Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bill Gates on Education at the TED conference

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at the TED conference on what he is working on in his quest to change the world.  If you move the video player forward to the 8 minute mark past all of that saving millions of lives fighting malaria part you will get to his talk on education.  The Gates Foundation has focused over the past nine years on scholarships, small schools, and libraries and now his focus is on teacher quality.  He is dead on with both the power of good teachers and that the typical things that teacher's get paid more for,experience and master's degrees do not necessarily make a teacher more effective.  In this short talk, he discusses factors that he feels would improve teacher quality: lessening the influence of unions, using data more effectively through collaboration between teachers and as an evaluation tool, and the use of video analysis of teaching strategies.  He then highlights KIPP charter schools as an ideal entity to emulate in this quest to improve teacher quality.  I do have issues with KIPP.  I don't think it is scalable, I worry about its over reliance on young/pre-family teachers, and students, although they are all poor, choose to go there and some quit.  I do not have issues with the fact that KIPP itself is trying to be and is successful at innovation.  Now I just have a challenge for myself.  Find or create and present alternatives to KIPP as the one and only innovative force in education today.