When the LA Times starts having doubts about the wisdom of His Aged Geekiness, Billy Gates, then you have to know the worm is turning quickly. After all, it was the LA Times that published Gates-approved teacher ratings that ended in the suicide of Rigoberto Ruelas in 2010.
Perhaps Team Obama should have a second look at its decision to put corporate foundations in charge of U. S. education policy. Just perhaps there is something to be learned from a hundred years of academic research that the corporate drones have summarily dismissed. From the LA Times editorial page:
. . . .Prodded heavily by reform groups, many of which receive funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, states and school districts have in some cases taken the use of students' scores to extremes that have no grounding in research, making them count for half or more of a teacher's rating, or hastily concocting tests to measure unmeasurable subjects — and then applying the results to teachers. The most mocked example is Ohio's extensive new exam in physical education, which includes measuring whether students' movements while skipping are adequately smooth.
In 2010, California was denied $700 million in federal Race to the Top funds, largely because it declined to require that student test scores be linked to teacher ratings — something the Obama administration had demanded in return for the money, even though there was little if any evidence that the scores had value as indicators of a teacher's work.
. . . . When philanthropists have potentially useful ideas about education, they should by all means try them out, establish pilot programs, put their money where their mouths are. But before government officials incorporate those ideas into policy, they must study them carefully and make sure that what sounds reasonable in theory works in practice.