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Education Facebook Google Microsoft Programming Documentary Serving Multiple Agendas? 226

theodp writes "'Someday, and that day may never come,' Don Corleone says famously in The Godfather, 'I'll call upon you to do a service for me.' Back in 2010, filmmaker Lesley Chilcott produced Waiting for 'Superman', a controversial documentary that analyzed the failures of the American public education system, and presented charter schools as a glimmer of hope, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-backed KIPP Los Angeles Prep. Gates himself was a 'Superman' cast member, lamenting how U.S. public schools are producing 'American Idiots' of no use to high tech firms like Microsoft, forcing them to 'go half-way around the world to recruit the engineers and programmers they needed.' So some found it strange that when Chilcott teamed up with Gates again three years later to make's documentary short What Most Schools Don't Teach, kids from KIPP Empower Academy were called upon to demonstrate that U.S. schoolchildren are still clueless about what computer programmers do. In a nice coincidence, the film went viral just as leaders of Google, Microsoft, and Facebook pressed President Obama and Congress on immigration reform, citing a dearth of U.S. programming talent. And speaking of coincidences, the lone teacher in the film (James, Teacher@Mount View Elementary), whose classroom was tapped by as a model for the nation's schools, is Seattle teacher Jamie Ewing, who took top honors in Microsoft's Partners in Learning (PiL) U.S. Forum last summer, earning him a spot on PiL's 'Team USA' and the chance to showcase his project at the Microsoft PiL Global Forum in Prague in November (82-page Conference Guide). Ironically, had Ewing stuck to teaching the kids Scratch programming, as he's shown doing in the documentary, Microsoft wouldn't have seen fit to send him to its blowout at 'absolutely amazingly beautiful' Prague Castle. Innovative teaching, at least according to Microsoft's rules, 'must include the use of one or more Microsoft technologies.' Fortunately, Ewing's project — described in his MSDN guest blog post — called for using PowerPoint and Skype. For the curious, here's Microsoft PiL's vision of what a classroom should be."
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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @10:39AM (#43223731)

    It seems inappropriate to call the person who gave the most money to charity in the history of the world self-serving.

    Yes, to his own charity that invests primarily (if not entirely) in American companies and American markets []. It also is used to fund Paul Allen's and VC's pet projects []. It's to the point where they're throwing money away in order to boost their friend's revenues [] not really caring about the end results.

    But yeah, if holding the money and spending it on only American companies is what you call "gave the most money to charity in the history o the world" then yeah ... good luck finding any lasting positive impacts though. I'd call it more of a trust fund for fat cats that may or may not have some positive side effects for the third world. I guarantee you it will have big positive gains for big pharma and Bill's friends.

  • by Looker_Device ( 2857489 ) * on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @10:50AM (#43223857)

    He's saying that a lot of this "U.S. schools are awful, just awful" stuff is propaganda, funded by U.S. tech firms in an effort to import more H1B-visa indentured servants to save money.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @10:51AM (#43223875)

    So it's only "real" charity when there's no strings attached?

    FTFY. Nice try but the problem here is that Bill donates to a "third party" that is really working to further his and his friend's interests and always will. Their lip service is something like their primary interest is to eradicate malaria but it turns out all their buddies get rich selling nets and vaccines to third world countries. The Gates Foundation "gives" money but all that money comes right back to their friends. The Foundation gets the write off. The friends get the revenue (independent of how shitty or great their product is). The small time businesses in the third world that were trying to sell these things get wiped off the map. And the problems largely persist indefinitely with companies buying international PR while generating revenue for other companies. Smile and pat yourself on the back, at the end of the day you're not really accomplishing anything but moving money to look good to Wall Street and the UN.

    Here's an interesting question: how much money did the B&G foundation lose when the American housing and financial markets plummeted?

    If you call that strictly donating to charity, you have some pretty screwed up standards of charity.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @11:06AM (#43224047)

    You are aware Gates was a dropout right?

    He made his business based on family connections at IBM.

  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @12:10PM (#43224607)

    He dropped out of college, but because he decided to found Microsoft. He did not get kicked out, and he didn't get to Harvard by being an idiot.

  • by Zalbik ( 308903 ) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @06:51PM (#43229061)

    WTF? I'm gonna assume this was intended to be funny, but it's sitting at +3 Interesting

    1) is not run by microsoft. It's a non-profit founded by Hadi Partovi []

    2) doesn't promote microsoft coding habits. I can't actually find any microsoft languages on their site.

    3) I'm not cetain who "they" refers to in the 3rd sentence, but doesn't have anything to say about outsourcing tech jobs. If it's referring to Microsoft, then Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Cisco and Intel also signed the letter [] requesting an overhaul of the tech visa system

    4) westerners who...think independently. Yep, that's some pretty "independent" thinking thinking you've got going there. It's so independent, it may form it's own little country with a flag and national anthem.

    5) This is all helped by a whole host of corporate artists, celebrities, and other proffesional astro-turfers. Huh?

    Sadly, as bat-sh-t crazy as your description still made more sense than the article.

The moon may be smaller than Earth, but it's further away.