I saw this quote posted on Facebook this morning and it intrigued me. I have been researching it all morning!! Who is Diane Ravitch? What does she stand for? What else does she say about Bill Gates? I am not a fan of Mr. Gates, to say it lightly. He may know computers, but education, HE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND!!!
So what did I find? Daine Ravitch is a historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University. She did not expand much beyond this Facebook statement, so I did some more digging. I came upon another of her blog posts in which she writes out a transcript from Mr. Gates’ TED talk on teacher evaluation. You can read it here http://dianeravitch.net/2013/05/10/bill-gates-says-he-knows-how-to-solve-the-teacher-evaluation-problem/. His premise is that teachers need to tape themselves and get better feedback from students and other teachers. He points to Shanghai and how in doing this, they have become one of the best educational systems in the world.
I do agree that we need to evaluate teachers better. Taping ourselves and getting better feedback than a one word answer (Mr. Gates spoke about teachers only receiving a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” on their evaluations) would be very beneficial; however, as you might expect, there is more to the story. What Mr. Gates fails to recognize is that teachers in top performing countries are well respected and better paid. The US, according to a report done in 2010 by McKinsey and Company http://www.newrepublic.com/blog/jonathan-cohn/84780/teacher-pay-international-comparison-usa-korea#, ranked in the bottom when compared to how teachers are paid around the world.
Of course this does not tell the whole story, as well, but the point is important none-the-less. Until we start taking the job of teaching seriously, we have no hope of improving our schools. How can we do this? As the saying goes, we must “put our money where our mouth is”! The simple truth is that when teachers are well paid, the job will be sought after. When that happens, you will start getting the best of the best. Currently, teaching is charity work. The sacrifices are becoming too great. Larger class sizes, cut pay, fewer resources, greater demand on scripted curriculum, unruly children with NO recourse, no support from administration- all of this cannot in any way add up to an effective education institution. It is impossible.
I am interested in finding out the whole story. Why are Finland, Japan, Australia and South Korea at the top? What is the COMPLETE formula to success? As I dig around, I will share with you my findings. In the meantime, I invite you to share your thoughts as well. The more people we include in the conversation, the more information and ideas we will have. It is when we work together, we will achieve a school system that we can be proud of as a nation and one where our students will discover just how valuable they are to our future!