Ed-Tech Policy

Milken Foundation To End Technology Initiative

By Andrew Trotter — September 08, 1999 2 min read
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The Milken Family Foundation is closing down the Milken Exchange on Education Technology, an initiative that in just three years has made a mark on state policymaking and helped refine the national debate over the use of technology in schools.

Michael Reese, a spokesman for the Santa Monica, Calif.-based foundation, said last week that the exchange had achieved its goals of attracting other organizations to study technology issues and raising the level of the discussion at the local, state, and national levels.

Now, he said, the foundation plans to retarget its resources toward a new initiative to improve the quality of teaching.

Mr. Reese also acknowledged that foundation officials were mindful of a perceived conflict of interest between the nonprofit exchange and the Milken family’s business ventures.

Brothers Lowell and Michael R. Milken, who co-founded the Milken Family Foundation, are co-owners--along with Lawrence Ellison, the chief executive officer of Oracle Corp.--of Knowledge Universe Inc., a Redwood City, Calif., company that owns numerous education- related businesses. The company recently formed a subsidiary, Teacher Universe, that offers training for teachers. (“Education Firm Charts Growth of Its Universe,” Aug. 4, 1999.)

“I believe at this juncture there was no competition, no conflict. But could we have said that, with any certainty, of the future? No,” Mr. Reese said.

Policy Impact

Formed as a formal initiative of the foundation in 1997, the exchange underwrote academic and policy research on education technology; hosted regular meetings of education officials and political leaders from across the country; and undertook joint projects with national organizations.

The group’s partners have included the National Governors’ Association and the International Society for Technology in Education.

Many state technology coordinators praised the exchange for developing a framework--known as the “seven dimensions"--to help policymakers assess the effectiveness of school technology.

The exchange also underwrote Education Week‘s annual reports on technology in schools, titled Technology Counts, the third of which will be released Sept. 23.

Thomas C. Boysen, the foundation’s senior vice president for education, said the exchange will operate at full strength through November. Some projects will continue through next spring, and other functions might be folded into other foundation initiatives, Mr. Boysen said, adding that final decisions had not been made.

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