The other Gates Foundation

The Gates Foundation recently announced the coolest thing. No, not the Tom Vander Ark education foundation (we bow low in supplication), the Richard Klausner medical foundation down the hall. They funded 43 innovation grants in world health that just blow you away.

There are genetically altered bananas to help malnourished Ugandan kids, and refrigeration-free, single-dose vaccines (multiple-dose vaccines administered over several months – the norm – fail with hundreds of thousands of children every year due to access problems).

My favorite: bringing sophisticated medical tests to remote areas of the developing world, where health care workers load a tiny blood sample onto a credit-card sized disposable card, then plug it into an IPod-ish thing which, 10 minutes later, ID’s bacterial infections or HIV.

When was the last time you heard of something really innovative in K-12?

Jenny D tried to stir up some discussion on this and was underwhelmed.

By contrast, one Gates Foundation winner’s plan: “The premise of this project is that for some infections, including HIV, the immune system’s natural responses are inherently inadequate. As an alternative, Dr. Baltimore and his colleagues propose to genetically engineer immune cells that can produce adequate responses.”

That is awesome!

Why can’t we try something like, I dunno, how about: The premise of this project is that for some education challenges – like 9th graders who are illiterate – a school system’s natural responses are inherently inadequate. As an alternative, the student receives a voucher for a special school where, for one year, all they do is read, 8 hours a day. No math, no history, no science, no art, no gym. Just phonics, silent reading, read-alouds, recitation, Barnes and Noble trips, library fine amnesty, Harry Potter, Autobiography of Malcom X, newspapers, community service reading with shut-ins, posting reviews for each book on Amazon, book clubs, read read read.

– Guest Blogger MG

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