Billionaire software tycoon Bill Gates complained on Wednesday that his ambitious quest to force a set of one-size-fits-all national education standards on America’s obstinate, noncompliant parents is much harder than finding a cure for malaria.
Gates, whose Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has poured hundreds millions of dollars into efforts to develop and promote Common Core, made the claim at a two-day education conference in Bellevue, Wash., reports The Seattle Times.
The exclusive, Gates Foundation-sponsored conference was limited to about 250 education policymakers and politicians.
Gates said he remains unhappy with America’s taxpayer-funded public schools.
“A majority of teachers are in systems that don’t really help them improve all that much,” Gates proclaimed, according to the Times.
The Common Core-loving billionaire also said he was shocked to discover that human progress is not linear and that education initiatives can even “go backward” when teachers conclude that new evaluation methods could cause them to lose their jobs.
Gates has not faced such problems in his global philanthropic efforts to fight disease, he said.
“If we come up with a new malaria drug, a new malaria vaccine, nobody votes to uninvent our malaria vaccine,” the magnate observed, according to the Seattle newspaper.
The audience guffawed.
Both Bill Gates and Melinda Gates gave lengthy speeches at the elite education summit — their first major orations on their education philanthropy in seven years.
Gates said he did not expect the national pushback against Common Core. He also admitted that Americans have come to associate Common Core with dramatic increases in standardized testing, a federal annexation of local education decision-making and bizarre teaching methods. (RELATED: Obama Math: Under New Common Core, 3 x 4 = 11)
Going forward, the Microsoft mogul said, he and education policymakers must work to ensure that teachers embrace the systems and the data that will be used to evaluate them.
He said he continues to support standardized testing as a major component of teacher and student assessment.
When Melinda Gates spoke, she suggested that some states moved too rapidly to introduce Common Core when a slow, measured debut would have been wiser. She also argued that — unlike many parents — teachers largely support Common Core.
“At the political level, there’s a lot of noise,” she pontificated, according to the Times. “But if you go out and survey teachers, they are for the Common Core.”
Melinda Gates also cited Kentucky — an early mover on Common Core — as a state which has seen positive results. Over 60 percent of high school graduates are ready for college each year now that Common Core has been implemented. Before the implementation, she said, the figure was 34 percent.
As of 2015, 42 states are using Common Core. That number is down from 46 a couple years ago. (RELATED: Arne Duncan Threatens Entire State Of Oklahoma Because State Backed Out Of Common Core)
Strangely, Bill and Melinda Gates have chosen to send their three children — Jennifer, Rory and Phoebe — to Lakeside School, a posh prep school in Seattle where annual tuition runs $30,850. (RELATED: Bill Gates Loves Common Core For Your Kids, BUT NOT HIS)
Lakeside does not use Common Core.
The student-teacher ratio at the fancypants school is 9 to 1. The average class size is 16. Some two dozen varsity sports are available and the opulent athletic facilities include “hydrotherapy spas,” according to a Seattle education blog.
In a 2005 speech at his swanky, exclusive alma mater, Gates fondly remembered his time there.
“Teachers like Ann Stephens. I was in her English class, and I read every book in there twice. But I sat in the back of the room and never raised my hand,” Gates reminisced.
“I never would have come to enjoy literature as much as I do if she hadn’t pushed me.”
The Common Core standards Gates has funded heavily mandate a nonfiction-heavy reading regime that devalues literature tremendously. Specifically, under Common Core, nonfiction books must constitute at least 70 per cent of the texts read by high school students. (RELATED: Under Common Core, Classic Literature To Be Dropped In Favor Of ‘Informational Texts’)
Last year, the Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corp. of New York suffered a stinging defeat when the nonprofit educational-software company InBloom Inc. announced that it would shut down permanently. The two philanthropies had seeded InBloom with $100 million to create a huge database allowing behemoth education companies to see a smorgasbord of data about students including their test scores, their learning disabilities, their disciplinary records and their skin colors. (RELATED: Bill Gates Is A Sad Clown Today Because His Bizarre $100 Million Student Data Project Has Failed)