[caption id="attachment_126089" align="alignleft" width="150"] The overture is being watched with hope, but also wariness.[/caption]

On a cool, February morning in Scottsdale, Ariz., last year, 250 teachers gathered in a hotel ballroom at the biggest conference for teachers the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had likely ever held.

A few principals and superintendents were in the room, too, along with people from advocacy groups, but the vast majority were classroom teachers, mostly from Tampa, Pittsburgh, Memphis, and other school districts with big Gates grants.

Many felt a little out of place in such a...

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