This Newsweek article explores the various methods employed by our nation’s concerned billionaires in an effort to reform the US education system. In their efforts to do good they’ve found that it’s not as simple as it seems.
“The business titans entered the education arena convinced that America’s schools would benefit greatly from the tools of the boardroom. They sought to boost incentives for improving performance, deploy new technologies, and back innovators willing to shatter old orthodoxies.
They pressed to close schools that were failing, and sought to launch new, smaller ones. They sent principals to boot camp. Battling the long-term worry that the best and brightest passed up the classroom for more lucrative professions, they opened their checkbooks to boost teacher pay.
It was an impressive amount of industry. And in some places, it has worked out—but with unanticipated complications.”
With so much success in the business world it would make sense to run schools in a business-like manner, but what we’re all realizing is that education reform is much more complicated.
“…The Walton Family Foundation hoped that its $8 million investment in Milwaukee charters would produce strong schools and a competitive environment to raise the bar across all the city’s schools. But the charters failed to outperform traditional schools. Reading scores were mostly flat over the past five years citywide. In math, elementary- and middle-school gains were stronger than in the rest of Wisconsin, but high-school proficiency dropped 2 points.
This causes pause to the cause. Should education reform be about school or teacher reform, or do we need to be looking at broader issues in society?
Billionaires Graded for Their Efforts: Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
Started with $400 million in Austin, Texas, in 1999 to improve education for the urban poor through charters, school leadership programs, and data systems that track student performance. Received the best grade: B-