Twenty Five Million Dollars for Blended Learning
A few months ago, I answered this question on Quora.. If given $1 Billion, what would be the best way to improve education in the U.S.? My answer, currently with 2 votes, ranks in about the middle of the pack (thank you Cameron and Ally!). It is interesting to note that of the 37 answers, I was one of only two teachers to respond, and Michelle Rhee has one of the top ranked responses.
Brian Greenberg, formerly the leader of Oakland’s Envision Schools, and the Fisher Family Foundation, together, have answered a similar question. How could we spend $25M on edtech to really get this movement off the ground? Their answer is the Silicon Schools Fund (SSF). Over the next five years, The SSF plans to invest in 25 Bay Area Schools that intend to open with a blended learning model or transition their current instructional model to a blended one. The SSF press release identifies four specific benefits of this targeted philanthropy:
- The Bay Area will become a hub of entrepreneurial educators committed to starting and sustaining blended learning schools.
- The high-tech communities will be able to partner with local SSF grantees to promote innovation in schools.
- SSF grantees will become a part of a network of cutting-edge schools using blended learning that can share and learn from one another.
- The model of a regional fund can be replicated in other cities throughout the country.
Blended learning means a lot of different things, and computing devices in the hands of students does not equal spontaneous generation of intelligence. With a $25M targeted investment in blended learning, it would be possible to initiate some meaningful public school/private edtech/university research partnerships that give birth to a best practices hub that we could be proud of here in the Bay. I am excited about the potential for the meaningful results the SSF initiative could inspire.
The Fisher Foundation (Gap Inc.) is a strong supporter of the charter school movement with significant support given to the Kipp Schools, The Charter School Growth Fund, and a history with the for profit Edison Schools. I do hope that SSF will include some traditional district schools in their portfolio. While it may be easier to implement new edtech in small charter schools, eighty-five percent of US students attend traditional district institutions.
If this post has you thinking what you would do with $25M to improve education, chime in on Quora and I‘ll spot you another $975M for your answer.