From today’s New York Times:
Eli Broad and Bill Gates, two of the most important philanthropists in American public education, have pumped more than $2 billion into improving schools. But now, dissatisfied with the pace of change, they are joining forces for a $60 million foray into politics in an effort to vault education high onto the agenda of the 2008 presidential race.
[. . .]
The project will not endorse candidates — indeed, it is illegal to do so as a charitable group — but will instead focus on three main areas: a call for stronger, more consistent curriculum standards nationwide; lengthening the school day and year; and improving teacher quality through merit pay and other measures.
No big surprise here, but man, it's disappointing to see very intelligent, well-meaning people spending their money on ideas that have been tried and failed. The federal government has failed to improve education for very obvious reasons, and pushing failed state-level reforms to the federal level will end in even more expensive failure.
The government-run education system is the root of our problems in education, and the only mechanism for systemic reform and improvement is educational freedom (preferably through broad-coverage education tax credits).
The Center for Educational Freedom is ready and waiting to help Gates and Broad spend their education dollars more effectively.
Even if Gates and Broad don’t want to do what’s necessary to change the education system, they would do much more good by simply devoting this money to an endowed scholarship fund for low-income kids.