Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation Pledge to Support Virtual Network for Teachers

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation pledged to support a virtual network that will enable teachers in five states to share everything from lesson plans to student progress reports, the Chicago Tribune reports.

According to Philanthropy News Digest, the amount each foundation will commit to the effort has not been announced, but officials at the Gates Foundation said last week the open-source technology system could cost as much as $100 million to develop. States in line to pilot the program include Illinois, Colorado, New York, North Carolina, and Massachusetts.

According to the Tribune, the network will give teachers instant access to education resources and applications that students can use in the classroom. First-grade teachers, for example, will be able to browse lessons on telling time while middle school math teachers could download materials related to calculating probability.

The news follows the announcement last fall that Illinois, along with eight other states, did not win funds in the federal Race to the Top competition. In its $400 million grant proposal, Illinois education officials had proposed developing a similar kind of network that would have cost $25 million over four years to manage.

"This actually gives [teachers] something tangible in their hands," Illinois superintendent of schools Christopher Koch told the Tribune. Koch added that the new system, which will be shared across states, "makes [the state's Race to the Top plan] happen, a better way."

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