The organization founded by that nice Gates couple was the clear winner here, followed by The George Lucas Educational Foundation (aw, gee, thanks!). Then came an underpraised, unofficial group called parents, and the National Education Association. It's no surprise that Bill and Melinda's outfit appealed to readers; besides the $1.5 billion it has poured into small schools and other education initiatives, it lists among its guiding principles "vigorous and responsible" advocacy.
The foundation's principles also include some good lessons for learners and teachers to live by: "We identify a specific point of intervention and apply our efforts against a theory of change. . . . We take risks, make big bets, and move with urgency. We are in it for the long haul. . . . We leave room for growth and change." Amen!
Look in the Mirror
Buried among all the responses to this question were two that contained a powerful idea; they read, simply, "Ourselves." Exactly. To borrow a notion from Time magazine's 2006 Person of the Year issue, we believe you, our readers, are the best public advocates for education. In so many cases, change is driven by one individual filled with passion and dedication.
Someone like Jocelyn Graves, a parent in Sacramento, who was shocked several years ago to learn that her fourth-grade son was reading below grade level. Feeling alienated from her child's education, she and other parents rallied for teachers to make home visits. All the teachers at her son's school -- and ultimately across the district -- began visiting their students at home, strengthening the parent-teacher relationship and helping parents become more active participants in the children's learning. Spurred by this success, the State of California now offers millions of dollars in grants to other schools to do the same.
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