The Gates Foundation Announces New Education Investment Path

First published November 13, 2008

In Seattle earlier this week…

“In a way, being Secretary of Education is less significant than being Bill Gates,” the education historian Diane Ravitch said, guessing that the foundation gives more money annually to education than the U.S. Department of Education has available in annual discretionary funds. “I’d rather be Bill Gates.”

“To me, the scary thing is that they have so much money,” Ravitch said. “From the point of view of, let’s say, the democratic process, it’s frightening. That one foundation should have this much power, more so than our federal government, is alarming.”

I would suggest that after 8 years of investment in schools where the opportunity for real reform was blocked by political issues – lengthening the school day, firing ineffective teachers, etc. – the Gates Foundation has uncovered the root of the problem in school reform. Everyone says they want it until they are personally inconvenienced by it. There is not enough political will power to make these kinds of necessary changes.

I would also suggest that it will only be when the business community demands school excellence and creates a path forward, that the K-12 institutional monolith will be forced to change.

For more of this fascinating report on the Gates Foundation’s announcements, check out the rest of this post from Gotham Schools written by Elizabeth Green.


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