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Today's Washington Post features an op ed by Bill Gates titled How teacher development could revolutionize our schools.  Teachers are the latest focus of Gates and his foundation.  Before I respond to anything in this particular piece, let me remind readers that the last time Bill Gates got enthused about something in education, it was small schools.   His foundations sank a huge amount of money into getting districts to create small schools while ignoring the research that had been done by those who had focused on the issue for years.  The result was that the endeavor was not all that successful, the foundation has now pulled out of the effort, in some cases pulling the plug on ongoing efforts it had encouraged, and unfortunately tarnishing the concept and making it more difficult for those attempting to do it right.

Gates is now pushing a focus on teachers and teaching.  That in itself would not be bad, except that as seems part and parcel of his approach, he has already locked himself in to certain approaches that are not necessarily going to help students all that much.  And in the process, some of what he is advocating has the potential, especially in the times in which we find ourselves, to do great damage to teaching and thus to the learning of the students.

I will not explore all of the op ed.  I simply have more important things - my students - to which I have to pay attention.  I will focus on only one of his suggestions, which addresses the issue of class size, while combining it with merit pay, all of which is presumably based on some measure of teacher effectiveness.

Gates wants to do away with longevity increases.  He does not want to pay more for advanced degrees.   His arguments against these is largely based on test scores, not even value added test scores, since there is not a lot of other material currently available in the peer reviewed research.  He is paying to develop better measures of teacher effectiveness, including working on a protocol to evaluate teachers by rating videotaped lessons.  Part of the approach being used is the evaluation protocol used by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, in which evaluation of video tapes of PARTS of two lessons is PART of the overall process of determining if a teacher qualifies for National Board Certification -  disclosure:  I am a National Board Certified Teacher.   I worry in reading Gates that his approach seems to be taking PART of that process and attempting to turn it in to the only measure, or at least to magnify it as a measure out of proportion to the other parts of the process.

That said, Gates apparently does not even want to wait to fully pilot this process.  Thus we read two key paragraphs:  

Perhaps the most expensive assumption embedded in school budgets - and one of the most unchallenged - is the view that reducing class size is the best way to improve student achievement. This belief has driven school budget increases for more than 50 years. U.S. schools have almost twice as many teachers per student as they did in 1960, yet achievement is roughly the same.

What should policymakers do? One approach is to get more students in front of top teachers by identifying the top 25 percent of teachers and asking them to take on four or five more students. Part of the savings could then be used to give the top teachers a raise. (In a 2008 survey funded by the Gates Foundation, 83 percent of teachers said they would be happy to teach more students for more pay.) The rest of the savings could go toward improving teacher support and evaluation systems, to help more teachers become great.

Let me just focus on this.   In theory, it might make more sense to give the "better" teachers more students, but Gates ignores the fact that many of us already teach too many students.   And the proposal ignores the fact that in many school systems class sizes are already increasing for all teachers because of the financial pressures local and state governments are experiencing.  We recently heard that high school class sizes in Detroit could go up to as many as 60 students.

And yes, as teachers have had salaries frozen -  in our districts we have gone more than a year without step increases - or even worse, experienced cuts - in my case, loss of 7,000 in national board stipends and four furlough days - some desperately need any additional money they can earn to pay their bills.  Believe me, I know.

Yet many of us already teach classes that are too big.  My three Advanced Placement classes currently have 36, 38 and 38 students.  I can in its current configuration only get 39 student desks into my room.  My department chair wants to go in a different direction -  she is trying to lower my class sizes in AP, so that they don't go above 33.  Thus I may have 4 sections of AP next year, but since AP classes are larger than those for the regular students, my student load will not go down - my regular classes currently have 19, 25 and 31 students.  Next year I will have two such classes, probably both as 30.  Do the math.  I will have as many as 132 AP students (compared to my current 112) and as many as 60 regular students.  That will take me right back to what was my peak load before some students withdrew from our school of 192.  

It is odd to see Gates dismissing class size as a means of more effective learning.  It is one of the few reforms which when done right has a solid peer-reviewed research base to support it.   It is especially important in teaching reading and writing - one problem with the size of my AP classes and my total number of AP students is how little time I can give to each student's writing.  Remember those 112 AP students.  If I give one written assignment that they all turn in, and it takes me only 3 minutes per paper to read, correct and advise per paper, that is 336 minutes for one set of papers.  That is more than 5.5 hours of time outside of school to correct one set of papers.  Increasing class sizes in secondary schools means that teachers lose the ability to work as effectively in helping students to write better.  

I have always noted two problems with mandating smaller class sizes.  The first is whether we actually had the physical plant to accomplish it -  smaller class sizes means more classrooms.  The other is one on which Gates is partially correct - to gain the full benefit of smaller classes requires more quality teachers, which in many cases we currently lack.  

But what then should be our response?  Should it not be to work on training, inducting, mentoring and supervising our teacher corps so that we have MORE quality teachers?  If your solution is to increase the class sizes of those of us supposedly superior, it does not matter that you pay us more - each additional student in our rooms means that we become somewhat less effective for all of the students in that room. We get forced to move more in the direction of lecture, the classes may become more teacher centered rather than student centered.  

Meanwhile, decreasing the class sizes of the "less effective" teachers does not in itself make them any more effective.  Meanwhile, by changing the compensation structure in order to accomplish this, you create an entirely different set of problems, including destroying what should be the cooperative nature of teaching among the teachers in a building and in a department.

In short, Gates is yet again not fully understanding the nature of an aspect of education, taken his partial understanding, getting a bee in his bonnet, and using his billions to try to force education to move in a direction he has decided it needs to go, even though he never taught, and in fact never even attended public schools.  I would not be surprised to find that his largest classes in the elite private high school he attended never even reached the size of my current smallest class.  I do not thing he understands how much the dynamics of a class can change by adding 4 or 5 students, how much it restricts the ability of a good teacher to know students as well as they otherwise would be known.  Perhaps he is thinking about an elementary teacher with one class.  I teach 6.  Increasing my classes by an average of 4 or 5 would mean increasing my total load by 24-30, or almost the equivalent of adding one additional class.

I will refrain from comments about the track record of the company from which Gates derives his billions, although as a Certified Data Processor and a one-time Certified Systems Professional with over 20 years in the field before I became a teacher I am more qualified to talk about his business than he is to talk about my profession.

Rather, let me close with these thoughts.  Wouldn't it be nice if governors, school boards, and especially journalists and op ed writers, would given even 1/10 of the attention to professional educators as they do to the likes of Bill Gates?  Then, just maybe, we could have an honest and productive discussion of what we need to do to improve our schools.  

There are plenty of teachers who could participate in such a discussion.  Some of us devote time to study, to know the data, to try to educate policy makers.  Some of us were in New York with the Education Writers Association.  That was a rare case where our voices were somewhat heard.

I don't have billions.  My school system and state pension board are taking actions that could force me into retirement for financial reasons.  Following the logic of a Bill Gates, the two new teachers who could be hired to replace me with the same money I receive may financially be more beneficial for the school system, but I question if it would be more beneficial to the almost 200 students I teach each year.  

I cost more.  I have several advanced degrees.  I have more than 15 years of teaching experience.  What makes me a superior teacher is that I am constantly reflecting and attempting to become an even better teachers.  Give me another 20-30 students and I will have less time for each student, and even less time to reflect and improve.  Replace me with two rookies and the students they teach will be the material on which those newbies learn how to teach.  

Gates may be well meaning.   Unfortunately, what he proposes is not well thought out, and is likely - as was his effort to propagate small schools - be counterproductive to real improvements in teaching and learning.

Peace.

Originally posted to teacherken on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 03:19 AM PST.

Also republished by Educator Voices.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Thanks (11+ / 0-)

      I missed that the article was by Gates when I first looked at the op-ed piece.

      Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

      by LWelsch on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 03:38:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What the article misses is mathematics. (16+ / 0-)

        Pay for performance certainly appeals -- far more than paying extra solely for employment longevity and useless "Education" M.A.s.

        However, the article misses the single worst area of incompetence: teaching mathematics in the grammar schools and middle schools. The teachers, there, are tested once for competence at working math problems -- and, from the results and from observation, they suck.

        Even the high school math teachers do not have to know much. I took the national exam. I had never taken an "algebras" course, so I guessed 1/4th of the test. Hadn't taken a math course in 20 years. Scored 94th percentile.

        A 30th percentile mark passes. When I taught, the kids said "you understand that stuff" again and again.

        Shudder.......

        My 5th Grader is suffering from this problem. There is no way to use math applications for teaching science, music, or social studies (where the history text book is Texas-ized with elimination of science and math altogether.)

        If you are competent at math, you can work at construction, purchasing, run a business, or do banking. Schools have to pay enough money to compete in the labor market -- which fer shure ain't hapnin' to stock schools with math teachers.

        Schools will have to pay more to get competent math teachers. Holding my breath... not.

        (Then we can talk about science. My kid's science teacher is fighting against doing a science fair project that uses a microscope, digital camera, and computer tools. She doesn't own a microscope.)

        •  We were lucky. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, ER Doc, vets74, flitedocnm

          My daughter's public K-8 school was quite good with many fine teachers, and her high school is also quite good.

          She has had some truly fine math teachers in her honors classes in high school, but math instruction was a real weakness in her K-8.  There was a good math teacher for the Jr. high kids, but the elementary kids were at the mercy of the classroom teachers-- some did a pretty good job with math, and others did not.

          Kids need good, solid math instruction every year.  Drop the ball for one or two years in a row, and you have a big problem on your hands.

        •  Can't say how important this is. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          vets74, JesseCW

          1) I'd like to see the actual test scores of the math teachers, categorized by state.  My experience is that math teachers typically fail at communicating math -- a task not merely encompassed by the realm of "math knowledge."

          2) "Pay for performance" has been pretty thoroughly debunked by Teacherken here in his diaries.  At any rate, "pay for performance" takes one trivial aspect of teacher life (the fact that you get paid to teach -- not really what motivates teachers to teach) and exaggerates its importance in order to make invidious comparisons in another trivial aspect of teacher life (whether or not you teach poor kids without advantages or kids from privileged families with them).  The end result will be to trivialize teaching, which has a merely incidental relationship with the folk notion of stuffing facts into heads which is the "scientific" basis of "performance."

          3) Even if one is not "competent at math," one can still pile up enough in the way of arithmetical skills to "work at construction, purchasing, run a business, or do banking."  And anyone can do this alone with a good introductory guide, or online or in the community colleges.  Mainstream society doesn't need to warehouse its children for thirteen years at a stretch because of some great need to impart mathematical skills to everyone.

          Of course, understanding realities 1) through 3) above will lead people to question the nature of teaching, schools, and the system as a whole.  Since our public school system encourages this sort of questioning only in its interstices, we might ask about its chances in the future.

          "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us" -- Gandalf, in Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings"...

          by Cassiodorus on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 09:16:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  teacherken's attacks on "Pay for Perfomrance" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk

            miss the mark for me.

            It's a multivariate analysis problem -- to be sure.

            Within a given school and with students tracked year after year, movements of whole classes can be tied to individual teachers.

            One year can present an anomaly.

            Three years of bad results -- unlikely.

            Same for exceptional performances. BTW: my math classes went way up. In a school with a 40% failure rate on the CA state quals, I had one kid fail. He'd been out of school a lot.

            Hell, I had one kid murdered that year. Gang killing.

            •  Had to read your comment several times (5+ / 0-)

              to be sure you didn't personally have a kid murdered (presumably to raise your test score average).

              I'm hoping I finally read it right and one of your students was murdered in a gang killing - not that you put out the hit.

              We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F Kennedy

              by badger on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:31:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  To me, pay for performance only makes sense (0+ / 0-)

              even a little, if:

              1. We accept that it's possible for every teacher within a given school to be a great teacher worthy of the bonus.
              2. Every teacher is paid a base wage that is appropriate to the experience and education of a good teacher.
              3. The amount is significant - $5,000 or more.

              Pay for performance in education as most people seem to envision it is more like some creepy competition where hungry dogs fight over a left over piece of hamburger - a zero sum game that creates hard feelings over absurdly small benefits.

              In real life, teaching is a team sport, and a great teacher can do little if the teachers around her don't do their part. Pay for performance in most incarnations - where one teacher gets a little bit more at the expense of another - only creates discord.

              What most schools do do is pay for extra work. So, the teacher who takes on a drama club or a debate team or science fair has a chance to make an extra $1-2k. To me, that seems like a better form of merit pay (except that the amount is too small for the time committment.)

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 06:50:52 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  If you want to use test scores (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ER Doc, NWTerriD

              to determine "great" teachers, it's important to realize that most states only test annually in math (at grade level) and language arts, grades 2 and up.

              You can't make any evaluation using this method for teachers of grades K-2, because those kids don't have test scores. At grades 7-12, the kids have multiple teachers, usually two per year in english and math, but also get instruction in those subjects in other classes: writing is developed in history and social studies; math is developed in science.

              States don't test advanced math, so teachers who do Algebra 3 or Calculus don't get evaluated. They don't test foreign language, so there's no way to score those teachers. Some states test science and history occasionally (if at all). Then there's special ed, art, music, PE, wood shop... not tested at all.

              Thus, you're left with the analysis maybe being valid for grades 3-6, for teachers who have taught at least 5 years (because you need enough classes to go through).

