Over at The Wall Street Journal this weekend, Jason L. Riley provides an interesting write-up of his interview with Bill Gates. The lead question was whether the $5 billion spent to date by the Gates Foundation on education reform in the United States was worth it.
Instead of renovating our existing high schools, what if Gates were to build an entirely new model? Over the past five years, Gates has learned a great deal about how, and how not, to run an effective high school. They understand the curriculum and the need for multiple academic pathways. They understand school structure. They are starting to get into the HR game, focusing on the teachers that are needed to lead such classrooms. They are quickly assembling all of the pieces. Now we move to that bold and audacious act.What if the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were to take its money and build new high schools in our top 25 urban districts? State-of-the-art buildings. Technology. Rigorous and relevant curriculum. Public-private partnerships. Relevant professional development for the teachers. Common educational standards measured across all Gates schools. Open enrollment for all those seeking a better high school experience. And the power of the Gates Foundation behind it.And let’s get even bolder. A system of public high schools managed by the Gates Foundation. All in major cities across the nation. All with high standards for its teachers. All working from a common school design, a common curriculum, and common assessment that, over time, could be replicated in district after district across the nation.