Janine Jackson: A new report from the RAND Corporation concludes that the multi-million-dollar teacher evaluation project, championed and partially bankrolled by Bill Gates, did not increase teachers’ effectiveness or improve students’ academic performance, including the low-income minority students that were presented as the initiative’s major beneficiaries.
The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss, a generally critical assessor of what’s called “education philanthropy,” covered this new report. But most corporate media appear uninterested in this challenge to a set of ideas about “failing public schools” and how to fix them, that they themselves play a notable role in promoting.
Our next guest has critically engaged the Gates Foundation’s educational forays for years now. Wayne Au is professor at the University of Washington/Bothell Campus, and interim dean for diversity and equity on campus. He’s also editor at Rethinking Schools. He joins us now by phone from Seattle. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Wayne Au.
Wayne Au: Thanks for having me.
It’s important to note that while the Gates Foundation underwrote a reported $215 million of this project, that was less than half; school districts supplied the rest. So we’re not talking about an episode of perhaps naïve corporate noblesse oblige, troubling as that would be. But a lot of public resources were put into this “use test scores to evaluate teachers” project, that many, many educators knew from the get-go was misdirected.