              By contrast, a good principal or superintendent can evaluate teachers of all those subjects, and can evaluate each year of teaching, perhaps providing assistance or corrective action with more immediacy.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 06:58:24 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Some schools in California (0+ / 0-)

              Might have classes where only 5-10 kids stay the whole year, with the rest of the class moving in and out as their families move.

              This year we had a very pernicious situation due to the budget crisis, where schools were trying to create classes exactly at the maximum, and then had to rejigger every time they got new students. In a nearby school district, there were first graders who had had 4 different teachers before Christmas.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:01:27 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Question (10+ / 0-)

          I'm a high school math teacher.  I most certainly need to know what I'm doing--"algebras", geometry, trigonometry, calculus, etc.

          You say:

          Even the high school math teachers do not have to know much. I took the national exam. I had never taken an "algebras" course, so I guessed 1/4th of the test. Hadn't taken a math course in 20 years. Scored 94th percentile.

          I'm curious, what national exam did you take?

          To be certified, I had to take a state exam.  Even with a degree in Mathematics, it wasn't a walk in the park.  So what exam, exactly, did you take?

          Oh, and btw, I left a good paying job to teach.  For some of us, life isn't all about the money.

          It's like, duh. Just when you thought there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, the Republicans go and prove you're wrong.~Molly Ivins

          by TexH on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 09:37:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Curious. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            vets74

            I'm not a teacher, though I'm married to one.

            I more-or-less took the test by proxy, tutoring my spouse (not a math teacher) to take the state licensing test (MN, K-8).  It really was not hard -- the hardest problem in the study guide was a proof of the Pythagorean theorem which took me a couple minutes to work out.

            Fortunately, my wife's school (private) has very good math teachers.  But there are plenty of horrible ones out there, and passing the exam is no guarantee of mathematical competence.

            [FWIW, I'm an engineer with a strong mathematical background.]

            It may be that the state licensing test for high school teachers is more difficult.  I certainly hope so, but it appears to be necessary only to be certified in teaching mathematics (not necessarily to actually teach mathematics).  Even that only requires passing two one-hour multiple choice exams.

            •  K-8 (4+ / 0-)

              K-8 would be an easier test.  Yes, you and I could probably pass that no problem.  

              The original poster I responded to was saying the high school level test was a breeze.  I find that hard to believe.  The k-8 probably is, but not the high school level test.

              There are certifications for general ed, then there are content specific certifications.

              In Texas, I'm certified 8-12 mathematics.  Much harder test than the K-8 content, which is harder than elementery general ed.  Think about it.  Most kids don't take algebra until 9th grade.  Then geometry, algebra II, pre-calc, calculus, statistics, etc.  My certification test contained sections on all of these content areas.  It was a 6 hour test, not a two hour multiple choice exam.

              As far as certification vs. teaching, I'm not sure how other states do it, but I am sure Texas is not alone in that in order to teach a certain level Math, you must be certified in Math at that level.  

              Sorry if my post is post is not written well, I'm getting ready for my next class....gotta go.

              It's like, duh. Just when you thought there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, the Republicans go and prove you're wrong.~Molly Ivins

              by TexH on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 11:06:08 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I got cert for high school. (0+ / 0-)

                But it was a sit-down multiple choice test in four sections.

                Engineering math was plenty enough to get through. But there were math teachers in the high school who had no interest in math whatsoever.

                I like to set up an overhead projector in the back of the room and work problems. One a minute. Saturation.... with applications of the math at maybe a fifth of it.

                Helped I had an airbrush setup at home. The crappier the drawings, the better the kids liked them.

                •  I'm still wondering (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  eyesoars

                  Sorry it took me a while to answer, I just got home from school.

                  I'm still wondering what national test you took.

                  I'm also wondering if this was many years ago.

                  Everyone's experiences are different and certification tests differ from state to state.  Today's certification tests aren't super hard, but not super easy, either.  

                  Sounds like you were in a bad environment, but by my experience, yours was an exception, not the norm.

                  It's like, duh. Just when you thought there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, the Republicans go and prove you're wrong.~Molly Ivins

                  by TexH on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 04:21:11 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Should e-learning be used more for math? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          vets74

          Seems to me we should be at the point where we could rely much more heavily on individualized instruction for mathematics delivered by computer.

          Maybe there is some of that, I don't know.  My children are long out of school.

          But it seems to me teacher's aides could easily monitor/aid students who could learn math almost exclusively from e-learning modules.

          Am I wrong?

          •  Good idea. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, Victor Laslo

            But I think this is one of those that the teacher's unions might  object to for less-than-saintly reasons.  :)

            The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. - Kos 8/31/10

            by Rick Aucoin on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 11:15:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  ya think? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rick Aucoin

              I bet you're right on that count.

              •  So now we're bashing techers' unions on DK? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sandblaster

                I'm not a teacher, nor a union member (I'm self-employed). But especially these days when unions -- the bulwark of our middle class -- are under vicious attack, even light-hearted union bashing here, without anything resembling an informed analysis, strikes me as inappropriate.

                If you have evidence that teachers' unions place job protection ahead of innovation and promoting quality education, then fine -- you should provide that. If not, then let's please not hand the Scott Walkers of the world gratuitous ammunition.

                Ya think?

                "But there is so much more to do." - Barack Obama, Nov. 4, 2008

                by flitedocnm on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 02:05:13 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I find it strange that you (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sparhawk, flitedocnm

                  put this comment as a reply to my comment (albeit in agreement with the first commenter) rather than his.

                  But whatever..  I think the reality that schools have not gone to standardized e-learning systems for subjects such as math speaks volumes.  Teachers unions or teacher themselves.. what is the difference?  Where is the innovation?  I see none.. in decades.. I see the same old worn out model when technology has surged.

                  My original post was in the form of a question because I may be missing innovations going on unseen to me.  No one responded touting e-learning innovations being implemented to reduce costs.  I can only assume no one has bothered.

                  So, if you have some evidence to the contrary, I would gladly be proven wrong.

                  •  Fair points -- (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Question Authority

                    I indeed should have put this as a reply to R.A., although your response seemed to echo agreement. In any case, I was commenting on the thread.

                    As to e-learning tools, I imagine that this is a complex topic. The costs for developing, validating and implementing new hi-tech learning tools I would think are anything but trivial, and in the current environment, even if teachers supported this approach (and I imagine that many likely do -- technology that is well done doesn't compete with teachers, rather it helps them to be more effective), it must be asked if there have been realistic efforts to implement this, especially in the current environment of teaching to tests and slashing everything else? Somehow, I doubt it. Perhaps Teacherken, if he has the chance to read this thread, could comment, as I imagine that he would have a well informed response.

                    Notwithstanding, I still find offhanded union bashing here to be in very poor taste.

                    "But there is so much more to do." - Barack Obama, Nov. 4, 2008

                    by flitedocnm on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 04:19:24 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  This is a cost that could be mostly (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Rick Aucoin

                      borne by private industry.  Perhaps the research into most effective methods and/or deloping standards could be a federal expenditure - which I already had assumed was being done. But developing delivery would, I am pretty confident, be gladly done by existing educational book and software providers.

                      Once standards are developed, private development of software delivering modules would become very competitive in price and would likely spur creativity in delivery methods.

                      Skepticism of teacher's unions is healthy.. question everything.  No entrenched institution that depends on its very existence on the status quo should ever be allowed to go unquestioned.  And questioning motives is not union bashing.. it is simply prudence.

                      •  Rosetta Stone software (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Victor Laslo

                        I've learned a great deal of French and Chinese using this software for a comparatively small amount of time sitting at my computer at home. Is a human teacher really superior to such software, or might it be better to cut the human to 1/5 time or something and let the computer teach the course for the rest?

                        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                        by Sparhawk on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 06:58:11 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Echoing this. (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Question Authority, Victor Laslo
                        Skepticism of teacher's unions is healthy.. question everything.  No entrenched institution that depends on its very existence on the status quo should ever be allowed to go unquestioned.  And questioning motives is not union bashing.. it is simply prudence.

                        There are, frankly, far too many sacred cows on the Left.  WE are supposed to be the side of the political debate that believes in evidence, testing, science.  

                        If it might work better, you TRY it.  You test it, you improve it, you test it again.

                        You don't dismiss it because it might offend some sacred cow.

                        I'm 100% pro-union.  What I am not is 100% naive about human nature.  And unions are a human organization, unless we're talking about the Vulcan Academy Teachers Union,that's different.

                        The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. - Kos 8/31/10

                        by Rick Aucoin on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:46:21 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  I beg to differ. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Balto

                      I'd like to see some studies on the use of e-learning in public schools.  Information on how many teachers could be reduced from the payrolls and keep the same quality of education going.

                      Not because I think we de facto need less teachers.  But neither do a believe that it is a matter of natural law that we need more teachers.

                      We need as many as it takes to get the job done.  And the job is assumed to be done with the best, more efficient, tools and processes we can arrange.

                      That said, anyone here believe that workers in any field dont' resent and oppose automation that results in the loss of jobs in their field?

                      That's not "union bashing".  It's simple reality.  

                      I'd fight against some automation that was going to cost me MY job too.

                      The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. - Kos 8/31/10

                      by Rick Aucoin on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:43:31 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  e-learning is good for self-starters (0+ / 0-)

                    it is not so useful for kids who are struggling or who are not already digging into the material.

                    It is also simply a fact that most schools don't have access to enough technology to make it practical for a large number of students. Computer networks of size require their own full time IT staff to maintain even when your users are carefully selected adults. When you have teens that are perhaps not always benign in their intentions, it's more challenging.

                    Buying the computers is an issue, maintaining the computers is an issue, and even in the most mundane needs - computers require a significant ongoing maintenance budget.

                    There are schools that can't keep their classrooms supplied with pencils and paper because of money. Now imagine you need to replace $100 laptop batteries every other year for each student.

                    E-learning is not really a money saver. What it does do is provide opportunities to deliver more individualized lessons. But, to truly take advantage of those capabilities probably requires more cost and more people than we have now.

                    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                    by elfling on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:13:07 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Depends on the District. (0+ / 0-)
                      It is also simply a fact that most schools don't have access to enough technology to make it practical for a large number of students. Computer networks of size require their own full time IT staff to maintain even when your users are carefully selected adults.

                      But I know the district my girls go to school in already has a capable IT staff and substantial computer assets in the classrooms.

                      You don't have to double the size of the IT staff if you double the # of computers in the classes, either.

                      The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. - Kos 8/31/10

                      by Rick Aucoin on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:48:21 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  This has been my experience (0+ / 0-)

                      I do an online course:  I was an early adopter, by choice.  I'm always willing to try something new.  My students give online courses mixed reviews.  What it does NOT do is save money.  It only really works, for real learning, if there is a real person on the other end who is able to help.  That takes time, often more time than in person instruction.  Institutions also (again, first hand experience) do not want to put the money and time into course design, and re-design, which is what you have to do in order not to have a hunk of junk.

                      It can be enriching.  It can provide access to off-campus learners, and I am a big fan of it for working parents especially.  But it is not a magic cost-saving bullet.

                      •  For us, a rural district (0+ / 0-)

                        it gives our kids, especially the gifted kids, access to classes - including college credit classes through the local community college - that we don't have the resources to offer as standalone courses. We can't run a class with 2 kids who want to learn Mandarin, but we could access an online course and provide support to kids who will put in the time to work it out. (We are getting bandwidth this year through e-rate, so we would be able to handle high quality video feeds, for example.) And similarly, we can give access to advanced mathematics with the support of our math instructor for when they hit a wall.

                        But for kids who don't work independently, it is no advantage unless it is short modules with progress being monitored by the in-person teacher.

                        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                        by elfling on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 11:43:21 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

          •  Try this site. (0+ / 0-)

            http://pgcounty.scottforesman.com/

            Grade school. Seems reasonable.

          •  In our local high school (0+ / 0-)

            which is very small, we are aggressively using e-learning to deliver courses to our advanced kids particularly. We are getting a new high speed data connection thanks to a federal e-rate grant that will make this much more possible for us going forward.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:04:37 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  You are wrong about using aides though (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NWTerriD, Question Authority

            Reality is that you get the most benefit from these programs when you have a real teacher in the room available to assist the kids and help them through the material when things get tight. The whole point of using e-learning is to provide individualized content that challenges that particular student, and a student being challenged needs access to an adult who is good at guided problem solving, which is a step up from an instructional aide, especially at the high school level.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:07:35 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Math concepts are introduced too early. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, JanL, vets74, Cassandra Waites

          Or so one study showed.  Children are learning by rote things they can learn with understanding later.  In one study, children were introduced to math in the 5th grade.  They quickly mastered all the concepts most younger kids struggle on without understanding during the earlier years.  The 5th graders quickly gained proficiency equal to that of those taught on the more traditional time line.

          The over-riding point being that anecdotal knowledge, while useful, is hardly enough of a basis for forming a theory of education.

          Don't believe everything you think.

          by geomoo on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 11:58:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  now in transit to school (7+ / 0-)

      will catch up with additional comments when I can

      peace

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 03:48:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you want meaningful Ed reform.... (17+ / 0-)

      ..then ask a frikkin' teacher, for crying out loud.

