Should Indiana take Gates' money?

October 26, 2009
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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is catching flack for its influence on President Obama’s education thrust, and Indiana is preparing to enter the fray.

The Gates Foundation, which until now has worked with elementary and secondary schools to improve student performance, is helping states apply for the $5 billion of federal grants earmarked for helping education. Read a story about it here.

Here’s the catch: Gates likes charter schools, and insists that any reform plans the states submit to snag a share of the $5 billion pot include paying teachers based on student test scores. That model is consistent with Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s thinking.

Teacher unions are livid. They’ve long contended charters drain money from traditional public schools, and they say education is about a lot more than test scores.

Nevertheless, other states are charging ahead with their proposals. Minnesota has used Gates money to hire consulting behemoth McKinsey & Co. to help it prepare its federal application.

Gates originally offered to help only 15 reform-friendly states, and Indiana wasn’t among them. After other states complained, the foundation expanded the offer so long as the states met a laundry list of requirements.

Indiana might still succeed in landing Gates money, said Cam Savage, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Education. “We’re very interested in applying, but can’t definitely commit to applying until we see the [Gates] application and parameters,” Savage said.

How do you feel about the state seeking the Gates money?
 

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  • heck yes
    The teacher's union is stuck in the past. It is this kind of outdated thinking that has put Indiana behind the curve in education. It's time to hold teachers accountable for outcomes so I say take the money!
  • Teacher Pay
    How about holding parents responsible? How about tying welfare checks to student performance?
  • No perfect solution
    You could have the best teacher in the world in the worst school district in the country with two sets of kids with the same relative intelligence and get two completely different sets of test scores. Or any number of different scenarios. Parents are never considered part of the equation, but they matter just as much as the teachers. There should be some measurement, but it shouldn't be the only consideration.
  • Teachers or unskilled labor?
    Teachers unions have become more amd more like the UAW - defending sub-par performance that cranks out crappy cars, or in this case, cranks out student who can't even read. Propose a little measurement and accountability and they all howl - I say bring it on, they did it to themselves, just like the autoworkers!
  • Parents Should Be Included
    I agree with Joyce and Dan that parents should be included in any consideration. The teachers alone can't force a child to learn when there could be parents at home who don't care. And therefore, holding a teacher as the only one accountable, when parenting is a big part of the educational process, is not fair. You can't compare this to producing a product (like a car)... you can control what a "widget" will be because it is not a living being. We are talking about kids here, who are influenced by their parents... yes, there are a few who have parents who don't care and excel... but, parents who don't care creates a big barrier to overcome. And therefore, why the teacher can not be the only one held accountable for a child's performance.
  • Interesting twist
    I have a close friend that was a teacher at IPS for 5 years. His student's test scores actually went down the last 2 years. He switched to a school corp in a great area and he's won national teaching awards. It's just one of the thousands of examples of great teachers that can't control what students they have, or their home life. Agreed, there are some bad teachers, but this punishes the 95% of good teachers rather than getting the 5% out...

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