In a presentation today before an audience of 100 law and business students at UT Austin, I introduced them to the idea that there is a potent intersection between startup entrepreneurship and education.
Note: I use “quote marks” here to designate startup jargon that correlates well to the education reform debate, with a focus on Charter Schools.
The premise behind the presentation may draw (valid?) critiques within the field of education research and education policy. My premise is that the charter school “market” represents a process of “creative destruction” that upends an existing market monopoly (i.e. traditional public school systems).
Critics may lean toward arguing that Charter Schools’ entrance into K-12 education is simply destruction, and not creation. And, as a teacher of 7 years in a low-income traditional public school, I am very sensitive to the oft-degrading stereotypes (education reform “memes,” really) of the passionate educators working in public school systems. I believe, in education as in politics, that ad hominem attacks are inherently counter-productive.
However, I believe with a more transparent “branding,” Charter Schools can play a powerful role in being experimental spaces in which innovation emerges.
And critics often admit that there can be a useful place and role for Charter Schools. As an example, Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, a frequent skeptic of existing Charter Management Organizations’ (CMO’s) claims, sits on the board of a charter school (UT Elementary) and recently said that charters can be used to drive innovation.
That said, the presentation uses a case study — my involvement in Austin Achieve Public Schools (as this is not formal research, we’ve foregone anonymity, and I believe any attention will ultimately be fruitful and beneficial for Austin Achieve) — to drive the conversation.
Austin Achieve recently executed a “pivot” process to steer toward our vision of excellence. Additionally, I highlight startup concepts and corresponding examples from (primarily) the charter school “niche market.”
I’m looking for another venue in which I might be able to record the presentation — or perhaps I can use a production application — because a lot of meaning is lost with only the “slide-deck.”
This is really a high-level introduction of a concept I expect to flesh out during my tenure as a doctoral student in Educational Policy at UT. Feel free to browse the presentation, and share feedback!
Michael Barnes is a doctoral student in Educational Policy and Planning (EPP) in the Department of Educational Administration (EDA) at UT. His research focus is on the intersection of equity and excellence, including an emphasis on culturally responsive pedagogy and “startup skills,” respectively.