      Always...everyone else the expert except the ones doing the work.

      Whatever the Foxteapublicans say, the opposite is the truth.

      by Forward is D not R on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:08:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Really, this is no different than creationism (0+ / 0-)

        or climate deniers. There is considerable scientific knowledge amassed about the process of learning. Teachers have both been exposed to that knowledge in education courses, and have thousands of hours of empirical data acquired while teaching.

        People like Gates, and those who agree with him, rarely have any knowledge about teaching and learning, but they've been to school, or they have a kid, so they're experts. The few who think like Gates and do have some knowledge about education tend to overlook that knowledge in favor of political ideologies and worse - many not unlike Scott Walker.

        We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F Kennedy

        by badger on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:37:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Or, maybe....ask someone who even (0+ / 0-)

        has a family member who has attended a public school in the last four generations...

        I.E. - not Gates.

        Will the revolution be easier if we HR each other a lot?

        by JesseCW on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 11:11:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wasn't Bill Gates a C student himself? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      larmos
  •  Gates has a knack for (22+ / 0-)

    only getting part of the picture and then blinding himself to other possibilities.  This seems like part of the same thing.  When he comes to the right conclusion he does good work, but when he doesn't, it's absurdly difficult to dissuade him.

    "The first rule of pillow fight club is do not talk about pillow fight club." --Keith Olbermann

    by Julie Waters on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 03:31:18 AM PST

    •  Sometimes not even part of the picture n/t (9+ / 0-)

      Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

      by LWelsch on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 03:37:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  He should stick to eliminating malaria. (7+ / 0-)

      “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”, Theodore Roosevelt

      by the fan man on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 04:18:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's the "80:20 Rule." (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chipmo, Wham Bam, Victor Laslo

      "You can get 80% of what you need to know in 20% of the time."

      Dangerous temptation, that.

      But here he is accurate:

      -- Compared with the countries that outperform us in education, we do very little to measure, develop and reward excellent teaching.

      -- The United States spends $50 billion a year on automatic salary increases based on teacher seniority. It's reasonable to suppose that teachers who have served longer are more effective, but the evidence says that's not true. After the first few years, seniority seems to have no effect on student achievement.

      -- Another standard feature of school budgets is a bump in pay for advanced degrees. Such raises have almost no impact on achievement, but every year they cost $15 billion that would help students more if spent in other ways.

      Betcha that reallocation of $65-billion would go leagues to reward competence and attract better/smarter teachers for math and science (which are the worst served subject areas.)

      How's about setting the cut-offs for math and science at 50th-percentile marks for the qualifying cert tests ?????

      •  How about recognizing (0+ / 0-)

        that the ability to communicate about math, and the ability to recognize where the snags are in a student's thinking when the student is confused, and the ability to set up teaching problems that set the student up to grasp and articulate a particular concept, and many other skills involved in TEACHING math, are every bit as important as whatever level of math test-taking expertise you believe math teachers need to have?

        Mathematicians need to be experts at math to do their jobs well. Math teachers need to be experts at TEACHING math to do their jobs well.

        I have never taken a calculus course, but I am very highly skilled at teaching middle school math. It isn't how much math you know, it's how well you can help your students understand math.

        "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

        by NWTerriD on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 01:37:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Vista!! NT (0+ / 0-)

      Will the revolution be easier if we HR each other a lot?

      by JesseCW on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 11:12:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Gates is flat out wrong about (28+ / 0-)

    classes in the sixties. I went to public schools in the 60s and class sizes were smaller than what my daughter had. I wish Gates did not think he knows everything about every subject, just because he had a combination of luck, skill, and money in the computer field.

    Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

    by LWelsch on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 03:37:09 AM PST

    •  If teachers think they're so smart... (25+ / 0-)

      why didn't they become billionaires like Gates did before they went into teaching? Then, like him, they would really know how to teach. Think, people! Don't you know that being a billionaire means you know everything?

      There are two political aisles: Center-Left and Center-Right. It's impossible to cross them both. Republicans know this and govern accordingly; Democrats don't.

      by Jimdotz on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 03:53:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What I'd like to do is (6+ / 0-)

      put Gates in a class of 45-60 students and ask him to learn and be tested on a subject about which he knows next to nothing.  Let's say Arabic, Chinese, molecular biology, differential equations, music theory or anatomy (human, animal or plant).  Wonder how he'd fare.

      •  Computer science should go on your list too (3+ / 0-)

        We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F Kennedy

        by badger on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:41:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes indeedy (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          badger, chimene

          Let's see how well he does at that.

          I have programmers/engineers in my family, and all I can say is that it was a really tough grind in school for them, and surely isn't an easy occupation.  Lots of pressure, high level logical skills required, as well as mega-ability to problem solve. Patience and sticktoitiveness also necessary.

          Furthermore, recruitment in this subject area competes with high-paying private sector jobs, so the professors left a lot to be desired so far as their ability to teach.

    •  Gates is an anti-union, off shoring, jerk who (9+ / 0-)

      thinks his great wealth, apparently acquired using dubious business practices, gives him the expertise to comment on things he knows absolutely nothing about.
      As for charity, it is best done government to government or government to citizen to try and ensure fairness.
      He's got too much money for society's good and once again I say we need a tax on excess wealth.

      •  May I remind you (9+ / 0-)

        that Gates' employees didn't NEED to unionize because he gave them COMPANY OWNERSHIP and made them RICH. That isn't anti-union, it's was massively pro-worker.

        As for the off-shoring comment, Gates employs tons of Americans and does a majority of Microsoft's work in the US in Redmond.   Complaining about his off-shore employees when compared to others in the tech field is ridiculous.

        You can hate on Gates for his opinions on this subject, but complaining about the fact that Microsoft's employees didn't need to unionize because they were all getting rich from owning a part of the company is just silly.

        •  MSFT stock hasn't gone anywhere in over a decade (6+ / 0-)

          Maybe the original workers at Microsoft who were already working there in the late 80s, or early to mid 90s got rich owning the stock, but no one since then has.  Currently the stock is the same value it was 13 years ago.  Also, even ignoring the lackluster overall performance of the stock (which got blown up in the tech bubble and then deflated), there's no way a company the size of Microsoft will experience exceptional growth going forward.  

          Yes, if you get in at the ground floor, or even a couple floors up, on a startup that is successful you'll make a lot of money.  After that, though, the picture is much different.  Maybe Microsoft workers didn't NEED to unionize before, but maybe they should reconsider now.  

          •  Unionize? (4+ / 0-)

            Why would they want to unionize?  They make very good salaries and have possibly the best medical benefits in America.   I have friends that have worked there for over a decade who have never paid a single cent for their families medical coverage because the Microsoft benefits cover 100% of pretty much everything.   That sounds like a pretty damn good deal.

            Unionization is to protect workers from being exploited.  As far as I can tell, Microsoft employees have it pretty good, even beyond the major stuff, as they have things like personal offices for non-management and free unlimited beverages.   Why would they even WANT to unionize?  

            Like I said before, feel free to blame Gates for his stance on this issue.  But blaming him because he treats his employees so well that they have no reason to even consider unionizing is just ridiculous.  

            •  Why would you want to live in a (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              chimene, JanL

              Democracy if the King is being nice to you right now?

              Jesus wept.

              Will the revolution be easier if we HR each other a lot?

              by JesseCW on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 11:16:17 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Terrible analogy (0+ / 0-)

                Corporations aren't democracies.  They never will be and never have been.

                The point of a union is to prevent worker abuses and make sure companies are treating their workers fairly.  If the workers are already being treated well, why would they want to unionize?   What is collective barganing going to get them if they are already well paid and have great benefits?  

                I'm 100% pro union.  But that doesn't mean that I think people in good situations should somehow be FORCED to unionize, or that any company who is non-union (in a workforce that is almost exclusively non-union) is somehow bad.

                •  There's this little nation called (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sandblaster, JanL

                  "Germany" you may have heard of.

                  Half of every corporate board is elected by the (unionized) workers.

                  Pronouncing serfdom to be eternal might be satisfying for some, I suppose.  But the real world does not support such pronouncements.

                  ______

                  Why would Peasants being "treated well" object to being ruled by a King, I ask again?

                  Will the revolution be easier if we HR each other a lot?

                  by JesseCW on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 12:35:05 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Gates will go down (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chimene, i like bbq, JesseCW

          in history as a thief who grabbed everything he could  through dubious, at best, business ethics and created third rate software.

          The hallmark of his software is that it uses OFF SHORE programmers who work on pieces of the code.   When the code comes together, it is buggy as hell because it hasn't be built logically and coherently, but it sure has been built cheaply.

          People in his field know how much damage he has done to the planet.

          Problems with his software have cost the planet zillions in productivity and associated costs.  Personally, Gates has created thousands and thousands of dollars of downtime and damaged equipment in my life along.

          Gates needs to immigrate to another planet.

          I am awaiting delivery of my new DK4 signature

          by BlueDragon on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 08:38:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry, you are just making stuff up. (3+ / 0-)

            I have several friends who work at Microsoft.  Yes, they have occasional projects that are worked on by foreign branches of their company, but a majority of the development work is done in Redmond, WA.   In fact, several of them have never had a project that used ANY off shore people for any development work.

            As for the software sucking, sorry, but Windows 7 is probably the best thing they have built.  I've been running it problem free for a long time now.  If you're still bitching about Vista, well yah, every company has a dud once in a while.

            You obviously are irrationally bitter towards Microsoft.  What happened, did they refuse to hire you or something?

            •  The number of computers in landfills (0+ / 0-)

              due to the "blue screen of death" in Windows that is unfixable, is Gates' true legacy.

            •  The history of crappy MS software (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JanL, Cassandra Waites, JesseCW

              doesn't begin with Vista. It goes back through years of crappy DOS and Windows releases.  And while Windows 7 may work now, I've been running Linux problem free for about 14 years.

              There are a lot of reasons why a lot of people are bitter toward MS, and the poor quality of their products is one of the major reasons.

              We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F Kennedy

              by badger on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:50:39 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Well, if your friends work there, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sandblaster, JanL

              it can't possibly be a shitty company and Gates can't possibly be anything other than a great guy.

              Your unbelievable emotional attachment to this guy and this company is....odd.

              Will the revolution be easier if we HR each other a lot?

              by JesseCW on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 11:17:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Just calling bullshit on bullshit (0+ / 0-)

                Look, I already said you can disagree with Gates on this school issue.  I don't really agree with him either.  But all the spewing of bullshit about Microsoft is just dumb, because the people spewing the bullshit don't know what they are talking about.  

                Attacking Gates because Microsoft isn't union is just dumb, because Microsoft employees don't have any interest in unionizing.

                Attacking Gates for offshore hiring is dumb, because a majority of Microsoft's work is done in Redmond and I suspect they have no more or even less offshore work on average than any other major software company.

                Attacking Gates because you've had trouble running Windows in the past is dumb.  I've run tons of operating systems from tons of different companies over the past 30 years.  Some have been better than Windows.  Lots have been worse.  Windows 7 & XP are two of the best OS's ever created.  Windows Vista and Me are two of the worst.  Microsoft is hardly the only company to get some things right and some things wrong.

                My point is, this is a diary about Gates efforts in education and how he is wrong in that arena.  All the ad-homenim attacks on Microsoft, as if that somehow discredits Gates on this issue, are dumb.  Especially when they come from people that clearly know nothing of what they are talking about.  

                Microsoft not only employs tons of American workers, but the Microsoft platform enables tens of thousands (if not way more) of other IT jobs throughout the industry.  And they build a majority of their software right here in the US.  So yeah, I support Microsoft and I see no reason to be ashamed for that.

          •  Yeah because Unix was so attainable (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Rick Aucoin

            for the average person.

            Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. --John F. Kennedy

            by Beelzebud on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:01:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Real pro-worker (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW

          There are several books out about the work environment at Microsoft - they don't paint a picture of a "pro-worker" environment.

          My direct experience is a couple of early MS employees - MS millionaires - who bought property in my area. Both had serious mental health issues brought on, according to them, by their years of working for Gates.

          We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F Kennedy

          by badger on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:44:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  LOL (0+ / 0-)

            I'll have to check with my friends to make sure they haven't gone insane since the last time I talked to them.  Because you know, being that close to the evil monster Gates might have just driven them over the edge.

            I'm still trying to figure out how making your workers millionaires and part owners of your company while pretty much covering all of their medical costs is anti-worker.  I'm sure I'll figure it out soon.

            •  Yeah, because all of the contract workers (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JanL

              MS has employed over the years - a significant percentage of their workforce - are millionaires and have their medical costs covered 100%.

              Everyone who's ever worked there is a millionaire, just like your friends - your friends are millionaires too, aren't they?

              We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F Kennedy

              by badger on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 12:28:12 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Some are (0+ / 0-)

                Some of my friends are millionaries--the ones that started working there in the late 80's or early 90's.  One guy hit $10 million before he retired.  I don't know how much he has blown by now--he's always off skiing somewhere.

                As for contractors, every tech company employs contract workers who are not official employees of the company.  I don't know why you woud expect Microsoft to give them stock considering they weren't even Microsoft employees.

