Have You Heard revisits Bill Gates’ efforts to *rethink* American high schools. Writer Michael Hobbes spent two weeks embedded at his former high school, Seattle’s Nathan Hale High School, chronicling the school’s transformation into small learning communities in this feature story. Inspired by what he saw at Hale High, and the role of teachers in re-imagining the school, Hobbes delved deep into what happened when Gates et al tried to scale up the small schools reforms. His story, recounted in episode #25, is a scathing indictment of big money reformers who think school improvement is simple work, requiring only the right *fix* and deep pockets. Did I mention that Hobbes wrote a great story? I recommend making this episode of Have You Heard a multimedia experience… Full transcript is available here.
Writer Joanne Barkan argues that for plutocrats like Bill Gates, democracy is a nuisance…
Jennifer Berkshire: You’re the author of a recent case study on what you call Bill Gates’ *charitable plutocracy,* his years’ long, and many millions-ed campaign to bring charter schools to Washington State. In the interest of the data to which Gates himself is so committed, can you reduce your argument down to a series of numbers? Oh, and please speak in bullet points.
- Number of years required to pass a charter school enabling law in Washington State: 17 (1995-2012).
- Number of statewide ballot initiatives required: 4 (1996, 2000, 2004, and 2012).
- Total dollars spent by charter school supporters in the 2000, 2004, and 2012 ballot initiatives: $18.7 million. (Practically no money was spent by either side in 1996.)
- Total dollars spent by charter school opponents in the 2000, 2004, and 2012 ballot initiatives: $2.04 million.
- Money spent by the Gates Foundation *to give public charter schools in Washington State a strong start* in 2013-2015: $31 million.
And a few other data points your readers might be interested in:
- Net worth of Bill Gates in 2015: $76 billion
- Assets of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2016: $44.3 billion.
- Total receipts of the National Education Association in 2015: $388.8 million.
- Total receipts of the American Federation of Teachers in 2015: $327.6 million.
- Average salary of an elementary public school teacher in Washington state (except in special education) in 2015: $60,140.
Microsoft has abandoned the practice of ranking employees on a bell curve. But did Bill Gates get the memo?
By Sue Altman, EduShyster Academy
Silly me. I’ve been saying for ages now that we should stop treating our schools like businesses. But after much soul searching, I realize I’ve been wrong all along. I think we can learn a lot from a very American corporation: Microsoft. What caused my sudden realization that the same company that brought us the Zune is ideally suited to get our kids “college and career ready”? The answer can be found right here in a memo that Microsoft’s new executive VP of HR just issued to all employee’s regarding the company’s performance review program. Continue reading →
How mega-foundations are undermining our public schools and eating away at our democracy
Reader: it is well established that the richest Americans have billions of ideas for how to improve our failed and failing public schools. In fact, by the time you finish reading this sentence, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Mark Zuckerberg and the Walton family will have generated one new school improvement idea each, not to mention a substantial amount of interest on their substantial fortunes. But not everyone is convinced that the growing influence of these “philanthro-barons” over our schools and our democracy is such a great development. In a new article entitled “Plutocrats at Work” writer Joanne Barkan paints a disturbing picture of mega-philanthropy gone wild. EduShyster recently interviewed Barkan to find out why she’s so concerned about the new breed of philanthro-baron. Continue reading →
‘Tis the season for miracles and today I give you a miraculous one indeed. Imagine a school so excellent, so innovative that it has succeeded in raising expectations and boosting achievement before its doors have even opened. Where is this miracle occurring? Reader: it’s time to squeeze into your ski pants and slip the insulator over your wine box. We’re headed to Minneapolis, or as I like to call it, the Land of 10,000 Rephorm Miracles.
Continue reading →