The Best of Education Innovation and Opportunity
And the worst of union behavior
STOP for Arizona Education
As I write we are just hours away from the big announcement at the AZ state capitol with Governor Doug Ducey and leaders of the state legislature, for a ceremony honoring a handful of great and ambitious education providers who are willing to expand to help kids succeed.
Janine Yass, founder of the Yass Prize who created the Arizona awards and the Ducey Prize said the effort to give all students a fast track to attend the education environment they choose was a call to make more opportunities available. Hence the six awards and the big announcement, today. Stay tuned to learn who the fortunate recipients are and for a surprise announcement.
The Biggest News of All
The announcement of the 64 Quarterfinalists for the Yass Prize, the Best of the Best that were chosen by their peers and an esteemed panel of judges for their capacity to deliver education that is Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless, happened yesterday.
I can’t even begin to describe the excitement of the recipients we heard from yesterday all over the wires and social media. Read about them yourselves here and here. You’ll be hearing more soon as they compete for the next round - the semifinals, where 32 will be chosen to continue moving through the process.
From the Forbes stage at the Under 30 Summit in Detroit, Chief Content Officer & Editor Randall Lane said, “we are creating the biggest award in the history of education innovation, we hope you will be with us on the journey.”
He was right. They are the creme de la creme. Our exceptional awardees from 33 states and the District of Columbia include schools with one location and some with multiple and represent 8 different kinds of education providers. They are serving tens of thousands of students in transformational and outstanding ways, particularly underserved communities. 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 being celebrated for their STOP-enabled education.
We were blown away by the inclusion of so many diverse learning efforts - from apprenticeships, career prep for students, hybrid and blended learning models, and increasing numbers serving neurodivergent learners. These high-impact innovators are inspiring students, families and the communities around them. And will make a catalyzing Yass Prize community. God Bless them all and good luck. And God Bless the Yasses, whose work we are so fortunate to manage.
Building that Community, A Movement of Innovators
Thanks to the pioneering work of GSV Labs and its founder Michael Moe, and in partnership with Forbes, the first Yass Prize cohort spent an extraordinary 4-week Accelerator learning with experts in business, finance, investment, education and more, and had personal pitch coaching, as they worked toward the prize. Their work was so formative for them - and us - that we’re duplicating the effort for the 2022 Cohort and expanding the virtual piece to all Yass Prize applicants. They - and the 32 semifinalists who will go on to experience the in-person effort in Miami - will be exposed to conversations, collaborations and wisdom from an impressive array of experts and leaders in the field.
All Yass Prize community members will be able to convene on a special new platform, and it is through such efforts that we are hopeful their work and leadership will expand 100-fold to more students, educators and families nationwide.
Now for the Bad News
Waking up to Politico is sometimes incredibly eye-opening. Today, it was downright depressing. In the wake of witnessing the innovative and pioneering work of so many positive, entrepreneurial education providers, to read the hysteria being created by the National Education Association about the crisis in the teaching shortage just as a way to guarantee a continued stream of federal money to their coffers, is frankly outrageous. The unions seek to cancel at least 20,000 but preferably 50,000 in debt to forgive the loan debt for more than half of the educators who currently carry it.
But what of the great educators who don’t carry debt? What of the educators who are not serving children well - do we forgive their debt too? Will these special interests continue to operate as if all our children, communities, and most of all educators are the same?
And perhaps the biggest objection I have is not the concern for financing great education, but prescribing that if there are funds made available for any reason, the unions and federal government should dictate precisely how they are spent.
We all know by now that the only way great education can thrive is when funds are put in the hands of parents to decide where they go and educators to decide how they are spent. That is the lesson we must remind our leaders, policymakers and each other as we move into another political season, in particular.
Innovation & Opportunity=New
Let’s get on it! - Jeanne