Computer entrepreneur Bill Gates has been devoting much of his time and considerable amounts of money to school reform efforts. Stateline staff writer David Harrison interviewed Gates recently and this one question and answer gives some insight into the reason behind his efforts.
Stateline: We’ve been talking about education reform in this country for a long time. We’ve had a lot of school experiments over the years and there hasn’t been a whole lot of improvement. Do you worry sometimes that we might reach reform fatigue?
Bill Gates: What we consider the most important thing of all, which is measuring and rewarding and transferring teacher effectiveness, really hasn’t been tried. There was a little bit in Tennessee in the early 80’s and there are reasons why that worked a bit for a time and then it didn’t work. We now have some technology enablement in terms of surveying students, doing teacher videos, having some data systems that track progress and we have a little bit more willingness to make change, because as people look at the test scores both in the absolute and relative to other countries, it’s a more dire situation now than in the past.