Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Educational Entrepreneurship: Why It Matters, What Risks It Poses, and How to Make the Most of It AEI
The conference room at American Enterprise was filled with scholars and entrepreneurs eyeing the changing face of education. It was quite a long day! Speakers ran from Larry Rosenstock, founder of High Tech High in San Diego, to Joel Klein, now chancellor of NY City schools to Joe Williams, reporter of Milwaukee schools' transition and now New York's. The catalogue of the landscape in education risktaking and innovation was astounding.

Wm. Roberti talked of rebuilding New Orleans schools, a job he’d been hired for two months before Katrina. (The job changed - though his mission remained!) John Chubb of Edison deftly illuminated the legal restrictions on charter schools – restrictions designed to keep them from scaling up to a point of efficiency! Kim Smith of New Schools Venture Fund reminded us that Entrepreneurs leap much further than intrapreneurs: both strategically break the rules, but entrepreneurs create new organizations.

Startlingly, the encouragement for our project came not from the main entrepreneurial advocates. To me, our view was actually framed only by host Frederick Hess of AEI-who started the day; and contrarian author Larry Cuban-who helped wrap it up. Innovation and entrepreneurship, they said, should reach beyond EMO’s and CMO’s and the functions of finding new mechanisms to deliver essentially old services. It should not just be about fixing broken bureaucracy (though that’s critical!).

Rather, we should be inventing new streams of revenue and delivering new ways to reach students--often students who never have been properly served by traditional public schools. Or, any student (or adult) who just wants to learn more, faster, better.

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