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The J-Factor

Like so many “No Excuses” schools in our portfolio and beyond, KIPP: DC changes the lives of students and families by keeping kids’ interests at the center of decision-making. While the KIPP network earns well-deserved credit for its relentless focus on long-term goals (“KIPPster, what year are you going to college?”), students’ current happiness and well-being are central to fulfilling its mission. A classroom teeming with J-Factor (J stands for Joy; abbreviations […] Read more

Teachers, Reformers and the “Real Fight”

Education reform hardly qualifies as the most exciting news with an Aspen dateline this week. In fact, the Aspen Ideas Festival* didn’t even have an official education track this year. But that didn’t keep the Festival – an annual gathering that represents the high-altitude pinnacle of influential thinking –from making news in the education world. The Festival featured no fewer than three sessions on the potential of technology to bring disruptive innovation to […] Read more


It’s not often that I wake up in the morning, read the blogs, and find a whole lot of common ground with Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” in the Washington Post. On days when she is quoting the New York Times’ Michael Winerip, it’s even less likely.So, in the holiday spirit of cheer and peacemaking, I’m delighted that just before the year runs out, the moment has arrived, in the form of an […] Read more

Of course class matters. Schools matter too.

A recent piece on the New York Times op-ed page, which somehow didn’t get much immediate attention, ranks in the view of this jaded sometimes-ed-writer as one of the most troubling articles on education reform of 2011.The December 11 op-ed, by Duke public policy professor Helen Ladd and former New York Times education editor Edward Fiske, was headlined “Class Matters. Why Won’t We Admit It?” It makes a few points that ought […] Read more

2011 Year in Review

As 2011 comes to a close, we’re taking stock of our successes and challenges throughout the year. Here are just a few highlights:  In 2011, schools in the NewSchools portfolio served more than 115,000 students—equal to the 33rd largest school district in the country. Upon graduation, 90% of them will go on to college.  This year, we invested more than $17 million dollars in innovative entrepreneurial organizations working to make a difference for students from low-income communities. Our […] Read more

SOD – “Save Our Debate”

In Washington DC, the end of July is supposed to be a time of miserable weather during which the politicos get nothing done because they’re on vacation. Instead, it’s a time of miserable weather during which politicos are getting nothing done because they’re staring each other down over the ruins of our country’s credit rating.So why is Matt Damon getting on a redeye flight tonight to rally a crowd of teachers marching […] Read more

Friday Night Lights (and Pitches)

Last Friday night saw nearly 300 Bay Area entrepreneurs, VCs and philanthropists gather for the final pitch session of The EdTech Entrepreneurs Lab, an education startup incubation program helping cultivate the next generation of education technology entrepreneurs. Since February, a cohort of 25 incredible individuals has been working through the Lab on tech-enabled solutions to the challenges facing American public education—and at this culminating event, their months of hard work were clear.The […] Read more

“Public education is broken: How will you fix it?”

In April, NewSchools teamed up with the student-led nonprofit Students for Education Reform (SFER) to host a national essay competition. We all recognize that public education is broken; we wanted to hear from students how they propose to fix it. Macy Olivas, a junior at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, authored the winning essay.“Public education is broken: How will you fix it?”I hate to say that I lucked out on the education […] Read more