Federal

Ed. Department, Gates Plans for Teachers Converge

By Michele McNeil & Stephen Sawchuk — November 06, 2013 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Concerns about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s influence on education policy have multiplied in part because so many policy actors have amplified ideas it espouses, including on teacher-quality issues. Chief among those actors is the U.S. Department of Education.

The foundation’s charge into the teaching arena came just as President Barack Obama took office, and as the country tumbled into a severe recession that sparked Congress to appropriate an unprecedented $100 billion in one-time money for education. Mr. Obama’s secretary of education, Arne Duncan, used a small slice of that money to launch the Race to the Top competition, which focused heavily on teacher effectiveness.

The $4 billion program and federal waivers conditioned on similar principles are credited with influencing most of the states to revamp their teacher-evaluation policies, often in ways that mirror the Gates agenda.

The foundation got so involved in Race to the Top at one point that it gave grants to help states prepare their applications.

Common Goals

The connections extend to personnel. Several top officials who have served under Mr. Duncan came from the Seattle-based foundation. Jim Shelton, the No. 2 in charge at the department, is a Gates education division alumnus. One of Mr. Duncan’s early chiefs of staff, Margot Rogers, also hailed from there.

In addition, Mr. Duncan has lured many to work for him from other private-sector organizations that receive significant funding from Gates. Another former chief of staff, Joanne Weiss, was a top official at the New Schools Venture Fund, a recipient of several Gates grants worth about $80 million.

Gates Foundation officials credit the Education Department for giving its projects more oomph.

“There’s no doubt that aspects of the approach that the administration took were accelerant,” said Vicki L. Phillips, the Gates Foundation’s director of college-ready programs, which has overseen most of the teacher-quality funding.

Education Week Receives Gates Aid

The Gates Foundation has provided grant support to Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit corporation that publishes Education Week. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over coverage. See disclosure.

Brad Jupp, a senior program adviser on teacher initiatives at the Education Department, praised the foundation’s teacher-quality focus, saying its work built a logical argument for focusing on teacher effectiveness.

But he contends that it’s an overstatement to say the administration and the foundation were partners.

“They deserve credit for influencing us, but there were many other factors that influenced us,” Mr. Jupp said. “We share common goals and share some theories of action.”

The notion that the two groups huddled together to shape those goals, he added, is “more coincidence than conspiracy.”

Gates-Federal Connections


EDUCATION WEEK RECEIVES GATES AID

Since 2005, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded more than $7 million in grants to Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit corporation that publishes Education Week.

That total includes a current grant of $2 million over 25 months to support the development of new content and services related to the education industry and innovation in K-12 education.

Also, the Gates Foundation provided a $2.6 million grant over 40 months, starting in 2009, to underwrite a range of efforts to support EPE’s editorial and business-development capacity.

The first grant from Gates to EPE, $2.5 million over four years, underwrote the Education Week Diplomas Count report, as well as original research on high school graduation rates, and related activities.

Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of its coverage under the Gates grants.

Besides the grant support, the Gates Foundation in 2005 provided a $100,000 contract to EPE. Under the arrangement, the EPE Research Center conducted a pilot project on the feasibility of providing research support to the foundation.

A version of this article appeared in the November 07, 2013 edition of Education Week as Ed. Department, Gates Plans for Teachers Converge

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Opinion Federal Education Reform Has Largely Failed. Unfortunately, We Still Need It
Neither NCLB nor ESSA have lived up to their promise, but the problems calling for national action persist.
Jack Jennings
4 min read
Red, Blue, and Purple colors over a fine line etching of the Capitol building. Republicans and Democrats, Partisan Politicians.
Douglas Rissing/iStock
Federal A More Complete Picture of Immigration's Impact on U.S. Public Schools
House Republicans say a migrant influx has caused "chaos" in K-12 schools. The reality is more complicated.
10 min read
Parents and community members rally outside P.S. 189 to protest New York City Mayor Eric Adam's plan to temporarily house immigrants in the school's gymnasium, seen in the background on May 16, 2023, in New York.
Parents and community members rally outside P.S. 189 to protest New York City Mayor Eric Adam's plan to temporarily house immigrants in the school's gymnasium, seen in the background on May 16, 2023, in New York.
John Minchillo/AP
Federal Explainer What Is Title IX? Schools, Sports, and Sex Discrimination
Title IX, the law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, is undergoing changes. What it is, how it works, and how it's enforced.
2 min read
In this Nov. 21, 1979 file photo, Bella Abzug, left, and Patsy Mink of Women USA sit next to Gloria Steinem as she speaks in Washington where they warned presidential candidates that promises for women's rights will not be enough to get their support in the next election.
In this Nov. 21, 1979, photo, Bella Abzug, left, and Patsy Mink of Women USA sit next to Gloria Steinem as she speaks in Washington at an event where they warned presidential candidates that promises for women's rights will not be enough to win their support in the next election.
Harvey Georges/AP
Federal Donald Trump's Conviction: 3 Takeaways for Educators
The conviction gives educators a backdrop to discuss elections, the judicial system, and how to evaluate biases.
4 min read
Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court during jury deliberations in his criminal hush money trial in New York, on May 30, 2024.
Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court during jury deliberations in his criminal hush money trial in New York, on May 30, 2024. The jury convicted him on all counts.
Steven Hirsch/New York Post via AP