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Melinda Gates: Race to the Top Was 'Momentum' for Teacher-Quality Work

Teacher Beat's Stephen Sawchuk sat down to talk to Melinda Gates last week about the foundation's intensive and expensive work in the teacher-quality field. One part of their conversation might be of interest to Politics K-12 readers:

Education Week: Your work with teachers predates the Obama administration's Race to the Top program, but there was a lot of compatibility between the aims of that federal initiative and your grants. Now the Obama administration is facing tough political times, and the stimulus money is gone. Does that affect the foundation's ability to have an impact?

Melinda Gates: What got started with Race to the Top and allowed progress to happen with the school districts [is] some rolling momentum, and so that will continue on. ... I think the momentum will keep rolling in the states, and I think we're just on the cusp of a lot of great things happening.

Vicki Phillips, the director of college-ready education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: The great thing about Bill and Melinda is that they're in this for the long haul, and they know how challenging the work is. So what happens is we work across administrations because we know we want to be in this for the long run, and you use the synergy and the acceleration where you can get it.

Race to the Top was a great accelerant, and that momentum is going to continue. Now, it's about how do you build the support system to make that feedback fall on great fertile ground in terms of their professional development.

Gates: The foundation will always be in the education space, always, in the U.S.

Philips: Our strategy is not going to significantly change at any time in the near future.

Gates: It doesn't matter which administration comes in.

To read the full-length interview, click here.

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