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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why Bill Gates Makes Me Throw Up

The chart above shows market capitalization trends for Apple and Microsoft over just two months in 2010.

To show that this trend of Microsoft's failing hegemony is not a fluke, here is another showing operating income from devices running Apple and Microsoft systems from 2007 to 2011(click either to enlarge).

So while Bill Gates's company has established its clear descent from the high tech heights in recent years, Bill has plunged into arenas for which he knows even less, though you would never know it based on his consistent levels arrogance, petulance, and patronizing attitudes.

Microsoft's in-house response to its own leadership failure and loss of market share has been to double the percentage of its employees in the lowest rung of company performers (from 10 to 20 percent), cut in half the percentage of top performers (from 20 to 10 percent), and to tie these salaries to their performance levels.  In short, punish the workers for the failure of leadership in the company to do anything other than produce crap products.

Speaking of crap, Gates gave a TED Talk in 2009 that focused on four world problems: malaria, AIDS, pneumonia, and teachers.  At the end of the speech, he gave everyone in the audience a copy of a PR piece by Jay Mathews, which glowingly portrays the Gates solution to urban schools and urban teachers: the segregated total compliance teacher-grinding corporate madrassas of KIPP, Inc.  Gates prepared the audience for his generosity by sharing with them his thoughts on the teacher accountability problem:  
How does that [KIPP school] compare to a normal school? Well, in a normal school teachers aren’t told how good they are. The data isn’t gathered. In the teacher’s contract, it will limit the number of times the principal can come into the classroom—sometimes to once per year. And they need advanced [sic] notice to do that. So imagine running a factory where you’ve got these workers, some of them just making crap, and the management is told, “Hey, you can only come down here once a year, but you need to let us know, because we might actually fool you, and try to do a good job in that one brief moment.
Since 2009 Team Gates has been working overtime to come up with a way to break the teaching profession in order to throw open the door to the KIPP and KIPP-like corporate teaching model, which requires a 60-80 hour work week within the KIPP pressure cookers.  Their solution is part of Race to the Top, which mandates teacher evaluation schemes using student test score gains to punish and reward teachers and to keep their noses to the grindstone.

And so Gates's op-ed last week in the New York Times should be read as one side of the good cop-bad cop game that is playing out, as the reckless and ridiculous teacher evaluation schemes are being shoved forward.  Gates as good cop is all about coming to the rescue of teachers whose professional reputations are being being treated as fodder for the the corporate media.  Gates is perfectly willing to pull back from the public humiliation involved in publishing these phony and error-ridden reports if teachers would simply be willing to accept the results in private.  That is why Bill Gates makes me throw up.

Gates's brazen foolishness epitomizes the chief reason that American K-12 education will continue to crater as long as these corporate idiots remain in charge of federal and state education policies, thus keeping us distracted from the real problems.  For anyone who believes that we can humiliate and bully our way to educational excellence, I have some excellent Windows products to sell you, at a huge discount.


  1. Gates' emphasis on school reform appears to be on how to transform less-than-stellar students into people who will be effective cubicle workers. People may talk about creating schools that will produce business leaders like Gates, and no doubt Gates was well-served by his years of private education at expensive, elite schools, but I've seen no indication that he wants to offer a similar opportunity to the greater public or that he believes KIPP schools have any chance of achieving that aspirational goal. I don't sense that he shares that aspiration.

    Gates isn't suggesting that his private school (Lakeside School, current tuition $26,200 per year) emulate KIPP, or that he (or classmate Paul Allen) would personally have benefited from KIPP. His children don't go to KIPP (or KIPP-style) schools.

  2. Anonymous1:11 PM

    KIPP is a cult-like organization that functions as a school for corporate America and imposes a Booker T. Washington belief system on its teachers and especially on the students and their families - Hard work will bring acceptance in society. They offer a new "Atlanta Compromise" for urban minority families. Forget your culture and abandon your neighborhood for the cultural values of white middle class of the KIPP corporate founders. Their motto Work hard - be nice is actually means "Work hard - be white."

    They are secretive. KIPP insulates their school operations from surveys, interviews, and or qualitative studies.