In Age of Trump, Bill Gates Uses Blog to Highlight Teacher Voice, Programs Helping Immigrant, Refugee Children
Bill Gates, a prominent figure in K-12 philanthropy, is using his platform to emphasize the importance of giving teachers a voice and the value of providing education to immigrant students.
In a recent blog post on his Gates Note blog, Gates highlighted Mandy Manning, the 2018 Teacher of the Year. Manning works at a high school in Spokane, Washington, where she focuses on educating new immigrant students. Gates referred to Manning as one of his "heroes in the field."
Manning, who was selected as Teacher of the Year in April, has been striving to ensure that her students feel welcomed in her classroom, especially in the current political climate where admissions of refugees and undocumented immigrants have been limited. She expressed her dedication to making sure every student knows they are wanted and loved.
Gates commended Manning for her efforts and mentioned that her dedication to her students reminded him of the key strength of America’s public schools: their aim to help every child succeed. He emphasized that although some places may fall short of this ideal, there are success stories like Spokane and many other cities across the country. Gates’ foundation has been actively providing funding for educational reforms.
Bill Gates’ opinions and actions in the field of education, just like in other areas such as world health, carry great weight. His foundation announced last year that it would invest $1.7 billion in education initiatives over five years. They have shifted their focus to supporting innovative school networks and curricula after less successful attempts with the Common Core State Standards and teacher evaluation systems tied to student test scores. The foundation continues to be a major supporter of public charter schools, with a current emphasis on those serving special education students.
Gates engaged in a discussion with Manning in a video, where he sought her opinion on the progress of K-12 education in America and the direction it should take. Manning shared her belief that the school system genuinely strives to do what is best for children, but she emphasized the importance of flexibility and openness to new ideas in order to meet the needs of students. She stressed that teachers should have a voice in the decision-making process.
Gates did not explicitly mention President Trump or his immigration policies in his blog posts. It is worth noting that earlier this year, a video of Gates criticizing Trump’s lack of knowledge about basic healthcare policy was leaked.
In her own blog post on Gates’s platform, Manning called on fellow educators to actively engage in policy discussions at all levels, including federal, state, and local. She emphasized that local rules have the most significant impact on what happens in classrooms, and teachers are often left out of the decision-making process at this level.
Earlier this year, Manning made headlines when she used her time at a White House reception to raise awareness about the challenges faced by her immigrant and refugee students. She presented President Trump with letters written by her students, many of whom have experienced trauma as a result of their immigration journeys.
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