Education Reform: Bill Gates Versus Diane Ravitch

The Microsoft CEO-turned-education reformer asks what the NYU education expert is thinking. Be careful what you ask for.

In his most recent Newsweek column, Jonathan Alter discusses a speech that Bill Gates gave to the Council of Chief State School Officers about his disagreement with the use of seniority to determine "pay and promotion of teachers" in schools. After conceding that Gates has made previous missteps in his enthusiasm for revamping the American education system, Alter praises the former Microsoft CEO for at least giving it the ol' college try. Then he introduces Diane Ravitch, NYU's outspoken—he calls her "jaundiced"—education researcher as Gates' foil in the fight for education reform.

Alter writes:

When I asked Gates about Ravitch, you could see the Micro-hard hombre who once steamrolled software competitors: “Does she like the status quo? Is she sticking up for decline? Does she really like 400-page [union] contracts? Does she think all those ‘dropout factories’ are lonely? If there’s some other magic way to reduce the dropout rate, we’re all ears.”


Well, since Gates asked, Ravitch has answered, via The Answer Sheet blog on The Washington Post's website. As Gates was clearly piqued when Alter asked about Ravitch, Ravitch is clearly impassioned in her written responses to Gates' queries. She focuses her ire on Gates' (and other reformers') laser-like focus on teachers, arguing that the standardized tests designed to gauge a student's progress—and, thus, a teacher's effectiveness—are causing a narrowing of the curriculum.

I don't hear any of the corporate reformers expressing concern about the way standardized testing narrows the curriculum, the way it rewards convergent thinking and punishes divergent thinking, the way it stamps out creativity and originality. I don't hear any of them worried that a generation will grow up ignorant of history and the workings of government. I don't hear any of them putting up $100 million to make sure that every child has the chance to learn to play a musical instrument. All I hear from them is a demand for higher test scores and a demand to tie teachers' evaluations to those test scores. That is not going to improve education.
Head over the The Answer Sheet to read the rest of her response to Gates.
Photo of Ravitch via; Photo (cc) of Gates via Flickr user batmoo\n

Seventy-five years ago, on January 27, 1945, the Soviet Army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland.

Auschwitz was the deadliest of Nazi Germany's 20 concentration camps. From 1940 to 1945 of the 1.3 million prisoners sent to Auschwitz, 1.1 million died. That figure includes 960,000 Jews, 74,000 non-Jewish Poles, 21,000 Roma, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, and up to 15,000 other Europeans.

The vast majority of the inmates were murdered in the gas chambers while others died of starvation, disease, exhaustion, and executions.

Keep Reading
via Barry Schapiro / Twitter

The phrase "stay in your lane" is usually lobbed at celebrities who talk about politics on Twitter by people who disagree with them. People in the sports world will often get a "stick to sports" when they try to have an opinion that lies outside of the field of play.

Keep Reading
via Stu Hansen / Twitter

In a move that feels like the subject line of a spam email or the premise of a bad '80s movie, online shopping mogul Yusaku Maezawa is giving away money as a social experiment.

Maezawa will give ¥1 million yen ($9,130) to 1,000 followers who retweeted his January 1st post announcing the giveaway. The deadline to retweet was Tuesday, January 7.

Keep Reading