I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bill Gates: Keep Skimming the Cream!

Bill Gates - who apparently was voted as permanent Czar of Education when I wasn't looking - just LOVES education "solutions" that skim the best students away from the rest:
On the fraught issue of school choice, his foundation has been a strong advocate of charter schools, and Mr. Gates is particularly fond of the KIPP charter network and its focus on serving inner-city neighborhoods. "Whenever you get depressed about giving money in this area," he volunteers, "you can spend a day in a KIPP school and know that they are spending less money than the dropout factory down the road."
Well, that's pretty easy to do when you're only teaching the kids who don't have special needs; in other words, the kids who are cheapest to educate.
Mr. Gates is less enamored of school vouchers. "Some in the Walton family"—of Wal-Mart fame—"have been very big on vouchers," he begins. "And honestly, if we thought there would be broad acceptance in some locales and long-term commitment to do them, they have some very positive characteristics."
He praises the private school model for its efficiency vis-à-vis traditional public schools, noting that the "parochial school system, per dollar spent, is an excellent school system." But the politics, he says, are just too tough right now. "We haven't chosen to get behind [vouchers] in a big way, as we have with personnel systems or charters, because the negativity about them is very, very high." [emphasis mine]
If only we could get rid of this pesky democracy thingie...

We now have tons of evidence that the majority of "success" that can be attributed to both private schools and charters comes from only taking the most educable students. If that's what we really want to do here in the US, we should have an open debate about it. But pretending charters and privates don't cream students just obscures the issue.

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