February 2008 Archives

Yesterday I attended parts of the Education Industry Association’s annual Washington policy conference. My observations.

There are any number of issues around the SES provisions of a reauthorized NCLB, but if SES providers do not also weigh in on the law’s accountability provisions – and particularly those related to the calculation of Adequate Yearly Progress – there may not be much of an SERS market to pursue.

Does the pattern of foundation grants suggest coordination, concerted action, a network, an alliance?

Gaining the Right To Enter a State Market in District Services...

Today, John Doerr, partner in the famed venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers briefed the National Governors Association on the emerging industry in green technologies. It's a "must watch" for the leaders of Knowledge Alliance, SIIA and EIA.

As the number of emails editors receive each day increases, pitching a specific story about your company and its services/products instead of multiple news releases can be an effective way to catch their attention.

The social keiretsu imitates the vertical and horizontal spread of its commercial counterpart.

In the next several postings I hope to demonstrate how the network spotlighted by eduwonkette and discussed much earlier by Alexander Russo and yours truly is a kind of social keiretsu in market-based public education reform.

This is the sixth in series addressing the questions implied by Alexander Russo's statement. “Social entrepreneurship is everywhere these days…. And of course it's a big buzzword in certain education circles as well. I still don't know what it means.” In this series of posts, I’ve tried to strip away the vague and overbroad use of the phrase; its applications to intrapreneurship within school districts or dominant publishers, commercial entrepreneurship in public education, and any new nonprofit in public education. This leaves us with two operationally useful definitions, and the answer to Uberblogger Russo’s fundamental question whether “social ...

Homework is good if: it is truly tied to the instruction that was recently delivered; it really helps the child understand the concepts better, and most importantly; the child has access to one-to-one help when the child is stuck on his or her homework.

I promise to jump back into the debate over the "AEI-edsector-Fordham-plus" axis with both feet tomorrow. Just a few points until then. Short of vouchers, I am an unabashed advocate for a market in public education, as anyone who reads what I've written here on edbizbuzz or in print, listened to my podcasts, reviewed my resume, or met me knows....

There is a market space opening up between education agencies and the providers of teaching and learning products, services and materials. It’s akin to the role of the consulting architect in construction - a third party whose only stake in the outcome is a reputation for independence and objectivity.

It's easy to understand why some might consider this group to be a self-perpetuating, insular club less likely to engage each other in deep debate, more inclined to mutual back slapping and log rolling - and to writing the history of reform policy in ways that place them in a favorable light.

A useful discussion on how we should think about the policy wonk network.

Whether its just a sentence or a letter, I urge you to go to read the debate and discussion on these sites, choose any one, AND SAY SOMETHING!

Meeting Illinois state proficiency standards is not adequate for higher education and/or the workforce. Reports that students are meeting these standards skews public and parent perceptions that they are performing at levels predictive of long-term life success in life when they are not.

Either we call all nonprofit founders social entrepreneurs – in which case the term is spin; or we come up with something important to distinguish the new group of nonprofit leaders from their predecessors.

A definition of “social entrepreneur” encompassing the proposition that traditional entrepreneurs involved in commercial enterprise serving public education is just so much spin. These are only “social” entrepreneurs to the extent that Henry Ford was a “transportation” entrepreneur. The people called "social entrepreneurs" formed nonprofits

Up until roughly the 1990s, a market structure based on a monopoly provider of public schools, an oligopoly of publishers, and no student performance requirements, more or less prevented the emergence of commercial or social entrepreneurship in public education.

There is no surplus of Comprehensive School Reform RFPs out there. The federal SLC Grant program offers some relatively rare opportunities through states and districts.

Federal prisons facilities are always advertising for high school and vocational education instructors. Some courses require at least some hands on, face-to-face teaching and learning. But not every class, not every part of every class, and not those for the GED.

“One who is able to begin, sustain and when necessary, effectively and efficiently dissolve a business entity.” And "one who organizes supply to satisfy a previously unmet demand.”

There are real social entrepreneurs in public education. They are quite scarce, not many are the people called such by the media and, if we apply the term properly, it will be obvious that most of the real social entrepreneurs in public education are being starved by their supposed benefactors - sometimes quite deliberately.

The sale of Eduventures' Business Research Division is hardly the beginning of the end of days, but it does symbolize the end of the beginning. The school improvement industry may remain fragmented, but it is no longer emerging.

From my perspective, 2009 just may be that watershed year when American ingenuity is unleashed and a vibrant and robust knowledge-driven school improvement movement is launched.

If we want education policy “think tanks” rather than “marketing shops,” we need a better class of customer than today’s Department of Education.

Management consulting is becoming the new think tank in education policy, and for those interested an emerging school improvement market, learning more about their work is probably more important than following the education policy marketing shops.

Of education think tanks, Alexander Russo asked “what about influence, not to speak of value?” If these outfits are really policy marketing shops, that’s like asking the same about advertising after looking through any magazine. The ready answer is that in a world where everyone is marketing, those who refrain from it will find selling much harder.

This district seems open to firms that are focused more on business than education. I believe districts will come to pay something closer to the fees these firms have come to expect from the private sector than they have in the past, so it may be a market worth exploring.

The organizations Alexander Russo called think tanks don’t deserve the appellation. It's a bit like trying get consumers to accept wine spritzer as champagne, or langostino as lobster. They must perform a useful function in Washington, or they would not be in business, but that function is not what led people to place the label on RAND.

I thank Alexander Russo for trying to prompt debates of the first order at a time when eduwonks and edubloggers are all too focused on the trivia surrounding NCLB II. Friday, February 1, he asked: "The money (to start and support education think tanks) keeps pouring in.... But what about influence, not to speak of value?

The New York Times’ Sam Dillon wrote the most recent version of a story we see roughly every six months, which I’ll call the “virtual education wars.” It’s an easy write. Yet, they rarely help to focus the reader on the important issues of public policy – those that speak to the interests of the taxpayer, student and general public, rather than their instrumentalities – teachers union, districts and the private sector.


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