Russo points out the Reformy Approach Spreading To Early Childhood, and while I have some of the same reservations about this that I have for the current reformy approach in K-12, at least this is relatively wide-open territory in the US.
I mean, it is bad that we don't have better access to high quality child care, but the fact remains that we don't.
There's a nice 105 year old Unitarian church sitting vacant across the street. If Gates or Broad or Walton or Angus Davis would fix it up, endow an early child care center, lobby for state and federal funding to support it going forward, staff it with painstakingly recruited Brown grads doing two year stints... that would be awesome. Yeah, I might quibble about the curriculum, this or that, but on the whole everyone here would appreciate it. That's the way philanthropy has always worked.
On the flip side, I think it is extremely important to be very hard on philanthropy's destructive tendencies in K-12, and very personal. At some point these guys have to look at a poll and see that the result of their billions in giving that 10% of the people think they're awesome and (at least) 10% think they're a malignant plutocratic bastard -- because of their philanthropy. At that point they'll start to wonder if there isn't a better way to create a legacy.
Like, say, opening pre-schools for poor kids.