theodp writes: Discussing U.S. education in his 2012 Annual Letter, Bill Gates notes the importance of 'tools and services [that] have the added benefit of providing amazing visibility into how each individual student is progressing, and generating lots of useful data that teachers can use to improve their own effectiveness.' Well, Bill is certainly putting his millions where his mouth is. The Gates Foundation has ponied up $76.5 million for a controversial student data tracking initiative that's engaged Rupert Murdoch's Wireless Generation to 'build the open software that will allow states to access a shared, performance-driven marketplace of free and premium tools and content.' If you live in CO, IL, NC, NY, MA, LA, GA, or DE, it's coming soon to a public school near you. Gates is also funding other billionaires' aligned initiatives and bankrolling astrotuf-likened school advocacy, raising concerns about undue influence and prompting a call for eliminating the charitable giving tax deduction. 'This year, governments may lose $50 billion because of tax deductions taken overwhelmingly by the rich for charitable givings intended primarily to enhance their status with their brethren or to attack the public sector,' writes David Morris. 'We can't stop the rich from using their money for their own purposes. But we should not add insult to injury by giving them huge amounts of public sums to attack the public sector.' Hey, what could go wrong?