Opinion | Effective Giving Requires Rolling Up Your Sleeves

The coronavirus pandemic has increased the need for effective philanthropy. But it isn’t enough to give. One must work at giving, search for and support causes and organizations that address structural problems, advance social progress, and transform people’s lives.

Philanthropy can do these things, but only when promoting fairness and supporting innate ability. We can most effectively drive prosperity, innovation, upward mobility and the pursuit of happiness by advancing individual freedom in a free-enterprise system—but only if we offer a level playing field to all.

No one can expect to maximize a child’s potential without first granting that child access to a rigorous K-12 public education. Yet the American public-school system has failed the children who need it most and whose abilities are squandered as a result. While many Americans agree that this is one of our country’s greatest crises, solutions can seem overwhelming and impracticable.

Why the despair? Because over many years, the public school system has given priority to the interests of the adults who created it at the expense of children, families and society. The system is largely uninterested in reform. Individual teachers aren’t to blame. Teachers are some of the most selfless, underappreciated and valuable people in this country, which makes it even more odious that we place them in broken organizations and ask them to do so much with so little support.

By contrast, the best public charter schools educate children from all backgrounds effectively. While charters aren’t a panacea, they offer best practices that can be implemented in district schools.