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Who Gets to Upgrade Schools?

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My wife was scheduled to travel on business this week, and after she arrived at her destination on Sunday evening, she asked me if I would set the Tivo to record Monday's episode of Oprah.

Now, my wife and I have an understanding. She doesn't poke fun at Star Trek, I lay off any cracks about Oprah Winfrey (like "piercing your ears... on the next Oprah"). It's all good that way. Still, she doesn't usually go out of her way to Tivo an episode, so I asked her what the topic was.

"You might be interested in it," she said over the phone, "it'll have Bill and Melinda Gates on."

Bill Gates meets the Oprahnator? This I did have to see. Monday night I settled in with the remote and a strong drink and fired up the episode, chillingly titled "What Bill and Melinda Gates Want You to Know." Turns out the Gates were on the show to talk about something they feel strongly about : the declining quality of US schools, which was the focus of the entire show that day.

Here's how Oprah introduced the interview with the Gates: "With a net worth of about $51 billion, Microsoft founder and world's richest man, Bill Gates, and his wife, Melinda (two of Time magazine's 'Persons of the Year' in 2005), are determined to use their fortune to change the crisis in American schools. Through their influential Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, they are trying to revolutionize an education system that, if it were a business, Bill says, 'would be bankrupt.'"

Clearly, this was going to be a hard-hitting episode.

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