A picture paints a thousand words…
That is Wade Moore, the Founder and Dean of Urban Prep Academy in Wichita, Kansas, whose excitement and gratitude for winning one of the 32 Yass Prize Semifinalist spots was emblematic of the evening’s festivities.
The evening began with all the energetic and passionate 64 Quarterfinalists, education providers diverse by place, race, focus and sector. A majority of them serve overlooked populations and embrace the importance of education that is both sustainable and permissionless. They include some standout public and private educators specifically focused on competency-based education and personalized learning as well as leaders in the ed tech space who provide remarkable tools that can be integrated into any of the other full-service models we celebrated for their STOP-enabled education. They will each receive $100,000.
The job at hand on October 13 was to announce the 32, who will each receive $200,000 in STOP Awards as they vie for the prestigious $1 million dollar Yass Prize for Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless education. Among these innovators are groups that do innovative apprenticeships and career prep for students, hybrid and blended learning models launched, parent-led advocacy and pods restoring hope and optimism to BIPOC families and an explosion of groups serving neurodivergent learners. We are so proud of these educational entrepreneurs and high-impact innovators inspiring students, families and the communities around them. They will begin with a catalyzing Yass Prize community accelerator for all applicants and then make their way to an exclusive accelerator bootcamp in person. Please join me in celebrating them by retweeting this post on Twitter or sharing this post on Facebook. And follow along because you won’t believe how incredible they are. It will truly restore or strengthen your faith in the future.
Just take a few minutes to watch the reaction in the video below when the 32 learned they were chosen. It will give you chills!
About Freedom and Innovation
We were able to cajole Forbes’ Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Steve Forbes to say a few words about what it takes for such great innovation to thrive.
“That’s why what you’re doing is absolutely critical [...] we can talk about tax policy or this or that policy, but to do what you’re doing, you need an environment of freedom. With freedom, you can challenge existing structures. And while the empires may strike back… they are ultimately not going to crush you in an environment of freedom.”
Why the Yass Prize?
Then the woman of the hour was introduced by Alyssa Farah Griffin, the talented new co-host of The View, CNN contributor and former White House press secretary.
“We don’t agree on much of anything,” in this country, she said. “But one thing that is a uniting force that we all agree on is that education opens doors, it’s the great equalizer. And for folks who are coming up in situations that are challenging, that are tough, that don’t have the access to great education. It just puts them so far behind and you guys are really opening those doors.”
She asked Janine Yass to share why and how establishing the Yass Prize has helped her think about what has to happen so that all children have access to great education.
“The long term solution is to try to get rid of the barriers that block all children from having a high quality education. Unfortunately, the bureaucracy that’s behind the school systems are more interested in perpetuating jobs and keeping the system in place than giving children the freedom.
“States have to look restructuring their policies so that poor people have the same choices wealthy people have if they don’t want to choose the public schools.”
There are literally thousands of education leaders who are quietly transforming education to repel that bureaucracy and they inspire us all. Our goal is to find and fund the best, and influence others to follow their examples, so that no child has to wait for the education that best meets their needs. Maybe with a lot of forza we will together achieve that goal!
It was an event not to miss, but thankfully you can watch the whole thing here. Mark your calendar for December 14, 2022 when the 2022 finalists and $1 million Yass Prize winner will be announced!
Be an Education Opportunity Voter
That’s different than being an education voter. To say you’re “for education” is like saying you’re for “Mom.” Who isn’t? But are you an education opportunity voter? Have you parsed through the words and campaign slogans to see whether or not - push comes to shove - students will have the education they need and deserve when existing structures fail them?
Does your candidate of choice for local, state office or national office follow only the prescribed position of his or her party, do they do only what the teachers union says is acceptable, or are they willing to push back? It’s not easy when you have other issues you care about, for sure, but education opportunity is an ideology unto itself, not a partisan issue, but an ideology. And that should be bi-partisan. That’s the conclusion of this great piece in Forbes this week….
Real Democrats Support School Choice?
“When Pennsylvania Attorney General and Gubernatorial Candidate Josh Shapiro expressed his support for Lifeline Scholarships last month, many were shocked, and some people were just angry. One activist for traditional public schools even said that ‘Real Dems Don’t Support Vouchers.’ We beg to differ.”
Two leaders of color, both Democrats (and both on CER’s Board) whose worlds have traversed civic, political and education worlds, took time to speak out about the uniqueness of Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial election, which has both candidates supporting a program to give every low-income student a lifeline. Expanding education opportunity scholarships to students throughout the state with tax dollars following them to the school of choice is indeed a bi-partisan issue among many people. This state isn’t the first to have it -- but it’s been some time since we’ve seen it. Now for sure, there are some - like the education Blob - that may oppose education freedom because it threatens their jobs, but don’t confuse their quest for power with any positions on education policy.
Next week - The results of the latest Nation’s Report Card on 4th and 8th grade reading and math will be out Monday, October 24th, and it’s likely to say that once again the pattern has not changed, that - likely - two out of every three students can’t do math or read proficiently. We’ll have something to say about the progress or lack thereof, and the correlation between the scores and the states that do the best - or least - to provide parent power. Until then, we’ll keep celebrating - and growing - the ranks of those who perform for underserved students. Eventually, they, not failure, will win.
See you next week.
Congratulations to the 32 Yass Semifinalists!