By Victor Ochieng
Billionaire Bill Gates is a true philanthropist and he's been doing great things across the globe through his foundation. Now, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed to invest a whopping $1.7 billion towards improving the U.S. public education. The money will be channeled to institutions interested in designing, developing and testing new teaching methods.
"Every student should get a great public education and graduate with skills to succeed in the marketplace. The role of philanthropy here is not to be the primary funder, but rather to fund pilots, to fund new ideas, to let people—it's always the educators coming up with the ideas—to let them try them out and see what really works super well and get those to scale."
Gates made the announcement in front of 1,000 school officials who were in Cleveland, Ohio for the Council of Great City Schools conference.
This isn't the first time The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting the U.S. public education. So far, the foundation has invested a total of $3.4 billion in the system, with a substantial part of it going towards Common Core State Standards, as well as bringing education leaders on board to use such standards. Part of the money has also been channeled towards teacher preparation programs, improving charter schools, and splitting of large high schools into smaller units, among several other functions.
Admittedly, Gates' investments in the education system has had mixed results. In fact, he even addressed the issue in his speech in which he unveiled the latest funds. For example, his idea of breaking up of the high schools into smaller ones is one that's brilliant, but one that’s not possible everywhere. Even though he'd previously invested in teacher evaluation programs, he's made it clear he'll no longer channel funds to it. This is understandable, considering that the teacher evaluation programs remained controversial, more specifically among teachers.
To fully own the process, the new investment is designed in such a way that the schools and the teachers will have the say in the process. Out of the total investment amount, traditional public schools will receive 60%. Then 15% will go towards helping charter schools improve their support and services to students living with disabilities. The remainder of the funds will be used towards research and development in education.