Found in Education: Billionaire pet projects, ELLs and Socrates

This week in education Bill and Melinda Gates were interviewed by Gwen Ifill to discuss education reforms.  The Gates have been large investors in the U.S. Public education system, among other things pushing the Common Core Standards. Many of the reforms the Gates have put forth have failed but they continue to give large amounts to schools to implement their pet projects.  The influence of private money on public education is being increasingly debated and the words of the Gates keep the debate open. As so aptly put by Carol Burris in the article:

  • "Bill and Melinda Gates do not understand teaching and learning, yet they comfortably assume an air of expertise.
  • They view victory as the implementation of their reforms and while they claim to be all about the metrics, they only select examples that suit their purpose.
  • The first couple of reform neither appreciate nor respect the role of democracy plays in the governance public schools."

Also worth noting in the article are highlights from Frederick Hess article called the The Common Core Kool-Aid. Hess, a well respected researcher and policy advocate, argues back in 2012... 

  • First, politicians will actually embrace the Common Core assessments and then will use them to set cut scores that suggest huge numbers of suburban schools are failing. Then, parents and community members who previously liked their schools are going to believe the assessment results rather than their own lying eyes. Finally, newly convinced that their schools stink, parents and voters will embrace reform.

Many of his predictions are playing out in our schools and policy circles now.

Also in the news this week was a story about unaccompanied minor immigrants in the Oakland Unified School District.  "At Oakland Unified, hundreds of unaccompanied minors with stories like Victor's — at least 400 — walk the halls. One Salvadoran boy was beaten and left for dead after he refused to join a gang. Another boy from Guatemala says he fled to the U.S. after his father tried to kill him." The stories are heartbreaking, but the highlight of this story is hearing that OUSD is dedicating resources specifically to the needs of these students. It is a reminder of the enormous role schools encompass not just to educate but to often care for, guide and sometimes be the parent as well.

And after all that it seems a bit trite to post the usual something fun. So instead I will leave you with this quote from Socrates. A little something for all of us to think about.

Found in Education (F.I.E.) is a weekly blog post on interesting ideas, tips, products, and stories related to education that I find over the week.  See something I should know about? Please send your ideas.  Comment here or leave me a message on Facebook



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