Education Roundup

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Gates as global superintendent of schools

Bill Gates has been described as the global superintendent because of the strategic way in which the foundation money is being used to shape education policies in the U.S. as well as in some other countries.

With the failure to convince voters in several states to adopt vouchers, he moved on to small high schools projects, expecting that breaking large schools into small ones would dramatically improve educational outcomes. It didn't.

Susan Ohanian has pointed out the source of leadership in the latest quick fix for U.S. schools -national common standards.

"Every news article you read about the Common Core standards says this initiative is led by the Governor's Association's Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. What is RAKELY mentioned and the one thing you need to know is that the Gates Foundation paid these groups over $35 million to lead the charge. Never was 'follow the money" so true... and so ignored in the media."

Gates has been making the pitch to other billionaires to put half their fortunes into a foundation that would increase further the impact on defining education policy by the globe's richest.

Trojan horse joins a union

The dominant caucus in the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is called "Progressive" and the same caucus within the New York branch, the largest in the AFT, is called "Unity." It is the group that consistently returned Al Shanker as president, as well as the current president, Randi Weingarten.

The irony in the names was highlighted at the AFT convention in June 2010 in Seattle. The AFT invited Bill Gates to be a keynote speaker - the same Gates whose foundation has promoted charter schools, performance pay and other "reforms" of education in the U.S. Along with the family that owns Wal-Mart, Gates has financed several (unsuccessful) attempts to bring vouchers to US education.

The AFT has a partnership with the Gates Foundation to promote reform projects initiated by union locals. The congruence of views was seen when Weingarten sealed the deal in Washington, DC that incorporated into teacher evaluation student performance on tests.

In introducing Gates, Weingarten said that the AFT had passed one of its most important resolutions. It makes the AFT "a leader in the overhaul of teacher evaluation so that it includes a focus on student learning and support of good teaching." Standardized tests are a part of that focus.

A minority of delegates were not happy with Gates or Weingarten. They booed Gates and then left the convention and posted on YouTube a video called "A Trojan Horse in the AFT Convention." Check it out at ri0pVOg.

The majority of delegates shouted down the dissenters and gave Gates standing ovations.

Bodily functions and comics used to entice boys to read

An AP news story asks whether fart jokes can save the 'reading souls' of boys. Some think so.

Amelia Yunker, a children's librarian, is one who does. She put on a "grossology party" that included slime and an armpit noise demonstration. Her theory is that you "Just get 'em reading. Worry about what they are reading later."

North Carolina teacher, Cathy Walker, found the book SweetFarts on Amazon and ordered it in the hope that it would engage boys who are hard to reach. Hey, instead it could be zombies and vampires.

The evidence is everywhere these days that boys as a whole are not doing as well in education as are girl students at all levels, from primary to post-graduate. With no clear understanding of why this might be, parents as well as educators are willing to try anything to return to the gender patterns of the last century.

The Canadian Council on Learning is promoting comic books as an answer to getting boys to read.

The CCL says "comics have become a pervasive and undeniable aspect of popular culture. …