Improving education is the most important thing we can do for our country’s economy, Bill Gates told Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter after a speech to the Council of Chief State School Officers.
How can we raise student achievement in a time of austerity? Stop paying teachers more for seniority alone, Gates says.
Like master’s degrees for teachers and smaller class sizes, seniority pay, Gates says, has “little correlation to student achievement.”
. . . Gates favors a system where pay and promotion are determined not just by improvement in student test scores (an idea savaged by teachers’ unions) but by peer surveys, student feedback (surprisingly predictive of success in the classroom), video reviews and evaluation by superiors. In this approach, seniority could be a factor, but not the only factor.
Gates’ biggest adversary now is Diane Ravitch, who distrusts rich businessmen trying to shape education policy, writes Alter.
When I asked Gates about Ravitch, you could see the Micro-hard hombre who once steamrolled software competitors: “Does she like the status quo? Is she sticking up for decline? Does she really like 400-page [union] contracts? Does she think all those ‘dropout factories’ are lovely? If there’s some other magic way to reduce the dropout rate, we’re all ears.”