EdWeek Sets Standard With Detailed Gates Foundation Funding Disclosure

There was a fair amount of coverage of the Gates Foundation’s education program over the past few days, in addition to the above PBS NewsHour segment (transcript here) – but the coverage might have been eclipsed by an impressive disclosure from EdWeek the likes of which I’ve never seen before.

In terms of coverage, EdWeek’s Liana Heitin wrote this piece (Gates Foundation Staying the Course on Teacher Effectiveness, High Standards) which included reactions from AEI’s Rick Hess, NEPC’s Carol Burris, and the NEA. Unable to observe an onstage conversation with Ted Mitchell and a Gates staffer, Heitin got an interview with him afterwards (Dept.’s Ted Mitchell Talks ESEA, Turnover, and Education Philanthropy). 

In a followup EdWeek piece (Gates Reaffirms K-12 Priorities Amid Shifting Political Landscape), Alyson Klein notes the strong but unmentioned connections between the Gates agenda and Arne Dunca, “the man who has helped spread a similar agenda faster and further than his foundation alone ever could have.”

The piece also notes that the foundation has split from the Obama administration on issues like linking teacher evaluations to test scores.  It includes reactions from Jeff Henig, Christine Tebben, Anthony Cody, Sarah Reckhow, and Joanne Weiss.

The Hechinger Report’s Meredith Kolodner filed this story (Bill Gates doubles down on his drive to improve teaching), which includes comments from Mike Petrilli and Jonathan Knapp.

Even more notable than any of the coverage may be EdWeek’s extensive and detailed disclosure about funding it has received from the Gates Foundation, including dollar figures broken out for specific projects and time periods:

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 7.26.59 AM

“Since 2005, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $7.85 million in grants to Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit corporation that publishes Education Week.” 

Most nonprofit news outlets indicate their funding sources but without specific amounts listed or time periods. That information can sometimes be cobbled together from foundation websites or nonprofit news outlet’s IRS tax forms, but EdWeek gathering and publishing the information in one place is something entirely different (and welcome, at least by me).

One factor that may contribute to EdWeek’s ability and willingness to produce this kind of detailed information is that its overall revenues may not be as dominated by private funders as other nonprofit news outlets.  

In a recent conversation with publisher Virginia Edwards for my recent CJR piece on education coverage, I was told that foundation funding for Editorial Projects in Education (the umbrella organization that publishes EdWeek) makes up less than a quarter of its revenues. The vast majority come from subscriptions, events, webinars, and other products. 

EPE also acquired Learning Matters and its valuable relationship with the PBS NewsHour, giving it a broadcasts outlet in consumer media along with all its print and online trade outlets.

Related posts: When Media Organizations Take Outside Funding for Events;Who Will Replace Merrow On EdWeek-Run PBS NewsHour?Salon Fails To Disclose Education Writer’s NEA/Labor TiesOnline Education News: Boring Glut — Or Golden Age?.

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.