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Friday, May 14, 2021

Matt Barnum: Philanthropies are no longer driving education policy - Chalkbeat

Philanthropies are no longer driving education policy - Chalkbeat
After a high point in the Obama administration, philanthropies no longer drive education policy

Soon after the pandemic shuttered school buildings across the state, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an ambitious plan to “reimagine” education in the state with the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Let’s take this experience and really learn how we can do differently and better with our education system in terms of technology and virtual education,” Cuomo told reporters a year ago, saying the effort would be a collaboration with the Gates Foundation.

The announcement drew widespread attention. It seemed like a blast from the recent past: a deep-pocketed foundation shaping education policy.

But this time, it didn’t play out that way. There was a swift backlash, and it soon became clear the ambitions of the plan were much more modest in scope. In fact, there’s no indication the philanthropy played any role at all, and Gates did not issue any grants to the state.

Why the plan apparently fell apart is unclear, but it’s one recent example of the waning role of education philanthropy in national and state policymaking.

That marks a rather dramatic change from just a few years ago, when wealthy benefactors helped reshape American education in remarkably swift fashion. But their priorities don’t appear to be affecting school policy in the way they used to. That likely reflects the fierce backlash to philanthropies’ influence during the Obama era, as well as a scaled-back federal role in education, a Trump administration that some funders CONTINUE READING: Philanthropies are no longer driving education policy - Chalkbeat