What if teachers could talk to Bill Gates about schools like a Bolivian minister did about chickens?
Chickens huddle in their cages at an egg processing plant in Atwater, Calif., in 2008. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)
Bill Gates has been upsetting teachers for years. He’s spent a fortune to push education initiatives that he liked — even though educators thought they were, at best, a waste of money. Now he’s insulted a Bolivian government minister by doing the same thing. But this time, it’s over chickens. And the minister reacted publicly in a way teachers simply do not.
Gates has poured billions of dollars over more than 15 years into major projects that he fervently believed would improve public schools. None have turn out quite as he had hoped.
There was, for example, the creation and implementation of the Common Core State Standards, which most states adopted years ago but that became so controversial that some states have dropped them and many more have moved away from the federally funded tests designed to go along with them. Gates, the chief executive of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, recently conceded that the organization made big mistakes with the Core implementation, something many teachers have been saying for a long time.
Gates’s love for data also led him to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to develop teacher evaluation systems that can supposedly figure out the “value” of a teacher with the use of student standardized test scores — a method that assessment experts said was unreliable for those purposes. Most state adopted these systems but more recently have started to drop them. Another effort gone awry.
This time, the philanthropist has come up with a way he thinks will people who live in extreme poverty in poor countries around the world can improve their lives. How? By raising chickens. He wrote about it here in a piece “Why I Would Raise Chickens,” which says in part:
If you were living on $2 a day, what would you do to improve your life?
That’s a real question for the nearly 1 billion people living in extreme poverty today. There’s no single right answer, of course, and poverty looks different in different places. But through my work with the foundation, I’ve met many people in poor countries who raise chickens, and I have learned a lot about the ins and