Unlikely headlines. Nonetheless, I keep reading that Bill Gates is addressing the AFT convention. It kind of makes me glad I won't be there. What the heck can Bill Gates, who knows nothing but union-busting, trendy gimmicks, and ungodly alliances with Wal-Mart, tell a bunch of teachers?
Fortunately, he'll largely be addressing those teachers who've openly collaborated with him, so we won't have to worry much about his converting anyone new. After all, UFT leadership insisted we collaborate with him on a value-added experiment back in September. Bill placed his surveillance cameras in classrooms all over the city to figure out some sort of rubric for good teaching. His lies and Big Brother techniques alienated a handful of teachers in my school to the point at which they dropped out, turning down his $1500 payoff.
Then, before this experiment even concluded, before its results were even imposed upon us, UFT leadership made a deal with the state to have value-added used to assess teachers. They promised us they'd do research. They promised us they'd negotiate how it was done. After all, there's no research whatsoever to support the validity of value-added. I suppose if you're going to do something baseless and stupid, you may as well do it carefully. Teachers will certainly lose jobs as a result of this, particularly coupled with the rubber-room agreement that makes sure they're dumped quickly and efficiently.
Last week, though, in order to avoid some of the school closings (which, if not for the UFT collaboration on mayoral control, may not have even been a consideration), the UFT agreed that a bunch of schools would begin value-added assessments next year, a full year ahead of the agreement, with no research, no planning, and no specifically negotiated plan. One might argue, since the entire notion has no validity, that there's no point fretting over a valid model.
Considering all that, why shouldn't the most destructive force in education address his collaborators? What have we got to lose? You'd hope that an AFT convention would be a place where they'd discuss a productive future for education, a vision for improving the lot of teachers.
Instead, you've got the Antichrist coming to deliver the Sunday sermon.
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