Bill Gates revolutionized the PC industry, but will he be changing the face of America's public schools? Based upon his generous donations to educational institutions, as well as his commitment to education research, the answer may be a resounding "yes."
Mr. Gates recently spoke at the 2009 National Conference of State Legislatures in July and expressed the importance of improving teacher performance in order to improve student learning and school success. According to PHYSORG, a science and technology based newsgroup, Gates argued that enhanced methods of measuring both student and teacher performance would ultimately help build for a stronger educational system. As Gates further explains, "The U.S. must improve its educational standing in the world by rewarding effective teaching and by developing better, universal measures of performance for students and teachers."
With Gates retired from Microsoft, many educational leaders are eagerly awaiting his potential contributions to improving our nation's public schools.
Gates Foundation: Improving Education, Half a Billion Dollars at a Time
Bill Gates, along with his wife, Melinda, established the Gates Foundation to alleviate humanity issues both internationally and domestically. In recent years, the Gates Foundation has garnered attention for its incredibly generous contributions to public schools. Specifically, according to CW Pittsburgh, the Gates Foundation has allocated half a billion dollars to improve teaching in public schools!
The Gates Foundation reviewed nearly 110 school districts, and thus far, has selected a group of finalists. Currently, Pittsburgh area schools are ranked with contenders from various cities in the United States, including:
- Hillsborough County (Florida)
- Palm Beach County (Florida)
- Prince George's County (Maryland)
- Select Los Angeles schools
Bill Gates to Boost Teacher Success
In addition to monetary donations, Bill Gates has also clearly articulated his beliefs in improving the quality of teachers, which will subsequently enhance student learning. As The Bellingham Herald explores, nearly every American can agree that a creative and inspiring teacher can stimulate greater progress and learning in his or her child's classroom; however, despite this awareness, "Researchers haven't been able to quantify what exactly makes a teacher effective and how to tie that to student achievement." To hopefully overcome this gap in measurement, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is prepared to donate nearly $2 billion dollars to public institutions focused on optimizing teacher performance.
According to analysts, the Gates Foundation will spend both time and money over the next five years to ardently define which qualities in the best teachers lead to the most successful classrooms. Ideas on how these qualities will be measured include creating and evaluating digital videos of teachers in thousands of classrooms across the country. Other ideas focus on tracking teacher and student performance through unbiased tests.
Meetings and presentations from public school leaders to the Gates Foundation have brainstormed various ideas, including "... focus on teacher training, putting the best teachers in the most challenging classrooms, giving the best teachers new roles as mentors and coaches while keeping them in front of children, making tenure a meaningful milestone, getting rid of ineffective teachers, and using money to motivate people and schools to move toward these goals."
As the Gates Foundation continues to focus on the betterment of education, school functions, and student learning, community members across the country are eagerly awaiting signs of creative change and reform.