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Bill Gates Writes Another Guest Column For The Wall Street Journal

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Bill Gates (co-authored by his wife, Melinda) has written another guest column for The Wall Street Journal one evaluating teachers. It’s arrogantly titled “Grading the Teachers: Schools have a lot to learn from business about how to improve performance, say Bill and Melinda Gates.”

Walt Gardner posted a good critique of their column at Ed Week — Nothing New about Teaching from Bill Gates.

I don’t have much to add to what Walt wrote, except for one thing. The Gates’ keep on referring to a joint Gates/Scholastic survey of teachers, and this is the only one I could find online. In the article, they claim that “Eighty percent said that teacher tenure should be re-evaluated regularly, and as a group they believe that tenure is granted too early in teachers’ careers.”

However, unless I missed it in the survey, or unless I’m looking at the wrong survey, I couldn’t find any such thing. It does say this:

Only 10% of teachers say that teacher tenure is a “very accurate” measure of teacher performance, with 47% saying it is “somewhat accurate” and 42% saying that it is “not at all accurate.” Veteran teachers are more likely than new teachers to say that tenure is at least somewhat accurate. These results do not indicate teacher opposition to the tenure system, but rather skepticism that tenure is an accurate measure of teacher performance.

So, are the Gates’ wildly misrepresenting what the survey says about tenure, or are the claims backed up elsewhere and I’m just not seeing it?

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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

One Comment

  1. I’ve been trying to leave a comment on the Gates’ article you are talking about, but they don’t seem able to accept more comments! Thank you for letting me say something here.

    I am a British trained teacher who, long ago, was shocked to find out I was not qualified to teach in NYC. So, I taught in a private school in NYC. Then, I was shocked to find out–after teaching for 2 years in NYC, that I was not qualified to teach in CT. Yes, teachers need to be treated like professionals in the USA.

    So, I am asking those interested in giving teachers’ more status to engage in a constructive conversation about designing an online tool that will measure the influence of 21st century teachers. PLease answer 3 questions as a first step at I really hope you’ll join in and perhaps spread the word. Thanks.

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