      •  Really, Gates copies, steals or buys (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badger

        Anything Microsoft is known for. They also behave in immoral was to leverage their products over any others, they hate competing in the market. After 25 years they finally got an OS that is at least comparable, not as good as, but comparable to Mac OS X. Stunning! Bush DOJ stopped Microsoft from being broken up, as it should have been.
        Banks were not broken up, US is not governed by the people for the people. You are owned by the likes of Gates.

        •  And after 25 years Apple gave up (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rick Aucoin

          trying to write their own OS and just used BSD Unix as the base of OSX.   So they take from the open source community, give very little back, and then force you to buy their hardware.  

          Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. --John F. Kennedy

          by Beelzebud on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:10:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's awfully misinformed (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Smartest Guy in the World

            First, open source projects like BSD are meant to be used and are licensed by their authors to be used freely, so that's hardly theft. It's the author's choice how his or her software is licensed. The things Microsoft co-opted were not licensed freely (and MS has co-opted a lot of open source code as well).

            Second, Apple has contributed back significantly to the open source community. I'm most familiar with their contributions to the KHTML libs used in Safari and KDE's Konqueror and probably WebKit (I've been away from that area since WebKit basically replaced KHTML). CUPS, which is the print manager on most Linux systems, holds an Apple copyright, and I'm pretty sure they've made other contributions.

            Compare that to Microsoft taking virtually everything and giving back next to nothing. You can't even sell open sourced licensed products via the MS app store.

            We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F Kennedy

            by badger on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:59:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Actually OS X comes from Job's efforts at NEXT (0+ / 0-)

            Yes, based on BSD Unix. For good reason, it has become very evident the worse thing you can do for an OS is to try to make some old legacy crap work. Apple has handed over a number of technologies and promotes the use of many standards. Apple is not perfect by any means, but it's not evil. Apple is happy to support PDF, Microsoft wants to invent it's own (inferior version) and force use of it. They came late with a browser and attempted to create a monopoly via illegal means. They came late with everything. I pity you users using 5 year old technology thinking you are "with it". Happy Zunning. Apple forces you to do nothing, you can accept their ecosystem, or buy other's offerings, but since it's customer satisfaction is so high, it sells a lot of stuff. Finally, people are "getting it" after years of listening to you PC guys poo pooing Apple. Bite me.

    •  ? (0+ / 0-)

      I think you are conflating your anecdotal experience with the actual stats on class sizes in the 60's.

      Just because YOUR class was smaller than your daughter's is today does not mean that on average that was the case, yes?

      I doubt ol' Bill just pulls numbers out of his ass.  :)

      The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. - Kos 8/31/10

      by Rick Aucoin on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 11:17:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why? (0+ / 0-)
        I doubt ol' Bill just pulls numbers out of his ass.  :)

        Will the revolution be easier if we HR each other a lot?

        by JesseCW on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 11:19:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Because he doesn't have to? (0+ / 0-)

          I mean, I don't doubt Bill has the $ to get the actual numbers in front of him whenever he wants them.  Why would he go with numbers he wasn't sure of when they could be proven one way or the other by a critic?

          The risk isn't worth it.  You go with the confirmable stats.

          The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. - Kos 8/31/10

          by Rick Aucoin on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 01:41:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Unless...you're full of shit. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JanL

            He often is.

            He gets an idea, then pays people millions to tell him he's right.

            That's how Vista happened.

            Will the revolution be easier if we HR each other a lot?

            by JesseCW on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 01:53:36 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Vista? (0+ / 0-)

              I used Vista 64, worked great on all 4 of my pc's.  Other than bad press... what exactly was wrong with Vista?

              The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. - Kos 8/31/10

              by Rick Aucoin on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 03:44:21 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  LMAO HAHAHAHAHA (0+ / 0-)

                Ok, have fun.

                Vista was great.  Nothing wrong with it.

                Just like Bill told his people to tell him.

                Will the revolution be easier if we HR each other a lot?

                by JesseCW on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 03:49:49 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  ? (0+ / 0-)

                  Okay, so... nothing was wrong with it except you... don't like it?

                  Sorry, not sure I quite get that.  Like I said, I used it on four machines here at home, each one self-built with a variety of different hardware configurations.  Worked great.  

                  The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. - Kos 8/31/10

                  by Rick Aucoin on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 04:02:57 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Some Proposal! (16+ / 0-)

    The impact of his proposal would be to have most teachers keep their starting salary for their entire careers. If he does that and fires the teachers whose students get low test scores, then we'll look back fondly at the good old days when there were only 30 students in a class.

    "H.R.W.A.T.P.T.R.T.C.I.T.G -- He really was a terrible president that ran the country into the ground."

    by Reino on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 03:50:42 AM PST

  •  So anti-social computer nerds... (24+ / 0-)

    ... are who the Very Serious People listen to, now, when it comes to education? Awesome. Watch out, Rhee: I'm gunning for Newsweek's cover.

    Even if you subscribe to the fucked-up idea that schools should be treated as businesses, Gates is a tech geek, with a history of stealing or buying good ideas, cutting inside deals to corner the market, and having enough money from his first few ventures to be able to weather the considerable failures that have pockmarked his company's history (under the auspices of any other company, Internet Explorer doesn't survive, and web developers the world over rejoice).

    His life is an unsexy, decidedly geeky version of the Social Network. And that's not a business model that can carry over to schools with ANY amount of success.

    Regards,
    Corporate Dog

    -----
    We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

    by Corporate Dog on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 04:12:06 AM PST

    •  Beware the geeks (4+ / 0-)

      especially the computer variety., monomaniacs who think they know everything.   Or put another way, who think that everything can be reduced to the one thing they actually understand.

      Die energie der Welt ist constant; die Entropie der welt strebt einem Maximum zu. - Rudolf Clausius, 1865

      by xgy2 on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 04:47:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  careful - I was a computer geek (14+ / 0-)

        with 20+ years experience in the field.  It is not his geekiness -  it is him and his arrogance

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:06:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  35 years (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          i like bbq, mkor7

          hardware and software.  I speak from experience.

          Die energie der Welt ist constant; die Entropie der welt strebt einem Maximum zu. - Rudolf Clausius, 1865

          by xgy2 on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:11:22 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Arrogance The MSM Loves... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          i like bbq, happymisanthropy, mkor7, xgy2

          So he makes many billions a year........

          Rather, let me close with these thoughts.  Wouldn't it be nice if governors, school boards, and especially journalists and op ed writers, would given even 1/10 of the attention to professional educators as they do to the likes of Bill Gates?  Then, just maybe, we could have an honest and productive discussion of what we need to do to improve our schools.

          Action is the antidote to despair---Joan Baez

          by frandor55 on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:59:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's true that geekiness alone (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          badger, Cassandra Waites, qosine, JesseCW, xgy2

          is not the problem. I know plenty of geeks who are terrific people.

          However, geek culture is chock-full of a certain type. Usually male, overly impressed with his own intelligence, willing to expound upon this at length, assuming that everyone unlike himself is stupid, and mistakenly thinking that because he's smart in one or two areas he's smart in all of them. Programmers, engineers, and mathematicians in particular are overrepresented by this type.

          You add in the money and power that Gates has, and it's especially toxic.

        •  Another Computer Geek speaks up (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rick Aucoin

          I started as a Computer Programmer in 1959.  Still involved in computers after 50+ years.  Though now I do it for fun and amazement at how far we have come.
          A couple comments from a "Graybeard".
          First, Bill Gates is a market savvy person, but he is also human. In 1980 Gates started Microsoft at the same time as I started my company, along with Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Apple and many other companies using UNIX and subsequently TCP/IP.  Some made it big, others got acquired or didn't make it.  My company got acquired.
          But prior to that I was a consultant to the California Dept of Education advising on the application of computer technology to teaching.  For 6 years I worked on research projects under Title III of ESEA- Innovations in Education.  Title III encouraged research by the School Districts themselves and set up a rigorous application and evaluation process.  You can read about it in this Rand Report.
          The basic process was:
          Goal>Objective>Problem>Solution(s)>Plan>Evaluation.
          Solutions is plurals because there is always more than one solution to a Problem.  Reduced class size is not a Problem, it is a solution we currently don't have.  Stating it that way takes it out of any possibility of solving the Problem and leads us to arguing over the wrong thing.

          One very successful program I worked on for 3 years, implementing and evaluating Individualize Instruction, had a class size of 150 4,5 6 grade students.  Repeat- It was very successful.  So, based on those results you could argue that class sizes of 30 - 40 students is too small.

          If Gates is to do anything, I would like to see him emulate the Title III guidelines of letting the School Districts themselves request funds for solving the problems and apply a rigorous evaluation process to analyzing the results.

          "If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve; if impeached, I will not leave" -Anon

          by Graebeard on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:05:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  gates is a monopoly capitalist and a fraud (13+ / 0-)

        he got the PC OS gig because his mother was on the IBM board and he re-tweaked an existing OS. Boy DOS was pure joy, wasn't it? What a deep resonance with human intuition, right?

        Then windows is stolen mac OS, word is word perfect, IE is netscape, excel is lotus 1,2,3. He's never had a successful original idea in his power and money grabbing career. All he's done is be the most ruthless destroyer of independent creativity.

        He had some incredibly stupid digital writing tablet that he huckstered everywhere a few years ago as the Next Big Thing, and it flopped. And how about that bing?? Boy, that's the new google - NOT.

        Now, Steve Jobs, OTOH, is everything Gates is not. Pure creativity, and finger on the pulse of cool, enabling the actual USE of computers by any and everyone.

        Any "ideas" Gates has about education? Consider the source and the track record of his other "original" ideas.

        Just considering no raises for longevity, for one thing, boy THAT will encourage loyalty! Nothing like knowing your employer doesn't give a rat's ass about you to keep you motivated! Just as in touch with humanity as DOS. Nice, Bill. Go back to your money bin.

        Fear is the mind-killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

        by p gorden lippy on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:08:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's far less "geek"... more like "fatcat" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      i like bbq, mkor7

      who wants to be seen not as a just another fucking rich asshole, but an adored benevolent god of charity.

      Zombie Reagan gives the most peachy speeches.

      by The Dead Man on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 08:32:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  He wasn't always a fatcat. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mkor7, JesseCW

        In fact, my larger point is that he isn't some business or finance guru with both feet in the world of corporate management, who we should nod to ever-so-sagely. Even though they're often spoken of in the same breath, he's no Warren Buffet.

        He was largely in the right place at the right time, he was tech savvy enough to know what he should steal from, and he was ethically bankrupt enough not to care.

        Regards,
        Corporate Dog

        -----
        We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

        by Corporate Dog on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 09:07:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  work more, earn less (22+ / 0-)

    on what planet is this  "teacher development"?

    Remember when the words  " MS-DOS means  Microsoft Seeks Domination of Society"  was just a joke for geeks?

    It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

    by sayitaintso on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 04:14:38 AM PST

  •  They never seem to get the point on how (16+ / 0-)

    to make teaching attractive to top engineers and scientists.

    Then again my business relies on corporations limiting their research budgets and personnel.

    Lack of investment seems to be the key and that appears to be the opposite of what is going on, you get what you pay for.

    "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

    by LaFeminista on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 04:14:54 AM PST

    •  Why is it? (13+ / 0-)

      ... that the principle of attracting and retaining the best and brightest by competitive pay ONLY applies to banks, CEOs and Wall Street?  

      "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

      by gsbadj on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:28:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Because all of us (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL, i like bbq, happymisanthropy

        worker bees are interchangeable.

        "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

        by happy camper on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 06:23:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  careful - standards used for "merit pay" (6+ / 0-)

        and bonuses in those circumstances are not necessarily good for the company in the long term and are certainly not good for the American economy as a whole.

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:29:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just like those guys destroy R&D (0+ / 0-)

          departments to get a couple good quarters so they can cash out, or do away with quality control because they figure they'll get a bonus for "cost savings" and be on to another job before sales slump due to poor product...

          the "test first" approach encourages teachers to do the same - to make sure a kid can pass the 6th grade math exam, even if it means completely alienating that kid and turning them off on education in ways that will contribute them dropping out in 10th grade.

          Will the revolution be easier if we HR each other a lot?

          by JesseCW on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 11:30:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Because the people who work as CEO's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gsbadj

        and on Wall Street are generally only motivated by cash.

        Who in their right mind wants the average asshole off the trading floor trying to teach fourth graders?

        Teachers need to be better paid than they are, but you'd do more to recruit good teachers by starting them at 60K and giving them smaller classes with more support (TA's, materials, ect) than you would by paying them 500K.

        Will the revolution be easier if we HR each other a lot?

        by JesseCW on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 11:26:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Just watch - Bill Gates will import H1b teachers (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, JanL, JesseCW

      Just watch- next thing Bill Gates is going to propose is to import low wage H1b teachers.

      People forget that Bill Gates had spent years arguing that he needed more  H1b programmers because there aren't enough american programmers. I think his whole obsession on education is just an evolution of his earlier self-serving argument that "america is failing to educate its kids, therefore we have to go to India to find engineers". I guess he said it often enough that he came to believe it himself.

      •  Guess what? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        iceweasel

        I'm an American programmer.  There aren't enough of us.  At least not good ones.  The reason Microsoft (and almost every other big software company)  brings in H1b programmers is that there aren't enough good software engineers being developed in the US.   Or at least there weren't back before the financial crisis--I can't speak for how hiring has been since 2009 or so.

