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Bill Gates Tries A(nother) Billion-Dollar Plan To Reform Education (washingtonpost.com) 288

theodp shared this article from the Washington Post: Bill Gates has a(nother) plan for K-12 public education. The others didn't go so well, but the man, if anything, is persistent. Gates announced Thursday that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would spend more than $1.7 billion over the next five years to pay for new initiatives in public education, with all but 15 percent of it going to traditional public school districts and the rest to charter schools... He said most of the new money -- about 60 percent -- will be used to develop new curriculums and "networks of schools" that work together to identify local problems and solutions, using data to drive "continuous improvement." He said that over the next several years, about 30 such networks would be supported, though he didn't describe exactly what they are...

Though there wasn't a lot of detail on exactly how the money would be spent, Gates, a believer in using big data to solve problems, repeatedly said foundation grants given to schools as part of this new effort would be driven by data. "Each [school] network will be backed by a team of education experts skilled in continuous improvement, coaching and data collection and analysis," he said, an emphasis that is bound to worry critics already concerned about the amount of student data already collected and the way it is used for high-stakes decisions. In 2014, a $100 million student data collection project funded by the Gates foundation collapsed amid criticism that it couldn't adequately protect information collected on children.

"In his speech, Gates said that education philanthropy was difficult, in part because it is easy to 'fool yourself' about what works and whether it can be easily scaled," according to the article. It also argues that big spending on education by Gates and others "has raised questions about whether American democracy is well-served by wealthy people pouring so much money into pet education projects -- regardless of whether they are grounded in research -- that public policy and funding follow."

By 2011 the Gates' foundation had already spent $5 billion on education projects -- and admitted that "it hasn't led to significant improvements."
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Bill Gates Tries A(nother) Billion-Dollar Plan To Reform Education

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  • Self serving jerk (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Topwiz ( 1470979 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @06:01PM (#55414681)

    Most of the money the foundation donates is spent purchasing products from companies that are owned by him or a friend of his. It is a big tax avoidance scheme. Donate money with one hand to get a tax deduction that offsets the income of the same money returning to the other hand.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      If Gates was interested in getting even more rich he wouldn't be giving away most of his income and a part of his fortune.

      • If Gates was interested in getting even more rich he wouldn't be giving away most of his income and a part of his fortune.

        He was never going to be permitted to keep his fortune because he didn't play politics enough. So after the USDoJ found that Microsoft under Gates was guilty of abusing its monopoly position in basically every way possible, the foundation was formed to shield Gates from punishment of any kind. He's still in control of all of that money, and he personally profits from the way it spends money. When he dies, his family will still control that foundation; it's empire-building.

  • by Insanity Defense ( 1232008 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @06:01PM (#55414683)
    So how much of this money will be to keep MS the dominant OS provider to schools and therefore keep filling the Gates pockets?
  • Every new idea and expenditure that goes into the current government school system ends in disappointment. Maybe the problem isn’t the lack of ideas or funds.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2017 @06:07PM (#55414709)

    Money was wasted because it wasnâ(TM)t focusing on the actual problem: parents. Seems to me that it is really parents that need educating to create a change. Education starts at home and by the time kids get to school you can already tell the dummies from the smart kids; thatâ(TM)s because of parents (and parenting).

    • "Education starts at home..."
    • Seems to me that it is really parents that need educating to create a change.

      Seems to me, you and your spouse should work a few years averaging 100-120 hours per week between the two of you, for a lousy two-bedroom apartment, before you start lecturing people on how they aren't doing enough to support their families.

    • You can't fix the parents. You can only help the children. It's too late for the parents. In order to fix them you would have to actually help them; just like the kids, you'd have to actually care about them, and act accordingly. You'd have to help them fix what's wrong with their lives in order to help them fix what's wrong with their education to the extent that they could help their kids, and in order to give them the mental and emotional energy necessary. When you're living paycheck to paycheck and just

  • "The others didn't go so well..."

    Has Bill Gates been successful in spending his money? Is there evidence he has deep knowledge about technology? Is there evidence he has deep knowledge about programming, for example?

    Over many years, I have seen almost no evidence of Bill Gates having depth of thinking.

    Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold wrote a very poor book together, The Road Ahead [wikipedia.org]. Quote from the Wikipedia page:

    The New York Times review called the book "bland and tepid" and reading "as if it had been vetted by a committee of Microsoft executives"; it is "little more than a positioning document, sold in book form with accompanying CD-ROM and designed mainly to advance the interests of the Microsoft Corporation."

    That New York Times book review [nytimes.com] suggests that Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold were deliberately engaged in fraud, and deliberately eliminated anything of value from the book before it was printed.

    • Has Bill Gates been successful in spending his money? Is there evidence he has deep knowledge about technology? Is there evidence he has deep knowledge about programming, for example?

      Andy Hetzfeld was somewhat dumbfounded at some bad programming Gates was apparently involved with.

      For some reason Slashdot isn’t letting me insert the hyperlink into the sentence above... but here it is:
      https://www.folklore.org/Story... [folklore.org]

    • by epine ( 68316 )

      That New York Times book review suggests that Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold were deliberately engaged in fraud, and deliberately eliminated anything of value from the book before it was printed.

      That was good for a chuckle. The author of that piece is Joe Nocera, way back in 1995, while Nocera was still promoting his new book, A Piece of the Action: How the Middle Class Joined the Money Class (from the same year).

      Holy dotcom relic, Batman.

      Here's as close as the piece comes to hinting at fraud:

      Whatever genu

    • "The others didn't go so well..."

      Has Bill Gates been successful in spending his money? Is there evidence he has deep knowledge about technology? Is there evidence he has deep knowledge about programming, for example?

      Over many years, I have seen almost no evidence of Bill Gates having depth of thinking.

      Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold wrote a very poor book together, The Road Ahead [wikipedia.org]. Quote from the Wikipedia page:

      The New York Times review called the book "bland and tepid" and reading "as if it had been vetted by a committee of Microsoft executives"; it is "little more than a positioning document, sold in book form with accompanying CD-ROM and designed mainly to advance the interests of the Microsoft Corporation."

      That New York Times book review [nytimes.com] suggests that Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold were deliberately engaged in fraud, and deliberately eliminated anything of value from the book before it was printed.

      Yes his was code was analyzed. It's a very very old story here on Slashdot from early last decade. Bill Gates is one of the most successful CEO's in history. He mad a shitty OS a monopoly and was ahead of the technology curve for the 80's and 90's before it went to shit when Balmer took over.

      We know Windows wasn't great but he is good with investments and running a company. His tactics and agreement with IBM gave us the DOS/Windows monopoly we all hate but I give him credit for it in a business sense.

    • Is there evidence he has deep knowledge about technology? Is there evidence he has deep knowledge about programming, for example?

      You can look at his code and judge for yourself [itworld.com]. He aced the SAT so it's reasonable to assume he could acquire deep knowledge about programming, whether he did or not. Reports are that he was technical at Microsoft [joelonsoftware.com]. Other reports suggest he mentored other programmers.

      All in all, there's plenty of evidence that Bill Gates understands programming as well as many working programmers.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Gates has skills. BASIC was a big deal back in the day, arguably one of the most important programming languages ever since it helped so many people learn. It wasn't just a toy either, back in the late 70s and 80s a lot of commercial software was written in BASIC. It made sense because as well as being very low cost to develop (no expensive workstation and cross-compiler/debug harness required) it allowed you to take advantage of extensive ROM routines on machines with very limited amounts of RAM.

      As shitty

    • No Bill Gates is a visionary! He correctly identified the internet as a worthless fad back in the day. Today I read the internet described as "a bottomless well of available grievance." [slashdot.org]
      The Big G called it back in 1995.

  • by thinkwaitfast ( 4150389 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @06:16PM (#55414739)
    It's parents and culture. Nothing will overcome this.
    • It's the parents and the economy

      FTFY.

      Parents working multiple low-wage jobs just to keep the family fed and a roof over their head do not leave a lot of time to foster their children's education.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        The economy may drive poverty and poverty may drive long-term racial inequity, but really the problems are cultural in African American families. There are a lot of hand-to-mouth blue collar communities that manage reasonable educational outcomes.

