Billionaires fixing schools

I read the How many billionaires does it take to fix a school system article in the NY Times Magazine with interest this weekend. The article wasn't about the public/private partnerships that are always on my mind. The Park's Dept. has the conservancies and the schools have the billionaires and the PTA grant writers. It has worked for some, which is lovely for the parks and schools in neighborhoods with the cash and the will (in that order) to do something civic minded. The problem is the inequity. Public education is the great democratizing dream. But that isn't what I want to talk about.
It was fascinating to hear how the new billionaires are giving. I like the nibbleness and pragmatic outlook of the Gates Foundation. I like that they don't need their names on a building, that they want to effect change and that is trickier. I thought it was very good advice for them to "spend their money the way they made their money, which means investing in great people, testing out new ideas, being tough-minded in evaluating what's working and what isn't." What makes me nervous is scope of change. I don't like the thought that the NYC school system is a behemoth and we have to turn the whole honking thing around. That the big money goes to developing a strategy that is usually too broad to be effective and not given enough time to develop on the ground. The problem is that every child and every community is different. The school system is not a factory producing widgits. There are no big strategies that will ever work.
The only policy that really makes sense to me is the creation of the Empowerment schools. The principal, the teachers and the parents are the only ones who know what is really working. The article mentioned a "Parent's union" and it made great sense to me. I wish a billionaire would finance a lobbyist for the Parents Union so our needs and wishes would be the first and loudest voice in the room.