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The Dalio donation, and drama at the Yale SOM Ed Conference

This weekly segment by Democrats for Education Reform CT looks at the top education stories Democrats are watching, providing bite-sized analysis and links to recent articles. It’s a quick recap this week on: the Dalio donation, and drama at the Yale SOM Ed Conference.

Dalio Donation: After the Announcement

On Friday, Governor Lamont announced a plan to invest $300M in CT schools, by arranging for private and public matches of a $100 million contribution from the Dalio Foundation. DFER CT’s Amy Dowell released a press statement in response--praising the philanthropists’ generosity, but suggesting that properly leveraging the funding will involve strategic, accountable investments focused on under-resourced communities. On Monday, organizers with New Haven Public School Advocates published an opinion, expressing doubts about the partnership. The authors cautioned about the loss of public control over education, generally as well as through this specific Dalio donation; suggested that tax loopholes for the wealthy reduce this gift to simply a "return of public dollars;" worried that the donation might let the state off the hook for its moral obligation to appropriately fund public education; and questioned the wisdom of asking the state to match the $100 million by allocating already-scarce public dollars.

Former Puerto Rican Ed Secretary at Yale

This past Thursday and Friday, the Yale School of Management held its annual Education Leadership Conference. One particular highlight was a keynote address given by Julia Keleher, former Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Education, who stepped down at the beginning of this month. After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, many praised Keleher’s efforts to address the humanitarian crisis on the island alongside an already-struggling school system. Yet, like many change-leaders, she faced opposition. In Keleher’s case, she encountered a backlash from those who opposed her closure of public schools when student enrollment plummeted post-hurricane, as well as her opening of the island’s first charter school. Keleher’s tenure also saw additional resources directed to schools including nurses, laptops and teacher pay raises. Immediately prior to Keleher’s Yale address, a letter was circulated among the audience-members condemning her efforts. Striking what Chalkbeat accurately describes as a “defiant tone,” Keleher defended her record.

Thoughtful Piece on Addressing Poverty

Last week’s NY Times opinion by columnist David Brooks explores Canada's successful fight against poverty--using a "multisector comprehensive approach." Unlike America's fragmented strategy, in which small programs compete against one another for funds, Canada has taken a systematic approach to moving people out of poverty, Brooks says. We think there’s a lot to learn from this type of methodology, thinking about collective impact within communities, rather than one-off service projects. Worth a read!


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