Rick Hess isn’t happy about the selection of Gwinett County as the Broad Prize winner yesterday (both Hess and I sit on the review board for the prize, though he doesn’t mention that in his post?). Hess argues that Gwinnett’s anti-charter school posture doesn’t qualify it as an exemplar of urban reform. I obviously don’t agree with Gwinett’s position on that issue, either, but think the district’s overall improvement is noteworthy and no district will please everyone anyway.
More generally, the Gwinnett selection and ensuing controversy that Hess is giving voice to is interesting because it again shows how much this broad brush (no pun intended) approach to criticizing philanthropy, so much in vogue today, obscures more than it reveals. All we hear from the usual suspects (too frequently uncritically relayed by the media) is how Eli Broad is fixated on chartering everything in sight and steering things to that end. Actually, as this prize choice shows, the truth is more complicated and interesting.
In other words, rather than an “awkward moment” as Hess describes it, I hope it’s an illuminating one.