        I've worked with H1b visa software deveoplers from Canada, Australia and India.  As far as I know, at least where I was, they were making the same base salary as any other developers were.   The reason they were hired was that they were good develpoers, not because they were cheap.  

        •  actually, you are wrong (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling

          there were many good software engineers who were getting laid off.   They might not have been young and in Seattle and less experienced so that they cost less.

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 12:28:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Maybe post 2008 (0+ / 0-)

            Maybe that was true recently.  My experience with H1b people was from 95-2006 or so.  All I know is that our company had to interview armies of people to find qualified software engineers.  We probably had to reject 80% of the people we brought in because they couldn't pass a coding interview.  It had nothing to do with compensation.

            I have no idea how that has changed over the past few years with the economy tanking.  But if they weren't looking for a job in Seattle, then how is that Microsoft's fault anyway?

        •  There is always a lag time between the school (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling

          and the industry.  This is the whole fallacy about "not enough X engineers being trained in schools". It's amazing that companies comb through 1000's of applicants to find the exact one guy who has 10 years of experience programming Android phones, when they could just easily train a decent programmer to learn that in 3-6 months.

          I just reject that premise that schools are failing because they are not teaching Android programming. There is always a time lag between industry demand of whatever whiz bang favor-of-the-month programming niche, and what the schools teach.

          Recently our (semiconductor company) was looking to fill a couple of positions for the type of (somewhat specific) CAD type programming taht I do. They went through 100's of resumes, and still couldn't find the exact match. I don't bother to tell the managers that none of us developers working in that role started out doing what we are doing now. All of us learned on the job.

          •  I had a situation where a company (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            icemilkcoffee

            decided that they had to have the requirement that the new hire have 5 years experience with Java programming.

            Java had only existed for 3 years.

            Amazingly, they could not find an American qualified for their position.

            They hired an H1-B from China about 18 months later. Nice guy, and competent, but nothing unique in terms of his ability, and nothing I couldn't have found for them locally if they'd let me use my network.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 08:44:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  qwerty (0+ / 0-)

        Indian immigrant and Indian-American inventors and entrepreneurs contributed enormously to the advent of the internet and the IT field since the beginning, as in these notable tech inventions (without which the IT field would not have done as well as it has):
        -- Vinod Dham, is an Indian inventor and venture capitalist. He is popularly known as the "Father of the Pentium chip"

        -- Ajay V. Bhatt is an Indian-American computer architect. He has been instrumental in driving definition and development of broadly adopted technologies such as USB (Universal Serial Bus), AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port), PCI Express, Platform Power management architecture and various chipset enhancements.

        -- Arun N. Netravali is an Indian-American engineer who is a pioneer of digital technology including HDTV and MPEG4.

        as in tech-entreprenuers such as
        -- Vinod Khosla, co-founders of Sun Microsystems.
        (VK is a Kossack, BTW.)
        and, as  group, they contributed far larger (about 5x-10x) share of US domestic technology patents than their population in the US (which, including temporary visa workers from India, has been in the 0.5% to 1% range during the period studied):

        (This was shown in a study by a Harvard professor (William Kerr); See here as well.)

        Those contributions powered/power the IT and technology sectors in the US, and helped create and maintain millions of current and future American jobs.

        A lot of this was actually brain drain for India, and brain gain for America.

        •  I didn't mean to single out India or Indian (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassandra Waites, iceweasel

          engineers. I have worked with a lot of indian engineers and I have tremendous respect for them. My wife started out on an H1b visa as well.

          My point, as clumsily stated as it was, was that Bill Gates' current obsession with education was an outgrowth of his previous position of justifying foreign hires on the basis of the supposed failure of the american educational system.  In other words he had a vested interest in proving that the american public school system is broken. A premise that is at best debatable. It might become a self-fulfilling prophecy by the time he is finished with his experiments though.

  •  An AP class with 30+ students? (20+ / 0-)

    Damn, Ken. I can't even imagine such a beast.

    Back when I took AP English, there were ten kids in the class. And I think the thoughtful pace of that class (due primarily to the small size) was KEY to its effectiveness.

    Regards,
    Corporate Dog

    -----
    We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

    by Corporate Dog on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 04:17:25 AM PST

    •  Been there (12+ / 0-)

      Guess what an AP class of over 30 students does to class discussion?  Guess what it does to paperwork and essay correction? Guess what it does to individual attention?  Using only test scores (and most of the tests I've seen are really bad) to measure good teaching is like using only a thermometer to test for appendicitis.

      "You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created." Einstein

      by Flyfish100 on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:07:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No one in my class wanted to "discuss" anyway (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badger, JanL, Cassandra Waites

        I was also in AP classes with 30+ students, but it didn't really matter because none of the students really wanted to have a discussion.  There's more problems with current schools than just teachers.  The entire anti-intellectual attitude that our society seems to have adopted is a huge obstacle.  

    •  it is partly my choice (11+ / 0-)

      they were supposed to be capped at 33, but when it got oversubscribed it was too late to go to 4 sections, and there were some good kids who otherwise would have been excluded.  But it is pushing beyond what it should be, and hard to get everyone involved.

      When I took AP American History in High Schools, we had I think 13.   My AP English -  only one 12th grade course in those days -  we had 16 or 17.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:09:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Detroit (5+ / 0-)
        Robert Bobb, the emergency financial manager for DPS, today attempted to quell some of the fear resulting from his deficit elimination plan that calls for placing as many as 62 kids in a class by 2014.

        In response to a Free Press inquiry, Bobb said that classes will not balloon to 60 or more children per class. He did not say how large they might become, however


        http://www.freep.com/...
        And I'm betting those aren't AP sections.

        I know that it's Bobb doing some bargaining via the press but once the overton window starts to move, it's hard to move it back, especially when educational "experts" like Gates chime in.

        "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

        by gsbadj on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:34:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I've got to ask (0+ / 0-)

        What percentage of your students actually get 4's or 5's on those exams?

    •  ditto, cd. HS class of '67: a dozen in AP (4+ / 0-)

      English, a dozen in ap physics and chem, about 15 in stats and probability and a dozen in calculus.

      In a school with 1000 students.

      Oh well, if you have billions of dollars and just make stuff up, it must be true, right?

      Fear is the mind-killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

      by p gorden lippy on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:12:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  1962. Latin. 42 students. (4+ / 0-)

        Hotter 'n Hell.

        A/C hadn't been installed for Florida schools. Two fans.

        Julius Caesar and Cicero. Terrence.

        Riveting classes. A teacher beyond any retirement age this side of the Vatican.

        Taught in Latin. And the physics class was taught using all the math that could be fitted in.

        Yeah, a public school. It's still there. Much reduced. And memorization of poetry has been virtually eliminated, too, as acquiring 500 lines a semester is now inconceivable.

        Ozymandias... in the classroom.

      •  That's about how things were in my HS (0+ / 0-)

        of 2000 students, mid-80's. AP classes were 15 or so, and there were 5 AP classes offered.

        I am a veteran of 45-50 kids per class. Kids were smoking in the back of one of those. It was definitely a law of the jungle experience.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 08:48:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I quit high school teaching (9+ / 0-)

      in the late 60's because my total class load was close to 150.  I was supposed to assign and grade one piece of writing every week.  On top of all the preparation (3 different classes), grading, student records, etc. I had to do.  It was impossible to be a good teacher under those circumstances, and it's clear it's gotten worse.  I was sick for 5 years, and finally decided, "I won't live this way."  And quit.

      Ended up a university professor and retired 10 years ago just as the to-the-bone budget cuts began to hit.  I was in science, and my university, known for quality hands on learning, is saving money by scrapping the small lab classes of about 24 students.  That's where the real learning happened, and attention to different learning styles, backgrounds and needs was possible.  I think we did a fabulous job.  How are these cuts going to "Win the Future?"

      In my experience, something happens when the class size exceeds about 24.  And it's nothing good.

  •  I don't see (5+ / 0-)

    how this deployment issue will go any other way than to arrive at a two-tiered system of a limited number of education professionals assisted by a class of paraeducators.

    and I wait for them to interrupt my drinking from this broken cup

    by le sequoit on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 04:26:00 AM PST

  •  I have been thinking about this whole subject for (6+ / 0-)

    sometime now and I think the basic problem with American Education is not with the Education System or the Teachers, it lies with the Students.

    When I think back to when my generation was being educated we had just crawled out of the depression and students in general realized that the best way to avoid having to live in poverty again was to get a good education -  and that meant you had to apply yourself and make an effort to absorb the material being presented.

    It meant you really did have to go home after shcool and actually study and do the assigned homework.

    Nowadays that urgency no longer seems to be there. Except for the past few years when the full weight of Trickle Down has become apparent, Americans largely lived through a period of good economic times and the incentive to work hard, study hard and prepare for college just wasn't as strong as it was when I was in High School.

    If this analysis is correct then the solution that we need is not finding new ways to grade the teaching effort itself and it is certainly not finding new ways to make teaching a less attractive profession.

    We must find ways to convince the children entering the system that they have to become active participants in the educational process and they must actually work hard at achieving a successful outcome.

    And we have to find someway to salvage the students who have already wasted too many years just coasting through in the mistaken belief that there is going to be a cushy job waiting for them at the end whether they work at getting an education or not.

    Since there are many to be salvaged and much work to be done to salvage them it would appear that at least in the short term we are going to have to spend more on education - not less.

    •  Wish I could find it (4+ / 0-)

      About 10 years ago, I read a peer-reviewed study that suggested that HS students increasingly saw less and less of a payoff from a HS diploma, in terms of making more money and being more successful upon graduation.  

      The study suggested that students recognized the demise of decent paying middle-class jobs for the non-college-bound and became discouraged because their diploma was going to get them a minimum wage job.  The diploma was once your ticket to the middle class, via a manufacturing job (now long gone).

      It's an ongoing thing, i.e. trying to shape students' attitudes toward mistakes/failures, which are inevitable.

      Some students accept them as challenges and try harder; many internalize them as confirmation of their own limitations and give up.

      Obviously, politicians can't relate to the latter group, having been successful in overcoming life's challenges themselves.

      "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

      by gsbadj on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:45:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Being part of the (4+ / 0-)

      end-of the-depression generation, I'd like to say that society's attitude towards education, hard work and respect for achievement has changed dramatically in my lifetime.  If loosely defined, entertainment is now one of our major industries--no longer farming, manufacturing or much else that involves a long term investment.  We have demagogues on radio and TV who ridicule people who are educated or highly skilled.  Elite is now applied to those who have educated themselves, and it's an epithet.

      We're swimming upstream, I'm afraid, until there's a major shift in societal attitudes.

    •  There is something to it (4+ / 0-)

      I read a book called "Nerds" a while back.  Basically, the US is the only country in the world that has this asinine concept that someone who is academically successful is somehow lesser than others.

      This is going to sound annoying, but bear with me:
      My kid has been one of the top scholastic chess players, is an amazing musician, is in the AP program... But he still thinks that it's nerdy to do some of the things he does, and as a result, he shies away from talking about the things he is best at.  

      That kind of attitude is ridiculous, and it is pervasive.  

      "Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand."

      by otto on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:49:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's always been like that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling, otto

        in this country--contempt for learning, scorn for science, ridicule of the arts. I graduated from a small high school in 1972 and because of my interests and accomplishments felt like an outcast. (I don't think the word 'nerd' had been invented yet!)

        Two things--If you can help him to connect with other kids like him where it's 'safe' to be himself that will help; that may not necessarily be within the school context. Also, if he can learn to connect with other kids in school who are NOT like him, this will help him a lot in the future.

        ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

        by sillia on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 09:02:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's actually far better than it was (0+ / 0-)

        when I was a student in the '80s. Now at least there are some smart, mainstream heroes in business and entertainment. There were none when I was a kid.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 08:51:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Of course, depression era folks said (0+ / 0-)

      precisely the same thing about your generation when you were in school.

      They were wrong too, btw.

      Will the revolution be easier if we HR each other a lot?

      by JesseCW on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 11:33:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Class sizes ... oy (14+ / 0-)

    I work in a school with 100% free lunch and breakfasts in the midwest. We KNOW more adults help the younger students who come to us significantly behind their peers in households with more income. Last year, only 22% of our kindergarteners were deemed "ready" for school by all the testing the teachers did in the first two weeks of school. We know without direct, explicit, and tailored-for-each student instruction in reading and writing in small groups (no more than 4-5 per group) they will continue to lag behind. This not only pulls down test scores, it all but assures they will drop out of school before graduating - much less being "college-and job-ready" by their senior year. Yes, this costs a lot of money, but so does the cost of imprisonment - and not only in money. There are societal costs associated with poor educational outcomes that are known but nowadays overlooked in the drive for deficit reduction, ad nauseum.
    Gates has apprently not read any educational literature at all, yet he continues to spout off like he knows something about education.
    Thanks for pointing out this op-ed, teacherken...I think.  ;)  I guess it's always best to know the talking points of the folks that know how to "fix" education, since their money gets them a bully pulpit, not their knowledge.

    Think what you are doing today. -Fred Rogers

    by JanL on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 04:41:12 AM PST

    •  Clinton had it right.... (4+ / 0-)

      ...funds were spent supporting early education and class size reduction in the title one schools.   Those children were able to receive more attention and close instruction. Then NCLB came and the CSR teachers left.  

