by Deborah Meier
In a comment on Anthony Cody’s brilliant post, Deborah Meier explains why the Gates Foundation failed in New York City. She may be responding to the name of its blog “Impatient Optimists.” The foundation’s lack of patience caused it to crush the very practices and policies it should have nurtured. It wanted results–fast. It wanted measurements–quickly. Its impatience doomed its efforts:
Among other problems with Gates, it was their impatience for results that led them and others to abandon the arduous, time-consuming process of trying to expand the innovative networks that existed before they entered the field.  Rather than learn from them, they absorbed only the shallowest of the lessons they could have been taught.  I know, I remember, I was there at the time.  Our shared central “dogma” was and is: democracy isn’t doomed but it requires endless patience and endless respect for those most intimately involved–teachers, kids, families, neighbors.  Those are the only “changes” that last, and the only ones that build democracy rather than undermine it.  
But the Gates Foundation  wanted to show quick results–scale-up, reproduce more.  Faster.  They tempted us with money…   They wanted some easy way to measure success, so they settled for test scores.  We resisted, but…   We’re still around, but holding on by a fingernail.   Easy and fast–is partly what’s wrong with the schools most young people now attend.   It’s the one thing Gates and they seem to have learned from each other.  
What works?   We need schools that improve because we love them, and we love the work that gets accomplished in them.