iWatch News examined the track records of the four billionaire philanthropists who have taken the lead in trying to use their private money to reform school districts around the country over the last decade. Here are their report cards.
Grades were assigned based on the amount of money and time invested by charities in specific reforms, as well as interviews with district and foundation officials. Among the factors affecting grades were decisions by the foundations to abandon or modify signature efforts based on initial results they found disappointing.
The Broad Report Card
Giver: Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation
Amount Spent: $440 million
Where Started: Los Angeles in 1999
Goals: To further urban education by focusing on leadership training, competition through charter schools, and teacher effectiveness.
Examples of Expenditures: Invested $116 million to train principals and superintendents, but pulled out of the principal programs. Superintendent graduates lead 43 urban school districts; Broad says two thirds of superintendents serving for three years are heading up districts where student achievement has improved faster than similar districts. Spent $97 million on charter schools, $25 million on district financial controls and restructuring, and $25 million on teacher evaluation and merit-pay schemes.
The Dell Report Card
Giver: Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
Amount Spent: $400 million
Where Started: Austin, Texas, in 1999
Goals: To improve education for the urban poor through charters, school leadership programs, and data systems that track student performance.