In a speech prepared for delivery Friday, Mr. Gates — who is gaining considerable clout in education circles — plans to urge the 50 state superintendents of education to take difficult steps to restructure the nation’s public education budgets, which have come under severe pressure in the economic downturn.
He suggests they end teacher pay increases based on seniority and on master’s degrees, which he says are unrelated to teachers’ ability to raise student achievement. He also urges an end to efforts to reduce class sizes. Instead, he suggests rewarding the most effective teachers with higher pay for taking on larger classes or teaching in needy schools.
“Of course, restructuring pay systems is like kicking a beehive” — but restructure them anyway, Mr. Gates plans to tell the superintendents in his talk to the Council of Chief State School Officers, which opens a convention in Louisville on Friday.
“Rebuild the budget based on excellence,” Mr. Gates says.
Teachers’ unions defend giving raises to teachers as they gain experience and higher education.
“We know that experience makes a difference in student achievement — teachers get better,” said Bill Raabe, director of collective bargaining at the National Education Association, the largest teachers’ union. “And additional training, too, whether its a master’s degree or some other way a teacher has improved her content knowledge, we think it ought to be compensated.”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said of Mr. Gates’s speech: “He is proposing to change one of the things that parents count on — small class sizes to differentiate instruction. There’s a mountain of solid research and common sense showing smaller class sizes benefit students.”
States and local school districts are headed toward what may be painful budget decisions because two years of recession have battered state and local tax revenues, and the $100 billion in stimulus money that has been pumped into public education since spring 2009 is running out.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered his own speech in Washington this week, titled “Bang for the Buck in Schooling,” in which he made arguments similar to those of Mr. Gates.
School officials should be using this crisis to “leverage transformational change in the education system” rather than seeking to balance budgets through shorter school years, reduced bus routes or other short-term fixes, Mr. Duncan said.
It is no accident that Gates is suggesting the same policies the same week that Duncan did.
It is also no accident that Bloomberg announced teacher layoffs this week.
And it is no accident that the corporate whore Duncan wants to see states and municipalities use the financial crisis to "leverage transformational change" and institutionalize larger class sizes, teacher pay tied to test scores (or "excellence" as they like to call it in ed deform circles), and the end to seniority-based layoffs.
That I voted for the man who put Duncan in charge of the DOE angers me to no end.
Had I known Change I Could Believe In meant the Obama administration, along with edu-vulture pal Bill Gates, was going to promote policies to make class sizes larger, to end seniority protections and other work protections for teachers, to tie teacher salary increases to tests, and to end raises for teachers, I would have worked my ass off to elect somebody other than Obama.
Sure, I wouldn't have been successful - but at least I could have said I didn't vote for these corporate raiders and destroyers of education.
Another day, another outrage in the education world courtesy of a member of the billionaire boys' club.
The hits just keep coming.