        Cracking the nut of African American educational disparity has become an obsession with educators, and unfortunately what it has led to is both a misguided focus on schools as socioeconomic welfare provisioning agencies and a whipsawing among educational "systems"

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      So much cash has been offered by the gov, private sectors over decades. Calculators that have supporting text books ... New desktop computers. Still getting low grades years later every year? Laptops... more next textbooks
      Still not getting that academic good news? Tablet computers...robot kits ... digital course work..

      When will educators understand its not a spending issue at schools.
      The funding per student and school should have resulted in some better education results over the decades if a lack
    • No, it's a problem in multiple sides. parents, culture, school makeup (poor people in poor school get poor funding), teacher education quality (focus on learning to deal with students without knowing the subject matter), teacher overal quality (low paid job doesn't attract talent), and my own personal favourite, politics that could make the most seasoned union representative blush.

      There's no single thing that can fix education. It is broken in so many different ways.

  • by plazman30 ( 531348 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @06:27PM (#55414773) Homepage

    So, the man who brought us Common Core is going to do something else to totally mess with the education system again?

    Thanks, but no thanks, Mr. Gates. My state opted out of Common Core. But it's impossible to buy a math textbook that isn't written for Common Core, so the kids end up getting Common Core whether they like it or not.

    • by Z80a ( 971949 )

      Don't worry, he will eventually get it right by Common Core 98 or 2000.
      But stay the hell away from Common Core ME.

  • by levicivita ( 1487751 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @06:28PM (#55414775)
    I am no Bill Gates fan by any means. I think Microsoft's domination of the PC industry through aggressive business practices set the IT landscape back 10 years. That being said - the money is now his and he can do whatever he wishes with it. The Washington Post is strangely bothered that someone is trying to improve the horrid state of American education - at least in a way that is not simply "more cowbell." "This has raised questions about whether American democracy is well-served by wealthy people pouring so much money into pet education projects — regardless of whether they are grounded in research — that public policy and funding follow." Is our current educational policy eminently "grounded in research" and producing extraordinary outcomes? I think we can agree that is not the case. Furthermore, I think this line of questioning "raises questions" whether the Washington Post has an even rudimentary understanding of the American constitution, or at least of the first few amendments. Mr Bill Gates is free to engage in the pursuit of his happiness as he sees fit. The people and institutions choosing to work with Mr Gates or his charities are equally free to do the same. And we are free to not encourage clickbaity low quality content from the WaPo.
    • I am no Bill Gates fan by any means. I think Microsoft's domination of the PC industry through aggressive business practices set the IT landscape back 10 years. That being said - the money is now his and he can do whatever he wishes with it.

      Legally, that's true. That being said — he got that money by engaging in illegal activity, and he is a career criminal. That his illegal activities were successful only makes him a successful criminal.

  • Completely useless (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PhantomHarlock ( 189617 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @06:37PM (#55414805)

    Speaking as someone who is married to a teacher and sees all of it firsthand (and hears about all of it every night when I am not actually visiting the school) there is some technology that works and some that is completely useless. Endless standardized testing and data collection are completely useless. It takes away from actually teaching and does not contribute anything back. You are not teaching a data metric. You are teaching a child, and education is not just learning to take a test. Look abroad to find more well rounded and less myopic views of education, or look at Montessori schools. Education that includes, art, music, fun science and free play time. A healthy balance and a much reduced focus on data metrics.

    Using computers to administer tests when they are needed, and to track grades and scores are good. That's about where it ends. Endless repeated testing that requires all children to follow the same learning schedule and eats away at classroom time is completely useless.

    I would say that the single most important factor in determining an individual child's quality of education is class size. The difference between 20 kids in a classroom and 30 kids is enormous. What 20 kids buys you is the ability to give a much more individual focus on each child and help them personally. It greatly decreases the chances of a child slipping through the cracks and falling behind for no good reason other than they needed a little extra help and they didn't get it. It allows you to see and spot problems much more easily through the noise.

