Do As I Say Not As I Know How to Do

The Huffington Post reported in November 2013 that there were 11 people who were greatly influencing education yet have never taught. That list was comprised of: Arnie Duncan, Bill Gates, David Coleman, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Harkin, Rupert Murdoch, Janet Napolitano, Wendy Kopp, Kevin Johnson, Cory Booker, and Mark Zuckerberg. Other givers of big money with very tight strings attached, such as Eli Broad and the Walton (Walmart) family, as well as front groups such as Families for Excellent Schools and Educators for Excellence could today be added to the list of those who influence education but have no experience as educators.

Of that Huffington Post list,  Arnie Duncan, Bill Gates, David Coleman, Michael Bloomberg, Wendy Kopp, and Mark Zuckerberg remain influential in K-12 education today.  The embattled Arnie Duncan still insists that test and punish is the way to close the achievement gap and setting up competition (races) among public schools is the way to improve education for all kids. David Coleman, as the chief writer and designer of the Common Core English Standards, leaves behind the legacy in all U.S. schools that implement the Common Core of less literature being read,  student engagement being eliminated as a goal, and writing taught as  formulas without personal involvement of the student writers. And he now he is president of the College Board so we can only guess at that damage. Bill Gates is funding every possible avenue for discussing Common Core, including the League of Women Voters, and every possible avenue for implementing the Common Core, including teachers unions and Educators for Excellence. Michael Bloomberg, although no longer mayor of New York City, still exerts great influence on the governor of New York and uses his vast wealth and powerful connections to support the cause for charter schools. Wendy Kopp, founder and now Chair of the Board of Teach for America, continues to insist that 5 weeks training in the summer is enough education and an internship under an accomplished  mentor is not necessary to produce a qualified teacher.

Mark Zuckerberg may be an outlier. After donating 100 million dollars to the Newark schools and realizing that endeavor failed because educators and parents were left out of the process, he and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan who has been a teacher, have now donated 120 million to San Francisco and Bay Area schools with the stipulation that all efforts must focus on teacher and parent involvement. He has learned that it is teachers who know about teaching and learning, and it is parents and teachers, not investors or politicians, who care about the children. We will have to watch this endeavor.

Here is what The Huffington Post had to say about the non-educators who have been and still are in charge of much of what has been called “reform” but actually should be called malpractice as suggested in another Huffington Post article:

They design teacher evaluation systems, teacher training guidelines and the types of standards that need to be taught. Yet, they have never been teachers themselves.

These days, being a teacher is clearly not a prerequisite for becoming a leader in education. In fact, some of the leaders with the most daily influence on classrooms come from entirely unrelated fields.

Below we have compiled a list of some of the most influential leaders in education who have never been teachers.

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