With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Gates threatens to pull $40M in Pittsburgh funds unless union caves on VAM

I'm not sure if this has anything to do with AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten's sudden turn against so-called Value-Added Models (VAM) of teacher evaluation or not.

But I see that in Pittsburgh, Bill Gates is threatening to renege on $40 million he promised the district if the teachers union and PPS don't "work in harmony" to develop a VAM plan in which teachers are evaluated and paid on the basis of their student's test scores. Collaboration in this case obviously means that the city's teachers are forced to accept anything the district throws at them for fear of being blamed for losing the Gates money.

Gates pulled the same crap in D.C.
You may remember that Gates, Broad, and Walton pulled the same crap in D.C. when they, along with Arne Duncan,  threatened to pull out millions in district funding if voters booted out Mayor Fenty and Michelle Rhee. They did.

But Fenty's replacement Vincent Gray and his current Supt. Kaya Henderson (Rhee's assistant) have bowed to the power philanthropists and continued Rhee-ism (including VAM), without Rhee.

This is precisely why AFT rank-and-filers were concerned with when Weingarten accepted millions from Gates for the union's Innovation Fund. "Innovation" has become practically synonymous with VAM.

This is what happens when public schools are forced to go begging to the world's richest man in order to keep "public" education alive. The question now is, are Weingarten and the PFT willing and able to stand up to Gates' blackmail.

I had an interesting give-and-take with Randi yesterday after she Tweeted:
I responded:
And it went on from there. More probing her always leery comment on my part. No real responsiveness on her part, especially about the damage already done in New Haven, Cleveland, N.Y. and now in Pittsburgh. So much for the power of the Tweet.


  1. Bill Gate's shows his promises are worthless.

  2. Awww...the little boy does not like how the others play, so he's taking his toys and going home...

  3. Can you tell me a bit about Randy W and her ties to Gates, if any? My union is AFT and I'm getting annoyed about what appears to be a "going with the flow" mentality on her part. I'm starting to think she has motives of some sort...but I don't know enough about it.

  4. In most lines of work, it is necessary to show that your work is having a positive impact on your organization's mission. I'm not aware of any reason that educators should regard themselves as unable to work in this way.

    Sounds to me like most of the problems have been in the implementation, not the base premise.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.