    Also, classroom aids and special programs to help children with behavioral issues are very thin on the ground. The lower the socioeconomic scale in the neighborhood, the more this becomes critical. The average family income of schoolchildren should be proportionate to the class size. The lower the income, the lower the class size should be. Anyone who has observed classes in both high income schools and low income schools would probably agree with me. There are far more behavioral issues and other needs in a poor classroom. Their home life is much more varied, and for many of these children, School is their only safe place where they are welcomed and loved. You are a teacher, a counselor, a mom, a dad, whatever they need. My wife sometimes go buy clothes for the kids that show up with dirty clothes with holes in them. Just that small act makes the child feel so much better about themselves, and their performance in school improves. She is always there for a hug or to listen to their problems and help them cope with life.

    The class sizes are one way to illustrate how funding is the opposite of what it should be now. Wealthy schools typically have lots of tax income as well as plenty of extra money generated through PTAs and parent donations.

    Poor schools, who need extra activities and support the most get the least amount of either.

    I don't have a good answer for any of this, only realities of what's on the ground here. Perhaps if schools stopped spending money on technology that is aggressively marketed to them and does not work, they could use the money on more staff. Case in point, I know that in our local district, hundreds of thousands of dollars have gone towards technology programs that could have been used to hire a few more teachers and made a big dent in class sizes.

    It's easy for people who are not teachers or principals to come up with ideas that sound good. But ideas that actually work require a lot of input from the troops on the ground, and not just at your blessed Cupertino school where children are well supported with highly involved, highly educated parents. You need to look at what works in poor, rural schools where many basic needs are not met. Talk to the teachers. Ask them what they need to help their kids. More often than not, it has nothing to do with technology. It has to do with nurturing and that fuzzy stuff that cannot be quantified.

    • I do not entirely agree with what you wrote, but the key point you seemed to be making is right on. The problem with educations is not how MUCH money we are spending. Rather it is HOW we are spending it.

      Another point related to this, which no one in the education establishment seems to pay any attention to whatsoever, is that it takes at least 12 years to truly measure the impact of any new teaching methods. In order to really see what impact a new teaching paradigm has on education, you need to have a g
    • Endless standardized testing and data collection are completely useless.

      You need a way to measure, otherwise you can't improve. Data collection does that for you. Teachers don't like it because it can be used against them (and in fact, has been used against them).

  • by myid ( 3783581 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @06:42PM (#55414827)

    Of course having good parents makes a huge difference. But just talking about money - how would I spend $1.7 billion on education?

    1) Buy the rights to highly-regarded educational books, and release the books freely over the internet.

    2) Set up some private schools that teach as they do in Finland [smithsonianmag.com]. This imitating Finland would include hiring outstanding teachers, and paying them well.

    3) Open private schools for students who want to learn, putting them in areas with bad schools. The students in the good schools don't have to be geniuses, but they do have to work hard and behave well. Make these schools low-tuition or free, for students whose parents can't afford the cost. I hate reading articles like this one [quorumcolumbia.org], about students who were physically attacked by other students for the "crime" of studying hard.

    4) For students who are fighting peer pressure to not study and to behave badly - if they don't have an alternate good physical school to attend, then set up a free, high-quality online school for them to attend.

    • So, how do you identify the excellent teachers? Give them tests on educational theory? Measure their political correctness? It is easy to pay more, hard to choose.

      Nobody wants to go to a school in a poor area. Helping poor kids that want to do well is a good start, but getting them away from the others is they key. But that will then create a ghetto for the bad ones, that might outnumber the good.

      Incidentally, I am surprised that the Democrats do not take education more seriously. Not because they car

      • Democrats - more specifically Progressives - take indoctrination seriously, which is why control of the educational system has been their goal and technique for over a century. They don't give a hoot about the quality of education, just what propaganda they can shove into students. There's a reason that rhetoric and informal logic are unknown in public schools.
    • 1) Pointless, education materials are available. If there are people who can't afford them than the focus should be on reducing the problem of affordability: e.g. schools owning the books rather than people buying them, and not always needing to use the latest and greatest edition which contains only one spelling mistake difference from the previous release.

      2) A rich private school paying lots of money to teachers which can only be afforded by rich kids who are already well off and don't have a problem with

  • Most teachers suck. Whether that's because of poor training is unclear.

