Friday, October 09, 2015

Untethered From Reality

Two days ago, Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, richest man in the world, and education dilettante (in the worst sense of that word) gave a speech on education across Lake Washington from Seattle in his hometown of Bellevue, in which he made so many factual errors one has to wonder if there is something wrong with him. I mean, it's dangerous for everyone on the planet when powerful people become untethered from reality.

For starters, Gates asserted that "Today, 42 states and the District of Columbia are using the Common Core State Standards," the federal public school curriculum that was largely paid for by him. He is flat out wrong:

States were blackmailed to adopt the Common Core standards before they were even finalized by (Education Secretary) Arne Duncan. Almost half of these states abandoned the Common Core standards as quickly as they could. Currently only about 20 states still use the Common Core standards.

Given his investment and leadership in the movement to corporatize our schools, it's frankly incredible that he could be so wrong on such a fundamental fact. And that's just the beginning. Click on through for the Coalition to Protect Our Public Education's full breakdown of the speech and the clear evidence that facts are meaningless to him.

The truth is that it's been quite clear for some time that the corporate education reformers are simply "full of it," and the data proves it.

(D)espite the fact that many "reformers" policies have spectacularly failed, prompted massive scandals and/or offered no actual proof of success, an elite media that typically amplifies -- rather than challenges -- power and money loyally casts "reformers" systemic pillaging of public education as laudable courage . . . In other words, elite media organizations (which, in many cases, have their own vested financial interest in education "reform") go out of their way to portray the anti-public-education movement as heroic rather than what it really is: just another get-rich-quick scheme shrouded in the veneer of altruism.

Microsoft stands to make billions off of Common Core . . . Or at least did until students, parents, and teachers got wise and began pressuring their states to pull out. Gates famously bristled at the suggestion that he was in it for the money in a Washington Post interview with Lindsey Layton, but come on, with a guy as untethered from reality as he appears to be, at least when it comes to education, it may not be him whose chasing after a greasy buck, but rather the "yes men" and sycophants with whom he's surrounded himself, and to whom he listens. It all amounts to the same thing.

Microsoft's profits, however, may only be small potatoes compared to what appears to be the real goal of corporate education reform. The big money play with Common Core is the comprehensive data collection as suggested by Peter Greene of Curmudgucation fame, writing over on Huffington Post. He convincingly argues that the high stakes testing is actually the core of Common Core:

The test does not exist to prove that we're following the standards. The standards exist to let us tag the results from the test. And ultimately, not just the test, but everything that's done in a classroom. Standards-ready material is material that has already been bagged and tagged for data overlord use.

And, believe me, you don't have to be a Wall Street insider to know that "big data" is what it's all about these days. That's where the smart money is going.

Gates (or at least his toadies) and the rest of them are pigs at the trough just waiting to start gorging themselves on the test score coal mine labor of our children. Education has nothing to do with this, which is why facts don't matter to them.

If facts did matter and they did care about children and education, instead of attacking schools and teachers, they would tackle the real problem: poverty. But that's not what their doing. The only conclusion is that Gates and his legions have become untethered from reality.

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