Bill Gates Reaches Decision With Wife To Move Funding From Liberal Arts to Mathematics Instead

( The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is shifting the focus of some of its education-related gifting.

On Wednesday, the foundation said that it would be giving out grants in excess of $1 billion. It’s all part of the foundation’s sweeping plan to improve education in mathematics over the next four years.

The goal of the foundation is to help students do better in school so that they can get better jobs upon graduation. The focus is on math because research has shown that there is a connection between having strong skills in math and being successful in a career.

But, in order for the organization to be able to put all that extra support behind math, they’ll need to cut grants they’ve be giving to other subjects such as the arts, writing and reading.

This math focus comes following the COVID-19 pandemic having “wreaked havoc” on overall learning among secondary school students, said Bob Hughes, who serves as the director of the foundation’s elementary and education grant-making program.

He added that the pandemic also widened education gaps between different races. Math scores for Black students, he said, fell more sharply than those of White students during the pandemic.

Officials with the foundation said they see improved math instruction in the early grades of schooling as one of the keys to help all students succeed in life beyond school. Hughes cited statistics that show those who are able to pass intro to algebra by their freshman year of high school are twice as likely to end up graduating high school and then attending college.

The challenge, he continued, is that math isn’t presented as a crucial or captivating subject to most students. He explained:

“Too many students don’t have access to math instruction in classrooms where they receive critical resources to help them see the joy in learning math and believe that they can become math people as they grow older.”

A major shift in giving like this is really nothing new for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The organization used to support common-core standards, spending hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to support the national educational goals that were set for students at each individual grade level.

In 2018, thought, they backtracked on that. The organization created a new plan after much criticism arose about the effectiveness of common-core standards. The plan included creating a network of schools, where educators could test out coursework and teaching innovations, with the freedom to adapt as they saw fit. In these classrooms, the teachers weren’t required to adhere to the national standards of education.

Two years ago, the foundation also created a $10 million competition that sought to identify new potential approaches to teaching the subject of algebra. The grants under that program helped the organization formulate its new approach to giving in education, officials said.