    However, most teachers never get past the "presenting information" stage of teaching. For them, it's just a job. That's fine, but they should do their job more effectively.

    How do you get low performers to do better? That's the real secret behind making education more effective. Finding inspiring people is hard. Making bad teachers better is just process improvement, and shouldn't be as hard. After all, you have to work with what you have

    • Better teachers is 1 part of the problem.

      Second part is dealing with poverty and kids who do not value education. Imagine teaching a class with these punks [youtube.com]? Sounds like hell!

      FYI my exwife was a teacher with children with emotional problems and I worked at a school district before. You do not see children act like animals in other countries.

      Yes the teacher is responsible for setting the tone in the classroom. It IS A HARD JOB to do unless you work in a rich area. Would you want there job after watching this?

    • How do you get low performers to do better? That's the real secret behind making education more effective. Finding inspiring people is hard. Making bad teachers better is just process improvement, and shouldn't be as hard. After all, you have to work with what you have.

      It's not hard. Pay more.

      If you want better workers at your widget factory, you pay more money so you get higher-quality applicants.

      The exact same economics applies to teachers. You want better teachers? Pay like it is the high-skill professional job that it actually is.

  • They have destroyed the Michigan educational system.
  • He's in it to spread Microsoft Windows and Microsoft software and nothing more. He and Balmer denied their own kids anything but Microsoft products and this is what they want for everyone else's kids too. Yet over and over it's not Microsoft leading the industry with innovation, Microsoft has always been a follower so really he's in no position, but for his wealth, to dictate what'll prepare K-12 kids for the future.

    LoB
  • by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @08:03PM (#55415129)

    Being smart and / or successful in school is looked down upon by the majority of their peers. You're labeled a geek or a nerd and ostracized for it.

    Those who attempt to learn are merely targeted and ridiculed by the rest who seem to exist only to make everyone's life as miserable as possible. Some kids endure it and move on. Some give up and join the crowd. Others snap and go on a killing spree.

    Some of the brightest people in this GD country are financially dwarfed by half-wits who can throw a ball, cry on cue or had the luck of being born with the right genetics and / or wealthy parents. High schools pour hundreds of MILLIONS of dollars into athletic programs, but seem to have little interest in funding anything academic outside of the bare minimums.

    America has little interest in intelligent people, they want stupid ones who will serve as entertainment for the rest. The powers that be all but beg kids to get interested in STEM programs while, at the same time, they're outsourcing all the jobs associated with those programs overseas. :|

    Kids see this and they ask themselves " Which one would I rather be ? "

    You want to fix education ?

    Start by figuring out how to make advanced learning something kids will strive for vs something they shun to avoid the persecution and misery that usually comes with it.

  • Isn't supposed to be about the student? Isn't every student an individual? So isn't the right thing to do is to set up an individual learning program for each student? Or should we only look at students as uniform commodities run through the same industrial process everywhere?

    We can do it. We just need the will to do it. Maybe we need an Agile like approach to education.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      To try and fill every university with very average students.
      If only the best got in on real merit?
      Pass the same very difficult exams, pay to get in, take out a loan or scholarship..
      Once that exam is based on merit again? That would see a few top universities graduating only the very best students. Smaller class sizes with all in the class having passed real exams. Less funding. Real educational standards would return.
      Graduates would all have new skills needed in the workforce.
      With a scale result mo
  • by VeryFluffyBunny ( 5037285 ) on Sunday October 22, 2017 @09:50PM (#55415501)

    First problem, the world's full of people, who've never taught a class in their lives, giving their poorly informed advice to teachers. And too many pundits berating teachers for issues that aren't caused by teachers.

    Next, you can't sack "bad" teachers and hire "good" ones. Teachers aren't factory or office workers. Education isn't a service or product. Pupils/students learn in communities cultivated within schools and neighbourhoods. "Good" teachers are cultivated, mentored, and encouraged, not hired. "Good" teacher means a teacher who is sufficiently well supported and given the autonomy over curriculum and assessment so that s/he can do his/her job well. Give teachers shitty status (i.e. constantly under attack from govt. and the media) and working conditions (i.e. long hours, insufficient resources, bureaucratic overload, and held to account for things outside their control) and guess what you'll get. Most of the policies for 'improving education' are actually making it worse.

