Today the foundation set up by billionaires Eli and Edythe Broad is giving away $2 million to urban school districts that have pursued education reform that they like. On Friday a Florida teacher is running 50 miles to raise money so that he and his fellow teachers don’t have to spend their own money to buy paper and pencils, binders (1- and 2-inch), spiral notebooks, composition books and printer ink.
Together the two events show the perverted way schools are funded in 2010.
Very wealthy people are donating big private money to their own pet projects: charter schools, charter school management companies, teacher assessment systems. (The latest example is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation to the Newark public schools, given with the provision that Zuckerberg, apparently an education reform expert, play a big role in determining success.)
What this means is that these philanthropists — and not local communities — are determining the course of the country’s school reform efforts and which education research projects get funded. As Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent James A. Williams said in an interview: “They should come out and tell the truth. If they want to privatize public education, they should say so.”