Monday, September 15, 2008

Panel Discussion Five: Investing in the Enterprise: Could Public Education Make the Grade as a Capital Venture?

During this session the audience will be encouraged to take a fresh look at public education by imagining that the enterprise must do more than simply open its doors every year to attract students and public dollars. Now is the time to pursue bold reforms that will produce significant and sustainable gains in our educational performance at scale. Participants will propose innovative ways to better engage parents with information and options and more effectively use student performance data for accountability purposes and to better support teachers and school leaders.

To view the complete discussion, go to

Moderator: Katherine Bradley, President, CityBridge Foundation

Investor: Ted Mitchell, CEO, NewSchools Venture Fund and President, California State Board of Education

Pitch Team:
* Michelle Rhee, Chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools
* Jon Schnur, President, New Leaders for New Schools
* John Chubb, Managing Director Edison Learning Institute

Excerpts from the discussion:

Michelle Rhee:
“We are trying to create the definition of success here in the District. I am accountable only to the mayor. Teachers will be accountable for every child in their classrooms. What I've learned over the past 15 months is that cooperation; collaboration and consensus building are way overrated!”

“We have gotten our first-year achievement results back—our one year gains were greater than the previous four years together. Our long-term goal is to be the best performing urban school district in the country. Within five-years you'll see a vastly different school system.”

“We created conditions for success in the district: got rid of the school board; leadership in place; accountability in place; we have a vision. We are laying our bottom lines and everyone is having to fall in line.”

Jonathan Schnur:
“New Leaders for New Schools is trying to blend the best of the business world with education. Every child can and does achieve at high levels when s/he gets the best instruction.”

“In virtually every school getting high results from low-economic backgrounds has an outstanding principal.”

“When we're focused on results, talent and transparency you can make great strides toward improving schools.”

“We have slipped from first in the world in secondary and high school achievement and from percentage of college graduates.”

“It is easier for us to track principals in school districts with high accountability like those in Washington, DC, New York and Louisiana -- these cities are also becoming more attractive to principals.”

“We need to make working in education a revered profession. We need to make clear standards of effective teachers and school leaders.”

John Chubb:
“A high-quality teacher can utterly transform the life of a student in a relatively short period of time.”

“Hold schools accountable, then teachers accountable and eventually students accountable.”

“Right now we run schools in the same way as we have for the past hundred years. Technology enables teachers to teach kids one-on-one. Every industry has been transformed by technology except education and we need to change this.”

“The states in the nation that have established low levels of achievement and are giving their students awards for low levels of achievement, I have to believe that the parents will eventually rise up and not accept this. It will become more unacceptable and school boards will have to act.”

“Transparency, results and a system that invites innovation are the three most important steps needed. Choice, along with results and innovation, has brought us KIPP, New Leaders for New Schools and others.”

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