I recently went to the Gates Foundation sales promotion office at the front of their Seattle headquarters.
I first dealt with the billions that these goodhearted people are pouring on the third world in hopes of making them more like us, in the previous blog.
The five rooms of displays were lovely and heartwarming. The foundation spends roughly $75 million to convince the public that the $30 billion they are giving away is worthwhile. This commentary deals with the second category of Gates foundation charity: education in the US.
I spent roughly 20 years in the field of education, trying to improve public schools.
I was most successful in changing a few schools in San Francisco that my own children went to. I worked in dozens of training projects for teachers. I put on a major education fair in 1964 to demonstrate the vast array of educational innovations available in the United States. The fair was duplicated all over the country.
After watching every change I saw undertaken completely overwhelmed by the status quo of the educational system, I concluded that change was virtually impossible in public schools. I know nothing of the private world except that it is much safer for the kids. The outcomes are not measurably different.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of course is pouring billions into improving education. This money does not appear to do much harm. It could be doing so but I doubt it. I know money is irrelevant because one K-12 school in Hawaii with the most per student expenditures has the lowest high school graduation rate in the whole U.S.
As in the previous blog I propose a mental experiment. Let us take 100 5-year-old children, put them all in any one school system in the United states. I am confident that 90 of the students will graduate from high school and go on to college. My only condition is that the 100 students are Asian American.
Our public school system is not a problem.
The educational problem in America is the cultural background of our students.