Praising New Orleans for busting the New Orleans union. Attacking Houston public schools while praising KIPP's anti-union charter schools... Why should this man address the AFT convention Friday? Bill Gates in his own words in a June 29, 2010 Chicago speechTwo weeks before his scheduled speech to the national convention of the American Federation of Teachers, billionaire Bill Gates was in Chicago to address the The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (http://www.publiccharters.org). The meeting, . . . More
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Sharon Higgins (The Perimeter Primate), who came through long distance from Oakland to help prep the Gates leaflet - Bill Gates- Vulture Philanthropist: A Trojan Horse in the AFT Hours (download the pdf.) at the AFT convention sent this comment. Let's point out that Sharon is NOT a teacher (for those ed deformers who think only rank and file teachers are critical) but an activist parent who has been so supportive. Sharon had cut out about a third of my usual verbiage. We may send her all our leaflets to knock off the wordiness. (The leaflet did get quoted by a right-wing think tank. (Gates Leaflet Makes News.)
If the teachers at the convention had any idea how much money Gates has put into developing non-unionized charter schools, and that his vision includes an extreme reduction in the membership -- and power -- of their union, they might not have been so willing to cheer for him.
But like most Americans who aren't studying what is really going on, I'm sure 99.9% of the teachers were uninformed and clueless. They behaved like the people they are: typical Americans who were super-excited to see a famous celebrity. Seeing Bill Gates in person was the thrilling part of the convention that they later told their families about.
As an urban public school parent, supporter of teachers, and pro-public school activist, I believe that the larger concerns the resisters have are perfectly valid and deserve to be acknowledged and discussed -- at a venue other than in blogs. The opponents of today's "ed reform" desire to be heard but are constantly being ign ored and shut out. They aren't wealthy enough to pay Charlie Rose to do a five-part series on their side of the story, like Eli Broad can.
Just because the resisters are fewer in number at this time, does not make their concerns any less valid; I suspect they are going to turn out to have been the bellwether.
Bill Gates is an unelected individual who has been manipulating public policy from behind the scenes by making use of his extreme wealth. His lack of willingness to engage in a transparent, public debate with people who oppose what he is doing -- and who do have legitimate opinions, concerns, as well as data and historical accounts to present -- is what makes it necessary for the resisters to react in a loud and angry way.
It appears to me that Weingarten is aiding and abetting Gates' undemocratic ways.
If Bill Gates is truly interested in doing what's best for America's public school future, he should purchase one hour of pr imetime airtime and present a show featuring himself debate Diane Ravitch.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
There is a lot more stuff flying about Gates' appearance. NYC Educator has been doing one superb piece after another - go look at them all over the last 10 days or so. Here is a goodie:
Technical Difficulties and another on the Randi/Unity/AFT slavish bowing to Gates: We're Havin' a Party. There are many teacher comments of outrage at Randi's actions.
Nate G a member of CORE/Chicago tweeted that Randi did some comparison to Gandi to justify Gates appearance at the Illinois state breakfast: Twitter feed on Gates appearance at AFT convention
Leonie did a powerful piece at Huffington: most dangerous man in America.
And followed up on her listserve with:suggestion for all and question to teacher re Gates' comments
Gary B. laid waste to Gates and the DOE with humor at the NYC Parent blog: The Eleventh Agent
And of course there's the great David B photoshop job that captures the essense with Randi (Eve) tempting Adam (AFT teachers) with the Gates apple. - Randi the Temptress.
Prepare yourself. Parse the language of Gates, even in this speech which he moderated somewhat for the audience. Gates' end game is to tie your salaries to the performance of your kids.
Go forth and read it all. Everything you can. Prepare yourself to battle the Unity machine scum who will invade your schools and will justify the entire scenario. Pass around the videos I made to your colleagues. I still think our union leaders are the real Trojan Horses.