Just 20 years ago, American students were among the best in the world, routinely coming in first in test results. Now, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, students in the richest country on earth are in 24th place in math. That's behind Canada, Germany, France, Korea...but also smaller, poorer countries like Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.
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."
Melinda adds that this is not an isolated problem of poverty. "This is affecting all schools," she says. "Kids are falling through the cracks and nobody notices it. That to me is what's wrong with the school system."