I also want to thank you, Governor Warner, and your fellow governors, for your leadership in hosting this education summit on America’s high schools. It is rare to bring together people with such broad responsibilities and focus their attention on one single issue. But if there is one single issue worth your focused attention – it is the state of America’s high schools.
Many of us here have stories about how we came to embrace high schools as an urgent cause. Let me tell you ours.
Everything Melinda and I do through our foundation is designed to advance equity. Around the world, we believe we can do the most by investing in health – especially in the poorest countries.
Here in America, we believe we can do the most to promote equity through education.
A few years ago, when Melinda and I really began to explore opportunities in philanthropy, we heard very compelling stories and statistics about how financial barriers kept minority students from taking their talents to college and making the most of their lives.
That led to one of the largest projects of our foundation. We created the Gates Millennium Scholars program to ensure that talent and energy meet with opportunity for thousands of promising minority students who want to go to college.
Many of our Scholars come from tough backgrounds, and they could bring you to tears with their hopeful plans for the future. They reinforced our belief that higher education is the best possible path for promoting equality and improving lives here in America.
Yet – the more we looked at the data, the more we came to see that there is more than one barrier to college. There’s the barrier of being able to pay for college; and there’s the barrier of being prepared for it.
When we looked at the millions of students that our high schools are not preparing for higher education – and we looked at the damaging impact that has on their lives – we came to a painful... [continues]
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