Bill Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has called on the incoming Obama administration and Congress to renew America's commitment to expanding opportunity in the United States and the developing world.
During a speech at George Washington University, Gates argued that even as governments in developed countries struggle to address the global economic crisis, it is more important than ever to expand opportunities for all American students and to fight disease and poverty around the world. Gates also said that by imposing a new fiscal discipline on the country — cutting waste and inefficiency, and demanding more accountability from recipients of federal funds — lawmakers could make smarter decisions on how to support the most effective programs.
"Long-term strategic interests do not disappear in an economic downturn," Gates said. "Developing the talent of our young people, addressing poverty, preventing disease is always smart, no matter what the budget outlook."
Gates called on the federal government to help accelerate school reform by providing financial incentives and support to states to boost the recruitment and retention of effective teachers, to align state standards with international standards, and to adopt curricula that help students meet those standards. He also urged President-elect Obama to keep his campaign pledge to double foreign assistance to $50 billion by 2012.
"If you look at the stock market, business activity, or budget deficits, things are dark," said Gates. "But if you consider our capacities and opportunities, our passion and vision, the outlook is bright. We can keep moving toward a world where every child grows up in good health, goes to a good school, and has opportunities waiting — as long as we stay confident about the future and keep investing in it."