WASHINGTON—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Bill Gates’ speech today to the Council of the Great City Schools, titled “Our Education Efforts are Evolving”:
“I am glad that as the nation is shifting from the fixation on testing, test-based teacher evaluations and shuttering rather than fixing public schools and other top-down, punitive measures of the No Child Left Behind era to one of creating safe and welcoming public schools where children can thrive, Bill and Melinda Gates also are evolving in their thinking. It’s encouraging that Bill Gates made clear he will not abandon public education and will learn from the educational progress that has been made in districts that have focused on children’s well-being, powerful learning, collaboration and building teacher capacity.
“A new approach that sets its sights on the school, not the corporate boardroom as the center of educational improvement, and providing support to schools as they undertake that work is a step in the right direction.
“The focus on locally generated solutions, using thoughtful reflection of what works, is a positive development and a welcome shift from the prescriptive mandates of the last decade and a half. The use of evidence-based interventions to improve student achievement, especially for those most in need, is important. And as I have learned from hundreds of school visits each year, Gates also recognizes that teachers need real curriculum support and professional development to build on the standards.
“The challenge now is turning these strategies into sustainable, scalable programs that will reflect the voices of educators, parents, school leaders and community members as we work to transform classrooms, schools and learning.”