Gates said the experience of being a parent of three kids – ages 10, 7 and 4 – has led him to spend more time thinking about schools. Specifically, he said the U.S. education system needs higher standards, clear accountability, flexible personnel practices and innovation.
Gates, whose children are in private schools, said every state should require students to take three or four years of math and science to graduate from high school – 25 states currently have such requirements. He wants states to have the power to intervene at low-performing schools.
“Real accountability means more than having goals; it also means having clear consequences for not meeting the goals,” he said in a speech earlier Monday to Washington state educators who came to hear the results of an education task force.
Gates said schools should also be able to pay the best teachers better and offer incentives to attract people with rare abilities.
“It’s astonishing to me to have a system that doesn’t allow us to pay more for someone with scarce abilities, that doesn’t allow us to pay more to reward strong performance,” he said. “That is tantamount to saying teacher talent and performance don’t matter and that’s basically saying students don’t matter.”