Bill Gates Praises Nearly All-White Class: “Every Classroom Could Look Like That”

Here`s Bill Gates` TED talk “Teachers need real feedback,” which is no doubt true, but … Bill`s video-within-a-video of what every classroom “could look like” is pretty hilarious. Bizarrely, Gates` TED talk is from just last month. Considering that he`s been mucking around in education for 14 years, you`d think he`d be less naive by now.

(If you don`t like watching videos, here`s Diane Ravitch`s transcript.)

Starting at 5:30 in to the TED talk is a video about how Bill`s new teacher evaluation system is working wonderfully in a classroom in Johnston High School, Iowa.

The classroom appears to have a student body made up of about 14 blonde and 8 brunet white kids. (There seems to be one black student on the edge of one shot, but he doesn`t seem to show up in other shots — this video could represent multiple classes.)

Johnston is a fast-growing white flight suburb of Des Moines. In 2010, the demographics of Johnston, Iowa were:

The racial makeup of the city was 91.0% White, 2.2% African American, 0.1% Native American, 4.6% Asian, 0.6% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.0% of the population.

If it`s Iowa and the second biggest ethnic group is Asians, it`s pretty high end. Also, the students in the video are slender, so this is clearly an upscale school.

From Zillow, here are the demographics of Johnston High School:


Ethnicity
School District
White, non-Hispanic 91% 88%
Black, non-Hispanic 4% 4%
Asian/Pacific Islander 3% 5%
Hispanic 2% 3%
Native American or Native Alaskan 0.5% 0.3%

Only 13% of Johnston High students qualify for reduced price lunches compared to almost half of all students nationally.

Wikipedia doesn`t give the 2010 income figures for Johnston, but back in 2000: “the median income for a family was $97,322.” Nearly six figures in 2000 in Iowa must put that community at the 95th percentile or higher. A 2011 US News article listed the Des Moines metropolitan area, with its cost of living at only 90.6% of the national average and median income of $56,576, as having the highest cost-adjusted standard of living in the country. And Johnston is gold-plated by Des Moines standards.

Bill ends his video about Johnston High at 7:58 with the assertion:

every classroom could look like that

Of course, nobody, Gates or his TED audience, gets the joke.