Bill and Melinda Gates’s 2019 letter “We Didn’t See This Coming,” is filled with their concerns and optimism about everything from commodes to climate change. Always eager to discuss their global initiatives to help the poor, and a variety of other endeavors, they say little about the aggressive ways they are remaking public education to their liking.
Almost every nonprofit created to disparage public schools or the teaching profession has the Gates Foundation as a major donor.
Maybe they don’t notice, or didn’t see coming, how they promoted charters at the expense of public schools. Perhaps they didn’t mean to criticize the teaching profession by meddling with their teacher effectiveness initiative, and supporting Teach for America types. Didn’t they realize the hubbub they’d create wanting to collect massive amounts of data on children?
They don’t seem to understand that public ownership of public schools is critical to a democracy. That’s what is at stake here.
Many educators and parents, however, insist that Bill and Melinda Gates are about privatizing public schools, making the workers they want for the future economy, and replacing teachers with technology.
Yet the dynamic duo dodge discussion about how they’re dismantling public education. They focus on agreeable altruistic ideas and endeavors, helping girls in Africa get an education, looking at anger in boys and its relationship to poverty and incarceration. It’s hard not to like the couple while you watch them chatting on CBS this Morning or Stephen Colbert.
Their work to transform schools is given much less attention considering all that they do. They’ve even taken over the curriculum through Common Core State Standards!
Even if you disagreed with them, there was a time when Bill Gates and friends were more upfront about their beliefs that public schools were failing. Remember Waiting for Superman?
Perhaps their quietness is due to Mr. Gates’s 2014 interview about education with Washington Post reporter Lyndsey Layton. Layton asked the right questions. It didn’t go well for him.
But the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with their corporate pals, continue to seize control of democratic public schooling, in big and small ways.
In the 2019 letter, Mr. Gates claims we won’t need textbooks anymore.
By the looks of a recent tweet of an elementary school library, posted by AFT President Randi Weingarten, children have been losing more books than textbooks for years! Yet it’s common knowledge that students in schools with great libraries and qualified librarians excel academically!
Instead, Gates highlights software he thinks will better replace books. He says:
When I told you about this type of software in previous letters, it was mostly speculative. But now I can report that these tools have been adopted in thousands of U.S. classrooms from kindergarten through high school. Zearn, i-Ready, and LearnZillion are examples of digital curricula used by students and teachers throughout the U.S.
If you’re interested in the Gates’s involvement in K-12 schools, jump over on their website to Networks for School Improvement (NSI) portfolio. They invest in partnerships. This is the new wave of privatization.
Transform public schools by working within the school district.
Glance at their list of partners. Many are nonprofits that promote charter schools and anti-teacher groups.
- Achieve, Inc.
- Achieve Atlanta, Inc. (Atlanta, GA)
- Baltimore City Public Schools (Baltimore, MD)
- Bank Street College of Education (Yonkers, NY)
- California Education Partners (California)
- Center for Leadership and Educational Equity (Rhode Island)
- City Year (Milwaukee, WI)
- Communities Foundation of Texas, Inc. (North Texas)
- Community Center for Education Results (Washington)
- CORE Districts (California)
- High Tech High Graduate School of Education (California)
- Institute for Learning (Dallas, TX)
- KIPP Foundation (Multiple states)
- LA Promise Fund
- Network for College Success (Chicago, IL)
- New Visions for Public Schools (New York, NY)
- Northwest Regional Education Service District (Oregon)
- Partners in School Innovation (Philadelphia, PA)
- Seeding Success (Memphis, TN)
- Southern Regional Education Board (Jefferson County, AL)
- Teach Plus, Incorporated (Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA)
Bill and Melinda Gates continue to showcase their global helpfulness to the applause of many, and perhaps they believe they know what’s best for children to learn in America.
But neither they, nor anyone else, should be given the right to control our public schools!
I hear people ask Mr. Gates whether he will run for president. He doesn’t have to. If he owns America’s children and their futures there’s nothing, I repeat nothing, more important than that.
In the meantime, which school district and city will be the next to go on strike, so teachers can march for better wages and working conditions to better serve students? This may be America’s only hope.