Double Date with the Gateses

It’s not often that Gov. Phil Bredesen and Governor-elect Bill Haslam can show up for a meeting and neither is the richest guy in the room.

Billionaire cyberpioneer Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, who are also big-giving philanthropists with particular interest in education advancement, met with Gov. Phil Bredesen and Governor-elect Bill Haslam at the governor’s residence to talk about ways to advance teacher effectiveness.

“You can use online to make things more flexible, but at the end of the day, certainly at the high school level, the quality of that teacher will still be the key thing,” Gates told reporters in a press conference in the governor’s residence.

There are advantages to giving teachers a greater variety of tools to improve their performance, including basic video equipment to examine their own teaching style or the ability tune in to other successful educators’ class sessions.

Earlier this year, Tennessee won a highly-coveted $500 million Race to the Top grant from the U.S. Department of Education as a reward for embracing a handful of education reforms. One of those initiatives includes basing half of a teacher’s yearly evaluation on student test scores.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $90 million late last year to study teacher performance and retention at Memphis City Schools in a national quest to define what makes an successful teacher.