Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

State education chief and Republican activist spar on Twitter over private schools

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

By: Jennifer Jacobs

Prolific tweeter and state education chief Jason Glass and conservative activist Nick Ryan sparred last night in a Twitter debate over public schools versus private schools.

“No kid should be trapped in poverty and poor schools,” said Ryan, 33, who is the founder of the American Future Fund, a conservative issues advocacy group.

Ryan accused Glass of having a focus that’s off kilter because he doesn’t seem to support Catholic and Christian schools.

Glass answered: “So long as school accepts ANY kid like public school I have no problem.”

Glass, 39, is the director of the Iowa Department of Education. He started in January after being hand-picked by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad.

Glass added that school choice is no silver bullet – teacher quality is the “most important variable to student growth.”

“Prove to me education is ‘broken,’” Glass responded at one point.

Ryan answered: “Go to rural Iowa where I’m from. Tell a poor parent they don’t have a choice. Not broken?”

Click here to read more and see the whole conversation.

State Budgets & Education Funding

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

By: Bill Gates

My passionate belief in education has led me to learn more about the intricacies of school budgets and the state budgets that provide most of the money for public education.

The U.S. public education system is gigantic: 50 million students in kindergarten through high school. On average, the U.S. spends about $10,000 per student per year, or about $500 billion total. So lately I’ve become very interested in understanding where the $500 billion comes from, where it goes and whether it might be spent more effectively.

In turn, this has led me to try to understand state budgets, which is where the majority of school money comes from. States spend a lot of society’s public resources, but they’re facing tremendous budgetary pressures from the economic recession. Many have cut education funding. And although the economy and tax revenues may improve over the next few years, states face continuing fiscal pressures from rising pension and healthcare costs, which could squeeze out money for both K-12 and higher education. At best, funding for education is likely to be flat.

Click here to continue reading and learn more about Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

How teacher development could revolutionize our schools

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

By: Bill Gates

As the nation’s governors gather in Washington for their annual meeting, they are grappling with more than state budget deficits. They’re confronting deep education deficits as well.

Over the past four decades, the per-student cost of running our K-12 schools has more than doubled, while our student achievement has remained virtually flat. Meanwhile, other countries have raced ahead. The same pattern holds for higher education. Spending has climbed, but our percentage of college graduates has dropped compared with other countries.

To build a dynamic 21st-century economy and offer every American a high-quality education, we need to flip the curve. For more than 30 years, spending has risen while performance stayed relatively flat. Now we need to raise performance without spending a lot more.

When you need more achievement for less money, you have to change the way you spend. This year, the governors are launching “Complete to Compete,” a program to help colleges get more value for the money they spend. It will develop metrics to show which colleges graduate more students for less money, so we can see what works and what doesn’t.

In K-12, we know more about what works.

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Flip the Curve: Student Achievement vs. School Budget

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

By: Bill Gates

Today I’m speaking to the nation’s Governors at their annual meeting in Washington, DC. They are grappling with more than state budget deficits; they’re also confronting deep education deficits. I’m encouraging them to flip the curve on how much we spend vs. how well students do in school.

Over the last four decades, the per-student cost of running our K-12 schools has more than doubled, while our student achievement has remained flat, and other countries have raced ahead. The same pattern holds for higher education. Spending has climbed, but our percentage of college graduates has dropped compared to other countries.

To build a dynamic 21st century economy and offer every American a high-quality education, we need to flip the curve. For more than 30 years, spending has risen while performance stayed flat. Now we need to raise performance without spending a lot more.

Click here to continue reading and learn more about Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

A Powerful Film About Education in America

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

By: Bill Gates

I’m appearing today on The Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about an important new film that I think everyone should see. It’s called “Waiting for ‘Superman.'” The film’s depiction of the state of America’s public education system is something people won’t quickly forget. In fact, I think it’s the kind of movie that is powerful enough to influence — and hopefully even change — the public consciousness about our approach to education.

There’s no question that the quality of our education system helped to make America great. But today, many of our public schools are failing. Only one-third of high school students are prepared for college when they graduate. And half of minority students drop out of high school altogether.

It’s a tragedy that so many families have no real alternative for their children than a failing local public school. We need dramatic change, but it’s a difficult story to tell.

Click here to read more and click here to visit the Official “Waiting for ‘Superman'” site.

Raising the Grade on Teacher, Student Performance

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

By: Bill Gates

When you think about it, teaching is one of the most difficult, complex professions there is. You have to be able to make a subject clear, and interesting. You have to calm the disruptive kids, challenge the advanced kids, humor the bored kids, and reach the kids who learn at a different pace. All with 30 students in the classroom.

No wonder it’s so challenging creating an education system that works. In the U.S., as elsewhere, educators and policymakers have struggled for years to figure out what’s needed to create effective learning environments. Since 1973, per-pupil spending in the U.S. has doubled. Yet, graduation rates have plunged from 2nd in the world to 16th. And our 15-year-olds now rank behind 22 other countries in science, and behind 31 countries in math.

In the decade that the foundation has been focused on improving education in the U.S., we also have tried different approaches. Initially we provided funding to make high schools smaller in the hope it would increase student achievement and drive down dropout rates. Over time, we have come to realize that the schools showing the biggest gains in student achievement were those that prioritized improving teaching. Great teaching really is the centerpiece of a strong education. Only by raising the quality of teaching are we going to make a big improvement in education.

Click here to continue reading and to learn more about Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.