You probably thought that the rightwing Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which supports charters and vouchers but not public schools, was on the opposite side of the political aisle from the Center for American Progress, which is described by the New York Times and the Washington Post as “left-leaning” (which is inaccurate).

Well, they are on the same page in sponsoring a low-budget “moon shot for kids.” 

  • By August 1, 2019, submit a brief application through our online portal. We are seeking ideas that would help the U.S. achieve one of the following big goals (your choice):
    • Cut in half the number of fourth graders reading “below basic”
    • Double the number of eighth graders who can write an effective persuasive essay
    • Shrink by 30 percent the average time a student spends in English-language-learner status
    • Double the amount of high-quality feedback the average middle schooler receives on their academic work
    • Ensure that every student receives high-quality college and career advising by ninth grade
    • Double the number of students from low-income families and students of color who graduate from high school with remediation-free scores on the SAT, ACT, or similar exams
    • Double the number of young women who major in STEM fields

The portal provides a place where, in no more than 500 words, you will sketch your idea for achieving one of those goals with the help of a public or private investment up to $1 billion.

  • By September 10, 2019, the Fordham and CAP teams will select 10 finalists, who will each receive $1,000 and be asked to flesh out their ideas in greater detail (up to 2,500 words).
  • In October or November, we’ll host a “Shark Tank” style competition in Washington, D.C., to submit the ideas to the scrutiny of a panel of judges, including educators and senior staff of large national foundations, who will pick a winner, and award a $10,000 grand prize.

This is not like the Laurene Powell Jobs competition where the prize was $10 million, but it is the same idea.

Reminds me of the Bush I program to “reinvent the schools,” called the New American Development Corporation, which offered cash for the best ideas. It all came to naught, but fortunately it was private money.

Thanks to Peter Greene, who gave me a tip on Twitter that there is no space between Fordham and CAP. Inside the Beltway, everyone is an ally.