starting with "the strong correlation between student low performance and teachers having desks."

Some other highlights...

"We need an inquisition to make schools strong again."

..."with video replay and stop motion we can analyze every last twitch or spasm in transforming student outcomes."

"You're not hiding something are you?"

iamcompucomp says...

This stuff is for real. The Gates Foundation has invested $335 million in video evaluation of teachers: "The goal is to study what is taking place on a scientific level; to note what is working and what is not working... While we all wait for Superman to come along for our children and for the economy, we are fortunate to have those with the means reach out and do something about our failing schools http://groundupct.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/gates-foundation-invest-335-million-in-teacher-evaluation/."


Friday, December 17, 2010

9/11 Responders Wait for Senate

Today's Subject: Politics, not education.

The House of Representatives has already passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. It provides health care funds for 9/11 first responders and emergency workers who have developed medical problems due to their work at Ground Zero.

The bill, however, is stalled in the Senate by a filibuster.

Think Progress has a clip from the Daily Show, which normally presents a humorous/satirical view of the news. Jon Stewart gathered a panel of four 9/11 first responders, all with serious and life threatening health problems. These four men are among those who were acclaimed as heroes after 9/11. These men are among those who were hailed by politicians from both sides of the political spectrum as the best we have in America. These men are among those who carried people to safety and then sifted through the rubble in the aftermath. These men are among those who are being denied coverage for their 9/11 related illnesses.

One member of the panel, Kenny Speck, a New York City Fire Fighter, said, "It just goes to show the disconnect between those we elect to represent us, and those who get out there and do the work."

Watch it here. Scroll down to the video clip when you get there...


Thursday, December 16, 2010

And now for something completely different...


Climate change is real. Darryl Cunningham explains how it works in a cartoon. Send this to climate change deniers and Fox News...It's written at a level they can understand.



Saturday, December 11, 2010

Is Teach For America the answer?

Valerie Strauss had a conversation with education writer, Jay Matthews on her The Answer Sheet blog. They discussed Teach for America.

So-called reformers want to get rid of bad teachers, yet they talk about how wonderful it is that, after 5 weeks of training, TFA students go into schools and "teach." This topic has been covered before, but the point is, as Valerie Strauss makes below, that teachers need to be trained and trained well. High achievement at an Ivy League University does not guarantee top quality teaching. Good teachers usually take years to develop, through training and experience. The neediest schools into which TFA trainees go need the best teachers we have to offer, not the ones with the least training.
"I don’t think that people with great SAT scores who go to Ivy League and Ivy League-plus schools are necessarily any better fit to be teachers than students who don’t. That reeks of elitism. Aren’t you the one who wrote the great book Harvard Schmarvard?

"Teaching is not a science, even if Michelle Rhee says it is; it is an art, and it requires a lot of learning. Because many traditional educational programs are wanting doesn’t mean that teachers don’t need serious solid training. It means our programs need to be improved. The idea that TFA/similar programs are any better at producing them than the traditional route seems, at best, unproven.

"Can you get a great teacher by plopping anybody -- from Teach for America, or similar programs -- into a classroom after five or so weeks of training? Sure, but outliers don’t make good policy. I won’t mention how insulting it is to professional teachers with traditional training."


Friday, December 10, 2010

PISA scores prove what Krashen has been saying.

Stephen Krashen has been talking about poverty as a factor in student achievement for a long time. Now, another source for proof that he is right is available. It's the latest results from PISA, the Program for International Student Assessment, supports his contention that poverty, not the quality of teaching in the United States, has the biggest effect on student learning.
Poverty has a huge impact on American PISA scores
by skrashen

“Two countries with similar levels of prosperity can produce very different results,” Ángel Gurría, the O.E.C.D. secretary general, said in a statement on Tuesday. “This shows that an image of a world divided neatly into rich and well-educated countries and poor and badly educated countries is now out of date.” (New York Times, "Western Nations React to Poor Education Results," Dec. 8).

