Where Does Billionaire Monopolist Bill Gates Get Off Saying Bigger Class Size and Fewer Teachers Is the Education Solution?
Continued from previous page
"They want to fire experienced teachers because they cost more, increase class size, and commit our kids to online learning -- none of which they would consider for their own children," said Haimson. "It is the height of hypocrisy."
The AFT quickly tore apart Gates and Duncan's core data. Their austerity measures were based on the fragile assumptions that teacher experience has little correlation to student achievement, postgraduate study is negligible, and that class size doesn't really matter. But experience is everything in any field, pay raises are primary when it comes to retaining hires, and the advanced study of one's field is what keeps you from being shamefully passed up by countries like snowy Finland when it comes to educational excellence.
AFT's own proposals were common-sense suggestions for lowered recession expectations: More funded preschooling to close the achievement gap between the rich and the poor, community-minded schools that also dispense career and degree counseling as well as medical care, and a shared responsibility for educational achievement with the parents, the state and its policies. AFT's research has shown that decreased class sizes result in more graduates, who generate net cost savings of $168,000 per student. Sounds like a smart-money suggestion for the body politic, rather than just the rich. So what's the problem?
"If class sizes in public schools increase, parents with resources may simply leave public schools, choosing charter schools and private schools in hopes of finding smaller classes for their children," the AFT said.
That argument seems to synchronize with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's education mission, which is "to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for college and career and prepared to complete a postsecondary degree or certificate with value in the workplace." But it's hard to square that last promise with Gates and Duncan's argument that advanced degrees don't matter in the educational long run.
Much harder to reconcile its position on class size, when the Gates Foundation's small-school initiative in New York, which services 100 high-school students per grade, has resulted in increased graduation rates. That data came after a decade of experience, and hundreds of millions donated by the Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Open Society Institute and more. The Gates Foundation recently launched a nine-city partnership between local school districts and public charter schools, which together will probably discover that charter and private school students often outperform public school students because charter and private school classes are often smaller.
It's a no-brainer, wrote Haimson in " The 7 Myths of Class Size Reduction." "Studies from Tennessee, Wisconsin, and states throughout the country have demonstrated that students who are assigned to smaller classes in grades K-3rd do better in every way that can be measured," she explained. "They score higher on tests, receive better grades, and exhibit improved attendance."
So this debate isn't really about the data, or its correlations, but rather the money. Rather than raise taxes -- or even end tax-cuts for the rich, and inject some much-needed revenue into America's so-called economic recovery -- technocratic liberals and conservatives have opted to drive an ever-larger wedge between the haves and have-nots. The haves get corporate-funded charter schools with smaller classes, more graduates, and better returns on investment. The have-nots get holding pens for the poor. There's no data in the universe that would that argue this approach will best serve the public, just limited albeit powerful interest.
The true solutions to America's education nightmare, and its recession, are economically simple and have proven their experience. And they don't benefit just the rich, but us all. In order to truly compete in a global marketplace bypassing your fading empire, you have to share both the wins and the losses, standing united for all. Or else you'll end up losers.