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October 7, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Bill Gates’ Big Speech Today On Education


The Gates Foundation hosted a big meeting on education today, and Bill Gates gave a big speech there. He and his wife, Melinda, were also interviewed for the PBS News Hour.

It doesn’t appear that either of them said anything new, and stated that the Foundation is going to continue to do what they have been doing. I did note Melinda’s suggesting to the PBS News Hour that opposition to standardized student testing was equal to opposing tests for drivers licenses or for doctors.

That is not great news for schools, students, their families or teachers.

First, I’ll share links and videos related to their talks today. Following those, I’ll list some previous posts I’ve published related to Bill Gates and education.

On today’s speech:

Gates Foundation Staying the Course on Teacher Effectiveness, High Standards
is from Ed Week, and is the best report.

Improving U.S. schools tougher than global health, Gates says is from The Washington Post

Bill and Melinda Gates on the political debate over Common Core standards is from the PBS News Hour.

Here are some previous posts on Gates:

The Best Resources For Learning About The Role Of Private Foundations In Education Policy

The Best Posts Responding To Bill Gates’ Appallingly Clueless Op-Ed Piece

The Best Posts On The Gates’ Funded Measures Of Effective Teaching Report — January, 2012

A Beginning List Of The Best Posts On Gates’ Final MET “Effective Teaching” Report

Gates Foundation Minimizing Great Tools For Helping Teachers Improve Their Craft

Videotaping teachers the right way (not the Gates way)

January 30, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: What Does Bill Gates Think Is The Biggest Challenging Facing His Foundation?

I’ve done enough Bill Gates-bashing for this week (see the Washington Post piece headlined Why a new Bill Gates interview depressed Larry Ferlazzo).

He just did a Reddit AMA, and had this to say:


Asking teachers how to do it — with no agenda going into the question — might be a good way to start figuring it out….

January 29, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

In Case You Missed It: Washington Post Republishes My Recent Complaint About Bill Gates

In case you missed my post from a couple of days ago, Boy, Bill Gates’ Latest Interview Was Very Depressing…, you can read it in The Washington Post.

It was just reprinted there under the headline, Why a new Bill Gates interview depressed Larry Ferlazzo.

January 27, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Boy, Bill Gates’ Latest Interview Was Very Depressing…

I have been no big fan of Bill Gates over the years (The Best Posts Responding To Bill Gates’ Appallingly Clueless Op-Ed Piece) nor of the work in schools done by his foundation (The Best Resources For Learning About The Role Of Private Foundations In Education Policy).

But there have been recent signs of hope from him (That surprising thing Bill Gates said).

His latest interview with Ezra Klein at Vox disabused me of those thoughts….

Here is what he said about education:

When we think of the potential for online education, there are two different ways to look at it. One is to say, “What about the motivated students that really know they want to learn?” You know, this is the equivalent of when a Carnegie library would go up in a town, who were the strivers that actually went in there and started checking out books and got a real uplift because of that availability. Is that 10 percent of the kids, 20 percent of the kids? Now add online support, bulletin boards, interactivity, feedback, personalized progress. We will get those things in different languages for different subjects in extremely high quality for free, delivered even to fairly small screen sizes, connected up over mobile networks.

The much harder question is the goal of motivating and educating virtually every child in the society. Without a very strong teaching core that can create the strong social structure and the sense of why you need to do those things, you’re not going to get every kid in the inner city in the US or the global equivalent. There, you’ve got to improve the teaching itself. But that, too, is subject to online tools where teachers can see what others do well, or they can get feedback.

I think it’s great that he first recognizes that online education primarily serves the most motivated. In that regard, he’s ahead of many other vocal proponents of that idea.

But it’s all downhill from there.

He then puts the responsibility of student motivation all on teachers, and that the key to teachers learning to be better is through online education.

There is no recognition of how issues of student motivation also related to many challenges outside of the teacher’s control (see The Best Articles About The Study Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough and The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher & Outside Factors Have On Student Achievement).

And it sounds like he’s doubling-down on the generally awful conclusions of the Gates Foundation report touting videotaping teachers as the cure-all for teacher professional development (see A Beginning List Of The Best Posts On Gates’ Final MET “Effective Teaching” Report and The Best Posts & Articles About Videotaping Teachers In The Classroom).

