Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gates Foundation's $500,000 to Harvard a Sham

By Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D. Candidate

The Gates Foundation's 500 million dollar grant to Harvard's School of Education to "re-imagine" education is a sham and a joke! That money should have gone to HBCU's, which produces 50 percent of the country’s Black teachers and to the thousands of state colleges and universities whom actually prepare most of the country's teachers - including those in higher education.

Of course, Bill and Melinda can do what they want with their money. But they missed out on a real opportunity to "re-imagine" public education. Harvard, like many of the ivies, is dominated by White professors who come from the Ivy League and don't have extensive teaching experience in urban and rural K-12 schools. Nor do they have the real-life experiences with people of color needed to prepare future educators to become change agents in many of the country's worst schools. What they have is the "pedigree" for the media and policy-makers. But they don't have the educational street cred to be taken seriously in the real world.

Had I been consulted, I would have suggested the money be used to set up partnerships between Microsoft and Education departments at the best state teacher preparation programs in the country. In those new partnerships, pre-service as well as graduate level students would be taught not only how to use technology in the classroom, but how to take technology to transform their schools into global learning centers. What is more, I would have advocated for the money to fund exchanges or trips overseas for students to see first-hand what teachers are doing in their classrooms abroad. Lastly, I would have created Microsoft computer labs in as many urban and rural schools as possible - with a Microsoft Education leader on loan for a year to teach the existing teachers how to effectively use the technology.

To give the money to a school that already has a 27 million dollar endowment is a waste of the foundation's money and a failure to put innovation in the hands of people who are actually doing the bulk of the work. It is news like this that makes me want to buy a Macbook.

About the author -

Will Deyamport, III, is an Ed.D. Candidate, an education thought-leader and online content creator. His blog, PEOPLEGOGY, focuses on life and career developments. In addition to his 11 years of experience in education, he has interned with the likes of Ingrid Stabb and J. T. O’Donnell. Currently, Will is working on his dissertation, which focuses on using social media to individualize professional development for teachers.

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