I have not yet seen an analysis of the impact of poverty on overall PISA scores (I have sent for the full set of data; they tell me it will come in ten days or so). But data available now tells us that poverty, as usual, had a huge impact on PISA reading test scores for American students. American students in schools with less than 10% of students on free and reduced lunch averaged 551, higher than the overall average of any OECD country. Those in schools with 10 to 25% of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch averaged 527, which was behind only Korea and Finland.

In contrast, American students in schools with 75% of more of children in poverty averaged 446, second to last among the 34 OECD countries.

This makes sense. Among other things, high poverty means less access to books at school, at home and in the community (e.g Krashen, 2004, The Power of Reading). Less access means less reading, and less reading means lower performance on tests such as the PISA.

The PISA data can be found on page 15 (table 6) of Highlights From PISA 2009, available on the internet.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Cheers to Valerie Strauss and Diane Ravitch.

After Bill Gates and Jonathan Alter (Newsweek) resorted to petty name calling and juvenile put downs of Ravitch, Valerie Strauss offered her the opportunity to respond. She lists the questions Gates asks...and Dr. Ravitch's responses. This is a MUST READ. Cheers for EVERYONE willing to stand up against Gates and his corporate, no-nothing-about-education pals.

Here's a sample from The Answer Sheet:
Gates: “Does she like the status quo?"
Ravitch: "No, I certainly don't like the status quo. I don't like the attacks on teachers, I don't like the attacks on the educators who work in our schools day in and day out, I don't like the phony solutions that are now put forward that won't improve our schools at all. I am not at all content with the quality of American education in general, and I have expressed my criticisms over many years, long before Bill Gates decided to make education his project. I think American children need not only testing in basic skills, but an education that includes the arts, literature, the sciences, history, geography, civics, foreign languages, economics, and physical education.

"I don't hear any of the corporate reformers expressing concern about the way standardized testing narrows the curriculum, the way it rewards convergent thinking and punishes divergent thinking, the way it stamps out creativity and originality. I don't hear any of them worried that a generation will grow up ignorant of history and the workings of government. I don't hear any of them putting up $100 million to make sure that every child has the chance to learn to play a musical instrument. All I hear from them is a demand for higher test scores and a demand to tie teachers' evaluations to those test scores. That is not going to improve education."

Gates: "Does she really like 400-page [union] contracts?"
Ravitch: "Does Bill Gates realize that every contract is signed by two parties: management and labor? Why does management agree to 400-page contracts? I don't know how many pages should be in a union contract, but I do believe that teachers should be evaluated by competent supervisors before they receive tenure (i.e., the right to due process).

"Once they have due process rights, they have the right to a hearing when someone wants to fire them. The reason for due process rights is that teachers in the past have been fired because of their race, their religion, their sexual orientation, or because they did not make a political contribution to the right campaign, or for some other reason not related to their competence.

"Gates probably doesn't know this, but 50% of all those who enter teaching leave within the first five years. Our biggest problem is not getting rid of deadbeats, but recruiting, retaining, and supporting teachers. We have to replace 300,000 teachers (of nearly 4 million) every single year. What are his ideas about how to do this?"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Who Made Bill Gates Emperor of Education - Part 2

Who made Bill Gates Emperor of Education in the USA?

In her latest blog entry, Diane Ravitch discusses how Bill Gates and Arne Duncan are speaking the same words...calling for the corporate changes in America's educational system. They both believe that schools should be run like businesses...and children should be considered the "product."

These are two non-educators, remember. Gates is a college drop out, a computer geek, marketing maven, and slick operator who outwitted Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (founders of Apple Computer) by "using" the Macintosh interface and changing it just a bit while getting enough political and economic power to stave off a copyright suit...and later antitrust attacks.

Gates is no fool. He built Microsoft into a huge multinational corporation and the company which 92% (as of November 2010) of the world relies on for their computer access.

But, what does he know about education?

