Monday, October 25, 2010

Bill Gates SaysTeachers Don't Improve

Letter submitted to the S.F. Chron. and Parade

No wonder people buy into the current anti-teacher mass hysteria! On Sunday, Parade uncritically quoted Bill Gates saying that everyone improves over time except teachers. Gates has become an education “expert” by virtue of donating billions to promote charter schools, not through education, research or any real experience in the field.

In reality, most teachers learn their subject matter better through experience. They grow and improve through professional development, collaboration and self-reflection. Teaching standards have become more rigorous and teachers must undergo more university training than in the past.

High dropout rates among black and Latino students and a persistent class-based achievement gap are serious problems. However, there is little evidence that these problems are getting significantly worse, and even less that it is the fault of bad teachers. There is considerable evidence that student achievement improves with family income. Researchers have even found class-based differences in cognitive and language skills among children as young as three.

Instead of bashing teachers, let’s address the real problem with schools: poverty and funding. Rather than giving away billions in tax revenues to billionaire education entrepreneurs for more charter schools, why not redirect those resources toward helping struggling families?

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