Each year, our nation's K-12 public education system falls short for thousands of children and their families. In too many cases, ineffective schools - driven by unaccountable school administrators and elected officials, combined with ill-equipped teachers - fail to prepare our nation's children to be independent, successful, contributing members of society. Unfortunately, disadvantaged communities are disproportionately affected by these conditions. From kindergarten to 12th grade, the national statistics reflect a considerable (and growing) achievement gap between white and minority students, and that a majority of high school graduates are not prepared for either college or the workplace.
The Robertson Foundation's goal is to ensure that all children have access to high-quality educational opportunities. Our public school reform initiatives seek to address the challenges which negatively impact student achievement. We utilize a two-pronged approach:
- "Reform from Within" - supporting activities that enhance existing system policies and practices, drive more effective use of resources, and conduct demonstration projects which can be adopted throughout public systems.
- Drive Change by Generating External Pressure - encouraging competition by supporting the development of charter schools, voucher programs, and resources that enable informed parent choice.
Our hope is that the effective schools we support will serve as examples of "what can and should be" for America's public schools; that school systems will focus on enabling effective leadership, demanding high standards, promoting school-based management, ensuring effective teacher support, and requiring accountability based on student data.
Central to our overall education strategy is an unrelenting focus on student achievement. Our conviction is that the combination of support and pressure on public education will drive the fundamental changes that are needed to ensure high quality educational opportunities.
Exemplary of the Foundation's two-pronged approach is our early and substantial investment in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's and Chancellor Joel Klein's Children First reform agenda, while simultaneously supporting the expansion of New York City charter schools. More information on the Children First agenda can be found at http://schools.nyc.gov/Administration/Childrenfirst/default.htm.
The Foundation was a founder and remains an active supporter of The New York City Center for Charter School Excellence, created in 2004 as a partnership between New York City and the philanthropic community. The Center was designed "to stimulate the supply of high quality charter schools and support ongoing student excellence in all NYC charter schools, impacting the effectiveness of public education." The Robertson Foundation provides both organizational leadership and financial support for the launch and operation of this new venture.
In education, as in all of our program areas, we seek out partnership opportunities with like-minded funders and other organizations to leverage investments and maximize the impact of innovative programs.