Philanthropists are too cozy with federal education reformers, writes Checker Finn on Education Gadfly. Foundations that “rush to help do government’s work” risk losing their independence.
What private dollars can do uniquely and best is stand apart from government: Fund activities that are politically or constitutionally beyond government’s reach; underwrite critics, evaluators, and analysts of public policies and programs; pay for inquiry, research, and advocacy that would be inappropriate for the public sector to undertake; and generally distinguish its work from that of government in a truly “independent sector.”
Tension between government and the independent sector is healthy, Finn argues.
In a Wall Street Journal interview, LA-based billionaire Eli Broad discusses his “venture philanthropy.”
The Broad Foundation funds charter schools, including KIPP academies and the Green Dot network, as well as Teach for America. It trains reform-minded school administrators. And it offers financial rewards to urban school districts that improve performance through initiatives like merit pay for teachers. Mr. Broad tells me, “we’re at a golden moment now,” with a president and an education secretary who, he says, agree with his reform agenda.
Broad says he’s willing to put money into ideas that may not work out. It’s his money.