After more than a year and a half and around $25 million, the Gates and Broad Foundations aren't going to be providing any additional funding for ED in 08, the venture that was designed to put education front-and-center in the presidential campaign, according to this story in the Puget Sound Business Journal. (Hat tip to Alexander Russo's thisweekineducation)
Chris Williams, a program officer at the Gates Foundation, said the organization, has funded ED in '08 through March 2009 and that the project always had a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end, pegged to the election. The foundations had originally pledged up to $60 million for the effort, according to this story by my colleague Erik Robelen.
"The money that's gone into it is the money that we think we need to get the job done," Williams told me. He said it is a credit to the organization's efforts that his foundation didn't need to spend more.
Still, by just about any objective measure, there has been very little discussion of education issues in the campaign. It's tough to say if that was because the economy, two wars, and "lip-stick-on-a-pig" comments drowned out some of the wonkier ideas that ED in '08 worked to get on the radar screen. (We never did see voters take to the streets to clamor for more rigorous, uniform, but not necessarily national, education standards), or whether it is just hard to run a campaign for an "issue."
Karen Denne, a Broad Foundation spokeswoman, said that while education hasn't been the top issue this year, there's been more discussion of it than there would have been because of ED in '08's efforts.
"What we realize is that, given the current landscape, education is competing with some very signficant issues both for the candidates' attention and the public's attention," she told me. "Education has been discussed to the degree that it has been because of Strong American Schools. ED in '08 has absolutely done a tremendous job in getting education addressed by the presidential candidates." Strong American Schools is the non-profit organization that administers the campaign.
And Shannon Murphy, a spokeswoman for Strong American Schools, said that both presidential candidates have expressed support for at least two of the organization's three main policy ideas: alternative pay for teachers, high standards, and extended learning time.