Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bill Gates Education Reform! Great Plan?


Gates and his much lauded charter schools, or reform ideas seem to have escaped national scrutiny. No real debate on consensus or methods seems to be desired from Gates the non educator. His models all seem to have debatable test results, lack of oversight, genuine student outcomes, or are not sustainabl­e financiall­y as publicly funded schools. Gates neglects any mention that these schools deny special education students, ELL students, or academical­ly challenged students. Gates neglects to acknowledg­e the vast amounts of money these Charter schools receive from the Gates Foundation and other rich investors. Gates neglects to mentions that these charter schools push out up to 40% of their students. Student turnover at some of these schools is 75%. Gates neglects to mention the CEO/Princi­pal pay (Deborah Kenny CEO/Princi pal Harlem Academy receives a salary of $442,000, including $140,000 in performanc­e pay and $27,780 for expenses! The Harlem Academy Charter School serves 400-500 students!) This is criminal when you think of the abject poverty many of these kids survive daily. He neglects to articulate that these charter schools with advanced administra­tors, task to hire, find, and keep exemplary teachers have the highest teacher turnover in the nation. Gates neglects to mention the deep wounds poor communitie­s endure when they close neighborho­od schools. Lastly Gates seems to have failed to notice that poverty is the biggest factor in overall student performanc­e. Gates brand of reform is just a shell game with future profits ensured.

Arne Duncan Secretary of Education is an idiot (and I'm being kind here) and he wants public schools "to adjust to 'The New Normal' of lean budgets and sacrifice". He evidently doesn't understand that we've been doing more with less already, and now he wants to make  it 'less'... well, 'less less'. Let's put this in context for Arne. I would assume that a model school that he should strive for would be like the one that the Obama girls attend. I would also assume that Sidwell can demonstrate the implementation of the 'best practices' ever! Given that, let's look at the cost of providing a 'world class' education for those students: Tuition: $32,000 with a couple thousand dollars in additional fees Class size: PK K-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9-12 11:1 12:1 12:1 16:1 12:1 13:1 (varies) The range of per pupil spend in the USA goes from $8200 (NV) to $17,620 (NJ). Regarding class size, they can range from 2 to almost 3 times larger than Sidwell's. Considering the socio-economic background of the student’s attending Sidwell, well let’s just say none of them qualify for the free school lunch program. The socio-economic background of student’s attending public schools range from ‘households’ make $0 annually (and maybe without a ‘house’ and living on the streets) to lots ‘o cash. So Arne, how can you suggest that providing a ‘world class’ education for every student is possible with fewer (than the already ‘few’) dollars???" To expect that one can deliver a world class education without the appropriate funding (see Sidwell) defies logic, as does insisting that class size doesn't matter. Why does he find this so difficult to grasp? Tracy Douglas

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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