The pair of education advocates had a big idea, a new approach to transform every public-school classroom in America. By early 2008, many of the nationâ€™s top politicians and education leaders had lined up in support.
But that wasnâ€™t enough. The duo needed money â€” tens of millions of dollars, at least â€” and they needed a champion who could overcome the politics that had thwarted every previous attempt to institute national standards.
So they turned to the richest man in the world.
On a summer day in 2008, Gene Wilhoit, director of a national group of state school chiefs, and David Coleman, an emerging evangelist for the standards movement, spent hours in Bill Gatesâ€™s sleek headquarters near Seattle, trying to persuade him and his wife, Melinda, to turn their idea into reality. ...