Mike Klonsky points us to the new edbizbuzz.com blog by Dean Millot, covering the "School Improvement Industry," which includes "providers, educators, policymakers, investors, researchers and policy advocates." I've been lucky to have a bit (but not too much) exposure to the big foundation and academia side of school reform, and it has always been a bit disorienting to read more "netroots" discussions about school reform and ed-tech, not in a "why are these neophytes trying to do things that clearly should be left to professionals" kind of way, but more in a "if you really want to get involved with this issue, you should at least be aware that millions of dollars have been poured into the exact problem you're talking about over the past decade."
I mean, it is kind of like talking to someone who has a great idea for a car with a battery that recharges itself when you hit the breaks and uses an electric motor to help run the car. You'd be like, "Yeah, a hybrid car, Toyota makes one." And they'd look at you and say, "I don't know what you're talking about." It doesn't mean a hybrid car is a bad idea, and maybe their idea for how it would work is even somehow better, but the fact that this person doesn't seem to know that such things already exist is disconcerting, at best.
Anyhow, I haven't had enough time to figure out exactly where edbizbuzz is coming from politically or philosophically, but frankly any insight into this realm is helpful, particularly if it is clearly written and lands nicely in my news reader. I do like this passage on a recent get together of ed industry movers and shakers:
But the venture philanthropy movement is probably best understood as a network of folks who were “30-Something” when that was a television show, and who now earn pretty nice livings ($100K plus) doing “God’s work” managing heavily subsidized k-12 nonprofits. For that crowd, NSVF's annual meeting remains a hot ticket and Kim Smith has done a very good job of maintaining its aura of exclusivity.
Russo is not far off comparing it to Davos or Sundance, although your editor thinks it's closer to the Clinton era's Renaissance Weekends. They all share a county club atmosphere of comfortable people who went to the right schools, know the right people, and worked with other right people on the right causes, plus the minumum acceptable spattering of outsiders who don't quite fit that profile but make it politically correct - but who are really all tied together by money - having high-minded conversations at an event that costs several times what it would if it were held on a college campus instead of an upscale hotel. Anyone attending any of these events fresh "from the field" inevitably wonders aloud how much good the extra funds might have done "in the field" This is something of a faux pas.
That sounds about right. I'd subscribe if I were you. And if you're the kind of education blogger who occasionally subjects me to posts on fracking management guru bullshit, I think it should be required.