Portrait of Eli Broad
From the article:
A billionaire philanthropist whose beneficence comes with not just strings but with ropes that could moor an ocean liner, he is known to pull his support, resign from a board or, in some cases, decline to fulfill his financial promises when a project comes together in a way he does not like.
This explains the wording for the Broad residents (the district has two people who are coming to the end of their two-year residency with SPS - if they get hired, then I know the fix is in. We can't afford to keep these people on but the Broad website makes it fairly clear that the expectation is they will be hired at the end of the residency.)
An interesting take on his influence:
His remarkable influence — even his critics suggest the results of his patronage have been overwhelmingly good for the city — says much about Los Angeles and its still-adolescent philanthropic culture, diffuse power base and lack of civic investment among many of its richest residents.
Mr. Broad and Bill Gates, in 2008, financed a political campaign called Strong American Schools, to focus campaign attention on education. They promised $60M to the campaign. Mr. Broad likes results and he let the communications director for the campaign know that one way to judge the success of its impact is the number of column inches in newspaper about it.
In the end, Mr. Broad said, the campaign did not have the impact on voters that he’d hoped, so he reduced his pledge to about a third of the original promise.
“If we’re not getting results,” Mr. Broad said during an interview in his offices in the Westwood district, surrounded by modern art on the walls and framed by the spread of Los Angeles behind him, “why should we spend all that money?”
Mr. Kolton said the campaign staff saw an ever-moving goal post.
“Just because we couldn’t make education the main campaign issue when we were fighting two wars and the country was slipping into a depression, it was held against us,” he said.Meaning, if you don't do what I want or I don't like your effort or outcome, I'll pull the money.
The last paragraph is telling for the future:
“Eli does nothing without strings, but I happen to think you need strings,” said Jane Nathanson, a longtime trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art. “I think there is a new type of philanthropist now. With old-family wealth, people gave money because it was the chic thing to do. New wealth is earned, and if you can get it, there is going to be a great deal of control.”
I absolutely understand wanting some control and benchmarks/matrix for results. It's your money as a philanthropist. Mr. Board seems a bit of control freak with a streak of stubborness.
But what is key to me looking down the road are two things. One, Ms. Nathanson is right. This is a new breed of philanthropist. These people are not from inherited wealth but earned wealth. It is not so much doing good for good's sake.
Two, it's putting a stamp on this country in terms of outcomes AND direction. I sense impatience on the part of these two and, in something of a vaccum, they are seizing the opportunity to push what they believe is the "right" way to go in education. (By vaccum, I don't mean there aren't plenty of education foundations/initiatives but that Broad/Gates are on a huge scale with a lot of visibility.) I think they want to see results and change (read: reform) and while I can applaud the deep caring I believe they bring to their efforts, I am also wary of two people who are neither elected nor appointed to make this kind of wholesale change to the face of education in our country.
Money is a great motivator especially for a government/state/district strapped for cash. But dangling money cannot trump scrutiny and careful assessment of what the money has to be used for in our schools and for the overall educational system.