Bill Gates says education reform is tougher than eradicating polio, malaria or tuberculosis

Compiled by Eric Schulzke, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Wed, July 2, 2014, 10:40 a.m. MDT

 Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates gestures while speaking at a ceremony to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Land Grant Act, Tuesday, June 26, 2012.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates gestures while speaking at a ceremony to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Land Grant Act, Tuesday, June 26, 2012.

(Manuel Balce Ceneta, Associated Press)

Bill Gates says education reform is tougher than eradicating polio, malaria or tuberculosis, and he's putting his money where his mouth is.

Speaking to employees at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Gates said that American education hadn't improved much in the last 50 years and noted his foundation's support for the Common Core standards.

Gates' comments on infectious diseases were in the context of noting that his foundation is also pushing hard on those fronts, funding research on polio, malaria and HIV, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

But Gates is all in on reforming American education.

"You name it, we have been passed by," Gates said of the country's math and science programs, the AP reported from Los Alamos, and he sees limits to how much technology can change that. "And the one thing we have a lot of in the United States is unmotivated students," Gates said.

To be fair, Gates is looking at much more than education.

Politico noted in February that "he’s broadening his focus to take on agricultural policy, immigration reform and even clean energy. Just this week, his foundation pledged financial support for a $25 million fund to provide college scholarships for undocumented immigrants. On the global stage, meanwhile, Gates has sharply criticized the powerful livestock industry as he talks up his vision for solving world hunger by promoting vegetarian diets."

But Gates has become a driving American education proponent for the past few years, with heavy investment in the Common Core.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards. With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes.

"Bill Gates was de facto organizer, providing the money and structure for states to work together on common standards in a way that avoided the usual collision between states’ rights and national interests that had undercut every previous effort, dating from the Eisenhower administration," The Washington Post reported in June.

"The Gates Foundation spread money across the political spectrum, to entities including the big teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, and business organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — groups that have clashed in the past but became vocal backers of the standards," the Post reported.

Gates is also a major backer of Parent Revolution, which is the driving force behind the controversial "parent trigger" used to give parents leverage over school districts and teachers' unions. New York University's education guru Diane Ravitch is not the first to note the growing role of big money is shaping education policy.

Email: eschulzke@desnews.com

1. bigv56
Cottonwood, CA,
July 2, 2014

Expertise in one field doesn't always carry over to another. Com mom core is a joke and will have people screaming. Quit shoving vegetarianism down our throats.

2. patriot
Cedar Hills, UT,
July 2, 2014

Bill Gates is a Socialist and wants a Socialist solution to education which is that the Federal Government creates a one size fits all platform for all kids. As we have seen ANYTHING the federal government puts its hand to turns into sour milk (Obamacare) so Gates "common core" needs to be killed once and for all. Gates is known for his underhanded tactics in the business world as the CEO of Microsoft and the outright stealing of teachnology from Apple as well as the hundreds of other underhanded shady business dealings against Novell and other tech companies. I worked at Novell during those years and Gates and his illegal tactics are well documented. Bottom line - DO NOT TRUST BILL GATES for ANYTHING!! As for common core - Glenn Beck is on a crusade nation wide this summer to expose common core with a documentary he and The Blaze created showing in theaters across the nation. States across the nation are rejecting common core once they dig into this ugly thing and discover the fine print. Socialized medicene and Socialized education...the progressive way.

3. Kings Court
Alpine, UT,
July 2, 2014

As a teacher, I'm getting sick and tired of these people who have never taught a classroom full of kids a day in their lives telling me how to do it. They lack any real credibility. There are certainly problems in education, but I've been teaching long enough to realize that much of those problems stem from a decayed culture, decayed family values, and lack of any accountability on the student in our education system. At least in most other countries, test performance has a direct impact on a student's educational future. In America, they are just data collection tools for everyone other than students and their teachers. It is just insane. Why would anyone take these tests seriously when they don't really mean anything to the test taker?

4. jsf
Centerville, UT,
July 2, 2014

Oh no patriot you just invoked the name of Glenn Beck, who has no college education. Oh that's right neither does Bill Gates. Liberal criteria for opinion or understanding a college degree.

5. michaelitos
Salt Lake City, UT,
July 2, 2014

Despite Mr. Gates faults, Common Core is as solid as they come. The standards are excellent! Just what we need to be able to compete on the global stage.