That Surprising Thing Bill Gates Said
To paraphrase the old E.F. Hutton commercial, when Bill Gates talks, education reformers listen. As most people know, Bill Gates is one of the richest and most philanthropic individuals in the world. But what many people may not know is that he has his fingers on the pulse of the key players in the education reform movement. Most recently, he has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into helping develop and promote the Common Core State Standards, as well as hundreds of millions more in creating and implementing educator assessment systems that incorporate student standardized test scores into individual teacher’s evaluations. On January 3, education reporter Valerie Strauss wrote an excellent piece for the Washington Post about the surprising thing that Bill Gates said regarding the failures of some of his education reform initiatives. In her article, she questions how smart is is for a country to allow private philanthropists to drive public policy: “Time after time, Gates has acknowledged that his approach wasn’t quite right. There’s nothing wrong in admitting mistakes, of course, but there are dangers when philanthropists adopt pet projects they think will work and influence the public agenda without any input from the public.” Ms. Strauss’ comment is spot on. To be effective, education reform must be a collaborative effort that includes the American people.