After years of “setting America’s public school agenda,” the Gates Foundation is learning humility, concludes a Los Angeles Times editorial.
The foundation funded the creation of small high schools, until its researchers found that size isn’t a critical factor in student achievement.
It funded bonuses for high-performing teachers, coupled with a new evaluation system, but an experiment in Hillsborough County, Fla. proved costly and ineffective.
“Unfortunately, our foundation underestimated the level of resources and support required for our public education systems to be well-equipped to implement the standards,” Desmond-Hellmann wrote. “We missed an early opportunity to sufficiently engage educators — particularly teachers — but also parents and communities, so that the benefits of the standards could take flight from the beginning.
“This has been a challenging lesson for us to absorb, but we take it to heart. The mission of improving education in America is both vast and complicated, and the Gates Foundation doesn’t have all the answers.”
I’m not sure this is quite the mea culpa the Times thinks it is. Gates certainly isn’t abandoning the Common Core. The foundation will focus on providing high-quality Core-aligned learning materials and helping teachers choose from what’s available.
“If the knock on the hidebound education system is that it doesn’t change fast enough isn’t the knock on Gates that they change too fast?” responds Eduwonk. “Their small schools investments were not the disaster everyone thinks they were but they pivoted before the evaluations came in. . . . They soft peddled the results of their own evaluations of measures of teacher effectiveness. And while the rollout of Common Core has certainly been a political disaster and the assessment scene is something of a garbage fire, the standards themselves are pretty embedded.”