Charter Schools – Bill Gates backs a winner!

Charter Schools are so popular now that even Bill and Melinda Gates are backing them with their own cash.

No wonder the teacher unions are opposed to charter schools, they help destroy their hegemony and control of the sector. Parents meanwhile are voting with their feet….sending more and more kids to charter schools, they believe they work despite the claims of teacher unions everywhere.

In November, Washington became the 42nd state to allow the independent public schools. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has now pledged nearly $800,000 to start a charter-school incubator for help with planning.

With the opening of Washington’s first charter school likely 15 months away, more dollars from Seattle’s tech economy are flowing toward groups that want to change the way the state thinks about public schools.

In November, Washington became the 42nd state to allow the independent public schools. The initiative campaign succeeded in part because of money from Seattle’s tech economy — Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates donated $3 million, outside his charitable foundation, first for the signature-gathering effort and later to promote the initiative. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen donated $1.5 million. 

The voter-approved plan would open as many as 40 charter schools over five years.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has now pledged nearly $800,000 to start a new charter-school incubator to give charter schools extra help with startup planning. Run by the League of Education Voters, the Charter Schools Association will begin by helping groups that want to start a charter school write their applications.

Eventually, the group also hopes to provide leadership training and to advocate for charter schools in Washington state government, said Chris Korsmo, CEO of the League of Education Voters. Charter-school incubators like this new Washington group are common in other states where the schools are gaining a foothold, experts say.

The Gates money was a startup grant to get the organization going, but Korsmo expects the organization will get money from other sources, including out-of-state foundations.


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  • peterwn

    Andrew Carnegie was a great supporter of public libraries and his foundation financed the setting up of many public libraries, including some in New Zealand. So another USA philanthropist following in his footsteps with Charter Schools in NZ would be most welcome!

  • metalnwood

    BIll Gates was a real prick when he was a businessman, not uncommon but since he started his foundation my view of him has changed immensely. They have devoted a huge amount of their wealth to good causes. I know this isnt going to a particular charter school but if he did start one himself there would be no question if my kids would go there or to a public school.

    • Allyson

      Is not only how much he has donated, but what it is achieving. It puts the social idealism of Helen’s UNDP to shame. If his charities grow schools as sucessful as his health programs in Africa, US education could be in for a big shake up.

    • andrew carrot

      This is just his first cynical step towards invading the world with schools that have high ideals and standards. His plan is to have 98% uptake and reliance on his model in less than a decade. He’s done it before!

  • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

    What is this going to do to the television ratings in New Zealand if it’s implemented here? No more Friends, Close Up, Masterchef or Shortland Street because there won’t be any ignorant plebs anymore.

  • philbest

    I recall reading that Gates approached the Public School system first with his innovative ideas for education – and his offer of funding – and the teachers union told him to “F off”.

    So he turned to the Charter School system. Great move by the Teachers Union, huh?