Oakland Unified wants to close some schools. It's planning to close thirteen schools, most of them small schools. Small schools are very expensive to run - in particular, they increase administrative costs.
Bill Gates and his eponymous foundation were huge drivers of small schools - they sent a functionary to a staff meeting at the school were I was teaching to try to find teachers to support such an effort. (They failed; we had seven hundred and fifty K-6 students and a mess of portables, sure, but things were good.) I asked the functionary what would happen after the three years of Gates cash; he admitted that the costs would fall to districts - and that the costs existed.
Gates didn't spend any foundation cash on research, and ended up pulling small schools cash early when the schools ended up making no real difference (except for the added costs).
Gates now has a new solution for the districts he's burdened: cut pensions, raise class sizes and institute performance pay. Apparently, the financial issue isn't the additional administrators on the payroll thanks to small schools, or the increased building costs small schools require, or the costs associated with school closings, or falling school budgets. No, it's the teachers.
Needless to say, Gates has put as much research into this as he did small schools. I'm sure the effects will be predictably similar, if not worse.
It's time to stop allowing big pocketbooks to experiment on our public institutions. They aren't even willing to clean up after themselves, and they want to punish us all for their messes.
It's time to stop allowing Bill Gates opportunity after opportunity to destroy public education. Yes, he made a lot of money by taking A prompt out of the public domain and selling it as his own program. Yes, he has a great deal of interest in public education although not so much that his children attend public schools or anything. Yes, we often learn from our mistakes.
But Gates shows no learning: he's still jumping in with both feet and a blindfold. When it ends up he's landed on concrete, he demands public money for his hospital bills. He's unwilling to research first: it's all urgent urgency, and it's better to fail a few years of children than look at any data beforehand.
OUSD should bill the Gates Foundation. Once Bill's cleaned up after himself, it might be possible to start taking him seriously.