In class we have been talking about who gets to decide big decisions within education because it seems like those who are closest to the students and the education process– the teachers– get a very minuscule amount of control over what goes on in their classroom. Everything from their curriculum to tests to how the day is divided is determined by outside forces.
Bill Gates has been a proponent of reforming and bettering education (the way he thinks best, keep in mind) for quite a while and has invested tons of money through his organization, the Gates Foundation. This is great since schools are always in need of money (deserving of another post itself) but it raises the question, should Bill Gates, who is not in a public school on a daily basis and doesn’t even send his own kids to public school, be able to decide how schools function? Is he qualified for that?
This question made me wonder if anyone is qualified to determine what everyone in an entire school system, or nation, does in terms of education. Is there a way people can donate money without introducing political issues or conflicts of interest?
Chance the Rapper recently donated one million dollars to Chicago Public School. Here is a link to an article about his donation. One million dollars is a lot of money for one school district (although I am sure it will disappear quickly), and Chance has been largely praised in the media, by his fans, and even Michelle Obama for investing in such a noble cause.
So is this different than Bill Gates? Granted, Bill Gates has donated much more and so has much more influence over what happens in schools and his target is the entire nation, but the principle is still the same. Reports say Chance was unhappy with how the Chicago Public Schools were operating and when he approached them, they said it was due to a lack of funding. He solved this issue by donating money, but on the assumption that they would enact what he thought would improve the schools.
I am not here to say whether or not I think Chance the Rapper has the right intentions for Chicago Public Schools (personally I think it is wonderful he is putting actions behind his words and trying to use his power to help the next generation), and I do think education is absolutely a great investment, but if he is qualified to use money to impact the way public schools operate where is that line?
Is it if one attended that public school system then you are allowed to make decisions for it if you later become wealthy? Or if you represent a key demographic that has largely been underrepresented you have their best in mind?
I think it is a grayscale where donating to education is looked upon positively because it directly impacts the future of everything, but too much involvement can become dangerous for one person or corporation to have that much control. It is a balance in my opinion.
But as my classmate said, it would just be better if we as a society valued education enough to put it as a financial priority and therefore not rely on donations.