To the Editor:
In response to Paul T. Hill’s Aug. 9, 2006, Commentary “Money, Momentum, and the Gates Foundation":
As repetitive as it may be to suggest that Warren E. Buffett’s donation to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation be spent on programs seeking more innovative ways to improve learning in our deteriorating schools, I will nonetheless state the obvious: What we are doing in most American schools is what we have been doing for decades, and it no longer works. It’s time for new thinking about learning in America. Through the generosity of Mr. Buffett and the Gates Foundation, we have an opportunity to investigate and support existing innovative programs, and to create new ones, without the politics of public school education policy.
I lead an innovative independent school. Because we are independent, we are in a position to try new ideas and put forward-thinking programs into practice without the bureaucracy that plagues large public districts. Unfortunately, being independent also makes it difficult to impossible to find grants to fund our work. Consequently, we and other independent schools run our programs for public school educators in the red year after year. Sadly, independent schools are mistakenly considered by many to be too elitist to be innovative. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I would urge the Gates Foundation and other funders to make greater efforts to look outside the public school box and consider all innovative programs that might improve American education. There are hidden gems operating quietly all across this nation. We need to uncover them, and learn from as many sources as we possibly can. Our children deserve nothing less.
Hope E. Boyd
Los Angeles, Calif.
A version of this article appeared in the August 30, 2006 edition of Education Week