Why I’m excited - and grateful.
HI! I’m excited about a lot of things this week and more than grateful.
Why? First I’m excited and grateful:
To be writing again about things I care about, which I think (hope?) you’ll care about, too!
To power down a bit this week and travel (wish me luck), and feel so fortunate that I can do so because many others cannot.
To put the election craziness and 24/7 news beyond us. Yes, that’s right - this news and politics junky is sick of it all!
To share real, credible, substantive news with you about the Yass Prize semi-finalists and their journey through their own Accelerator.
Fifth and finally, I’m a little less excited to report that most of the US is not doing a very good job of giving parents the power they need to drive changes in their children's education, but grateful we can all do something about it. So let’s start there, shall we?
Where do parents have power?
Only 10 states really provide any substantive degree of power to students, according to CER’s annual Parent Power! Index. Florida leads the pack at number 1 with Arizona a close second. There are only two Bs in the top ten, and the rest are Cs. This just isn’t going to cut it if students are to gain access to the individualized, personalized and responsive education they need and deserve for the 21st century.
Downward Enrollment in Districts Calls for Innovation
That’s the conclusion by Michael Horn, and a great one at that, based on a report by Tyton Partners. The cause for the fluctuation speaks to why we need to give parents more power. “Parents said they were dissatisfied with districts’ lack of personalized learning experiences, says Michael. “They want smaller class sizes, multiple learning sites, and flexible scheduling. Many now feel empowered to find alternatives…To bring students back into the fold, districts will need to shed their one-size-fits-all mindset. That means they will have to design new schools that better personalize learning and create options for parents with different priorities.”
Build New, Don’t Patch Cracks
Speaking of Michael, he and innovation Queen Bee Phyllis Lockett are featured on In Piazza this week, taken from the conversation they had with the Yass Prize Accelerator cohort. “Restructuring our education system can’t be about patching cracks in the foundation, but building a new foundation altogether,” they argue. Read their piece in Forbes.
This was just one of the incredibly impactful conversations and learning opportunities that the education entrepreneurs who make up the 2022 Yass Prize Semifinalists enjoyed these past three weeks in the virtual portion of their Accelerator. (They head to Miami next week for the finale and final pitches before the winners are called on December 14th. Follow along @YassPrize)
Here’s just a smattering of their feedback:
Panel on Investment, Venture, and Impact Capital with Joy Chen, Isabelle Hau and Dre Bennin
“I wish that I had been able to join this discussion before we fundraised for Rapunzl in 2019! Too often when we pitched the idea to traditional VCs or investors, I think that we struggled to understand the ROI that investors were actually seeking - a lot of people say they're "impact investors" but when we presented them with our anticipated impact, nearly every investor asked what their financial return would be! We actually ended up dropping ROI altogether when discussing impact and using RO-Why?, instead, since that clarified the social impact our organization could have.” Brian Curcio, Rapunzl
“This session (with Joy, Isabelle & Dre) was the one I needed the most because it is one of the main things I have avoided learning about during my time as an edupreneur. It just all seems so complex so I am happy I was required to learn about it here. Some of my key takeaways were what to do for a pitch.” Iman Alleyne, Kind Academy
Meet the 2021 Alumni Cohort with Tony Simmons, Dana Lambert, Brian Smith, Stefin Pasternak and Lakisha Young
“Since the start of the Yass program, by completing the application and later being selected as quarter- and then semi-finalists, we heard the message to "stop" or slow down the day-to-day rumble in running the organization, set people in place to lead, and give yourself permission to step away to dream, plan, and form an internal cohort to implement further innovations. Tuesdays have become my Home Office day to do just that and not surprisingly, I see my team rising to the challenge, running the school effectively, and together we are envisioning the future.” Jose Suarez, Hope Ranch
There’s nothing like helping people be more successful! Grateful for the opportunity afforded us to do just that. As you settle in for your Thanksgiving Holiday, know that I’m thankful for you who read and engage in the important things in life, especially when it comes to our youth.
God Bless you, God Bless America. And Happy Thanksgiving!