Ultimately, donors and foundation staff don’t have to answer to anybody besides themselves. They’re free to interpret their experiences however they like. This is why they can come across as unaccountable and smitten with their own wisdom. But it’s also good to keep things in perspective. If you’re bitterly angry at someone who’s voluntarily giving away large sums of money, you probably need to take a deep breath.

Most foundation staff spend a lot of time talking to people they fund, people they might fund, or people trying to woo them. They spend every day talking about their mission, how to refine it, and how to execute it, and they do this mostly with people who want their money. Given all that, it’s easy to wind up in a self-assured, mission-driven bubble.

It takes money to do things. Programs, staff, research, advocacy, and pretty much everything else that happens in school reform requires funding. This gives funders oceans of influence. Yet this influence is accompanied by a sea of quirks that rarely get examined or discussed. Reformers should change that. They should talk openly about the influence of funders and expect that foundations be at least as answerable for their actions as they’d like educators to be.

Read the full article about accountability in education philanthropy by Frederick Hess at Education Next.