    Want to know what's most effective at improving learning outcomes across the board? Formative assessment (AKA feedback & actually talking to pupils/students about their work). If teachers can get that right, learning outcomes improve. In order for teachers to learn how to get that right, they need effective in-service continuing professional development (CPD). It's also a lot faster and cheaper than trying to train and sack-and-hire your way to improvement, especially when it's not the teachers themselves who are the cause of the problems. Most CPD is ineffective because it's too short, not followed up on, misdirected, and so doesn't change what the vast majority of teachers do in their classrooms in any significant way.

    Also, when govt. and the media stop parroting 80s Reagan adminsitration "A Nation at Risk" style "Education is broken" rhetoric and actually acknowledge that the USA has top-rate education systems and that much of the poor performance on the OECD PISA tests every 3 years is due to child poverty and social exclusion (Why study hard when it won't get you a good job?), then we can start having well-informed, constructive conversations about how to improve US education outcomes.

    And finally, we have to stop this nonsense about 21st century skills. How often do the people who use this buzz-phrase actually define what 21st century skills are? When you look at the few definitions that there are, they look an awful lot like 3rd century B.C. skills... apart from the learning to use computers for studying and work part. I'll give them that.

    End of rant.

    • Next, you can't sack "bad" teachers and hire "good" ones. Teachers aren't factory or office workers. Education isn't a service or product.

      Don't pretend there aren't bad teachers. There absolutely are. The biggest difference is their control of the class. Do they achieve it through positive or negative means? If all they can manage is negativity, they're a bad teacher. I had good teachers and bad ones. I learned in the classes of the good ones, and I didn't learn a damned thing in the classes of the bad ones except that some people in positions of power will make you suffer for their own convenience regardless of the reasons for your inconveni

  • Might help if he bought a lot of the kids new parents.

  • Parents - some parents don't give a damn about their kids. They see school as some sort of subsidized daycare. They don't help their kids with their homework or otherwise participate in the wellbeing of the child. There is no discipline in the home so the kid is undisciplined at school.

    Teachers - some are good some are bad. Just like any profession. Getting rid of the bad ones is nearly impossible.

    Unions - they have managed to negotiate some very generous benefits for teachers over the years. Teachers have

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <[moc.cam] [ta] [rcj]> on Sunday October 22, 2017 @11:04PM (#55415759) Journal

    Adding money to a failed institution like our public schools is pointless. If Gates wants to help poor kids escape the school-to-prison pipeline, he needs to create schools that have no government involvement at all.

    -jcr

    • Private schools have not solved any of American's education problems, actually they did a good job of contributing to it. The private industry is definitely not best place to provide basic education.

      Reform the governmental public school system. You can start by cutting out 90% of the worthless political crap.

  • >"By 2011 the Gates' foundation had already spent $5 billion on education projects -- and admitted that "it hasn't led to significant improvements." "

    That's because education improvement is not about throwing laptops in schools. It isn't about giving away "free" licenses to proprietary products. And it isn't about token "coding" projects. It is a lot more complex than that.

    The main problems with schools is that there is little flexibility and competition. Teacher's unions slap down any real innovatio

  • Seriously. He's a mediocre software developer who got lucky. What on Earth does he know about education?

    The public education system in the US sucks because there's no political will to make it not suck. No amount of fancy big data and technology will change that. When the Education Secretary in the US is an active opponent of the public school system, you've lost.

  • It's simple really. If you took the money and hired more teachers to reduce class room size, increased teacher pay to attract and retain the best and brightest, and provided the necessary study aids to help students, you would see student performance improve. Private schools already use this formula and do very well. Public schools that use this formula do very well. It's the poorer school districts that have to cut their budgets, layoff teachers, and increase class room size that have issues.

    Bottom
  • Cutting out the politics and having good teachers fixes education.

In a five year period we can get one superb programming language. Only we can't control when the five year period will begin.

Working...