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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledges $1.7 billion to public education in the US

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledges $1.7 billion to public education in the US

by Yash Saboo November 9 2017, 5:05 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 48 secs

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is teaming up with partners around the world to take on some tough challenges: extreme poverty and poor health in developing countries, and the failure of the American education system. They focus on only a few issues because that’s the best way to have a great impact, and they focus on these issues in particular because they think these are the biggest barriers that prevent people from making the most of their lives.

They've shifted their focus to education now. Bill Gates announced on Thursday that his foundation will invest more than $1.7 billion in public education, money that will go to support schools interested in developing and testing new approaches to teaching.

“In the past, we have invested in small high schools, teacher evaluations tied to student test scores, and support for the Common Core standards, but those investments weren’t driving the scale of change hoped for”, said Gates.

Of the $1.7 billion that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged to public education over the next five years, the majority will go toward supporting innovations within schools that have joined together in collaborative networks.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent at least $3.4 billion on public education in the United States, most notably to develop the Common Core State Standards and to persuade state education leaders to implement them. Their money also went to support charter schools, teacher preparation programs and an array of other improvement initiatives, including one to break up large high schools into smaller ones.

60% of the money will go to public schools to help develop new curricula and push for more rigorous data collection to closely track student grades, attendance, and achievement.

Another 15 percent of the money will go to help charter schools better support the needs of students with disabilities. The remainder of the money “will be focused on big bets,” Gates said — research and development in education. He cited education research as one of the most underfunded of any subject area. “Advancements in artificial intelligence should be expanded throughout a school day to make learning fun”, Gates said. “Math will also be an area of focus”, Gates added, “as the foundation searches for evidence-based solutions for teaching and boosting student achievement”.

In addition to cultivating data-driven, evidence-based innovations in network schools, the foundation will support curriculum development, professional development, and charter schools, especially in their work serving special education students.

Rick Hess, the director of education policy at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute, said Gates’s propositions have been all over the map and the foundation’s latest pitch seems to represent another change in direction. Hess noted that a dozen years ago, the billionaire declared U.S. high schools to be “obsolete.” Now, Gates is relying on educators to come up with ideas to improve student achievement. “It feels like they have pivoted through a number of strategies over the last decade or two,” Hess said.

Sources: a908- a3470754bbb9_story.html?utm_term=.2098886c3a0d

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