Microsoft founder Bill Gates told the National Urban League on July 28 that a child’s success should not depend on the race or income of parents and that poverty cannot be an excuse for a poor education.
Gates said shifting the emphasis to education helps in the battle against poverty.
“Let me acknowledge that I don’t understand in a personal way the challenges that poverty creates for families, and schools and teachers,” the billionaire said at the civil rights group’s annual convention. “I don’t ever want to minimize it. Poverty is a terrible obstacle. But we can’t let it be an excuse.”
Gates, who now runs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, cited his foundation’s work with charter schools as an example.
“We know you can have a good school in a poor neighborhood,” said Gates. “So let’s end the myth that we have to solve poverty before we improve education. I say it’s more the other way around: Improving education is the best way to solve poverty.”
After speaking, Gates joined Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, who Bill Gates playfully called his “cousin,” for a conversation on education. “He’s the Harvard professor,” said Bill Gates. “I’m the Harvard drop out.”