Grading the Moneymen


Corporate titans spent a fortune on schools. Their reform report cards:

Michael & Susan Dell Foundation $400 million Austin, Texas, in 1999

To improve education for the urban poor through charters, school leadership programs, and data systems that track student performance.

Among the foundation's outlays: $135 million on quick-access systems that provide at-a-glance monitoring of student and school trends, allowing for speedy responses to kids' needs. Spent $66 million on select charter schools, claiming that half of poor students in them outperform statewide averages on standardized tests. Spent $29 million on expanding access to Advanced Placement classes.

Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation $440 million Los Angeles in 1999

To further urban education by focusing on leadership training, competition through charter schools, and teacher effectiveness.

Invested $116 million to train principals and superintendents, but pulled out of the principal programs. Superintendent graduates lead 43 urban school districts; Broad says two thirds of superintendents serving for three years are heading up districts where student achievement has improved faster than similar districts. Spent $97 million on charter schools and $25 million on teacher merit-pay schemes.

Walton Family Foundation $538 million* Bentonville, Ark., in 1987

To create competition through charter schools and voucher programs, especially in low-income areas.

Spent more than $272 million on 1,200 charter schools serving 350,000 low-income students. Pleased with the progress, but no results released. Stanford University experts found a third of students at Walton-backed charters scored better on standardized tests than similar students in regular public schools. Spent $42 million on advocacy for school vouchers and charters; gave $10 million to Washington, D. …

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