Arne Duncan is a "good-old boy." A Harvard basketball player, sociology major, and friend of President Obama, he started his education career "hanging" with the students his mother tutored. That's as close as he ever got to either attending or teaching in a public school. He ingratiated himself with Mayor Daley in Chicago, and was responsible for the Chicago Miracle, which, like the Texas Miracle that Rod Paige oversaw, never actually happened.

Which one is running the US Department of Education? Gates or Duncan? Here's Ravitch...
The struggle for control of American education continues to evolve at a dizzying pace. I read that Bill Gates advised the Council of Chief State School Officers to eliminate seniority and tenure and recommended that schools stop spending to reduce class size and stop giving teachers extra money for master's degrees. He wants teachers to get paid based on "performance" (i.e., their test scores). I guess we are now seeing a full-court effort to impose the corporate model of school reform, and Gates is the leading spokesman.

No, wait, I take that back, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said something very similar in a speech a day or two earlier, where he seemed almost happy to say that the days of wine and roses are over and schools must learn to do more with less. They seem to be sharing scripts. I don't know who is the leading spokesman.

I can imagine some of Secretary Duncan's predecessors, such as Secretary Shirley Hufstedler or Secretary Richard Riley or commissioners of education such as Frank Keppel or Harold Howe saying something very different. I can imagine them going to the public and urging them to support more resources where they are needed and more equitable funding. I can hear them saying that we need to thank our hard-working teachers, and we need a stronger profession. But Secretary Duncan likes to win plaudits from the people who love to cut education budgets. Go figure. The eerie similarity between Secretary Duncan and Bill Gates makes me wonder who is running the Department of Education.
Why do billionaires like Gates get to define the terms in American public education?

Ravitch, again...
Since Gates is a multibillionaire, he can't possibly understand what it means to work in an environment where you might be fired for disagreeing with your boss. Nor can he possibly understand that schools are collaborative cultures that need senior teachers who are ready and willing to help newcomers. He can't imagine that school is different from Microsoft or other big corporations. Let's be honest. CCSSO and The New York Times pay attention to what Gates says because he is so rich. If he didn't run the biggest foundation in the world, if he wasn't one of the richest men in the world, would anyone care about his opinion of education? Really, who would care what he said if he were the chairman of the Whatzit Corporation and sold widgets?

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Kansas City and spoke to the annual meeting of the Missouri NEA. Afterwards, as I was signing books, I spoke to teachers from across the state, from urban districts, small towns, and rural areas. They said things like, "Hi, I have been a teacher for 25 years, and I love it." "Hi, please sign this for my mother, she is a teacher, too." "Hi, I'm the third generation of teachers in my family." "Please sign this for my dad, he's a superintendent..."

...These are the people who teach our children, these are the members of the public who serve their local schools without compensation year after year. They and their children and their children's children will be here long after the corporate reform crowd has moved on and been forgotten.

These are the people on whom our public schools depend. They care deeply about their children, their communities, and their public schools. They don't get to speak to the Council of Chief State School Officers. They don't control billions of dollars. They won't be quoted in the New York Times. But these are the people who make our country work. I wish Bill Gates would get out and listen to them. They could tell him a thing or two.
Ravitch is right. Gates is wrong.

Does Gates want to improve public education or does he just want a piece of the education industry pie?

Rupert Murdoch (owner of Fox News) just bought a huge chunk of a for-profit educational software company, Wireless Generation. The New York City DOE, under the control of the Mayor and appointee, Cathie Black (well, not yet, but soon), is partnered with Wireless Generation "on its Achievement Reporting and Innovation System and School of One initiative." That's why Murdoch hired straight-from-NYC-DOE Joel Klein as his new director of education entrepreneurship.

Does Bill Gates look at all the money to be made in education and think...I want some of that money? Surely not. Instead I'm betting he thinks, "let's do what's best for the education of children in the United States." Surely he would realize that the research shows that merit pay doesn't work...Charter schools are no better (or worse) than traditional public schools...and the biggest factor in the "achievement gap" today is the 1/5 of American children who live in poverty.

Wouldn't he?