It seems Bill Gates's foundation for improving education is making more news. They sponsored a MAJOR new 202 page report "Tough Choices or Tough Times" on the effectiveness of the k-12 education system which was issued today. Today they suggested that State governments take over school districts because k-12 students are NOT being prepared for life or employment after graduation. He also says Texas school programs should be a model for other States. (and, Gates is in Washington State, which isn't doing the job...).
Here are some news articles on the 202 page report - I will add more as I find them... you can see another trend for accountability in education, and Gates also supports merit pay for teaching. vj
You can also find the executive summary of the 200 page book "Tough Choices or Tough Times" at:
The $19.95 book can be ordered from Amazon.com or from the publisher at:
Here is a description of the book:
Tough Choices or Tough Times: The Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce
National Center on Education and the Economy
Bill Gates' education proposal: Be like Texas
By Associated Press
In a speech before the governor's task force on education this morning in Seattle, Gates proposed increasing the requirements for high school math and science.
The co-founder of Microsoft says Washington high schools aren't keeping up with the nation. Twenty-seven states require students to take three or four years of math to graduate from high school. Washington requires only two years of math. The science requirement is also two years.
Gates says Washington should take a look at the state of Texas. To get a high school diploma, Texas students need to pass four years of math, science and social studies and two years of a foreign language.
He also called on Washington to establish a quality rating system for child-care centers. He would like to see the state intervene in low-performing schools. And he wants to see teachers rewarded for excellence with bigger paychecks.
Governor Gregoire is releasing her task force committee's plan Monday for improving education in Washington.
Bill Gates Foundation seeks to privatize schools
BY PAUL BASKEN
December 15, 2006
U.S. public schools should be run by private contractors who would graduate most students by 10th grade, an expert commission sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation concludes.
The plan also calls for state funding to replace local property taxes, free prekindergarten and higher teacher pay on a merit-based system. The Gates Foundation and other sponsoring groups might pay states to help implement it.
The Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce includes executives from Viacom and Lucent Technologies and school officials from New York, Massachusetts and California.
Its members want to end an "insane" U.S. school system that produces students who can't handle college or the workplace, said one of its members, former U.S. Labor Secretary William Brock.
"Our children must be given the ability to compete in a global economy," rather than a school system that leads the world in dropout rates," Brock said. U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings hasn't studied the report, though she is pursuing steps such as toughening school standards, offering privately managed alternatives and increasing merit-based teacher pay, spokeswoman Katherine McLane said.
The plan faces opposition from teachers unions, which expressed concern about the proposal to hand operations over to private contractors and to shift the structure of teacher retirement pay.
The Gates Foundation, one of the commission's sponsors, has been experimenting with some of the ideas the panel proposed Thursday and is ready to help states implement more of them, said Tom Vander Ark, the foundation's education director.
The commission estimates its plan would cost little more than the $500 billion the nation now spends each year on kindergarten through 12th-grade education.
Copyright © 2006 Detroit Free Press Inc.
From the New York Times
Expert Panel Proposes Far-Reaching Redesign of the American Education System
Warning that Americans face a grave risk of losing their prosperity and high quality of life to better educated workers overseas, a panel of education, labor and other public policy experts yesterday proposed a far-reaching redesign of the United States education system that would include having schools operated by independent contractors and giving states, rather than local districts, control over school financing.
The panel, the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, included two former federal education secretaries, Rod Paige, a Republican, and Richard W. Riley, a Democrat; two former labor secretaries, William E. Brock, a Republican, and Ray Marshall, a Democrat; and an array of other luminaries, including former Gov. John Engler of Michigan, and the New York City schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein.
The commission’s report, released at a news conference in Washington, rethinks American schooling from top to bottom, going beyond the achievement goals of the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind, and farther than many initiatives being pursued by the Bush administration or by experimental state and local school authorities. Among other things, the report proposes starting school for most children at age 3, and requiring all students to pass board exams to graduate from high school, which for many would end after 10th grade. Students could then go to a community or technical college, or spend two years preparing for selective colleges and universities.
“We have run out the string on a whole series of initiatives that were viewed as hopeful,” said Lewis H. Spence, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Social Services and a member of the panel. “This puts a whole new set of ideas on the table.”
Mr. Spence, a former deputy schools chancellor in New York City, and other commission members acknowledged that enacting the proposals would be difficult, requiring legislation in all states and the cooperation of the federal government. Some, like one for merit pay for teachers, would require renegotiating teacher contracts nationwide and persuading local school boards to relinquish authority and take a new role enforcing performance contracts with schools.
“You can’t implement something like this overnight,” said Mr. Klein, who had been scheduled to appear at yesterday’s news conference with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, but whose flights were grounded by thick fog in Washington. Mr. Klein strongly applauded the commission’s proposals, and pointed to many efforts in New York — including sharp increases in teacher pay, a new master-teacher career step; increased roles for private groups in running public schools and performance agreements signed by 331 principals in exchange for greater freedom from superintendents — as examples of how some of the commission’s goals could begin to be accomplished. “We need to think big,” he said.
The commission’s work was quickly hailed by some as a potentially groundbreaking document. “This report has the potential to change the debate on education at the national level,” said Jack Jennings, the president of the Center on Education Policy, who is a Democrat and prominent expert on the federal education law.
The national teachers’ unions were apprehensive. Antonia Cortese, executive vice president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the proposals included “some seriously flawed ideas with faddish allure that won’t produce better academic results.” Reg Weaver, the president of the National Education Association, urged “caution in calling for drastic changes.”
The commission was organized by the National Center on Education and the Economy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group based in Washington, and partly financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. The center organized a similar commission that issued a similar report 16 years ago. Marc S. Tucker, the group’s president, said globalization had created new urgency. “There is this growing mismatch between the demands of the economy and what our schools are supplying,” Mr. Tucker said.
In its report, the commission warned of dire consequences should the country not adopt a strikingly bold approach. “If we continue on our current course, and the number of nations outpacing us in the education race continues to grow at its current rate,” it said, “the American standard of living will steadily fall relative to those nations, rich and poor, that are doing a better job.”
“If the gap gets to a certain but unknowable point,” the report said, “the world’s investors will conclude that they can get a greater return on their funds elsewhere, and it will be almost impossible to reverse course.”
Paul Romer, an economist at Stanford University, said that some of the fears about competition with India and China might be overblown but that the education system still needed improvement. He said the current effort was driven by improvements in technology, much as advances in the early 20th century led to universal high school.
“High productivity investments in education are one of the most universally supported and effective policies that governments have ever undertaken,” Mr. Romer said. “The left and the right are both on board for high payoffs in education.”