About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Philanthropy: Gates Reverses On Risky "ALEC" Bet

ProjectmkultramindcontrolresearchprogramciaInteresting to see that not that many education types seem to think it's very noteworthy (or publicly discussable) that the Gates Foundation announced on Monday that its November $377,000 grant to ALEC would be its last one.  Roll Call broke the news on Monday, and since then left-leaning political sites are all over it.  Schools Matter picked it up and the Center on Media and Democracy got a quote from Randi Weingarten saying she applauds the decision. But that's about it, despite the fact that Gates and ALEC are deeply involved in education issues, that the initial decision was greeted with a certain amount of controversy, and that any foundation but especially Gates making a public announcement like this is fairly unusual.

I came across the news yesterday afternoon, two days after the fact, in a Lucy Bernholz post about private foundations experiencing intense public pressures to change their grantmaking decisions. Bernholz doesn't take particular issue with ALEC or with Gates. For her, the situation simply illustrates the need for foundations and nonprofits  to to make themselves "more conversational" if they are going to be involved in controversial public issues and want to maintain (attain?) public trust.  

True enough.  There's also a case to be made that the folks at Gates were taking an enormous risk aligning themselves with ALEC, might have known the grant would blow up, and are responding as best they can to an unusual and perhaps unexpected series of events.  I'm still not entirely clear on why Gates felt it needed to make the grant, which they had to know would be alienating in the extreme and would drown out its grants to the AFT and other pro-teacher organizations.  Perhaps Gates thought that ALEC was doing something nobody else was doing, or that ALEC could get laws passed faster than state education advocacy networks (50CAN, DFER, Stand, StudentsFirst), especially in states with Republican-controlled legislatures.  

Gates Foundation Will No Longer Make Grants to ALEC Roll Call

Gates, ALEC, and Tennessee Miracles Schools Matter

Gates Foundation Drops ALEC Center for Media and Democracy (RW quote)

The Gates Foundation Is Done Funding ALEC Mother Jones

Gates Won't Pull ALEC Grant BuzzFeed


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The Gates Foundation is still funding groups like Stand for (on) Children, which when it comes to education policy, is no better than ALEC. http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/26_01/26_01_sanchez.shtml

Go to Google News and search "ALEC education"; it's like somebody pulled up the baseboards and turned on a light. He's contaminated his brand badly, but this is bigger than Gates.

Bigger than GATES? The dam has burst, I think. People grasp one mechanism by which their state legislators have been bought or coerced, and it is at the state level we are already stopping it by removing those legislators from office.

Despite similarities, officials say they did not use model ALEC bills for Christie's education legislation

The comments to this entry are closed.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.