Magic Moments to explore- (note: you may have to cut and paste some of these links into your web browser…if they do not open up easily)
Ravitch answers Gates
By Valerie Strauss
In a paean to Bill Gates, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter calls Diane Ravitch the Microsoft founder’s “chief adversary.”
It’s the world’s richest (or second richest) man vs. an education historian and New York University research professor.
Gates, through his philanthropic foundation, has invested billions of dollars in education experiments and now has a pivotal role in reform efforts. Ravitch, the author of the bestselling The Death and Life of the Great American School System, has become the most vocal opponent of the Obama administration’s education policy. She says Gates is backing the wrong initiatives and harming public schools.
In the Newsweek piece, Gates poses some questions aimed at Ravitch. I asked her to answer them. Below are the questions Gates asked, in bold, and the answers, in italics, that Ravitch provided in an email.
Bill Gates: “If there’s some other magic way to reduce the dropout rate, we’re all ears.”
Ravitch: “Here’s the sad truth: There is no magic way to reduce the dropout rate. It involves looking at the reasons students leave school, as well as the conditions in which they live. The single biggest correlate with low academic achievement (contrary to the film Waiting for Superman) is poverty. Children who grow up in poverty get less medical care. worse nutrition,, and abuse. They are more likely to have relatives who are incarcerated. They are more likely to live in economic insecurity, not knowing if there is enough money for a winter coat or food or housing. This affects their academic performance. They tend to have lower attendance and to be sick more than children whose parents are well-off.
“The United States today has a child poverty rate of over 20%, and it is rising. This is a national scandal. The film compares us to Finland, but doesn’t mention that their child poverty rate is under 5%. Mr. Gates, why don’t you address the root causes of low academic achievement, which is not ‘bad teachers,’ but poverty. It won’t involve magic, but it would certainly require the best thinking that you can assemble. And if anyone can afford to do it, surely you can.
I don’t mean to suggest that schools as they are now are just fine: They are not. Every school should have a rich and balanced curriculum; many don’t. Every child should look forward to coming to school, for his or her favorite studies and activities, but those are the very studies and activities likely to lose out to endless test preparation. Schools need many things: Some need more resources and better conditions for teaching and learning; all need a stable, experienced staff. Teachers need opportunities for intellectual growth and colleagueship. Tests should be used diagnostically, to help students and teachers, not to allocate bonuses and punishments. Teachers, principals, administrators, parents, and local communities should collaborate to create caring communities, and that’s happening in many places. I know that none of this is the “magic way” that you are looking for, Mr. Gates, but any educator will tell you that education is a slow, laborious process that requires good teachers, able leadership, willing students, a strong curriculum, and willing students. None of that happens magically.”
or maybe it does!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!P.Suchmann
These are some of my favorite links, many pulled from Listservs over the years. Please let me know if they are helpful. I will be glad to add to this list from your suggestions and develop this page into the “best of the best” for teachers…..enjoy the surf…the water is fine!
Travel the world- use a fellowship to offset the cost and earn credit…http://www.earthwatch.org/aboutus/education
Ask me about my Earthwatch experience…it was amazing!!!
www.edutopia.org Just an amazing and useful site….
WWW.TED.COM –In my opinion-the best site on the Internet today!
www.movingwindmills.org (everyone should read “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”by William Kamkwamba (Did you see him on the Daily Show?)
www.Greenglovevideo.com My “Magic Moment” music video! Ask me about how much fun this project was– we used www.edmodo.com and www.epals.com also. It won first place in the Town Of North Hempstead 2010 music video competition!
http://earth2class.org/curr_units/index.php. The best resource on the net for new Earth Science teachers.
www.operationsplash.net –get involved -L.I. wages war on pollution!
www.Engineering.com –great games..check them out and assign them to your students. (www.greenglovevideo is hosted here also-check out their other videos!)
http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/index.html —-the very best site for Optical Illusions….enjoy!
www.saveamericasforests.org –Learn about the Yasuni Rainforest in Ecuador–Avatar -the movie, for real!!!! (tell them Pete sent you)