"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dear Harvard Gazette: Please Fact Check Bill Gates

Bill Gates has a lot of money to give away in ways that shape the world in the image of Bill Gates. Microsoft received $12 billion in tax breaks between 1996 and 2000, and between 2000 and 2002, Microsoft's tax rate was 1.8% on almost $22 billion of pre-tax profits (Anyon, 2005). So Gates has lots and lots of money, certainly enough to turn the heads of Harvard's reporters, sent out to do a gush on the oligarch's visit yesterday.

Gates, it seems, is doing a five campus tour (the Ivys?) preaching the virtues of Teach for America and KIPP. After all, graduation is rolling around in a few weeks and, with no jobs to be had for this year's graduating legacies, TFA is looking to land a bumper crop of white female missionaries to become the next group of expendable indoctrinators for the segregated KIPP camps. A couple of clips:

There are exceptions and signs of hope, he said, mentioning the work at Harvard of George Whitesides (nanoscale science) and Paul Farmer (medical care), “an exemplar,” said Gates, “who’s drawn a lot of people into global health.”

And 324 members of the Class of 2010 at Harvard — 18 percent of seniors — have applied for jobs with Teach for America.

. . . .

In education, online learning will help improve the situation, with links to videos on key concepts, along with ways to develop online advising, forums, and testing. “That’s a very doable thing,” said Gates. “Technology is going to have a role there.” And innovative education does not have to cost a lot, he said, referring to his sometimes controversial support of charter and nontraditional solutions.

“Every time I get discouraged,” he told one questioner later, “I go to a KIPP school and say: This can be done.” KIPP stands for the Knowledge is Power Program, a network of college-preparatory U.S. public schools that Gates said now number 82 — and that send 95 percent of their graduates to four-year colleges.

So Gates has upped the ante on the lie that Jonathan Alter wrote in Newsweek in 2008 about 80 percent of 16,000 KIPP students going to college. What Caroline Grannan found out from KIPP, Inc.'s home office at that time is that only 447 KIPPsters had entered college when Alter wrote that lie. And now Gates's figure of 95% going to college. Pure fabrication. Does the Harvard Gazette bother to fact check public education's greatest philanthropic enemy? With such a wad of money stolen from the American treasury ready to shape the world in a perfectly white dweeby image, who can doubt him?


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