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Newspaper Notes Rise in Advocacy Work by Gates Foundation

Covering the urban education, high school, and common-standards-and-assessment beats in the last decade, I've heard a good deal of both praise and grumbling about the role the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation plays in shaping education. Praise in some quarters for the foundation's dedication to improving the learning experience for disadvantaged students, and grumbling from those who feel its massive investments have an outsized influence on the national schooling landscape.

Wherever you come down in the spectrum of views on the Gates Foundation, a story in yesterday's New York Times will be of interest to you: it highlights the rise in education-advocacy work by the Seattle-based philanthropy.

(My colleague Erik Robelen profiled Gates in 2006, as well, discussing the foundation's growing work in advocacy. In a story last year, he discussed foundations' work to influence education policy. Our pages are full of reporting on the foundation's support of small schools, common standards, and other issues.)

The New York Times story discusses the broad reach of Gates money, including to the nonprofit that publishes Education Week. One education expert quoted in the Times story calls the foundation's influence "Orwellian" in its power to shape how the public thinks about education. This comment echoes comments I've heard often about the foundation's work; they all hover around the idea that because of the amount of money it channels into education, its influence is just too, well, big.

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