Teachers Made the Difference, but Gates Foundation Fudges on the Test

Occupy Seattle Protests Bill Gates Charter School

New Orleans    The Gates Foundation released a study finding that good teachers made a difference in producing good education for students.  Is there anyone out there alive today who ever thought for a minute that teachers don’t make the difference?  Gates has a lot of money, but why spend it on something proving the obvious?  In fact many peer reviewed studies over the years, trumpeted of course by the two big teachers unions, have argued that better training, better pay, and better support for teachers will produce a better educational system.  So, what’s the news in any of this, and why did Gates spring for the big bucks here?

Stephanie Banchero of the Wall Street Journal had no trouble getting to the heart of this question:

Critics say the Gates effort is flawed because it begins in part with the assumption that test scores are a good measure of teacher effectiveness, and then seeks to prove it by using test scores….Jay P. Green, a professor of education policy at the University of Arkansas, called the Gates research a ‘political document and not a research document.’   He said the research doesn’t support that classroom observations are a strong predictor of quality teaching.  ‘But the Gates Foundation knows that teachers and others are resistant to a system that is based too heavily on student test scores, so they combined them with other measures to find something that was more agreeable to them.

Real research must be something you only do when you are trying to sell software to businesses and consumers.  But, when the “customers” are parents and students trying to puzzle out the education system and build better lives, then Gates must feel any old slop will serve as well to sucker folks into believing it is better to just pretend “teaching to the test” and demonizing teachers’ unions is all you need to do.

Meanwhile in America’s largest charter school experiment in New Orleans the state Recovery School District pulled one of his smoothest tricks this week by “solving” the problem of a non-performing charter school by closing it down and merging that school with one doing a little better.  Button, button, where’s the button?

One game after another the slickers are playing on the suckers in the name of pretending to care about the public education system.