Sunday’s Seattle Times tells us of a strange problem encountered by the richest man in the world. He has discovered that his money is not working its magic in education — teachers are not for sale.
The Gates Foundation has spent the past decade promoting hard hitting education reforms. Organizations they fund have conducted research, lobbied politicians, and advanced policies that have brought us Value Added teacher and principal evaluations, charter school expansion, Teach For America corps members, and merit pay. They have poured millions into efforts to shape public opinion, sponsoring Education Nation and the propaganda documentary Waiting for Superman, and its star, Michelle Rhee. They have told us how important teachers are, but in spite of all this attention, teachers seem positively ungrateful.
So now the Gates Foundation is on what has been called a “charm offensive.” According to Seattle Times reporter Linda Shaw, the Gates Foundation last year brought 250 teachers to a hotel in Arizona to share their new vision. The Gates Foundation’s Irvin Scott said, “We’re trying to start a movement. A movement started by you. A movement you’re leading.”
Is this not a paradox worthy of Lewis Carroll?Money tends to distort reality. Those that have it think that they can use it to get what they want. And those that have a lot, think they can get a lot. But when what you want to control is something as big as the way children are educated, and the conditions under which an entire profession is trained, supervised and paid, you are going to run into some bumps along the way.
Ultimately, there are three ways to get people to do something you want them to do. One is to force them, by making the consequences for not complying onerous or unacceptable. The second is to lure them, by offering some sort of bribe or incentive. The third is to get them excited about your ideas, whereupon they may engage with enthusiasm. More...