Bill Gates has vowed to spend billions to boost minority education. Even for someone of his enormous wealth, this is a noble gesture. Frankly, he will continue to get rich regardless of whether he engages or philanthropy. That said, I can’t help but wonder why “minority” education? Why not just help out poor districts irrespective of their racial profiles?

FILED UNDER: Education, Race and Politics,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John Lemon says:

    For the same reason MSFT signed on to the Michigan side of the affirmative action case before the Supremes — the current tone in the US brands anybody who doesn’t explicitly go out of their way for a minorities as racist. In other word, political correctness. There’s a bit more to it, but that is a lot of it.

  2. Mac Diva says:

    Because the situation in education for minority students is a disaster. With blacks and Hispanics making up more than 30 percent of youths currently, it is extremely important to close the achievement gap. I salute monopoly man Bill Gates.

  3. John Lemon says:

    That same gap could be closed by focusing on low income kids, rather than minority kids per se. Moreover, those billions are not going to go for bureaucratic overhaul, which is the real solution to the problem — think vouchers, charters and less b.s. in the curriculum.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Mac: No doubt that’s true for blacks and Hispanics in the aggregate. But they don’t go to school in the aggregate; nor do whites. I’d like to see the money going to help poor students, not just minorities. Granted, doing this will disproportionately help minorities, which is fine.

    John: Agreed on both counts. Poverty is the main problem, not race. And I’m not sure, either, how the money will help matters unless there is something done about the bureaucracy. A great WaPo Magazine article on that yesterday: here.

  5. Caleb says:

    I could be wrong, but I was always under the impression that Gates was a socialist of sorts. The leftists love to quote Microsoft’s generous donations to the Republican Party, but I wonder how it compares to their donations to the Democrats. Nothing about Gates so far convinces me that he shows even an ounce of respect for convervatism.

  6. James Joyner says:

    I’m pretty sure Gates is a liberal, although he obviously supports a hands-off regulatory policy vis-a-vis Microsoft.

    And I don’t want to convey the impression I disapprove of his actions here: It’s his money to do with as he pleases and the goal is certainly laudable. I just question race as the determining factor rather than poverty, low achievement, or some other measure. Since he’s a private citizen, he can use any measure he likes; I just disagree with it.

  7. John Lemon says:

    The MSFT crowd is an unusual sort. They tend to be a mix of libertarians and moderate Democrats. The latter can be explained by the relatively young age of many of the employees (though there has been a bit of greying there recently as the stock market has not led people to cash in early). There is this general Democratic “do good” mentality about the place, yet the anti-trust case has infused it with a streak of libertarianism.

    Also, Bill Gates, Sr. — a prominent lawyer in Seattle — is on record as opposing the end of the estate tax. Easy to do when your son is the world’s richest man, and when you can easily divert your estate into tax-free foundations. I think he likes the death tax as it creates incentives to donate to foundations before dying.