John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD
Just about everyone starts from a false premise, viz., the students aren’t learning because the teachers aren’t teaching. A teacher can teach a student but a teacher can’t “learn” a student. First of all, there has to be three things in place for any learning to take place: (1) Discipline; (2) Aptitude; and (3) Motivation. So-called experts from educational think tanks (who almost always come from some Ivy League schools with no educational background), educrats, and business moguls like Bill Gates and Eli Broad start from the aforementioned premise that the problem in public education is a lack of good, effective teaching. Therefore, their solutions always start with “improving” teaching. More training is needed, they think. Also, let’s improve the evaluation process! Yes, this will work, they conclude. Make it more and more onerous to be a teacher! Put more stressors on teachers! Make all teachers teach from the same cookie-cutter formula teaching the same “common” curriculum (using Bill’s apps, of course). Yes, these things will improve public education (and make us a lot of money in the meantime).
Ah…the real ultimate solution is to pay the “best” teachers the most money. This ought to really contribute a lot to the collegiality of the workplace. Not. Teachers will be hording lesson plans, teaching materials, and techniques and strategies that really work. Oh, wait! I forgot. Different, creative, and workable techniques and strategies won’t really matter anymore because the educrats will tell the teachers what to teach, how to teach, and what materials are permitted to use. Yes, that’s it! Just turn the teachers into mindless robots. Well, maybe we can call them “technicians.” This sounds better.
Now if we can get the new evaluation systems passed in all 50 states with the teachers pay tied to the performance of the students and to the fickle dispositions of the administrator-evaluators, then the teachers will know that their survival in public education is dependent on two things: (1) Test Scores and (2) Becoming Groveling Sycophants to Petty and Power-hungry and Sometimes Sex-driven Administrators. But, at least these professional educators won’t be bucking us about this “Common Core” curriculum that we have essentially forced down the throats of 45 states thus far. Don’t worry…we will dangle enough money under the noses of Alaska, Texas, Virginia, Nebraska, and Minnesota to get these states to finally succumb. Hey, our buddy Arne Duncan has already thrown down the gauntlet that if a state wants to participate in Race to the Top and receive the millions of dollars in Federal grants, then they also have to participate in Bill Gates’s Common Core Curriculum.
Yes, Bill Gates has become the Educational Savior in this country today. He has given millions upon millions of dollars to the National Governors’ Conference and has lassoed nearly all of them into going along with the “common core” crap. Now he wants the “value added” evaluations in place all over the country. This sounds like a half-brother or first cousin to “merit pay.” Merit pay never has worked in the past, and it never will work in the future. I was an administrator in the only Georgia school system (and only one of two, I think, in the nation, according to Reader’s Digest back in the mid 1980s) which had merit pay. I saw who received the most “merit pay” in the school system. It essentially correlated to two things: (1) To whom the teacher was related or connected and (2) If the teacher was a kiss-up. Outspoken teachers who have integrity don’t receive merit pay. It is just that simple. Booger-eaters and kiss-ups who may be awful teachers will reap the benefits of “merit pay.” But, when all mouths are shut and all people in public education are clicking their boots in good goose-stepping fashion, then Bill and Melinda can keep their children at the Lakeside School in Seattle and enjoy the financial rewards of the nation’s public schools using Bill’s apps in their curriculum. Mission accomplished.
In recent days, Bill Gates has expressed concerned about some of the most idiotic ways that different states are coming up with to tie the students performance to the evaluation of the teachers. (The more onerous, ridiculous, comical ones are in the area of Physical Education.) Bill suddenly is acting like he is hurt and shocked at such scandalous evaluative mandates.
I am sorry, but I am not buying Bill Gates’s sudden concern for teachers. Perhaps a bit of a blow-back from teachers being disgusted with his kibitzing in public education has him concerned. He needs to stick to software. I like Microsoft Word.
Bill Gates has done more than anyone else out there in getting this Common Core crap pushed down the throats of school systems in 45 states so far. (Nebraska, Alaska, Virginia, Texas, and Minnesota have still not bowed down to the educational gods of Nebuchadnezzar.) He’s pumped millions and millions of dollars in the National Governors’ Conference, effectively lassoing the governors into his Common Core Corral. Make no mistake…Bill Gates undoubtedly hopes to (and stands to) make billions of dollars when the states with this “common” curriculum finally need the software apps that his company is already developing and will no doubt sell to Pearson, the world’s largest educational company out of London, which will sell them to the school systems nationwide. These apps will be tailored to fit in all the school systems with this “common” curriculum.
No, I am not buying Bill Gates’s sudden concern and crocodile tears shed over the fact that these new damnable evaluation systems have become veritable monsters. He above any person is responsible for creating these monsters. He and his wife Melinda have not called for less testing but very significantly more testing of the students. They have called for more in-depth teacher evaluations…which have unleashed these ridiculous examples that he himself cites. Despite his sometimes protestations to the contrary, Arne Duncan essentially ties any Race to the Top monies to the states bowing at the altar of the Common Core god. Yes, just like Microsoft is Bill Gates’s baby, so is Common Core. Microsoft is his good child and is quite “Abel” to assist many people, including yours truly, but Common Core has been his “Cain” from the very beginning, intent on killing creativity and ingenuity among the teachers.
It’s all about the cheddar, isn’t it? All of this “reform” stuff never has really been about the children. It’s about business. R-E-F-O-R-M? Ruining Education For Our Resources & Money. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what school “reform” has always been about. © JRAT, April 4, 2013.
Here are a couple of informative links about Common Core [“State”] Standards.