Eli Broad paved the way for radical moderates. He was a New Democrat before Clinton. He was a Democrat for Education Reform before there was a DFER.
He figured out long ago that there was a talent gap in education and began investing in human capital. In addition to a great superintendent program, Eli formed a residency to bring MBAs into district cabinets and a training program for school board members. Eli also invested in Teach for America, New Leaders for New Schools, New Teacher Project, and Education Pioneers.
Eli saw the potential for quality at scale in charter schools. He invested in New School Venture Fund. Eli brought KIPP to LA. In post-Katrina New Orleans, Eli saw the potential to rebuild a different and better system and he invested in talent and charter networks.
When I brought the Stand Up advocacy campaign to Eli in 2006, he signed up but was frustrated that it wasn't edgier. He partnered with the Gates Foundation on Strong American Schools and was still frustrated that it didn't push harder in the resulting 'Ed in 08' campaign which tried too hard to build a big tent. And then education was pushed off the agenda by Iraq and the recession.
But yesterday, Eli won. Obama's speech sounded like Eli wrote it. It was about choice and charter schools, human capital and performance pay. It was right on message from pre-school to college. We've never had a Republican president that so clearly articulated a Republican strategy. Only it's the new New Democrat strategy. It's Eli's strategy. He finally won.