I just hope he finds something else soon that catches his interest so he stop experimenting with the lives of our students, their families, and us teachers…

March 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Will It Ever Be Possible For A Teacher To Trust Bill Gates?

I posted Gates Foundation Makes Its Move In California — And It Looks Like Somebody Is Giving Them Good Advice a couple of months ago, and I still believe what I wrote.

However, I’ve just got to say that every time Bill Gates speaks in public, he makes me question whether I should….

Rolling Stone just published an interview with him.

Here’s an excerpt:


Come on, Bill. Perhaps you should read The Best Articles Pointing Out That Our Schools Are Not Failing.

Do many of our schools face lots of challenges? Yes. But we’re doing a pretty good job and, as all research points out, many of our challenges relate to issues outside the schoolhouse walls. That doesn’t mean we can’t do better, but it seems to me a slap in the face to teachers when you make a blanket statement like that…

I thought it was interesting that his interview came on the heels of his appeal to teachers to help defend the Common Core Standards — where he says that there is no voice “more important or trusted” than teachers.

I hope, as his Foundation sort of been saying in their pivoting (which I wrote about in the first link at the top of this post), that this idea of no voice being more important or trusted than teachers will hold true in future Gates Foundation funding decisions — and not just when they want to get educators to support something the foundation has dreamed up on its own and had decided to push.

Ironically, The New York Times just published an article headlined Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science.

Here are some quotes from that piece — see if you see any similarities to what’s happening in schools:

“For better or worse,” said Steven A. Edwards, a policy analyst at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.”

….Yet that personal setting of priorities is precisely what troubles some in the science establishment. Many of the patrons, they say, are ignoring basic research…

Fundamentally at stake, the critics say, is the social contract that cultivates science for the common good…

August 24, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Bill Gates’ Employee Evaluation Process

We all are familiar with Bill Gates’ efforts to bring his business acumen to our nation’s schools, particularly by implementing new teacher evaluation programs.

Well, how has that worked out at his old business, Microsoft?

At the center of the cultural problems was a management system called “stack ranking.” Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees. The system—also referred to as “the performance model,” “the bell curve,” or just “the employee review”—has, with certain variations over the years, worked like this: every unit was forced to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, then good performers, then average, then below average, then poor. …

Read more about its destructive effects at Slate


May 19, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

What Bill Gates Didn’t Say About Videotaping Teachers In His TED Talk On Education

Bill Gates announced his multi-billion dollar plan to videotape teachers in his TED Talk earlier this month (see The Best Of “TED Talks On Education”). As part of his talk, he highlighted videos of teacher Sarah Brown Wessling, who just wrote a post in The Huffington Post about it.

One portion of her piece, in particular, caught my eye:

If we want video to be an effective tool for teacher growth, here are some ways to help shore up enthusiasm.

• Keep evaluation and exercises for growth separate. As soon as evaluation becomes part of this process, the process changes. Teachers are far more likely to go into compliance mode, fearful of making mistakes. And when fear prevails, authenticity loses. So, instead, make the purpose of using video very clear: for self-reflection and growth.

This is the same point I made in The Washington Post in Videotaping teachers the right way (not the Gates way).

I don’t think Mr. Gates is too clear on that, though….

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts & Articles About Videotaping Teachers In The Classroom.

May 8, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Complete Unedited Versions Of Last Night’s TED Talks On Education (Including Bill Gates & His $5 Billion Boondoggle)

You can see last night’s PBS Ted Talk On Education here. However, those talks were edited down from their originals.

Here is where you can see the full unedited versions (including a written transcript) of the talks by these speakers:

Ramsey Musallam: 3 rules to spark learning

Malcolm London: “High School Training Ground”

Pearl Arredondo: My story, from gangland daughter to star teacher

Geoffrey Canada: Our failing schools. Enough is enough!

John Legend: “True Colors”

And I’ve embedded Bill Gates’ full talk (You can get the transcript here) on his plan to videotape every teacher in the United States — at a cost of $5 billion:

Here’s my Washington Post piece on what I think of his idea:

Videotaping teachers the right way (not the Gates way)

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