‘Tis the season

December 10, 2012

“If we want America to lead in the 21st century, nothing is more important than giving everyone the best education possible — from the day they start preschool to the day they start their career.”

—President Barack Obama

We all know that our school system needs help.  That our kids are not prepared well in comparison to their counterparts in other developed countries.  We know achievement gaps persist. While the gap between white and black students has narrowed over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially during the same period. Family income is now more determinative of educational success than race. 

Americans have always responded to challenges with a spirit of ingenuity. In his famous work on American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville observed in 1832 that “Boldness of enterprise is the foremost cause of [America’s] rapid progress, its strength, and its greatness.”  It’s still true today. The US leads all major industrial economies in the percent of the population engaged in entrepreneurial activity. 

In 2012, we experienced a record-breaking number of ideas flooding into NewSchools that are really working.  We take this as a sign that we’re on the precipice of a major shift towards an improvement in our education system led by education entrepreneurs.  And many of those entrepreneurs are teachers who are raising their hands to scale solutions proven out in their classrooms.  Take for example Matt Kitchen, a 7th grade math teacher who wrote to me in September:

Ms. Carolan, I am a 7th grade math teacher and the creator and sole operator of my website MakeMathMore.com. The website originally started out to showcase my real-life based math lessons that I created and got a lot of excited feedback on. I am passionate about getting rid of the boring math classes out there that turned people like me off of math at a young age because all we did was take notes and do book work (I didn’t find a love of math until much later in life). I do not advertise and am trying to navigate the whole entrepreneurial landscape.. .

Today we celebrate all education entrepreneurs like Matt who are taking action to improve education for our kids.  From the teachers who have taken the initiative to share their ideas more broadly to the funders of organizations like NewSchools, education entrepreneurship is sweeping the nation and we are heartened by it. 

We share this holiday card to celebrate the teams in the NewSchools edtech portfolio and to express our gratitude for all of those who have supported these companies, NewSchools and ultimately, our future generation of children. 

2012 NewSchools Venture Fund holiday edtech portfolio on Vimeo.

Sean Reardon, “Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor Studies Say, “ New York Times, February 10, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/education/education-gap-grows-between-rich-and-poor-studies-show.html?pagewanted=all

Alexis de Tocqueville. Democracy in America, 1835. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/ch3_18.htm