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Bill Gates: Poverty not excuse for no education

Gates said a child's success should not be determined by their parents' income level

Gates said shifting the emphasis to education helps in the battle against poverty

Microsoft founder Bill Gates told the National Urban League on July 28 that a child’s success should not depend on the race or income of parents and that poverty cannot be an excuse for a poor education.

Gates said shifting the emphasis to education helps in the battle against poverty.

“Let me acknowledge that I don’t understand in a personal way the challenges that poverty creates for families, and schools and teachers,” the billionaire said at the civil rights group’s annual convention. “I don’t ever want to minimize it. Poverty is a terrible obstacle. But we can’t let it be an excuse.”

Gates, who now runs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, cited his foundation’s work with charter schools as an example.

“We know you can have a good school in a poor neighborhood,” said Gates. “So let’s end the myth that we have to solve poverty before we improve education. I say it’s more the other way around: Improving education is the best way to solve poverty.”

After speaking, Gates joined Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, who Bill Gates playfully called his “cousin,” for a conversation on education. “He’s the Harvard professor,” said Bill Gates. “I’m the Harvard drop out.”

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Comments:

  1. mjbdan

    July 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Once again Mr. Gates demonstrates why he frightens so many teachers. He doesn’t even have a clue as to what the question is! Not one teacher I know says that poverty is an excuse, but it is an issue. Students come to my school in Washington, DC without a decent meal, without parental involvement, or without a regular place to live! Does that impact a kid? Damned right it does! It is much harder for a student living in poverty to have the same success as a middle class kid. Poverty means a lack of time for parents to be involved with their children. Many of them are working very hard just to keep food on the table. Coming to a Teacher Parent Conference might mean giving up three hours of work and not being able to pay for dinner that night. It means that older children have to watch younger ones because Mom or Dad or Grandma is working. Mr. Gates, please address the correct question next time.

  2. mjbdan

    July 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Once again Mr. Gates demonstrates why he frightens so many teachers. He doesn’t even have a clue as to what the question is! Not one teacher I know says that poverty is an excuse, but it is an issue. Students come to my school in Washington, DC without a decent meal, without parental involvement, or without a regular place to live! Does that impact a kid? Damned right it does! It is much harder for a student living in poverty to have the same success as a middle class kid. Poverty means a lack of time for parents to be involved with their children. Many of them are working very hard just to keep food on the table. Coming to a Teacher Parent Conference might mean giving up three hours of work and not being able to pay for dinner that night. It means that older children have to watch younger ones because Mom or Dad or Grandma is working. Mr. Gates, please address the correct question next time.

  3. mgozaydin

    July 31, 2011 at 6:58 am

    No Bill Gates. You are wrong.
    You cannot go to college if you do not have enough money or just enough wisdom.
    Low cost college is possible in the USA.
    But since you do not have a vision it does not become reality.
    You say many places you support online education but you do not.
    Do not forget your speeches at MIT and Carnegie Mellon only this year .

    ONLINE education is still at the same price as f2f colleges.
    $ 1,500 per course at PennState. Absurd.
    State makes money out of education from the shoulders of its cvitizen .

    ONLINE is for millions.
    If one online course is shared by 100.000 student cost is only mentor’s cost, that is $ 100 per person per course.

    So let 18.000.000 college students in the USA share all 10.000 online courses in USA colleges and charge them only $ 100 per course. Let them get their degree from their HOME college where they are registered.

    This is vision. It can be realised by only Bill GATES by a POWER.

    mglozaydin@hotmail.com from Turkey

  4. mgozaydin

    July 31, 2011 at 6:58 am

    No Bill Gates. You are wrong.
    You cannot go to college if you do not have enough money or just enough wisdom.
    Low cost college is possible in the USA.
    But since you do not have a vision it does not become reality.
    You say many places you support online education but you do not.
    Do not forget your speeches at MIT and Carnegie Mellon only this year .

    ONLINE education is still at the same price as f2f colleges.
    $ 1,500 per course at PennState. Absurd.
    State makes money out of education from the shoulders of its cvitizen .

    ONLINE is for millions.
    If one online course is shared by 100.000 student cost is only mentor’s cost, that is $ 100 per person per course.

    So let 18.000.000 college students in the USA share all 10.000 online courses in USA colleges and charge them only $ 100 per course. Let them get their degree from their HOME college where they are registered.

    This is vision. It can be realised by only Bill GATES by a POWER.

    mglozaydin@hotmail.com from Turkey

  5. lmikels

    August 1, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Ten years ago I became principal of a low performing, high poverty school. My teachers and I agreed that we would make no excuses and accept 100% accountability for student learning. By changing our pedagogy and using Turning Technologies’ student response systems to create interactive classrooms, we were able to reach National Blue Ribbon status and close the achievement gap in eight years.
    Thank you, Bill, for your courage to speak out. As Ron Edmunds once said, “If one school can overcome the powerful and pervasive effects of poverty on student achievement, shouldn’t any school be able to do the same?”

  6. lmikels

    August 1, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Ten years ago I became principal of a low performing, high poverty school. My teachers and I agreed that we would make no excuses and accept 100% accountability for student learning. By changing our pedagogy and using Turning Technologies’ student response systems to create interactive classrooms, we were able to reach National Blue Ribbon status and close the achievement gap in eight years.
    Thank you, Bill, for your courage to speak out. As Ron Edmunds once said, “If one school can overcome the powerful and pervasive effects of poverty on student achievement, shouldn’t any school be able to do the same?”

  7. deborahA

    August 1, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Poverty is no excuse but it is a major issue. I tell my students that “I want no excuses from them. They cannot afford the luxury of an excuse.” I realize that some are hungry. Some have spent the night at a crisis foster home. Some haven’t seen either parent for a long time because the parents are in prison. But when they enter my classroom we set about removing as many barriers as we can. I send them to the lunchroom for a breakfast snack. They listen to calming music to restore peace and balance in their heads. We talk about how much work it will take to change their situations. We use the technology that is available to us. But it will take money and lots of it. I agree, we must get creative but it will still take a lot of money.

  8. deborahA

    August 1, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Poverty is no excuse but it is a major issue. I tell my students that “I want no excuses from them. They cannot afford the luxury of an excuse.” I realize that some are hungry. Some have spent the night at a crisis foster home. Some haven’t seen either parent for a long time because the parents are in prison. But when they enter my classroom we set about removing as many barriers as we can. I send them to the lunchroom for a breakfast snack. They listen to calming music to restore peace and balance in their heads. We talk about how much work it will take to change their situations. We use the technology that is available to us. But it will take money and lots of it. I agree, we must get creative but it will still take a lot of money.

  9. chan

    August 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I know that there are and can be good schools in areas of poverty unfortunately with the highstakes testing, teacher accountable, unreachable goals of NCLB and Race for the Top, and Bill Gates $$ good teachers are being driven from the very schools they are most needed. Why would I teach at a school that earns a D when I can use the same level of instruction at another school that earns an A. Or to put it in business language which would you invest your money in Sinclair Research or Microsoft.

  10. chan

    August 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I know that there are and can be good schools in areas of poverty unfortunately with the highstakes testing, teacher accountable, unreachable goals of NCLB and Race for the Top, and Bill Gates $$ good teachers are being driven from the very schools they are most needed. Why would I teach at a school that earns a D when I can use the same level of instruction at another school that earns an A. Or to put it in business language which would you invest your money in Sinclair Research or Microsoft.


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