Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

A Perfect Cartoon For Bill Gates


I’m a fan of the comic strip “Pearls Before Swine,” and today’s edition reminded me of Bill Gates and other reformers who have little (if any) direct experience in education but have unhelpful ideas — and the power to push them.

A little information can be dangerous. The difference, of course, is that unlike the gophers in this strip, when some “school reformers” push a new and shiny idea that blows up, our students, their families and us are the ones who get hurt. The school reformers usually do fine.

Pearls Before Swine

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. I have been saying this for years! Every time some yahoo has a thesis, a dream and 20children in a test group we change the way we educate our children. “New Math” “Whole Language” Thanks to these idea’s we have a generation of kids that can’t do math or spell! Here’s the best part the countries with the best educational system have made very little if any changes in the way they educate children. What America is looking for is a short cut to hard work when there are no short cuts. What we need is to get back to basics not more gimmicks!

  2. It’s really funny how there has been over the last week a lot of blame thrown at “foreigners”, Bill Gates here, James Oliver in another post for having the power to influence decisions just because they have some media presence, and in the case of Bill Gates, some funding.

    There never is a discussion as to why non practitioners are able to have such an impact in education. I don’t see that happening in other communities of practice. Though Gates’ foundation is involved other work that have them work closely with practitioners in the field of medical sciences, he never volunteered any thought about how they should go about doing their job.

    What if the reason this happens is because education is very poorly organized as a community of practice. There is a high level of structure at the level of decision makers. But it is difficult if not impossible for anybody outside of the school walls to figure out what day to day teaching is about. The teacher voice is rarely heard. “What we need is to get back to basics “. What is “basics”? Stand in front of the classroom and talk for 40 minutes? I have been teaching myself and I do know that a lot is about experience. Still, you cannot blame other persons for coming in and proposing their own ideas when it is very difficult for anybody, non educator or educator, to figure out what the practices are.

    For now, decisions makers mostly ever get to hear the voice of the visionaries. Therefore, the decisions they make tend to be heavily influenced by the thoughts of these visionaries.

    Why not start using the reach of the web to start talking about what teaching is for you and how you go about doing it. There are some great examples, like It is only by clarifying your day to day practices that education will become less affected by the latest buzz word or visionary in town.

  3. There is a group that has already done that – the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. It has developed (with bi-partisan political and teacher group support) the highest standards set to date for our profession. People like Bill Gates choose to ignore things already in place because they have their own agenda, and it has little to do with preserving public education.

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