I'll admit to watching some of last night's Hollywood-glitzy American Idol Gives Back show. Hey, you don't have to be under ten (like my nieces) to appreciate the talents of Miley Cyrus, or to enjoy Robin Williams pretending to be the winner of "Russian Idol." (Best joke: his father won "Anti-American Idol" in 1978.) A cynic would argue that the production was a platform for big stars to flatter their sense of generosity. But I'm not a cynic--I was a camp counselor after all--and I even teared up at a couple of video segments showing kids living in awful conditions around the world.

The event raises gobs of money for the "American Idol Gives Back Foundation," which then forwards the funds to a selection of charities. That's all well and good. But I couldn't help but notice that the two recipients they picked that were most related to education were the Children's Defense Fund--an old-style, true-blue liberal advocacy group--and Save the Children--and old-style, true-blue liberal charity. "Venture philanthropy" this is not.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised; this is Hollywood. But it would have been fun to see some money go to KIPP, or Teach For America, or anything with a more systematic, strategic approach than the after-school programs and book drives that these older charities have been implementing for decades. Maybe next year American Idol could give back... to the future.

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