Education Funding

Milken Launches New Foundation

May 03, 2005 2 min read
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The Milken Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Santa Monica, Calif., that underwrites medical and education ventures, announced last week at its annual conference the formation of a new education foundation designed to address teacher-quality requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act.

The Teacher Advancement Program Foundation will focus on improving teacher quality and placing highly qualified teachers in every classroom, central features of the federal education law. It is based largely on the Milken Foundation’s initiative to reorganize schools by creating new incentives and support for teachers. (“ELC, Milken Foundation Launch Teacher-Quality Program,” May 3, 2000.)

That initiative—which was started in 1999 and is now in place at 75 schools in nine states—is based on strategies that emphasize ongoing professional development, pay-for-performance compensation, teacher accountability for student performance, and career options for high-caliber teachers that encourage them to stay in the classroom rather than move into administrative jobs.

“The goal of the TAP Foundation is nothing less than to have a highly skilled, highly motivated, competitively compensated, utterly committed and unequivocally proud teacher in every classroom in the country,” Lowell Milken, the co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation, said in a statement. “Only by offering teachers sustained opportunities for career advancement, professional growth, teacher accountability, and competitive compensation can we bring the necessary quantity of capable professionals into America’s classrooms and close the achievement gap.”

Immediate Financial Support

The new foundation received immediate support at the national conference not only from the Milken Family Foundation, which committed a $5 million, one-year grant to it, but also from the Los Angeles-based Broad Foundation, which gave a five-year, $5.3 million grant that will allow the new foundation to expand its TAP program into two urban school districts to be chosen in the future.

“Twenty years of research by the Milken Family Foundation has confirmed that teachers are the central element in the classroom,” said Bonnie Somers, a spokeswoman for the Milken Family Foundation.

Lewis C. Solmon, the president of the TAP Foundation, said that it will use its funding both to support existing programs and expand the TAP model to other states.

Barnett Berry, the president of the Southeast Center for Teaching Quality, a nonprofit organization based in Chapel Hill, N.C., that focuses on developing teacher leadership to help shape education policies, applauds the foundation’s plans to better compensate teachers.

But in the same breath, he said he hopes that the foundation will also focus on effective, systemic change.

Regarding the new foundation’s plans to upgrade professional development, he cautioned that it should not be imposed on teachers by outside groups, but rather become part of a district’s culture so that all teachers can benefit.

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