You've undoubtedly heard the news over the past couple of days-- the Gates Foundation is going to throw $10 million at teachers to help promote "high-quality" curriculum.
There are several problems with this, and none of them are new.
First, despite the headlines, this money is not actually being thrown directly at teachers.
“We want to identify the content-specific professional development services, products, and models that are working really well for young people, and also study the attributes of those solutions that make them effective so we can share that learning with the field,” said Bob Hughes, the foundation’s director of K-12 education.
|This guy, again, still.|
This golden oldie never dies-- just this week I was embroiled in a Twitter thread in which someone explained that a particular practice would work if teachers just understood it properly. Back in 2016, the Gates Foundation was trying to explain what they had learned about their large-scale failures in education, but the only lesson they have ever come up with is "We've learned that the unreasoning resistance, educational ignorance, and poor training of education professionals makes it hard for our brilliant ideas to shine properly."
This, apparently, is more of that.
But wait-- there's more. Buried in that loaded term "high-quality" is an old friend. Because "high-quality" means "certified fresh" at EdReports.com.
EdReports was launched back in 2014 with funding from the Usual CCSS Suspects. It was launched as a sort of antidote to one of the many problems that emerged with adoption of the Common Core. Because there was no central authority on the Core, and, in fact, the guys who wrote it dispersed quickly to lucrative new gigs, there was nobody in place to stop textbook publishers from moving inventory by ordering a case of "Aligned to Common Core" stickers and slapping them on every dusty text sitting in their warehouses.
So EdReports' job was to check resources and determine whether or not they were actually Core-aligned.
They were tough. In the first year, almost every publisher flunked Common Core math. Now they have worked their way through many other areas-- well, math and ELA-- and you can see the results in handy charts. And prominently featured is whether or not that text is properly aligned. EdReports has dutifully scrubbed its site so that it now talks about "college- and career-ready standards" instead of the dreaded "Common Core," but the mission hasn't changed. EdReports will tell you how well a textbook is aligned to the Common Core Standards.
Which means Gates is still-- STILL-- spending money to get the Core into every classroom.
Mind you, this is chump change compared to the $1.7 billion that Gates is spending in his continued effort to singlehandedly force the redesign of American education. But the Gates Foundation keeps saying things like this:
A standards-aligned, high-quality curriculum is an essential feature of a coherent instructional system that can maximize its potential benefit. We hypothesize that such a system may consist of the following elements, as well as others:
Every adult human who ever set foot in a classroom has some "hypotheses" about what makes a good school. Only one of the richest men in the world has the power to try to force his hypotheses on everybody else. And to just keep trying and trying and trying, with a hammer sculpted out of a stack of money.
This continues to be the most recurring annoyance of much ed reform. Bill Gates has no more expertise regarding public education than my garage mechanic, who's a nice guy who was once in my class. But if my guy wants to put his ideas into action in a school, he has to run for school board and convince the taxpayers that he can be trusted with the job. He'd have to cooperate with other board members, and because he's a good guy without an overinflated ego, he would undoubtedly ask the opinions of professional educators. But because Gates and Broad and Walton et al have a giant pile of money, and no special misgivings about their judgment, they just go ahead and flex their money and start shoving their ideas down the system's throat.
Nor does Gates appear to be a quick study. Google "Bill Gates" and "doubles down" and watch the headlines stack up. And here we go again with more of the same. Next time a professional development session rolls around to help you "strengthen" your curriculum, you may want to ask who's paying the bills.