The Two-Way
3:31 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Bill Gates: Making Teacher Evaluations Public 'Not Conducive To Openness'

Bill Gates is of course better known as the co-founder of Microsoft. But his foundation, The Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation, which contributes to NPR, is known for pouring millions into education reform.

Gates made a splash back in February when he came out against making Teacher Data Reports — or evaluations — public in New York City. Los Angeles Public Schools released similar data.

This is a big deal, because his foundation has advocated for tougher accountability standards for teachers, something teachers unions haven't fully embraced.

In an interview with Weekend Edition Saturday's host Scott Simon, Gates explained himself.

"The goal is to help teachers be better," Gates said. "And when we run personnel systems where we want to be frank with employees about where they need to improve, having [evaluations] publicly available is not conducive to openness and a free exchange of views."

Scott pushed that point, asking Gates if he could understand this is information that might be helpful for parents who want to know how their children's teachers are performing.

Gates said parents looking at evaluations could lead to a rush of them trying to get their kids in classrooms with the highly rated teachers and that's a "zero-sum game," he said, when what we should be doing is helping all teachers improve.

Still, Gates said he believed in evaluations. He said if Microsoft didn't have evaluations, "it wouldn't have worked."

He said that seniority and educational degrees didn't correlate with "who was writing the best code."

Much more of Scott's conversation with Gates will air on Weekend Edition Saturday. Click here to find a station that airs the program. We'll also post the as-aired version of the interview here.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.