      There is empirical evidence to support class size reduction.
      I know our district did studies. Others did too.

      Whatever the Foxteapublicans say, the opposite is the truth.

      by Forward is D not R on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:12:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Gates reminds me of any other celebrity... (9+ / 0-)

    who uses name recognition to get a public platform that they really don't deserve, based on knowledge and experience.

    There is NO shortage of well-qualified education experts who can tell you exactly what we need to do to optimize conditions in the classroom (wording that carefully since teachers cannot control what happens to their kids outside the classroom).

    But no one wants to listen because the answers aren't simple and they don't fit a preconceived ideology. Instead we are left with dilettantes.

    Voting for a republican because you are disappointed in Obama is like leaving your kids with a pedophile because you're pissed that the babysitter was late.

    by Azdak on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:05:54 AM PST

  •  You gotta understand something about Bill Gates (5+ / 0-)

    He's about halfway up the Asperger's/autism spectrum.  He's matured and become self-aware enough that it's no longer obvious when you look at him; he doesn't rock back and forth when he talks in public like he used to, at least in private.  One of the ways this manifests itself is a lack of compassion; it's not that he's evil (even if with Gates at the helm Microsoft has at times seemed evil) but in him, this social-supercomputer process by which we think of another human being in a certain situation and being able to discern how that person would feel and make a moral/ethical/value judgment on whether or not that situation is "good" or "bad" is at least a little broken.  So the things Gates does, both in business and in his philanthropy, can often be well-meaning but "evil-adjacent," for lack of a better term.

  •  Bill Gates is just the latest (15+ / 0-)

    in a long line of people who have automatic credibility on all matters they care to comment on because they are rich.

    I keep waiting for the good ideas, and the more I wait the more I see the same old thing. He's rich, so he knows what he's talking about.  

    The management of IBM being stupid and short-sighted about not buying DOS outright from the young men they probably dismissed as 'little pimply faced hobbyists' when they brought it to them decades ago, thereby launching an army of tech billionaires in the process of being old men with cigars who thought they were smarter than everybody else, doesn't make him an expert on education today.

  •  Bill Gates changed the landscape of (12+ / 0-)

    software development.

    Before Bill Gates and Microsoft, software was developed slowly and carefully.  Bugs were BAD things, and having to provide fixes and patches was a sign that a development group didn't do its job very well.  Yearly updates were common, and provided mostly feature enhancements.

    Bill Gates brought a new model of software development into the world -  go fast, ignore non-critical bugs, release the "beast", and then patch patch patch.  No longer was it embarrassing to release a product with many flaws, it became the new normal, and patching became a weekly occurrence.

    We lost a lot of quality in this process, but perhaps the bigger thing we lost was stability.  Now we live in an era of endless churn with constant hands tweaking critical pieces of our infrastructure.  (And those hands now being reduced to the lowest paid workers regardless of training)

    This is something to think about as we review Bill Gates' ideas for education -  the idea that quicker is better, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead...fix it later.  Except this time, it is students that will need to be patched.  Get ready for the world of johnny.4.1

    •  If We'd Been Able to Break Up IBM Into Rational (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clues

      sized companies, maybe the crappy PC and DOS would've had enough competitors that something good would've prevailed. But even before Reagan we'd already had enough cutting of top end taxes and various market deregulation that big money was on track to take back its country.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:48:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Marketing kicked in to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clues

      involve the public in the process encouraging them to buy the latest and jazziest, when least buggy more stable and fewer features would have been better.

    •  V1.0 of any Microsoft product (0+ / 0-)

      =complete unmitigated disaster. They have never, ever gotten anything right with a version 1.0.

      I am not surprised that Gates' first attempt with the 'Small School' hype was a flop. It's just so in keeping with his entire history of foisting 'not-ready-for-prime-time' products on the american public.

  •  Excellent Dismissal (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you Ken. You are right to only feel the need to dismiss part of William Gates JR's random comments on education policy. More would be honoring that which is beneath further analysis.  

    It is telling that Gates constantly over the years focuses on only ONE variable at a time (0's and 1's? Interesting way to think of human beings...) in student learning, and usually not the most important one, and then comes up with a "solution" which can benefit his own tax situation, or those of his acolytes, and then peddles it effortlessly by way of adoring editorial page hacks star-struck like teen girls over Justin Bieber ("I LOVE his HAIR!") and further debase and devalue the oversimplistic public debate over public education since "A Nation At Risk" of Reagan's Morning in America.

    Shame on Americans who listen to rich idiots while experts remain in the weeds, calling out like solitary bluebirds.

    Oh, and his MS "Operating Systems" suck too.

     

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:13:14 AM PST

  •  Didn't Gates drop out of school? (3+ / 0-)

    Sometimes Gates is pictured as a modern day Henry Ford, which, as an apt comparison, I don't think holds up.

    As I understand it, he was simply a guy in the right place at the right time.

    He purchased an already-written, skeletal computer operating system (if I'm not mistaken it was based on CP/M) for next-to-nothing, reworked it a bit and convinced IBM to use it on their fledgling PC -- a computer that IBM thought, at best, they would sell only a few thousand of. Needless to say, they were a little off.

    Microsoft Windows came about when Gates saw a Macintosh. So it's not like that was an original idea, either.

    There's no doubt he was a shrewd businessman, though. How he feels qualified to offer advice about teaching, well... at the end of the day, I don't think he is.

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:13:21 AM PST

    •  I Think DOS Came From Vax VMS Didn't It? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Heart of the Rockies, Snud, xgy2

      Doesn't matter. Just about everything Microsoft came from some other technology and a combination of lots of money or market domination.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:45:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  DOS (6+ / 0-)

        Gates bought it for something like $50K when he desperately needed an OS to sell to IBM.  DOS was based on CP/M which was in turn based on the DEC RT-11 OS  for the smaller PDP-11 systems.

        So no, Bill Gates never did anything original, but he was a master when it came to exploiting the work of others.

        Die energie der Welt ist constant; die Entropie der welt strebt einem Maximum zu. - Rudolf Clausius, 1865

        by xgy2 on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:50:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Wiki's take: (6+ / 0-)

        Link:

        In 1980, IBM approached Microsoft to write the BASIC interpreter for its upcoming personal computer, the IBM PC. When IBM's representatives mentioned that they needed an operating system, Gates referred them to Digital Research (DRI), makers of the widely used CP/M operating system.[30] IBM's discussions with Digital Research went poorly, and they did not reach a licensing agreement. IBM representative Jack Sams mentioned the licensing difficulties during a subsequent meeting with Gates and told him to get an acceptable operating system. A few weeks later Gates proposed using 86-DOS (QDOS), an operating system similar to CP/M that Tim Paterson of Seattle Computer Products (SCP) had made for hardware similar to the PC. Microsoft made a deal with SCP to become the exclusive licensing agent, and later the full owner, of 86-DOS. After adapting the operating system for the PC, Microsoft delivered it to IBM as PC-DOS in exchange for a one-time fee of $50,000. Gates did not offer to transfer the copyright on the operating system, because he believed that other hardware vendors would clone IBM's system.[31] They did, and the sales of MS-DOS made Microsoft a major player in the industry.[32]

        Ol' Bill sure milked that cow! ;-)

        This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

        by Snud on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:54:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And QDOS was a copy of CP/M (0+ / 0-)

          ported from the 8080 8-bit architecture to the 8086/8 16 bit architecture. It used the same Program Segment Prefix (PSP) that CP/M copied from DEC operating systems, and MS-DOS used a lot of the same interrupt handler structure as CP/M originally.

          There's a quote from Gary Killdall (DRI), who wrote CP/M originally for Intel, where Killdall asks Gates to explain why a certain interrupt handler returns a '$' character (which both CP/M and MS-DOS versions did). It appears to serve no function, but Killdall said he knew why it returned a '$' - and nobody at MS could, because Killdall wrote the code they copied nearly verbatim.

          We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F Kennedy

          by badger on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 11:34:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Read the article ??? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dunvegan, Snud, pee dee fire ant

      The arguments are commplaces, verrr-r-r-r-r-r-rrrry simple, and obvious.

      The suggestion for a test project ain't gonna kill more than a few million people:

      Perhaps the most expensive assumption embedded in school budgets - and one of the most unchallenged - is the view that reducing class size is the best way to improve student achievement. This belief has driven school budget increases for more than 50 years. U.S. schools have almost twice as many teachers per student as they did in 1960, yet achievement is roughly the same.

      What should policymakers do? One approach is to get more students in front of top teachers by identifying the top 25 percent of teachers and asking them to take on four or five more students. Part of the savings could then be used to give the top teachers a raise. (In a 2008 survey funded by the Gates Foundation, 83 percent of teachers said they would be happy to teach more students for more pay.) The rest of the savings could go toward improving teacher support and evaluation systems, to help more teachers become great.

      OMG.

      Blood. On. The. Class room floors.

      Or not.

  •  Nailed it (5+ / 0-)
    Gates may be well meaning.   Unfortunately, what he proposes is not well thought out,

    I think this has it exactly right, not only for Gates, but for Obama, for Teddy Kennedy, and for so many other well-intentioned, but woefully ignorant, people with power.

    I think sometimes that education will only improve to the extent that we learn how to deal with this kind of person.

    Oh, and by the way,

    I would not be surprised to find that his largest classes in the elite private high school he attended never even reached the size of my current smallest class

    You have that exactly right. I know that school, as at one time I was thinking I might have wanted to work there. Probably their largest classes are about half the size of your smallest classes, and some of their classes are smaller than that.

    That situation might in fact account for Gates's interest in smaller classes in the first place.

    Finally,

    to gain the full benefit of smaller classes requires more quality teachers, which in many cases we currently lack

    Neither you nor Gates has this precisely right. We have to get away from the idea that there is a simple "good / bad"  or "skilled / not so skilled" set of teachers.

    Smaller classes will show benefits if they are taught using different methods than those used to teach larger classes. It's a matter of a different skill set more than it's a matter of better or worse skills.

    None of this makes a bit of difference if they don't count your vote.

    by Toddlerbob on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:29:08 AM PST

    •  Agree completely (5+ / 0-)
      It's a matter of a different skill set more than it's a matter of better or worse skills.

      I retired from teaching upper division/graduate level university classes.  Think of the difference between teaching a large lecture from a podium with hundreds of students in front of you compared to small lectures, discussion groups or lab classes.  Each requires a completely different skill set and reaches students in different ways.

      A large lecture needs someone who is essentially an entertainer and involves no one-on-one interaction.  I'd call it a gift.  A lab class requires skill with sophisticated equipment, often a high level manual dexterity (dissections, etc.), the ability to demonstrate procedures in real time, adjusting assistance to individual students plus knowing the general concepts being taught.

      Discussion groups require great skill in keeping students on track, supporting spirited disagreements, drawing in facts and supporting materials, etc.

  •  Detroit and 60 students (4+ / 0-)

    Ken, need to ask you about this.  My wife is a teacher, and she is convinced, CONVINCED, that the "60 students per class in Detroit" talk is purely a Straw Man, based on the fact that she has never seen a classroom in any school physically big enough to hold that many students.  Do you have any more info on this issue?

    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

    by Brian A on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:38:06 AM PST

    •  this year we have 30 kinders per classroom (5+ / 0-)

      next year it will be 36. the room is the same size as when there were 20 students.  it is at the point of becoming a safety issue.

    •  there are examples (3+ / 0-)

      of too many students for the physical size of a room.  In schools in which I taught i saw 42 in an 18x30 foot temporary building.

      So what if it 'only' goes to 45.   You could probably fit that many students into most classrooms.   That doesn't mean you should.

      The figure of 60 is one that has been widely discussed since Bobb announced the cuts in Detroit.  Now he says it won't go to 60.  He has not, afaik, offered any other number as a limit.  So if it only goes to 50 his statement would be true.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:35:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bullying Wealth Makes Dropout Education Expert (5+ / 0-)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:40:08 AM PST

  •  I am rebooting this diary (4+ / 0-)

    In order to read it again in Windows 7.

    Great as always TK. It is amazing how Bill Gates has become an expert in many fields from running a mediocre software company!

    That's Countdown for the 2,082nd day since Mission Accomplished. You thought that would change? Are the troops home yet? Keith Olbermann January 20, 2009

    by Ed in Montana on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:43:31 AM PST

  •  I'm reminded of The Godfather... (0+ / 0-)

    where the Don is telling the wanna-be dope dealer that "all those politicians in my back pocket won't stay friendly if I get into dope dealing".

    Similarly, all those good teachers won't stay "good" if you double their class sizes. lols

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:49:04 AM PST

  •  An additional point on class size (8+ / 0-)

    In science classes, size becomes an issue of safety!
    In my student teaching, I had 30+ students in all the classes, and the configuration of the room was the outer perimeter of the room served as the lab bench.

    30 some 9th graders, with their backs to me and my mentor. He was tall and could see over their shoulders, I was shorter than many students. I could not see their hands without interrupting them. I could not immediately tell if they even had the safety glasses on!

    I ALWAYS considered what was safe for them to do as a lab exercise when I wouldn't be able to see what was happening in front of them. I had to discard some very interesting and exciting activities because of this.

