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Microsoft founder Bill Gates in 2017 Elsa / Getty Images

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NEW YORK, May 6, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Educator and parent groups are criticizing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that New York state will work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to “reimagine” a “new normal” for education.

The collaboration was forged in response to the lack of preparedness of school systems across the state to make the sudden shift to remote instruction after the coronavirus pandemic forced the shutdown of traditional classroom teaching.       

“The last few months have been an incredibly stressful time full of change, but we have to learn and grow from this situation and make sure we build our systems back better than they were before,” said Cuomo in a live-streamed news conference.  

‘An historic moment to revolutionize education’

Cuomo zoomed in on education, and suggested that the pandemic has triggered an opportunity to incorporate more tele-education, virtual education, and remote education as part of the new normal for teaching the state’s young people. 

“You know the old model of everybody goes and sits in a classroom and the teacher is in front of that classroom and teaches that class, and you do that all across the city, all across the state, all these buildings, all these physical classrooms – why, with all the technology you have?” he asked. 

“It’s not about just reopening schools,” said Cuomo. “Let’s open a smarter education system.”

“I want to thank the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; we’ll be working with them on this project,” announced Cuomo.  

“Bill Gates is a visionary who has spoken about his ideas on technology and education” for many years, said Cuomo.  

“I think we now have a moment in history where we can actually incorporate and advance those ideas,” he declared. 

“I think this is one of those moments,” he continued. “Let’s start talking about really revolutionizing education.” 

The “reimagining” of the future of New York’s education system guided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will include:

  • How can we use technology to provide more opportunities to students no matter where they are;
  • How can we provide shared education among schools and colleges using technology;
  • How can technology reduce educational inequality, including English as a new language students;
  • How can we use technology to meet educational needs of students with disabilities;
  • How can we provide educators more tools to use technology;
  • How can technology break down barriers to K-12 and Colleges and Universities to provide greater access to high quality education no matter where the student lives; and
  • Given ongoing socially distancing rules, how can we deploy classroom technology, like immersive cloud virtual classrooms learning, to recreate larger class or lecture hall environments in different locations?

‘Damaging education agenda’ of the Gates Foundation 

Cuomo’s announcement that Gates’ organization would be involved in overhauling education in the Empire State was met with a swift backlash. Many pointed out that over the years the billionaire tech couple has posted a less than stellar track record with their forays into revamping education.   

“As educators, parents and school board members, we were appalled to hear that you will be working with the Gates Foundation on ‘reimagining’ our schools following the Covid crisis,” stated a letter addressed to Governor Cuomo, signed by three organizations: The New York State Allies for Public Education, Class Size Matters, and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.

The letter continued:  

Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation have promoted one failed educational initiative after another, causing huge disaffection in districts throughout the state.

Whether that be the high-handed push by the Gates Foundation for the invalid Common Core standards, unreliable teacher evaluation linked to test scores, or privacy-violating data-collection via the corporation known as inBloom Inc., the education of our children has been repeatedly put at risk by their non-evidence based “solutions.”

We urge you instead to listen to parents and teachers rather than allow the Gates Foundation to implement their damaging education agenda once again.  Since the schools were shut down in mid-March, our understanding of the profound deficiencies of screen-based instruction has only grown. The use of education tech may have its place, but only as an ancillary to in-person learning, not as its replacement.

Along with many other parents and educators, we strongly oppose enabling the Gates Foundation to influence the direction of education in the state by expanding the use of ed tech.   

Critics also took to social media. 

“Gates should run for president,” tweeted Laura Ingraham. “He wants to run your lives.” 

New York State United Teachers President, Andy Pallotta, said remote learning will never replace in-person classes and the connections between students and teachers that form in classrooms.

Jasmine Gripper, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, said that online-only teaching hurts students who require the most help, and that too much “screen time” is harmful for kids. 

“In 2018 there was an attempt by a different billionaire to promote online learning in NYC public schools, the failed program led to student walkouts and dismal results,” wrote Gripper. 

“Up-to-date technology is an essential classroom tool, but it will never replace the face-to-face interactions and relationships with caring teachers that form the bedrock of a child's education,” she added. 

Pro-life and conservative activists have raised other concerns about the pro-abortion, pro-contraception Gates Foundation’s role in the coronavirus response. Bill Gates said he thinks life won’t go back to “normal” until the population is “widely vaccinated” and that “eventually we will have some digital certificates to show who has recovered or been tested recently or when we have a vaccine who has received it.”

Gates has also funded Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) research that floated the idea of embedding vaccine records “directly into the skin” of children.

“Along with the vaccine, a child would be injected with a bit of dye that is invisible to the naked eye but easily seen with a special cell-phone filter, combined with an app that shines near-infrared light onto the skin,” an article in Scientific American explained. “The dye would be expected to last up to five years, according to tests on pig and rat skin and human skin in a dish.”

The idea was “funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” Scientific American explained, and it “came about because of a direct request from Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates himself, who has been supporting efforts to wipe out diseases such as polio and measles across the world.”