We expect really smart people to be smarter than they are and for them to use their smarts to make good decisions across multiple subject areas. Two of the richest men in the world, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates) have been spending a lot of money and time on education. Unfortunately, both men, while having developed innovative and money-making products in the technology sphere, don’t seem to “get” education.
Take Zuckerberg who spent $100 million to improve Newark’s public schools. At the time, I know I thought this was a total waste of money and that if Zuckerberg wanted to do something useful with $100 million in education, he should have funded tuition scholarships to get kids OUT of failing government schools or he should have supported reform organizations like Rio Grande Foundation or the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.
Well, the results are in and it now seems that Zuckerberg’s millions have been wasted. No surprise there. As I wrote just last week, the problem with our education is not principals or teachers, rather it is systemic in nature. Zuckerberg is a billionaire and he’ll get over the loss of $100 million, but a lot of good could have been done with that money, just not in the government schools.
Bill Gates has been dabbling in education for some time and has especially been active in funding and promoting “Common Core” standards. Unfortunately, Common Core doesn’t even pretend to enhance competition in choice in public education and, as George Will notes in the following, short video, Common Core actually takes education policy in the wrong direction (towards more centralization and federal control).