How Program Officers at Education Philanthropies View Education

Tom Loveless
A headshot of Tom Loveless.
Tom Loveless Former Brookings Expert

April 25, 2005

How Program Officers at Education Philanthropies View Education

This paper examines the educational views of program officers at education philanthropies. It reports the results of a survey conducted in 2005. The survey was inspired by a 1997 survey of education professors conducted by Public Agenda. Published as Different Drummers: How Teachers of Teachers View Education, the findings revealed that “professors of education have a distinct, perhaps even singular prescription for what good teachers should do—one that differs markedly from that of most parents and taxpayers.”¹ Education professors were found to value process over content and learning how to learn over mastering basic skills. They did not favor memorization, rewards and punishments for good behavior, basic skills, and tough discipline. The report concluded, “While the public’s priorities are discipline, basic skills, and good behavior in the classroom, teachers of teachers severely downplay such goals.”² Indeed, the professors seemed well aware that they held views contrary to the general public. More than three-fourths, 79%, agreed with the statement, “the general public has outmoded and mistaken beliefs about what good teaching means.”