Bill Gates, the well-known founder of Microsoft and an avid philanthropist may be more notorious these days for his heroic efforts in the education reform sector. Gates has been outspoken about the need for U.S. educational reform from preschool to post-graduate school and his most recent commentary details his opinions on school’s monetary reforms. His suggestions run the monetary gamut: from ending pay increases for teachers who have earned master’s degrees or have acquired seniority to ending teacher’s efforts to reduce class sizes. Instead, suggests Gates, “rebuild the budget based on excellence-” or teachers’ overall ability to motivate students and raise student achievement rates.
In an economy still enduring a budget crisis (New Jersey, for example has a $10 billion deficit; Ohio is right behind with an $8 billion deficit) officials are trying to find ways to reform without much monetary support. U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, recently delivered a speech in Washington which drew on Gates’ recent comments and solution ideas. In his “Band for the Buck in Schooling,” speech, Duncan placed a great deal of importance on education reform despite financial shortcomings. To fix the education system, noted Duncan, real, transformational change must occur rather than seeking out short-term options to get school budgets back on track. Shortening school years, reducing bus routes and other short-term solutions won’t necessarily help either the education or financial systems long-term.
Gates advocates and secretary Duncan supports a more innovative approach, an approach which can both help to fix the faltering education system while restructuring and ultimately improving the nation’s public education budget. By holding teachers to a higher standard and paying them according to their level of student achievement, the education system can be transformed.