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VIP Corner: Joel Klein on the role of private philanthropy in public education

SmartBrief is partnering with Big Think to create a weekly video spotlight in SmartBrief on Leadership called “VIP Corner: Video Insights Powered by Big Think.” This week, we’re featuring Joel Klein, former chancellor for the New York City Department of Education.

In comparison to the size of the budget of New York City’s school system, the amount raised through private philanthropy might seem small. But donations are valuable for implementing new initiatives and changing how things are done, said Joel Klein, former chancellor of the city’s Department of Education.

“Private philanthropy is typically the R&D money, the innovation money … the venture money, that can enable you to do new and different things,” he said.

For example, donations were used to help the department set up a leadership program, and the Gates Foundation got involved with a project to improve poor-performing high schools.

So while philanthropy can’t cover the day-to-day needs of the school system, it can help with the “transformative things that need to be done,” he said.

Big Think is a forum in which top experts explore big ideas and core skills defining the 21st century. Learn more from its editors, fellows and guest speakers.