Letters to the editor | April 18, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - April 18, 2014

Letters to the editor

No thanks, Mr. Gates


Jeff Raikes, CEO of the Gates Foundation, gave an illuminating talk at Stanford last week. He explained that Gates engages in what he calls "catalytic philanthropy." Mr. Raikes spoke rather sneeringly of old-fashioned "checkbook philanthropy," like endowing scholarships, libraries, hospitals and such. Not good enough for Mr. Gates, who is out to literally change the world. His "philanthropy" must also work at the "systems" level — this means creating huge impacts that he hopes will alter whole societies.

Not an unduly modest man, Gates has recently taken on the entire American public school system, spending billions to homogenize our schools through his Common Core global workforce agenda. As one educator/researcher put it: "CCSS is not 'state led.' It is 'Gates led.'"

Let's be honest: This is most emphatically NOT philanthropy. This is utopianism, that terminal disease responsible for much of the world's misery. Recall that Hitler, Stalin and Mao, among others, had great utopian ideas and the power to inflict them on whole societies. They also sought to "educate" the young. Hitler famously said, "He alone who owns the youth, has the future." No doubt Gates' education "programme" would be kinder and gentler, but do we want any individual, any powerful multi-billionaire, to impose an untried education system — and it is a "system," complete with "suggested" texts, textbooks, lessons, exams, assessments, teacher manuals, teacher evaluations and new computers with new software (hmmm) — on ALL American school children? I didn't think so.

By the way, Mr. Gates prefers high risk/high reward ventures. Trouble is, Common Core places all the risk with the children, their parents and the future of America. Where's the precautionary principle when you need it? Maybe better to just say "no thanks" and pass on Common Core. Some gifts come at too high a cost.

Cherie Zaslawsky

Oak Lane, Menlo Park

Educating with music


It is always so exciting to read how other volunteer groups such as People of Note address the problem of inadequate music education in our schools ("Tuneful Teaching," April 11). For a number of years, trained docents in the Mid-Peninsula League of the San Francisco Symphony have been going into four of the schools in the Ravenswood School District with the San Francisco Symphony's program "Concerts for Kids." It is greatly appreciated by the teachers, and the children are very excited and eager to learn, to listen and finally to see a wonderful live performance in Davies Symphony Hall. This program began in 1919, under conductor Alfred Hertz. Now, more than 30,000 children around the Bay attend these special concerts every year.

There are many studies that reinforce the fact that music programs significantly improve testing scores in math and reading, as well as attendance and graduation rates.

Mimi Kugushev

Education docent chair, San Francisco Symphony and the Mid-Peninsula League

San Mateo Drive, Menlo Park


Like this comment
Posted by educator
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 24, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Those who'd like to see some local control over our schools may want to support AB 2307, an Assembly bill to empower local school districts to opt out of Common Core and its assessments.

Like this comment
Posted by Don't forget
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Keep in mind that Bill Gates was diagnosed as autistic ( high functioning) as a child. It was only,his wealthy parents' money that saved him.

I know this because I have a close friend who has an autistic son, and subscribes to a bi-monthly publication on autism. Bill Gates wrote an article for this publication in which he detailed his experiences as an autistic child.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.