Philanthropy and school reform [News, 1.21]

duncan  “Venture philanthropists pitch in for Chicago’s schools” (EducationWeek, 1/21) – Incoming U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan: “A lot of folks would see these groups as funders… I see them as real partners. They are as emotionally invested and intellectually invested in making a difference in kids’ lives as we are.”

Michelle Rhee talks about philanthropic support for DC School reform (WaPo, 1/17)
The DC Schools Chancellor spoke to columnist Colbert King about the “commitments from philanthropic foundations to provide $75 million annually for five years to fund education reform initiatives.”

“The District’s case is unique, however, because, for the first time, private foundations will help fund teacher compensation — to the tune of $100 million of the five-year package. The rest will go for professional development, schools, etc.

The foundations don’t want their names disclosed at this point, she said. Also, their commitments have yet to be put to paper.

Rhee said the funding is conditioned on her gaining, through negotiations with the teachers union:

– An ability to recognize and reward individual teacher performance (merit pay). 
– An arrangement that allows her to identify the most and least effective teachers (student test scores will not be the only measurement). 
– A system that permits her to efficiently remove poorly performing teachers.”

Sorting Children Into ‘Cannots’ and ‘Cans’ Is Just Racism in Disguise (WaPo, 1/19)
 – Jay Mathews asks, “In this new era, which will win: teaching or sorting?” He’s written what sounds like an interesting book about the Knowledge is Power Program called Work Hard. Be Nice.: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America.