    If I had an administrator tell me to teach a science class of 40, I would pitch a fit on the issue of safety.

    I am much too liberal to be a Democrat.

    by WiseFerret on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:56:07 AM PST

  •  Great diary. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, joycemocha, NThenUDie, nominalize

    I was a teacher at a private school in China for five years before I came back to get my PhD in psychology. I'm now teaching college undergraduates as part of my academic training. One thing that has astonished me was how apathetic many of my students are. Many expect not to have to work hard to get good grades, and they are great about coming up with excuses for why they aren't doing well--personal problems, bad teaching. Do you think it's possible that our current generation of school-aged children might not be as motivated as prior generation? Do you think that all of the emphasis on socializing and extracurricular activities has contributed to these problems?

    When I compare my private school experience to what I'm doing, I remind myself that I was teaching children from relatively affluent families. But where I taught, extracurriculars were seen as a distraction, teachers were required to assign 45 minutes of homework per lesson/per night, and parents came to school to make sure their children were behaving and doing well, not to confront teachers for being too hard.

    I guess what I asking about is the culture of education. Any thoughts on how that has evolved during the course of your career?

    I'm gay and I'm pissed. I'm not giving up, I'm not giving in, I'm not backing down, and I'm not going away. I'm one of the Angry Gays. Deal with it.

    by psychodrew on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 06:33:10 AM PST

    •  I would start at extracurriculars (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psychodrew

      Before stuffing more kids into classrooms, let's go after the "extra" programs:  Sports, cheer, band, debate, etc.  These are fun programs that provide something, I'm sure.  

      But they suck away time, money, and teaching quality out of our education system.  

      Time is a major factor: Students in them often use their last hour as a "class", but it's really practice.  Then there's the after school practice, plus events, travel time, and post-event socialization.  When do they study?  

      They suck away money, too.  There's the ridiculous cases, like Allen, TX just voting to build a $60 million football stadium.  But these activities cost a lot up and down the ladder.  They also socialize sports--- high school sports is one of America's biggest socialist experiments.  

      And teaching quality... how many of us have had a coach phone in the history lessons during season?  I had an AP Computer Science teacher who had us play games on the network once basketball season started up.      

      I don't know about China, but in Europe, if you want to do these extracurriculars, you join an athletic club, or you join a local society.  What about the poor, you ask?  Especially in sports, if you're good enough, they'll waive your membership fee. But you play on your own time.   At school, you work.

      •  I am going to disagree (6+ / 0-)

        because sometimes those extracurriculars is why students who struggle persist - in order to remain academically eligible.  Without them, when they are already struggling school, they are far more likely to drop out.

        As far as China, the preparation for the college admission exam is obscene.  Even the Chinese recognize that.

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:37:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I understand that motivation (0+ / 0-)

          But is it worth the cost to the entire student body?  Is it worth the cost to society's attitude towards school as an "experience" to have, rather than a place to learn?  Is it worth the cost for the town to associate with the school mainly through these activities?

          One problem, for instance, is the moral hazard of no pass, no play rules:  Teachers can be lenient with students, when they know that a C- on this test will lead to ineligibility.  Oftentimes, it's out of sympathy, but sometimes they get implicit or even explicit pressure from admins, parents, boosters, or their peers.

          •  The old trick question is to ask someone (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elfling, JanL, Cassandra Waites

            "Would you support your school taking a number of especially gifted students, building them a special facility, paying extra for specially-qualified teachers to instruct them, make them all dress the same in school provided clothing, spend thousands of dollars on educational resources and equipment only for their use, and bus them around to interact at other schools with students with a similar high-level of ability?"

            I've asked a few people this question, and invariably every one I've asked responds that it's advocating an elitist position, and one we can't afford to fund.

            Of course what it's describing is high school football, and when you mention that, people no longer think it's a bad thing.

            We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F Kennedy

            by badger on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 11:45:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Nice trap! I got one too (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger

              I always bring up HS football when people rail against socialism, especially if it's a dude:  "So, you wanna ban HS football?"   We spend millions of taxpayer dollars so a few kids can play a game on our dime, and a few ex-players can re-live their glory days.  If they dare reply, it's generally along the lines of "But the whole town benefits" ... a reply for which I am oh so prepared: "You've just made the argument for every welfare program ever proposed."  

              Of course, since I'm in Texas, where HSF is the true religion, I make sure they aren't packing before starting this... I'd be safer saying Jesus was a lesbian.  

      •  local funding issues (0+ / 0-)

        In many places in the U.S., school sports is what gains the public's enthusiasm for the schools. It's part of what makes them proud of their community. Some of the funding is voted for at the district level and cutting out extracurricular sports would reduce the support for schools from the community. A local school administrator explained this to me a few years ago during one of our budget crises.

        There has been a big change in recent years at least in the schools I'm familiar with, in which students who participate in extracurricular activities have to pay fees. (This was unheard of when I was in school.) So they are covering part of the costs with money from the users.

        Personally I despise this system, where sports seems to be at the center of school life. I would like to see a European model where extracurricular activities are outside of school. However, I am not known for being realistic about such things. The reality is we have an entrenched culture that wants it this way.

        ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

        by sillia on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 09:37:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wholly understand that (0+ / 0-)

          My OK hometown was all about the sports... it probably helped that the only two who ever became (mildly) famous were sports heroes.  

          And we can't underestimate the power of sports teams to provide a social glue to student bodies (that you definitely do not see in Europe). At universities, this phenomenon is understandable, especially at colleges that lack general academic prestige (like my alma mater).  This social glue is crucial for getting a lot of alums to donate, and at a (very) few schools, there's enough money in TV and merchandising that it actually turns a profit.

          At high school level, though, there's no money to be made. So is it all really worth it?  The obvious danger is that the townsfolk ONLY see the school as valuable for the sports.  Sure, the local paper will run a story on the local kid who wins the state science fair, or who gets a full ride to Harvard, but those are one-offs.  

          •  No money from hs sports, but (0+ / 0-)

            there will be a vote from time to time about raising the school tax levy, or a bond issue for a new middle school, etc. and local enthusiasm for the schools is the only way to get out enough votes to pass such measures.

            Would people still support their schools without the sports culture? I really don't know, but I imagine no school district wants to try that experiment.

            ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

            by sillia on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 03:36:38 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I hope that you send him your piece (0+ / 0-)

    Posting it here is obviously important, but maybe efforts in getting it into his hands would be even more important.

    Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government. ~Thomas Jefferson

    by k8dd8d on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:15:43 AM PST

    •  my reaction is simple - (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cpresley, happymisanthropy

      I know of no reason to believe that Gates would pay any attention to anything about education that did not come through the education folks in his foundation.  Knowing what I do about who some of those have been, I think my time is better spent targeting his audiences.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:39:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I...I.... (6+ / 0-)

    I know the school that he went to.  I know the kids that go there.  I know what it's like.  

    His personal experience in education is not worth considering as anything other than an anomaly.  He was in a school with kids who were rich-rich-rich.  

    It is one of the premier high end private schools in Seattle.  

    I suggest this to Bill Gates- Go to a kindergarten class that has 30 students, and then go to a kindergarten class that has 18 kids.  Then go to a kindergarten class that has 13 kids.  

    If he wants to argue that class size is irrelevant, that's his choice, but just because someone was lucky enough to be raised rich in privileged and enriching environment, that is not enough for me to trust his instincts.  

    This is perhaps the dumbest plan I've ever seen.  

    I am really amazed that someone who is the product of a wealthy family and privileged upbringing can't recognize that we have school issues, but we also have family issues, and unfortunately, his industry is partly responsible for some of the media overexposure issues that our kids have.  

    "Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand."

    by otto on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:36:33 AM PST

  •  This is wrongheaded in so many ways ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dunvegan, JanL

    not the least of which is the simple comparison with high peforming private schools.

    Expensive private schools with tuitions ranging from $10k-$30k/year have SIGNIFICANTLY SMALLER CLASSE SIZES than do their public school conterparts.  It has been demonstrated in study after study that the single most effective method to improve learning and the class environment in public schools is to REDUCE CLASS SIZE.  

    Hey Bill, how about you fix Vista AND direct the billions you made on crappy s/w towards programs that actually help lift people out of poverty instead of making it more difficult for dedicated teachers to teach.

    No quarter. No surrender.

    by hegemony57 on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:45:46 AM PST

    •  Is that necessarily true? (0+ / 0-)

      Class size is a factor. But is it really the single most effective way? The asian nations like Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan etc, all have larger class sizes than in the US.

      I know here in the Bay Area, the best public schools (Mission San Jose, Monte Vista, etc) have slightly larger than average class sizes.

      •  Here's another way to look at it (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL, hegemony57

        Look up some of the top ranked private colleges and see what their class size is. My daughter's college, for example, has been ranked by Princeton Review as the top college in the country academically several times, and it's always in the top 2 or 3. It's also at the top of rankings for things like "students work the hardest". It ranks 2nd or 3rd nationally in percent of students who go on for advanced degrees, and has produced a large number of Rhodes and Fulbright scholars, and even a couple of MacArthur winners.

        Keep in mind that these are highly selective institutions whose average student high school GPA is nearly perfect, and whose average student SATs are in the 90th+ percentile. These are students that want to learn, are able to learn, and whose parents are paying $30,000 a year in tuition alone.

        These schools rarely have class sizes over 15 students, usually closer to 10. If they think that's necessary, given their selectivity and high ability levels of their students, why should we believe that public schools, which have to accept any student, including those with learning disabilities or deficits, will be successful with 30 or 40 or 60 students in a class?

        We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F Kennedy

        by badger on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 12:01:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  If you put more students in (4+ / 0-)

    classrooms, and then make the classroom dynamic more lecture-oriented, you can then re-orient the classroom experience so that the transition to a digital distance-teaching classroom is much more palatable.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:55:36 AM PST

  •  Considering the mainstreaming of LD children (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, elfling, JanL

    This statements shows how well the teachers are doing in a challenging situation:

    U.S. schools have almost twice as many teachers per student as they did in 1960, yet achievement is roughly the same.

    Comparing to the 60's, when the children that had issues were segregated,  is a case of apples and oranges.

  •  "I don't have billions" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger

    I think you could write a whole diary on what is implied in that short proclamation for I think it is the crux of the "Bill Gates" effect.

    Gates' is the embodiment of the rich philanthropist, who by dint of will amassed a fortune. The media loves such figures because it makes the narrative so much more present. In contrast, the diffuse "teaching professional literature" is complicated, unsynthesized mass of courier font gobbledy gook. Where is the high name recognition human embodiment? Alfie Kohn? Who the hell is that?

    Gates now turns his reputation for accumen to education, to build a new system just like he built MS-DOS (apparently by taking other peoples ideas indiscriminantly and making them his own)

    He is the confident decider and will push what he feels is the best solution, in this case Chinese style passive recepticle lectures from talking heads.

    And I don't doubt many districts will jump at the chance for funding not indexed to property taxes, especially those with lots of students, bad reputations and too many rental properties. So the experiment will happen...for a while. And like everything else, the cargo cult media will herald the advent of Gates' initiative with little reflection of his past failures. Then it will "bright shiny" somewhere else until a new Gates initiative starts somewhere else.

    (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

    by Enterik on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:59:46 AM PST

  •  As a blue-collar worker, here's my take on (7+ / 0-)

    so-called "merit" pay.  Such systems, which are sort of an equivalent to piecework, lead at least some people to chase the $$ more than to look at the overall picture.  And when some start, others feel pressured to follow. Think when baseball had bonuses for more home runs, saves, etc.  Many players became more concerned with thier own personal numbers than with teamwork.  Also remember the old cartoons where a character had $$ signs in his eyes?  This is not the value system I want to see in people who are teaching my kids (and I raised three of them).

    Besides, how many people truly believe there would be a "fair" way to determine "merit"?   Keep in mind who wants to implement these things and how they really feel about involving union teachers in their decisions.  

    •  Punishing success (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, JanL, Cassandra Waites

      You are right. Also, increasing the size of classrooms for successful teachers is a punishment (regardless of whether they are paid more), forcing the quality of their work to degrade. It is obscene.

      If you keep upping the quota on somebody who is doing a good job, eventually they will fail. I think this is intentional. They want to destroy the teaching profession.

      ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

      by sillia on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 09:47:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Most working-class people, bothe union and non- (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badger, sillia

        union, understand the pitfalls of rate-busting.  Seeing this is not  a bad work ethic.  Why isn't this principle examined by the educational system, or those fluff "career" columns in the media?

        •  Teachers certainly see this (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          brae70

          but they barely have a voice. I don't know what percent of teachers are unionized but union or not, teachers have become the scapegoat for society's ills.

          Also, you have to ask what is the end product. Reasonable, thinking people want students to enjoy learning, to be inspired, to learn to ask questions, to challenge themselves and others, reach their personal potential and become productive citizens. If that is your goal, of course it makes no sense to discourage good teachers.

          However if the goal is to produce a population of people who don't ask questions, who don't aim above their station in life, who don't know enough to understand what's going on in the world, then you would best teach them limited skills and this could be done in a large-scale format, like lecture halls. Teachers could be replaced by anyone forceful enough to give math drills, teach history out of the textbook--National Guard? That may sound over the top, but I can imagine it.

          Basically we do not have agreement about the purpose of education.

          ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

          by sillia on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 02:39:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I didn't say that the goal shoud be (0+ / 0-)

            " to produce a population of people who don't ask questions, who don't aim above their station in life, who don't know enough to understand what's going on in the world".  I simply said that education shouldn't be just a numbers game (e.g. standardized test scores) to the detriment of more important things.  In this respect do we agree or disagree about the purpose of education?  

            Since I would hope we are on the same side (Progresives!) my purpose is to help create an understanding of what is creating the "elitist" perception.

            I must agree with a quotation which appeared in my high school yearbook:

            "I never let my schooling interfere with my education."  Mark Twain
            •  You and I totally agree! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              brae70

              I apologize for my unclear writing. I understand exactly what you are saying and I agree. When I said "we" don't have agreement about the purpose of education, I meant to say we as a country. Sorry, that was unclear! :-(

              On the one side, there are people like us who would like education to be the development of thinking citizens; on the other side are those who want education to instill obedience and a minimal amount of literacy and basic skills. For conservatives, standardized testing is a perfect way to funnel school activities into a very narrow set of objectives. And to them, anything else beyond that can be labeled 'elitist' in order to frame it as unnecessary.

              Your question earlier about why the public doesn't see the harm in overburdening teachers is an interesting one. In my opinion, it's because there are sections of the public that do not agree with the basic principles our education system has been based on--developing individual thinking and creativity, exploring horizons, etc. Instead they would prefer a much narrower set of goals and a less humanitarian approach.

              I like the Mark Twain quote. I think what he means is, people need to think for themselves, not just regurgitate what they are taught! Republicans would hate his guts if he were around today.

              ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

              by sillia on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 07:11:42 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Imagine him with a nightly cable show! (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sillia

                A gerat figure for his day.  Spoofed the robber barons and pompous politicians and also spoke against U.S. military involvement in the Phillipine Insurrection.  And of coure there was that thing about being friends with a slave boy.

  •  It always amazes me when people like Gates with (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, Dunvegan, OldDragon

    no training in pedegogy claim to have all the solutions but none of the research for solving classroom problems. It's like taking a poll in the waiting room at the doctor's office to let other patients determine you treatment plan.

  •  Ken, I'd like your thoughts on 2 points (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PsychoSavannah, gramofsam1

    First, Gates says:

    U.S. schools have almost twice as many teachers per student as they did in 1960
    Is this true?  And if so, are there other possible explanations beyond the implicit class size argument (teachers with multiple subjects, fewer specialized classes, etc.)

    Second, Gates says:

    It's reasonable to suppose that teachers who have served longer are more effective, but the evidence says that's not true. After the first few years, seniority seems to have no effect on student achievement.

    Another standard feature of school budgets is a bump in pay for advanced degrees. Such raises have almost no impact on achievement

    You seem (?) to agree with his thinking, when you say
    I cost more.  I have several advanced degrees.  I have more than 15 years of teaching experience.  What makes me a superior teacher is that I am constantly reflecting and attempting to become an even better teachers.
    Do you think that there's a valid argument to be made that something other than seniority and advanced degrees might be a better definer of higher teacher compensation levels?
    •  depends on what advanced degree is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      martini

      if unrelated to teaching there is an argument that it should not be given credit for additional salary.  On that I have no complaints.

      But one of my advanced degrees is a Master of Arts in Teaching.  It emphasized the kind of reflective practice I exhibit.  It also taught me multiple pedagogical skills, legal requirements with respect to SPED and ELL, etc.   Gates seems to ignore this.

      Further, while I was a good teacher fairly quickly, I continued to grow and develop, in part because I insisted on it, in part because I knew I would be somewhat rewarded for continuing to grow.

      Gates is flat out wrong on some of his assertions.  Sorry, I do not have the time to parse every mistaken statement he makes.

      As I said -  this diary was a partial response

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 12:34:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In the 1960's, disabled children did not (0+ / 0-)

      generally attend school.

      The laws that made school available to disabled children were not passed until the mid 1970's, and shortly thereafter the Children's Defense Fund began rallying for that cause to get every child an appropriate education. In 1974, CDF documented 2 million children who were not enrolled in school, mostly some combination of poor, minority, and disabled. In 1975, the Education for All Handicapped Children act made school available to 5.5 million disabled children who did not previously attend.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 09:07:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't know much about teaching, but (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, sillia

    I have friends who did, or still do; and from what they tell me of the profession I know Gates is full of shit.

    He's on the same "a stupid citizen is an unquestioning serf" program as all the other corporations.

    Zombie Reagan gives the most peachy speeches.

    by The Dead Man on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 08:29:35 AM PST

  •  Bill Gates (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, sillia

    has been mucking up global computer systems for what, 30 years now?

    He is a college dropout, but he made a zillion dollars, so in terms of what matters in America, he is a god.

    Bill Gates is not particularly smart, not ethical, not what anyone would call a serious thinker.

    In short, he and his billions can take the same hike Ruport Murdock should take.

    Fixing education is not going to happen because educational problems are a function of the total society surrounding the educational systems.

    Until we face our cultural problems, we cannot do much except tinker with our educational problems.

    The schools cannot compensate for the massive economic inequality in our country and the chaos that creates.

    The schools cannot compensate for junk culture built on lies.

    It chills me to the bone to think what would have happened to me if I had been subject to the schools in today's world.

    I succeeded beyond anyone's imagination against nearly impossible odds because the school system provided a base from which I could learn without any reinforcement at home.  This was 1950s America.  Intelligent women taught because they had few social acceptable avenues for employment with status.

    We will never reconstruct that world.  

    I am planning a diary about how I am leaving college teaching asap because even that has become impossible.

    Time for me to use my brain in another capacity.

    I am awaiting delivery of my new DK4 signature

    by BlueDragon on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 08:31:08 AM PST

  •  Gates grew up upper-middle class (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, martini, i like bbq

    Which means he either attended private school or an excellent well funded public school in a "good" suburb surrounded by other children of striving parents. 'nuff said

    fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

    by mollyd on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 08:35:52 AM PST

  •  Will the right be satisfied with education if (4+ / 0-)

    every teacher was paid minimum wage with no benefits?

    I swear that's what they want... and at that level of pay you're going to have "teachers" who won't give a flying flip about students and will only pull the hours they are paid for.

    Zombie Reagan gives the most peachy speeches.

    by The Dead Man on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 08:36:19 AM PST

  •  Bill needs to roll up his sleeves and (4+ / 0-)

    learn what the life of a teacher is really like.

    He lives in a celebrity bubble, only seeing the  showcase classrooms with the newest high tech equipment. When the big wheels walk into a school, it's time for the staff and students to put on a show that feels good but does not reflect every day life in the schools.

    My suggestion for Bill would be to "student teach" for an extended period in a series of classrooms of varied conditions and competencies, including  the teaching of at risk students in inner city schools.

    Then we can have that conversation about "teaching conditions".

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't.

    by crystal eyes on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 08:46:24 AM PST

  •  I agree w/ some of Gates' argument. (0+ / 0-)

    MY sister is a teacher who had to get an advanced degree to earn more $--but did assuming that debt/taking her time, make her a 'better' teacher?

    Great teachers are born that way, like great artists.  They have a unique ability to see where the gap in knowledge exists in a student and how to fill it.

    More schooling doesn't make great teachers greater.  

    The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.

    by Zacapoet on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 08:55:45 AM PST

    •  going to disagree somewhat (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Zacapoet

      the potentiality for being a great teacher may be innate, but it still has to be developed.

      And many who may never become great have the potential to become very solid teachers.  

      Not everyone in the major leagues hits .300, but most major leaguers are far better at what they do than the people outside their profession.

      We do not need every teacher to be a superstar.  We do need to fully develop the potential of the teachers we have, because each time we have to replace one the hiring cost is usually in excess of 20k.

      Gates is wrong to say teachers don't grow after their third year.  In fact, most teachers don't begin to become fully competent until their third year if they are lucky, and in some cases their fourth.  In part that is an indication of a systemic failure in how we recruit, train, induct, and mentor new teachers.  It does not mean we should operate as if that is the only possible approach.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 12:37:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Gates analysis seems shockingly superficial (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon

    I'd really like to see his methods.  For instance, how is he comparing teacher performance today with teacher performance in the 1960's?

    Is he taking into account the number of children with learning disabilities that are now mainstreamed in public schools where once they were separated out into special ed classes or sent to specialized schools at the districts expense?

    He admits that seniority DOES matter, during the first few years.  Does he really feel capping salaries after the first few years would do anything for teacher retention, especially if you increase class size?  What's his evidence for that?

    I wouldn't be surprised if he does have evidence showing that advanced degrees do not add to teacher effectiveness.  However, the solution there would be to stop states from REQUIRING that teachers attain masters degrees (which is the case here in NY).

    Is he looking at honors and AP classes separately from other classes, as those teachers need advanced degrees to teach advanced classes?

    Honestly, his op-ed puts forward a lot of correlations without trying to figure out the underlying causation.  I think the man's heart is in the right place.  After making billions as a ruthless businessman, he's attempting to give back as efficiently as possible.  But he's wasting his money if his foundation's research is this superficial.

  •  I never liked Bill Gates (0+ / 0-)

    He is supposed to be a philanthropist but I wonder what stops him from estabhlishing, say four accredited  Computer Science Universities providing free tuition to kids that cannot otherwise afford it? Instead he imports thousands of IT workers from thiord world countries on a regular basis ostensibly because we lack enough qualified workers. Me thinks he does it to pay them less and keep wages at Microfoft down. He is a hypocrite and the last person I would get advice from on education.

  •  I am getting more and more (0+ / 0-)

    depressed reading about these efforts from people outside of education.  I will soon turn 52 and have 10 years of teaching completed, and I am have been thinking of doing something else.  However seeing the smiling faces on my students tells me that this is where I belong.  I can only hope that the change is not going to be too bad.  

  •  General comments (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling

    First, I'm not going to get into any  of the "Gates is hero/antichrist" kinds of argument that you see breakout on discussion boards. Like everyone else, Gates has his strong and weak points...he just has lots of money, and people amplify both too much because of that.

    Second, I am a teacher in a school that was partially funded initially by the Gates Foundation through Communities in Schools of Georgia (CIS). So, I have experienced first hand the good that can come from efforts by the Gates Foundation. Our school, which is a smaller school (not part of that initiative though), takes students who are at-risk of dropping out and gives them alternative, accelerated pathways to graduation. As a result, our county's graduation rate has risen about 10% each year because of our relatively small school.

    Third, I am also a national certified teacher, and am glad to see that process being incorporated (in part) with Gates latest efforts. Its a good process...not perfect, but better and harder than any other certification process I've ever had. (BTW, Ken, lost my certification bonus and have furlough days too...are you in GA?)

    Fourth, I don't think the criticism of Gates on the small school initiative is justified. When it started, there were lots of indicators pointing out that smaller schools worked better, and because of the Foundation's efforts, we now have conclusive evidence that small size alone doesn't get it done. Evidence doesn't have to be positive to be effective.

    Finally, my main point. Teacher quality and certification are important, but those areas have been improved upon greatly in the past few decades and will continue to be improved through "normal" channels. So, I agree with Ken...this doesn't seem to be the most effective use of the Foundations money.

    The real problem has been and continues to be socio-economics in nature. But that doesn't lend itself to easy answers, so it tends to continue to get shuffled aside.

    •  Prince George's County MD (0+ / 0-)

      county stipend was 5K, the first 2k of which was matched by the state.  The county entirely dropped the 5k which cost us all an additional 2K.  Next year they are proposing a 2K stipend which leverages out with the state match to 4K.

      Four furlough days this year.  Don't yet know about next.

      Major changes to state pension plan.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 12:39:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Don't they have Midnight Basketball or something (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling

    to keep these idle rich out of trouble? As they say "the devil finds work for idle hands"

  •  This is what... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, elfling

    I think: Bill Gates should take a year off from his life as philanthropist and instead work in a school where he has hundreds of students with just as many needs and papers to grade. Then I'd actually care about what he wrote in the Washington Post.

    The scapegoating of teachers is maddening. Thanks for this diary, Ken!

  •  You are a patient soul (0+ / 0-)

    Ken.  I read his piece and could feel my bp go up, and honestly I have no patience for that kind of ignorance.  Well intended or not, the article comes off as a corporate approach, the old make schools function like a business.

    It does not work, it is not good for kids, and all it does is serve the intent of people  who want to privatize or charter everything.

    Once someone told me that they like that Bill Gates was a great philanthropist.  I like that he gives money but it does not impress me as making him kind or nice or anything.  You have 10 zillion dollars and give away 9 of it and you are still a zillionaire.  Yea, it's good....but impressive?  Nope.

    Now an elderly man I know living on a fixed income, gave every bit he could and still did not burden his family for himself. and then he gave his time.  NOW that's impressive.

    If this does no make sense, then ignore. I am just too angered these days by the scapegoating of public employees to  probably be reasonable.

  •  Another reason why (0+ / 0-)

    the accumulation of megafortunes is bad for society. Bill Gates is one person, no matter how rich he is, and he hasn't been elected to anything. Why should he have so much influence over public education?

    Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich. -- Napoleon Bonaparte

    by denise b on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 09:35:37 PM PST

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